I have a great deal of respect for my colleague Bob Jensen; in fact, I use some of his material in my classes. But his combination book review and interview with author Phyllis Bennis (“Empirically Speaking,” March 30) leaves much to be desired.

Foreign policy and international relations are social sciences. Yes, they are about nations and other organizations, but they are primarily about people. If you cannot distinguish between, on the one hand, the likes of Nixon and Kissinger and Reagan and Ollie North and, on the other hand, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, you cannot produce anything except a gross distortion of reality.

Author Bennis describes the United States as “one big rogue state.” Those of us who teach in this field might use the term rogue state to describe Albania under Enver Hoxha, Cambodia under Pol Pot, Iraq under Saddam Hussein, or North Korea under Kim Il Sung. Does anyone seriously believe that the United States belongs in this category?

When in human history did any other dominant world power ever forgive billions in war debts, give away billions on a Marshall Plan, and take the lead in establishing international organizations designed to SHARE power? What other nation in the world responds instantly, generously and universally to victims of earthquakes, floods, and other disasters? Rogue state? If so, a unique and very valuable one.

In my opinion, there is much that is wrong with American foreign and defense policy. But gross oversimplification and distortion won’t help us to analyze the problems and find democratic and humane solutions. Let’s forget the hyperbole and try to deal with facts.

Richard H. Kraemer Emeritus Professor of Government The University of Texas at Austin


As one of Fred Bosse’s constituents in our district along the Houston Ship Channel I take limited exception to your analysis of HB 2912. ( “Don’t Send a Boy,” Bad Bills, April 27)

1) The 4000-ton emission fee cap is written into the environmental regulations of 39 states because it is part of the Federal Clean Air Act.

2) The TNRCC has the scientific ability to assess cumulative impact and this bill authorizes the TNRCC and the universities to develop a research model so this can be done in the future. In the meantime, an amendment was added to concentrate monitoring and enforcement in areas where permits are concentrated such as the Ship Channel.

3) The original bill recommended $100,000 in additional funds for outside technical aid to the Independent Counsel, but these funds were deleted by an amendment favored by environmental interests that moved the office outside the agency.

Although few bills are perfect, there are lots of good provisions in the almost 300 pages of this bill and Mr. Bosse should be commended as one of the good guys who sponsored a progressive bill.

Keith L. King via e-mail


I don’t read your magazine and I don’t live in Texas. As a matter of fact I hate Texas. I guess I have what some of us non-Texans call Tex-phobia?

I only read some of your archive articles because I thought that Mr. Blakeslee looked geekish and handsome, but sort of tough, amidst all of that editorial intelligence in the New York Times article (“A Small Voice Is Heard: Texas Observer, Liberal Holdout. Is Award Finalist,” April 30).

It makes me feel better knowing that there are picturesque fighters in the thick of Texas oil and good ol’ boy thinking.

Very nice writing style and I am happy to hear that it sounds like you are waging an intelligent fight. Good luck and happy hunting.

Ty-L?r Allen Boring via e-mail