ALEX JONES: 'DEAD ACCURATE'?
In response to Daniel Gordon's letter regarding Alex Jones (The Mail, August 25, commenting on City's August 25 article, "Paranoia Strikes Deep"): These are some of the things I have heard on Jones' radio program:
• Osama bin Laden and President Bush planned 9/11 in a hotel room in Washington, DC;
• The United Nations has a resolution to move the border between the US and Mexico north 600 miles;
• President Fox of Mexico and President Bush have a secret plan to allow illegal immigration so Fox's children will be US citizens, so they can vote for a resolution to cede California back to Mexico;
• Henry Kissinger, Walter Cronkite, and many other international figures have performed human sacrifices in California;
• Vaccines are mind-control drugs.
While Alex Jones does bring up important issues --- immigration policy, the war on terrorism, etc. --- to call him "dead accurate" is a stretch.
Michael Enfonde, Colebrook Drive, Irondequoit
WILMOT AND SMART GROWTH
The openness of Democratic County Legislator Chris Wilmot in his recent interview with City ("Say What," August 25) was nothing short of shocking. While the Rochester community was aware of the Wilmot family's opinions on development, we weren't prepared to hear him so openly express disregard for city residents and his constituents when the potential for personal profit is involved.
Wilmot showed just how out of touch he is with the average city resident, and he showed his lack of familiarity with the City of Rochester, when he stated that East Main Street from the SibleyBuilding to the Hyatt Hotel is "an embarrassment to the community and to the region" and is "the greatest commercial carnage." While this area is not experiencing the boom of economic growth that a land developer would want, it is certainly in much better condition than most of Rochester. The areas where shootings have taken place better illustrate the embarrassing conditions into which big real-estate investors have let our beloved city fall.
Wilmot places the blame for empty retail space downtown on Mayor Johnson, "liberal Democrats," and "poor city planning." Yet Wilmot and other county legislators have attempted to cut off talks involving improvements to our bus system. They favor a giant bus station, which will be great when it comes to handing out construction contracts and land ownership deals, but will actually make public transportation in Rochester even worse for its many riders and will almost guarantee no new riders from the suburbs.
Although our city planning is actually good considering the age of Rochester, Legislator Wilmot attempts to place the blame on the victims. That's easy to do when anyone can see the large number of abandoned buildings and brown space in our city.
Sadly, Legislator Wilmot fails to see that his family is one of the biggest contributors to the downfall of this city. Take a look at the endless malls in Henrietta and Greece, which destroyed any concept of smart growth or land-use planning. They use big tax incentives to draw the retail and the production jobs out of the city center and into the suburbs.
Housing tract after housing tract was constructed, giving land development companies, with strong ties to elected officials, contracts with fantastic margins of profit. That development drew more and more people out of the City of Rochester, leaving abandoned buildings and homes behind.
His frustration with Mayor Johnson's denial of a giant Wegmans store on Elmwood Avenue is the perfect example of Wilmot's failure to grasp the concept of smart growth and land-use planning. Had Wegmans not closed the store on Mount Hope Avenue, less than a mile away, there wouldn't be a need for a new Wegmans in that area. I doubt that Mayor Johnson would mind if Bob Wegman wanted to build a grocery store on the north side of the city or any of the numerous other areas of the city without a grocery store.
If Legislator Wilmot were truly concerned with city planning, why was he so quick to dismiss the fact that city planners did not zone Elmwood Avenue for commercial businesses when creating the current plan for the city? He then tried to justify his stance that he "wasn't privy" to the zoning of the city. Legislator Wilmot knows anyone can walk into City Hall and review a zoning map.
It's time for Rochesterians to realize that when people consumed with personal economic gain get elected to public office, they are there to serve only one person. Chris Wilmot doesn't express any opinions in this interview that would be consistent with the ideals of the Democratic Party, but the Democratic Party helped put him in office because his family's money helps to win elections.
We need community leaders in public office, people who have shown that they are part of our community and that they care about the people of Rochester. We need political parties to return to their values and turn away from the wallets of investors like the Wilmots.
If the Democratic Party had acted in alliance with the values of most of its members, maybe there wouldn't have been a need for the Green Party in Rochester, but Chris Wilmot is the prime example of why we are here and why we are growing stronger every year.
Joseph M Young, treasurer, Green Party of MonroeCounty
Regarding "Hurtling Toward November" (September 1): You're in a fog, aren't you? And in the dumps. You are seeing this sad sack John Kerry, this default candidate of the Democratic Party after the Clintons torpedoed both Al Gore and Howard Dean, sliding into a well-deserved oblivion and --- Dukakis-like --- into the rank of a footnote in history.
And why is this happening? In Michael Moore fashion, you are blaming the dumb American public, not before taking a stab at the "appalling... Bush campaign tactics."
Bush campaign tactics? And you quote, for help, Paul Krugman of the New York Times? One 527 ad comes out in three states poking some legitimate holes into Kerry's Vietnam story and, bingo! we have a conspiracy! How liberal!
Of course, the public reaction shows "no outrage." Why do you insult the intelligence of the American people? Where was the outrage from Kerry when, say, moveon.org (financed by gazillionaire George Soros) was flooding internet and airwaves with ads depicting Dubya in Nazi regalia? You do know that anti-Bush 527's have gotten 5 to 10 times the amount of money that pro-Bush 527's have, right?
And the Times and the Washington Post were rah-rah for Bush and war in the days leading up to the Iraq invasion? What planet do you live on, Ms. Towler? Next, you are going to tell me that Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings and Tom Lehrer volunteered to go fight the war.
Let me give you a little hint: Have you seen Bill Clinton, this supposedly very popular ex-president, and wife Hillary, the high priestess of the Democratic Party, go out of their way in defending John Kerry? Now, I am not talking conspiracies here, but their behavior should tell you something of the snake pit the Democratic Party is.
ItaloSavella, FernwoodPark, Rochester
Mary Anna Towler's response: For the record, I think you're right about some of the stuff moveon.org has put out. But my point about the Times and Post coverage leading up to the war had to do with those newspapers' news coverage, not the editorials and columnists' pieces. Both of those newspapers have admitted that they were too friendly with news sources and too accepting of suspicious material coming from the likes of Ahmed Chalabi. Both have admitted that they played up reports about Iraq's threat to the US --- now proved erroneous --- and buried or killed entirely reports to the contrary.
Don't give up hope; your man Kerry may yet win in November. I've resigned myself to the fact that my vote will likely mean nothing in this Democrat state, and I'm glad to see you're taking off your blinders and admitting that your candidate may lose in the electoral college.
But in the meantime, between now and November, maybe you can demystify a few of the topics you brought up, along with Kerry's vulnerability, in "Hurtling Toward November."
1) On 527's: What are the implications of billionaire international financier George Soros's funding of moveon.org in the effort to unseat Bush? What will he want in return?
Why are the Swift Boat Vets any worse than moveon.org, or, for that matter, than Michael Moore, or Tom Tomorrow? Books, documentaries, comic strips --- all are a form of "politicotainment."
2) Should Kerry's military records be fully released, as the press demanded of GW Bush's?
3) On gay marriage: If Clinton was against it, why should Bush be condemned for his similar "position"? What are the confines of gay marriage? For example, would adultery be grounds for divorce? Didn't a man recently lose a divorce case based on the judge's ruling that his wife had only had a homosexual affair, which did not constitute infidelity?
4) On abortion: Men want abortion to be legal as much or more than women do, and most Republicans know they're performing a balancing act with their staunch pro-life wing against the majority of the party's personal beliefs. It's distasteful, but legal. You folks did a good job with your article on pro-choice Republicans, including the letters you ran. Abortion will never be made illegal in this country, in my humble opinion. It's becoming a less and less prominent issue. For example, in the 2002 election cycle, Emily's list candidates did not fare as well as they previously had.
5) On the war: You should come up with a media scorecard, and see who gets how many points for pre-war coverage. In my opinion, the mainstream media was against the war. I recall a Democrat and Chronicle headline something like "Bush Goes to War," and I remember thinking, "No, the United States went to war." I may be splitting hairs, but it sure sounded anti-war, and anti-Bush, to me.
I think you kid yourself when you try to separate yourselves from the rest of the pro-Democrat mainstream media. You can yell Fox and Clear Channel all you want, but they don't quite stack up against the NY Times, LA Times, CNN, the networks, etc., all of which are pro-Democrat.
Joe St. Martin, Penfield
Mary Anna Towler's response: I won't take up the space to answer every one of your questions, but briefly, on a few: Maybe Soros does want something. What do the pharmaceutical industry, the NRA, the energy industry, etc., want from George Bush?
If the Swift Boat Vets are completely independent of the Bush administration and the Bush campaign, there's no difference. My own opinion is that citizens' groups have every right to run political ads. The ads should, of course, be truthful. Media investigations into the Swift Boat charges indicate that they are false.
Bill Clinton didn't propose a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. And I've criticized John Kerry for what I think is political waffling: agreeing that same-sex couples should have certain rights, but not marriage.
I'd like to think that abortion rights are no longer under attack. Anti-abortion leaders don't seem to think so.
LIES AND DISTORTIONS
I am an ardent, liberal Democrat, borderline Green Party member, and I am outraged at how George W. and his cronies were allowed to stand up there and spew the lies, fabrications, and distortions that they did during the Republican National Convention. People have been prosecuted in a court of law for less slander than that.
First off, the assailment of John Kerry was completely unfounded and misleading. The Republicans rattled off a laundry list of things that John Kerry has voted against or "flip-flopped" on. Have they ever stopped to think that there may have been riders in the proposed bill? He may have agreed with 9 out of 10 lines of the bill but disagreed with that one objectionable line that the Republicans were trying to squeeze in under the radar.
Second, "flip-flopping" should more accurately be characterized as listening to your constituents. A politician is not (or shouldn't be) in the Senate to vote his own viewpoints. He is a voice of the people, and if the people change their opinion on an issue, so should he.
Third, Bush criticized Kerry's plans for increasing taxes. But where is the money going to come from for every one of Bush's proposed "monumental" programs, such as the No Child Left Behind Act? Taxes. Without taxes, our society can't provide roads, schools, fire trucks, or bombs for our fabricated wars.
Sorry, Bush; you can't lambaste your opponent for raising taxes when you will be doing it yourself.
Ryan M. Loysen, Cambridge Street, Rochester
With the recent announcement that MonroeCounty will eliminate or not fill hundreds of jobs because of a budget deficit, there was no mention of reducing the number of political patronage positions that have been awarded by the Brooks administration.
From the bus authority to the water authority to out-of-work MonroeCounty legislators, people with no academic or operational qualifications other than being Republican political insiders seem to have found easy employment in well-paying jobs. With tens of thousands of MonroeCounty residents out of work, the appointment of political hacks seems particularly outrageous.
Leslie Miller, Rochester
REAL LIFE, FILMED
Matt Ehlers' review of GardenState (August 25) is a perfect example of how subjective movie reviews are and how we shouldn't let them deter us from seeing good movies. Although I agreed with a couple of his points, Ehlers' article was extremely jaded. He reminds me of the cynicism I've encountered in my travels, from students who were taught to over-analyze and pull apart films so much that they've forgotten how to simply watch a movie and enjoy it.
Ehlers tries to make the point that many movies, perhaps trying to be trendy, end up stereotyping certain cities and the people in them. That is true, but I don't think that is the case in this one. Ehlers states, "Braff is not the first filmmaker to fall into this cliché, but why is it that every film set in the land between Los Angeles and New York is populated exclusively with wacky characters?" I've lived in many places throughout that land, and many times the characters in films are not all that far-fetched.
We should also give the average viewer a little more credit than to think they would believe the cities portrayed in these films are filled exclusively with quirky characters.
In GardenState, one of these characters is Mark (played well by Peter Sarsgaard), whom Ehlers describes as the "kind of character who drives me nuts: the stoned bohemian who is really just a lazy genius." Ehlers says that "we are led to believe that his life is somehow wiser and deeper than ours." While I did think his character was lazy, I didn't think he was a genius and I didn't believe his life was wiser and deeper than mine.
I thought he was a very real character. I know people like that: people who never made it out of their hometown, who never figured out what they wanted to do or had the courage to do it and then disguised the resulting depression with drugs and their inflated ego.
The story is an easily relatable "slice of life" in which most of us can identify with Andrew's journey to find himself and to find meaning in his life. The visual imagery in the film is beautiful and unique, and I was impressed by this first effort from the writer, director, and star of the film, Zach Braff.
Ehlers recommends that when Braff writes another film, "he actually goes out into America and finds characters who aren't wacky or tragic." I recommend that Mr. Ehlers go out into America and find characters who are wacky and tragic. Maybe that will help him get in touch with real life and cure his desire to over-scrutinize a good film.
Michelle Macirella, Laburnam Crescent, Rochester