Two critical points are worthy of note in connection with Chris Davis' excellent article "The Duffel-bag Class" (November 26th issue):
First, the city of Memphis suffers from self-inflicted wounds, having now fulfilled the description rendered by Time magazine decades ago of Memphis as a "decaying river town." Infrastructure, neighborhoods, and schools have rotted away to a point at which qualified workers and their families have fled to the suburbs or beyond by the thousands.
The requirement that city employees live within the city limits thus becomes self-defeating. Other than the very rich, the city is fast becoming populated exclusively by the undereducated, under-socialized, and economically disadvantaged — individuals who haven't the capacity to qualify, to use one example, for law enforcement positions.
Second, the application of the "live within the city" standard apparently is limited to the powerless, while public officials, e.g., Shelby County mayor-elect Joe Ford, are permitted to flaunt requirements that they live within their district, pay taxes on a timely basis, and otherwise conform to the laws they enact.
This, I would argue, is the ultimate hypocrisy, one that puts Memphis only a few steps beyond Detroit. Would the last one to leave please turn off the lights?
E.W. "Bill" Brody
For the second time recently, in one of his "letters from the editor," Bruce VanWyngarden has conflated the viciousness of right-wingers with behavior by the other side of the political spectrum. The last time (October 29th), he did so by falsely suggesting that Keith Olbermann, as much so as Bill O'Reilly, would be incapable of an apology for an on-air mistake, in spite of the fact that Olbermann, unlike O'Reilly, has done so several times.
Now, the editor says he's tired of the incivility of the right and the left, which he apparently finds engage in that kind of behavior in equal measure. By making this equation, VanWyngarden falls into the same trap the corporate media have, namely a kind of misguided "fairness" motivation, otherwise known as "we report, you decide," which is the pablum the media feed us as their version of objectivity.
It is absolutely fallacious to equate anyone on the left side of the political spectrum with the likes of a Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, or their ilk. The flame-throwers on the far right are responsible for creating the kind of atmosphere that tolerates, if not encourages, people attending political events carrying firearms and signs at lily-white, astroturf "demonstrations" equating Obama's health-care program with Hitler's concentration camps. They hurl epithets during presidential addresses, suggest the president (who is half-white) hates white people, and revel in the murder of an abortion doctor.
Extremism has become the unique province of the far right, and it is intellectually dishonest to suggest that liberals come anywhere close to the tactics demonstrated by that unhinged phalanx of conservatism.
An "Experienced Patriot"
It is obvious that the power of the vote is not working. With no term limits, the culture of corruption and abuse has changed our federal government into a national government oligarchy, no longer representing "we the people," rather representing self-interests and special interests in the name of political correctness, social engineering, and centralized power. They have taken complete control of our states, using our money and constitutional loopholes to justify their way or the highway.
The states have the power under Article 5 of the Constitution to stop the tyranny! They are either ignorant of this and how it works or lack the fortitude to take action. We are being denied our constitutional right to an Article 5 convention to propose constitutional amendments, despite a whopping 750 (or more) Article 5 applications from the state legislatures in all 50 states.
Now it falls on our shoulders, the experienced American patriots, to let our state legislators know we are behind it, that we will support it in every way, that we will accept no less than a complete return to the values instilled in the original Constitution and the Bill of Rights, recognizing that neither would have been possible without the Declaration of Independence.
Samuel Adams wrote in 1776: "If ever a time should come when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin." I am an "experienced patriot."
This week it starts in earnest — the questioning. You can't escape it. It comes from your spouse, your kids, your parents — at the breakfast table, in the car, on the phone, via email: "What do you want for Christmas?" ...