‘Tit for Tat’
Kudos to Andy Bromage, who two weeks ago ably substituted for Shay Totten [“Fair Game,” September 1], who himself has done a superb job filling the big shoes of the incomparable Peter Freyne. I was particularly happy to see Bromage raise the issue of instant-runoff voting in his section on the Democratic gubernatorial primary recount. The prime benefit of IRV is that in the vast majority of elections with three or more candidates, it eliminates the spoiler effect; it also assures the selection of a candidate whom at least 50 percent of the voters are content with, at the very least. To have a majority of the voters satisfied with the results of such an election is no small thing.
Mooooving from the sublime to the bovine, Bromage’s next section — the one on Alan Simpson’s udder-ly outrageous “tit” comment about Social Security — I can only say good for Bernie for forcefully responding to a remark that was pure bull. His letter to Obama should have Simpson cow-ering in his office, as the call for the “bossy” Fiscal Responsibility Commission cochairman’s head is appropriate tit for tat.
[Re: “Fair Game,” September 1]: They aren’t tits, but teats. Sheesh.
Andy Bromage responds: In his offending email, Alan Simpson, chairman of President Obama’s deficit commission, in fact referred to milk cow “tits,” rather than “teats.” On second reference, we should have put “tit” in quotation marks, or used the correct word, “teats.” Seven Days apologizes to our readers and Vermont’s 139,719 milk cows for the error.
Nay to Che
Regarding the Second Vermont Republic’s addition of the image of Che Guevara to its flag [“Vermont’s Secessionist Movement Debuts Something New: Candidates,” September 8]: What could that mean? That if the secessionist movement is successful, they will hold mass executions, nationalize U.S. industry, promote the flight of social and financial capital, send gays to internment camps, and run the economy into the ground? Or is it just a trendy symbol meant to accrue some anti-American street cred? Either the movement is drastically misinformed and ignorant of history, or terminally flippant. Suddenly, something I admired is starting to look more like W. and Sarah Palin. Sometimes the enemy of my enemy is not my friend.
I wholly endorse almost everything the Second Vermont Republic does, but I’m completely against putting Ernesto “Che” Guevara on top of the SVR flag. Pretty offensive to put a murderer’s face on a peaceful symbol, if you ask me.
University Park, Penn.
The Poet Responds
An armful of late summer wildflowers, a huge bouquet of forget-me-nots, and a wheelbarrow of thanks sprinkled with rose petals in appreciation of Amy Lilly’s extremely thoughtfully assembled, handsomely written, nicely perceptive and generous review of The Puzzle Master and Other Poems [“Wilmington Poet Takes Readers From Here to Eternity,” August 25]. I admire how — in a newspaper piece! — she says what she means, no more, no less, and faithfully reports the material at hand … She’s a fine reader and a sensitive reviewer…
Every Penny Counted
It should not even be a question about declaring who gives money to politicians [“Gubernatorial Candidates Raised $423,812 From ‘Undisclosed Donors’ — Does It Matter?” August 25]. Every penny given to a politician and what expectations come with that donation should be declared. When I am paid for work that I do, I know exactly what I am being paid for, and the person who pays me has expectations for what they are receiving for that money. It is not a gift. Someone who is running for office is applying for a job. Granted, it is a different kind of job interview, but it is a job interview.
Not only is it a job interview, but they are being paid for the job before they are even hired. Where else does that happen? I personally think that no one running for political office should be allowed to take any money from anyone except the state … [and] that anyone who wants to run for a political office should be given a platform regardless of who they are or how much money they have. Our political system, from top to bottom, is so corrupted by legalized graft that we cannot hope to reform it without removing political contributions completely.
Provincial or Racist?
I am one of those African Americans who was willing to brave the cold in order to teach in the Vermont public schools — I’m bald, so I didn’t need to worry about getting my hair fixed [“The Diversity Test,” August 25]. I met a lot of nice, committed educators during the two and a half years I sought employment, but I also bumped heads with some of the most overtly patronizing and unabashedly — let’s call them provincial — administrators this side of Little Rock, Ark. Like the principal who, during the course of an interview, told me I had an “odd skill set” (I work as a music critic, NPR commentator and teacher, and was a Smithsonian curator for 21 years). Or the principal who thought I had a “limited education.”
I often ended up wondering why I was selected for an interview in the first place.
While I do think there is some serious racial stonewalling going on in the Green Mountain State, I am also beginning to believe that some of the problem is due to the aforementioned provincialism. (The shabby treatment hurts either way.) I wish Vermont well in its struggle to come to grips with the demographic changes that challenge the entire nation. Still, I think it is important for me to say that it was easier getting a job as a curator at the Smithsonian Institution than it was to land a classroom position in Vermont.
Stop Mac Attack
[Re: “Fair Game,” September 8, August 25, 18 & 11]: I have known Malcolm “Mac” Parker for a good 20 years. I perceive him as a highly moral, upright and forthright individual, a gifted, creative artist with a clear life mission to help people reach their potential for wisdom, goodness and joy. Mac’s own high-mindedness, kindness and integrity have allowed many others to trust him implicitly — and also have caused him to trust others, sometimes to a fault!
I am a decorated WWII veteran and no pushover. I am also a Protestant clergyman (as was Mac’s deceased father), so I recognize that Mac’s sense of what is right and good is deeply embedded, from childhood, and is an essential building block of his character. These characteristics, combined with his ample talent, have shaped and been embodied in the witty and insightful yarns he spins as a storyteller, the two excellent videos (Let’s Go to the Farm, for children; and Farm Stories for Families, made from his performances) and now his ongoing project — the motion picture Birth of Innocence. I am convinced that it is a matter of significant importance that Mac be freed to complete his current project, undisturbed.
Based on all the information I have examined regarding this case, I find it disturbingly irrational for Mac to be hounded by a state agency as if he were some deliberately malevolent scoundrel. The state of Vermont should be able to do far better than that regarding one of its unique, talented and honorable native sons.
Rev. Thomas Leamon
Brian Dubie dined in the Adirondacks with people like G.W. Bush, whose values are 5000 years behind America’s best [“Fair Game,” August 25]. The Republican Party remains deeply confused about American values.
Does Brian Dubie really want to lead us to more holding hands with and dancing for foreign kings? Leadership is critical in these times, but not leadership that’s confused about the right direction!
Republicanism is a form of government, but the Republicans that Brian Dubie dined with have confused it with totalitarianism, the most un-American form of government.
When no one has market power, free markets are the most efficient way to allocate goods and services. In their confusion, Republicans have forgotten the first phrase of that cornerstone of market theory.
Anyone who knows what a free market is knows that G.W. Bush was never a free-market guy. Does that mean that the Republican Party was confused about free markets, or does it mean that they knew but didn’t tell us?
Judaism and Christianity are religions that attempt to empower average people and build wealth, but Brian Dubie’s friends have confused it with the worship of money, which leaves us helpless, fighting more and more over less and less.
These six soundbites could have been out there as a quick response to Brian Dubie’s postprimary remarks about Democrats being confused.
What was out there instead?
Ask yourselves, Why are Democrats so determined to be defensive and ineffective?
In his “WTF” about Shelburne Pond [September 1], Ken Picard wrote, “The only poisonous snake indigenous to the state is the timber rattler... and that land-bound critter is only found near the southern tip of Lake Champlain.” There are timber rattlers along the Winooski River. I nearly ran into one many years ago. So, walker, beware: They are in places throughout Vermont and not just in southern Vermont. That would be like saying that moose live only in Canada when we know they’re all over the place…
I would be careful around all water and not kick over rocks or logs, lest a poisonous timber rattler springs out of surprise.