REMEMBERING MOLLY IVINS
Politics, she said, is nothing you can leave to politicians: “Politics is about you and me.” Molly Ivins, courageous and funny in her writings, never stopped asking Americans to take responsibility for their country, to get out there and fight to make it better. She will be desperately missed by many. Molly Ivins died of breast cancer on Jan. 31.
A PUZZLING CHANGE
I used to pick up Illinois Times. I did the crossword first, and then I read the rest of it. Where is my crossword puzzle? The sudoku is too tough for me.
ENEMIES ALL AROUND US While calls for impeachment of George W. Bush, our worst-ever president, continue to grow in volume and intensity, I would ask a single question of those who continue to insist that Bush has done nothing to deserve impeachment. That question is: “Do you believe it is constitutionally acceptable for this or any administration to hold a prisoner who is not charged with any specific crime, deny that prisoner access to legal representation, and then, once discovered that the prisoner is a victim of mistaken identity, simply release the prisoner with no explanation or apology?”
This president would prefer that, instead of leading the way, we simply adopt some of the very same methods of our enemies that we claim to despise. Kind of reminds me of Walt Kelly’s Pogo: “We have seen the enemy, and he is us.”
Ed Lazarus Springfield
CONGRESSIONAL COWARDS Question of the day: Who appropriates the money to finance Bush’s war? Answer: Congress! Correct! Cut to the chase: The inaction of Congress, [its failure] to yank a knot in Bush’s tail, speaks louder than all of the daily diet of hot air coming from individual members of this elite group. The $9 trillion national debt is the result. It’s a classic example of “talk a lot but do nothing.”
Bernard Reichart New Berlin
BE HEALTHY WHEN YOU OVEREAT I am overweight. It is my fault. I eat too much. I also try to buy better food. It is not easy. Why are there so many “frosted” cereals? Sugar is cheaper than grain and heavy so it makes cereal cheaper. Do they not think that we can sweeten our cereal? I don’t use sugar. Even worse are the other ingredients. Even most “heart healthy” cereals have sugar as the second or third ingredient. Some have soy additives. Many foods contain cotton or palm oil. They are worse than lard. If you buy a “mechanically separated” meat product, put it back. When you remove an animal’s intestines, hide or feathers, then strip off all the rest with a machine, you end up with all kinds of bits they would rather not list. Read labels and don’t eat anything that you would not add to the food yourself. If we are going to overeat, let’s at least overeat better food. Patrick Johnopolos Springfield WHATDIDIDOWRONG, CITYCOUNCIL? Today I closed my bar. The rush of nonsmokers into clean-air bars never happened, as suggested by some City Council members. Some said that only bars in bad locations would close, but my bar has been on South Sixth Street for more than 35 years under many successful owners. Some said that bad food would cause bars to close, but I have sold more than 150,000 chicken wings in the last 14 months — from a high of 360 pounds a week down to only 160 pounds per week since October. Some said that bad management would close lots of bars, but my bar manager of two years, Chris Krofchick, has more than 20 years of bar and restaurant management experience (not to mention my 30 years). I have advertised. I have marketed. I have had fundraisers for sick children. I have collected more than $25,000 in sales taxes for the city and state. I have purchased more than $150,000 in wholesale goods from local food and beverage distribors. Now a nice chunk of my live savings is gone. And two great fulltime employees and several parttimers are unemployed. So tell me, City Council, what did I do wrong? David Irvin Owner, George Ranks Springfield
BARS AREN’T “PUBLIC” PLACES I do not want to subject my family and myself to secondhand smoke while at the mall, while eating at a restaurant, while watching a theater production or movie, or while shopping for food, as these are all public places — places that allow all people of all ages through the front door of the business. I, however, understand that a bar is a place that only allows adults over the age of 21 to enter and make purchases of alcohol for consumption — and so should not be considered a public place. Many bars also sell tobacco products. If you’re 21 and sitting in a bar drinking, then you have made the choice to be there. If the person sitting next to you is smoking, it is because they choose to and the owner of the business has made the choice to allow smoking. You, too, have choices. You can choose to stay. You can choose to open a smoke-free bar, or you can choose to leave. If tobacco is to be the new social evil, let’s just ban the sales and use as we did with alcohol [during Prohibition]. Wait — that would just lead to another repeal amendment. Walter Foster Springfield
THE WORD FROM EASTERN EUROPE Word is coming from a Bulgarian news agency that President George W. Bush is preparing for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities before the end of April. There is a buildup of U.S. forces in the Balkans taking place in two U.S. Air Force bases in Bulgaria and in Romania’s Black Sea coast. There is also a buildup taking place in Central Europe, in the Czech Republic and Poland. America’s Italian bases are also being beefed up. There is an understanding that these bases will be used in the event of an attack on Iran. There is absolutely no proof, only conjecture, that Iran is building nuclear weapons in these facilities. It will be another preemptive strike against a sovereign nation that poses no threat to us. And it would not surprise me if Bush uses a staged provocation as an excuse to invade. This is madness. Iran has a large, battle-hardened army. In addition, engaging in a wider war in the Middle East could send oil screaming past $200 a barrel, with gasoline at $10 a gallon. Such a war could also draw in other nations that possess nuclear weapons. This is a very dangerous step. We, as a nation, cannot allow this to happen. If we don’t do something now, and Bush is allowed to take this step, the nation and Congress may be too distracted to take action. Bush may be banking on this. Congress must be willing to stand up to this administration, take bold action, and do its constitutional duty. And the American people must be willing to back them up. Impeachment and removal from office of this president and vice president, however it is done, is mandatory. We cannot afford to wait. Beni Kitching Springfield
LET’S LAUNCH A PETITION DRIVE In response to Talma Brown’s letter “Insight needs competition,” in the Feb. 8 issue of Illinois Times, I say, “Hurray!” and “Tell it like it is.”
What I cannot understand is why the Springfield City Council allows itself, time after time, to continue approving this franchise without even allowing the citizens of Springfield to even vote on the issue. Why? Is the council so afraid that continuation of the franchise will have as little voter support as the invasion of Iraq has? Or could it be that, with growing citizen disapproval of Insight’s policies and practices, that the mayor, council, and city administrators are running scared of possible corporate retaliation, mainly in the form of a potential lawsuit so huge that it could leave Springfield bankrupt, for years, even decades, to come? Why don’t the people of Springfield start a petition drive, with the message being: “If you want freedom of choice and open competition in your cable television viewing, sign below, to tell the Springfield City Council and Insight Communications how unhappy you are with the corporate cable service.” What could it hurt to let a united voice tell the council what we, the people, of Springfield think?