Letters to the Editor



Last night I was sitting up late mourning the death of George Carlin and rereading Molly Ivins’ Nothin’ But Good Times Ahead. Suddenly it occurred to me why I was rereading her book:

In a very real sense, Molly was America’s female George Carlin, and George was our male Molly Ivins.

These are crushing losses. The only thing that makes them (barely) bearable is that they both left such wonderful legacies of their work.

Insightful. Acerbic. Funny as hell.

Charley ReinkenLos Angeles, Calif.


So, what does it take to be a presidential adviser? Hubris and poor judgment, to judge by profiles of Phil Gramm and Walt Rostow in your May 30 issue.”Gramm isn’t one to engage in mea culpas, regardless of the evidence against him,” Patricia Kilday Hart writes in “McCain’s Gramm Gamble.”

“In [biographer David] Milne’s view, Rostow’s unshakable belief in his own ideas and his refusal to modify them based on alternative perspectives were almost pathological,” Tom Palaima writes in “Never Look Back,” his review of Milne’s America’s Rasputin: Walt Rostow and the Vietnam War.

So why do supposedly accomplished, self-assured politicians like LBJ and John McCain listen to these men in the face of the obvious disasters their recommended policies bring about?

That might be an interesting question to explore.

Hal DavisMinneapolis, Minn.

Patricia Kilday Hart’s hatchet job on Sen. Gramm has only one real message: regulate, regulate, regulate. That message leaves out three observations:

1. All indexes (Fraser, Freedom House, Heritage Foundation, and World Bank) show that there exists positive correlation between free markets and economic performance (or, same difference, negative correlation between government regulations and economic performance). Why?

2. The Reagan Revolution, whether Hart likes it or not, has replaced the stagnation of 1970s with a) the breakdown of the Communist empire abroad, and b) tremendous economic growth at home for the longest period in our economic history. Why?

3. Heavily regulated West European economies are electing conservative governments (e.g., Italy, France, Germany). Why?

Steve Pejovichvia e-mail


Your article brought back a lot of memories (“From Chain Gangs to Chain Stores,” June 13). I grew up in Brazoria County. My granddaddy was a “riding boss” and later became a Texas Ranger. He was the most gentle human in the world, yet I do remember the times I went out with him in his truck, on nights when the posses with lanterns and bloodhounds brought back escaped convicts, dragging chains through the bottomlands. I never saw that “other side” of my beloved granddaddy, though I know it was there.

I grew up on a cattle ranch and became a vegetarian 40 years ago because of the cruelty to animals I’d seen, and as an adult familiar with the prison farms, I became more sympathetic to the prisoners than their captors. Thank you for an excellent article about man’s inhumanity to man, right here in Texas.

Cathy Cunninghamvia e-mail

Oh! For the good ol’ days of slavery, when Imperial Sugar could rake in millions from free prisoner labor. When there was always a good excuse for shooting a bad convict dead, and no one asks questions. I was surprised to read a nostalgia piece on Central Prison in the pages of the Observer. I lived on Central from 1985 to 1987; my “fond” memories are somewhat different.

During that time solitary confinement had been moved from the tower shown on page 12 to zoo cages, open to the wind, cold and heat, located at the back gate. In their humble solitude, lucky inmates could contemplate the generosity of their fellow man while dining on a piece of cornbread and water one day, and one full meal the next.

It was in 1986 that TDC bureaucrats were caught applying for Head Start money using inmate names. A whistleblower at Head Start called the newspapers and tried to shame the TDC employees for taking funding away from poor and hungry children. TDC countered that they were entitled to the funds because these particular convicts had the minds of schoolchildren.

This led me to ask myself, “Self, if these inmates have the minds of children, why are they in prison?”

In 1989, the Texas Department of Corrections gave birth to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, which would streamline the process of sucking millions and probably billions of dollars from state and federal coffers. Today, the state earns over $825 million a year from inmate labor. Texas inmates receive none of it and must depend on money from the free world for shampoo, deodorant, and toothpaste.

What comes around goes around. What Texans allow their government to do to prisoners is exactly what those in power will do to Texans. Being a slave and working for food is a bummer, but I’m sure you’ll get used to it.

Homer BrownWynne UnitHuntsville


You were told stories of FLDS moms asking black foster care workers if they had “devil’s tails?” (“Abby’s Brood,” June 13.) Such nonsense discredits your whole story. Why do you want to change someone who is so happy and loved, just because they are different? Abby has the right to raise her children in her chosen life, and you have that right also, without interference from the state, or interference from activists who would “rescue” your children from you on the flimsiest of accusations. How would you feel if the state took three black children away from their father because he was white!

John Harrisvia e-mail