Amen To That

To the Editor:

Amen to Jeff Golightly on his letter concerning Memphis music (July 4th issue). I have been trying to make this point since relocating to Memphis in 1992: our overabundant emphasis on past musical achievements while the rest of the country passes us by. I visited the Memphis music Web site and found that it was last updated in December 2001. What benefit is this resource to musicians and fans?

With all due respect to our musical roots, I often refer to Beale Street as a theme park, but instead of mouse ears and fairy tales, we peddle blues and barbecue. I think most Memphis music affiliates encourage and nurture interest in the blues so budding musicians will stay close to home to ensure a future for Beale Street. Musical heritage is one thing; musical stagnation is another.

Rawleigh Hartzell



To the Editor:

Thanks for your article (Media, July 4th issue) on the two best-selling books that poke fun at our inept president. We have to laugh to keep from crying. And thanks for Texan Molly Ivins' hilarious commentary on the spectacle of George W. Bush posing as the "Scourge of Corporate Misbehavior" (Viewpoint, July 4th issue).

As many of us predicted, Bush is proving to be exactly what we feared: a nice man who probably means well but is A) poorly prepared for this job, B) entirely lacking in intellectual curiosity and knowledge of critical issues, and C) an unthinking pawn of his wealthy supporters, including but not limited to the Ken Lays of this world.

President Bush was a failed businessman who made money only when one of his many failed companies was purchased at an outrageously inflated price by Harken Energy (which admitted it was basically buying Bush's name) in 1990. Harken quickly floundered but hid its true financial status (with the help of its accountant, Arthur Andersen) long enough for Bush to sell his holdings at a huge profit. The accounting shenanigans (creation of a fake profit in a subsidiary) used to keep Harken afloat are exactly those used recently by Enron executives.

Bush is being criticized because he broke the law in the Harken matter by failing to report his insider stock sale in a timely manner. But the real question for the special prosecutor is: "What did Bush know, and when did he know it?" regarding the sham profits that propped up Harken long enough for him to make millions. Harken's fake profits were many times greater than the tiny sums involved in the Whitewater land deal in Arkansas but less costly than the Republican-led witch hunt that it sparked.

Imagine the outrage from Rush Limbaugh and his ilk if Bill Clinton had been found to have profited from such a stock deal while he was governor of Arkansas! Then try to keep a straight face when Bush claims to be outraged about the state of corporate ethics. The Republican Party may not have invented hypocrisy, but surely it has perfected it.

B. Keith English


Applauding the Fly

To the Editor:

I applaud last week's Fly on the Wall column (July 4th issue), which advocated an open-minded approach to the question of compulsory recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools. However, by saying that the pledge has been declared unconstitutional, your writer has committed the same fundamental mistake that has been made by practically every newspaper editorial, magazine article, and television news program on the subject. And he may have unwittingly fueled the passionate flames of misunderstanding.

The issue before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals was quite simply whether the government (in the person of a local public school system) can compel captive students to declare that we are all "under God." When the question is phrased properly, it is easy to see that the 9th Circuit judges had no choice but to rule exactly as they did.

I doubt that your writer intended to feed that frenzy. Nonetheless, it will now be even easier for those whose purposes are served by cloudy confusion to scream that God has been taken out of our schools, when it just ain't so.

Bruce Ralston


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