Love/Hate Mail 

Back to school

Back to school

Although Randy Horick’s analysis of the BCS contained some truth (Sports, Dec. 11), he did overlook three salient points: 1. Southern Cal did lose to by far the weakest team (California) among the Big Three; 2. the BCS system has not penalized the team that lost last (Oklahoma) as the old poll system did; and 3. teams like Boise State and TCU don’t deserve a shot at the crown. They would be cannon fodder for the big teams, with the exception of an occasional upset. Why include teams in a playoff that have no chance of winning it all?

Bill Sizer

billsizer@hotmail.com (Nashville)

More food for thought

As a member of the Davidson Group, I want to thank you for the excellent article regarding the efforts of this group (“Food for Thought,” Dec. 4). I have thoroughly enjoyed my lunch meetings and feel that I am well on the way to establishing a good long-term friendship with someone I would otherwise not have come in contact with. The experience has been rewarding for me also as a way of helping erase some of my preconceived notions about Nashville and its residents.

Unfortunately, it appears that the lofty cultural goals of the Davidson Group are not shared by the state. Many programs that focus on education and development of foreign-language skills are being severely cut back or eliminated. An example of this is the decision by the state to eliminate foreign-language education, which was provided by the Tennessee Foreign Language Institute, for state employees.

I feel this type of education is imperative for state employees, as they are at the front lines in directing new citizens into the fabric of the state and its rules and regulations. I have been witness to an individual needing information about a state transaction and finding no one in the department who could direct him. Luckily, I was there to assist. But even at that point, the employee seemed annoyed at having to deal with the situation, and the gentleman I was assisting was frustrated by the language gap.

While language and communication challenges will always exist, it is imperative that agencies like the Tennessee Foreign Language Institute, which is a state agency, receive the full support of the state and the community. The institute’s services, ranging from language education to translation, gain in importance with every passing day and every new citizen who arrives.

Ernest Rodriguez

Cummins Station Fitness Center

fitone@concentric.net (Nashville)

Not even half-right

In response to a letter to the editor by Duane Denison in your Nov. 27 issue entitled “Half Truths”: Mr. Denison points out that African Muslims were involved in the slave trade long before the Americans or Europeans became involved. It seems irrelevant to the question of forced religious conversion to argue that slavery was practiced by Muslims. Slavery in one form or another has been practiced by scores of civilizations around the world without the particular problem of stifling religious expression. To say that “Muslims were doing it to themselves before we got there” does not in any way mitigate the severity of such an act from a human-rights perspective. Rather, it should instill in us a sense of shared “progress” and cultural value that neither we nor modern, predominantly Muslim societies engage any longer in such barbaric practices. Besides, how could Muslims have sold their brothers into slavery to build the pyramids in Egypt when Islam wasn’t founded until the seventh century A.D.?

Evviva R. Weinraub

evviva.weinraub@vanderbilt.edu (Nashville)

Medicare bill battles

To suggest that Zach Wamp and Jim Cooper are members of the Flat Earth Society for failing to back the modifications of the Republican-sponsored Medicare bill is as ludicrous as to compare the bill itself to the original Medicare plan (Political Notes, Nov. 27). Wait...Phil Ashford has already done that, showing that it takes one to accuse one.

Those who support a bill which presumes—make that hopes—that tax breaks given to HMOs, pharmaceutical companies, doctors and virtually the entire health-care industry will eventually translate to some slight savings on prescription drugs have learned nothing from Republican promises of a better life by saving big, huge business interests tons of money. From failing to make American jobs safer through NAFTA (signed by President Clinton but proposed by Republicans and endorsed by Presidents Bush I and Reagan) to saving couch potatoes money by deregulating cable TV, Republican initiatives leave little more that a giant lipstick print on the posteriors of the industries that jam cash into their already overflowing war chests. Seniors won’t even see these benefits until 2006, but until then, they may purchase a discount card to save 10 percent on their pills. If that’s a benefit, give me penalties, please. And the bill won’t allow seniors to choose their own doctors, but will shuffle them into HMOs—a war cry of Republicans who opposed the Clinton health-care plan. I guess it isn’t a big problem if the HMOs promise to donate enough money to Republican campaigns.

Add to that the middle-of-the-night arm twisting and tactics employed to delay the roll call on the bill from the allotted 15 minutes to well over two hours (tactics which the Scene claims to abhor), and it all leaves us with another big bucket of false hopes from the Republicans. A hale and hearty “Hooray” to Reps. Wamp and Cooper for their bravery and foresight in their attempt to stop this piece of misguided corporate welfare and to stop impending American fascism.

Drew Vance

herdb@bellsouth.net (Nashville)

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