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Letters to the Editor 

El Matador

The cover illustration of District Attorney Harry Connick as a matador was appropriate in more ways than one for a story quoting Connick critics ("Going Out Fighting," Nov. 19). At the end of every great matador's career there are journalists who seek out critical commentary from people who never performed the work of a matador themselves, never even had the courage to make the personal sacrifices involved in seeking the position. Many of these critics could never have found the courage to make a single pass with a fighting bull, much less live in the arena day after day for more than 10,000 consecutive days, yet they are filled with opinions about the torero's career.

In Spain, in terms of bullfighting, this ritual criticism that comes at the end of a great career is viewed as comedic. In New Orleans, in terms of politics, it cannot be viewed any more seriously.

That Harry Connick held the most powerful political position in the largest city of this state for nearly three decades without anyone ever accusing him of seeking to enrich himself personally at the expense of taxpayers is a testament to his character.

That Connick served in a racially divided jurisdiction during an era when the power was shifting and managed to administer his office in an evenhanded, balanced manner is evidence of his amazing political instincts and extraordinary abilities as a prosecutor.

Those who have sat on the sidelines, the lawyers who were in seats close to the arena where Connick stood alone, journalists who sat safely in the second tier, and columnists who never even entered the arena will say and write what they wish. Perhaps the criticisms would make a bit of sense if just one of Connnick's critics had held the position of district attorney for just one day.

It is not history that will define Harry Connick, but rather honor. He is an honorable man, and he honored this jurisdiction with his laudable service for more than a quarter century. Hopefully he will now be honored in return.

-- Ray Mouton


It's the Wallpaper, Stupid

Once again, Louisiana's open primary system has us waddling into national elections several weeks after the swifter kids. The race will draw the spotlight as much as the governor's race when we got to choose between a reformed Nazi and a future convicted racketeer. I hope Louisiana voters pay attention to the most serious issue in our second election after our first election: the wallpaper.

I am suspicious that Sen. Mary Landrieu has not explained that expensive fleur de lis wallpaper in her D.C. "mansion." We should reinstate Kenneth Starr and free up a few million taxpayer dollars to find out just what is behind that wallpaper. How much did it really cost? Who else was involved? And most important, has that wallpaper seen any sexual indiscretions and, if so, details please.

To be fair to the senator, we have not seen the wallpaper of her opponent, Suzanne Haik Terrell, a.k.a. Suzanne Terrell, a.k.a. Suzie Terrell. By election day, she'll just be "Sue." If there's something about Mary, is there nothing about Suzie? Did Suzie put up wallpaper in her office before eliminating it? If we elect her senator, will she go with contact plastic, or will she, too, fall into the fleur de lis syndrome? Will she then eliminate her senate seat to save taxpayers money?

Sure, there are other issues. Sen. Mary Landrieu taxes. Then she "not taxes." These are both definite no-nos according to her opponent. Is this kind of flip-flopping just a ruse to cover up the real issue: the wallpaper? Until I see both wallpapers side by side, the only way to make an intelligent decision in this race is to vote for the better hair style.

That's the only way we can show the rest of the nation that just because we're slow doesn't mean we're stupid.

-- Mike Smith


Reefer Sanity

The article on Louisiana's symbolic medical marijuana law ("The Best Medicine?" Nov. 5) underscored the need for state-level medical marijuana distribution systems free from federal intrusion. Unfortunately, a review of marijuana legislation would open up a Pandora's box most politicians would just as soon avoid. America's marijuana laws are based on culture and xenophobia, not science.

An estimated 38 percent of Americans have now smoked pot. Reefer madness myths have long been discredited, forcing the drug war gravy train to spend millions on politicized research.

The direct experience of millions of Americans contradicts the sensationalistic myths used to justify marijuana prohibition. Illegal drug use is the only public health issue wherein key stakeholders are not only ignored, but actively persecuted and incarcerated. In terms of medical marijuana, those stakeholders happen to be cancer and AIDS patients.

-- Robert Sharpe
Program Officer, Drug Policy Alliance
Washington, D.C.


Paying the Price

I would like to comment on Molly Ivins' article "Woman's Work" (Nov. 5). It occurred to me that the government would rather spend money on issues that might not benefit everyone, such as abstinence education, than directly help the people that need it most. You pointed out that our country cannot spend $34 million to help women in poor countries, yet they waste $100 million on promoting marriage. Everyone should learn more about the high number of women mutilations in poor countries. The government seems hesitant to spend money on anything that relates to women and their health.

-- Anh Vu

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