I’d like the cow rate, please

RE: “Missing the Forest for the Fees


It would be interesting to know how much a rancher is charged for a cow to use the public land as compared to the charge for a human.

Ronald R. Morriss


RE: “Cheney’s Checkbook Democracy


According to your article, he contributed to Republicans. How is that the “far right”? I didn’t see any contributions to anti-abortion groups, for example. I believe you are using the term “far right” to mean Republican.

Virginia Tamarin
Newton, Mass.

Toy story

RE: “Execution can be fun


By merely relaying the sensationalist tone of the APBnews.com article and wryly stating “the manufacturer is happy to be raking in the profits,” you’ve skewed the significance of this news item by omitting some important facts.

The comic book “Sin City” is appropriately controversial for its depiction of graphic violence, and the scene from the comic which is reproduced in this toy should be equally disturbing. However, the APBnews.com article and the tone of today’s Must Read don’t explain this scene and Marv’s character in context, and by not doing so you’re misleading your readers.

Marv’s story can be summarized within a sterotypical noir/pulp formula: a man wrongly accused of murder searches for the real killer while fleeing from the law and the corrupt establishment. Despite his success in finding and punishing the killer, Marv is arrested, convicted, and executed for the crime that he didn’t commit — executed even though he has a history of mental illness (which takes its form in extreme violence). Marv’s refusal to bow to a system, even as it ultimately crushes him, shows him as a noble if flawed character like many popular anti-heroes. The statement “Is that the best you can do, you pansies” expresses either his defiance to the end, or his craziness, but certainly isn’t making fun of capital punishment. The scene which the story depicts is powerful and gut-wrenching, and the reader is left pondering the issues at the core of the captial punishment debate.

This toy is sold almost exclusively in comic book shops, where most regular customers are familiar with the comic and the thinly veiled social and political commentary it contains. The original intended market for the Marv toy is the body of fans of the comic book, mature adults, who presumably understand in some sense the irony of the toy. Rather than focus your ridicule and judgement on the manufacturers and the stores, you could look at the confused and complex attitude of the American public toward capital punishment.

Nate Orman
Berkeley, Calif.

Cheney’s money isn’t our business … or is it?

RE: “Cheney’s Checkbook Democracy


I think you have too much time on your hands to analyze the trivial. Sometimes life keeps me from the polls. For instance, I might have important family or church committments that unfortunately take precedence. Cheney happened to be running a multinational business, and I suspect he had commitments besides family and church that may have been more important than his one vote in any election.

Politics can be a way of life, but it doesn’t have to be. Believe it or not, the rest of America leads a reasonable life without breathing and eating politics.

Ervin E. Schroeder


Cheney’s an opportunistic scumbag, typical, right-wing Retardican — better than the rest of us until he wants/needs our vote. Since he chose not to participate in the democratic process, the voters ought to refuse to participate in his and Dubya’s election by not voting for them.

Isa R. Rodriguez


I think the process is grossly skewed toward the wealthy. Most people cannot afford a $1,000 gift to a candidate.

In a democracy — which we are supposed to have — why should only the wealthy be allowed to have their say in the media? The $1,000 amount needs to be greatly reduced to level the playing field. Soft money needs to be completely eliminated. McCain/Feingold should be passed as a first small step.

George R. Livesay

Bully bars

RE: “Killer Grilles


If we were seriously interested in minimizing damage in low-speed, vehicle-to-vehicle collisions, we would have mandated long ago vehicular bumpers be at a standard height and wrap all the way around. This way, the bumpers would hit each other rather than doors, headlights, trunks or grilles.

On second thought, that would be intrusive government regulation, and we can’t have any of that, now can we? We’d rather burn millions of dollars a year in auto body repair costs and vehicle depreciation. Such standardized bumpers would also limit the auto and truck designers — God forbid we not be able to easily differentiate one year or make of car from another.

As for pedestrians, they’ve never stood a chance anyway. We should know by now that money always trumps common sense, especially when processed through the ego carburetor.

George Neil
Sherman Oaks, Calif.

But the Democrats are worse

RE: “Cheney’s Checkbook Democracy


Hostetler is making a big deal about something the Democrats are king of. What’s the big deal, wealthy people shouldn’t be vice president? Or people who aren’t extreme left-wing shouldn’t be?

The numbers she sited pale in comparison to the money Gore and the Democratic Party are pulling out of Hollywood, while at the same time they are threatening to make them clean up their act if they don’t do it themselves (and I’d like to see that power in the Constitution, please.) The hypocrites are saying one thing while winking to their friends and doing another.

The evil you should be exposing is in the Democratic fund-raising practices.

Mark Chally
Littleton, Colo.


Like a black hole

RE: “Missing the Forest for the Fees


I have mixed feelings about fees. On one hand I don’t want taxpayers to subsidize my recreational use of the national forests — I should pay my own way. On the other hand , I don’t want my national forests to let corporations not pay their own way.

Public oversight is a way to police the forest managers. It would help the recreating public if these managers would come to town and talk to the fee-paying public. At present there is no dialogue with the public at large. Rural users of the forests are the only ones rural forest managers ever talk to. Regional offices of the US Forest Service in big cities like Ogden, Utah, are like black holes from which no hint of a forester can escape.

Nathan E. Guinn

Missing the point

RE: “Missing the Forest for the Fees


I think you’ve missed the point of the fee demonstration program. Not only does the system provide new fees to cover the costs imposed by recreation users, it also provides incentive for land managers to respond to the demands of recreation forest users. The public should have a voice in how our lands are managed for recreation, but managers receiving budgets from Congress must respond to political whim to guarantee funding. By returning all revenues to the general treasury, managers have little reason to respond to the desires of recreation users. Thus, we get actions that are costly to the public and often to the resources as well.

By encouraging federal land managers to respond to public recreation users we are able to effectively voice our opinion about federal land uses. A voice that is often trampled by influential special interests that lobby Congress to restrict all uses of our public lands on one hand or encourage their overuse on the other.

Holly Lippke Fretwell
Bozeman, Mont.

Forest fees fire

RE: “Missing the Forest for the Fees


The argument that subsidies for timber companies reduce building costs is off the mark. If wood becomes too costly for house building, then why don’t we come up with something more efficient? Supply and demand — and ingenuity — are no strangers to the American public.

Gigi Nitka


Forest fees should be discontinued. Functionally, they are just another tax. We should use our supposed federal budget surplus to support under-funded national forests and parks.

As for the timber subsidies: Although there may be some merit to the position that they help keep the cost of lumber lower for the consumer, there seems to be much room for improvement within the program.

Jack Moran

Franti fanatic

RE: “Active Vibrations


I’ve been a huge Spearhead and Disposable Heroes fan since I first listened to Michael Franti’s poetry and music. I am most impressed with his ability to write groovin’ tunes that make me feel part of an ever-growing positive and powerful movement. He provokes thought, feeling, and laughter in every song.

Dani Fath

Take back the state!

RE: “West Virginia’s Mountain (Party) Mama


We need more people like Denise Giardina in politics. If I were a West Virginia resident, I would vote for her because the Democrats and Republicans in that state are essentially the same. As long as people like Denise are around, there is hope for the future. Now, the people themselves must take their state back, and that means voting for this woman to be governor.

Terry Helton