Letters for the week of April 16-22, 2003 

Stephen Buel has been watching too many Bruce Willis movies. Michelle Turner appears to have been drinking too much store-bought beer.

"W and the Vision Thing," Off Topic, 3/26

Delusion, not sincerity, is the real issue

In his review of David Frum's The Right Man and Bob Woodward's Bush at War, Stephen Buel makes no attempt to make a distinction between a puff propaganda piece for the president and a serious biography that critiques both the story of the subject and his beliefs. George Bush may sincerely believe he is a man of peace, yet sincerity is not the issue, since individuals who are quite delusional will believe they are quite sincere.

I'm afraid Mr. Buel betrays his own political beliefs when, in a strange digression, he calls Noam Chomsky a "blowhard." Why not print an essay by Chomsky, critique his ideas in a companion essay, and let the readers make up their own minds?
William Lloyd Roller, Berkeley

A movie too far

In reviewing new books on George W. Bush, Stephen Buel exclaims that the US "liberated the people of Afghanistan and rewrote the rulebook for how wars will be fought in the new century." Buel may be watching too many Bruce Willis movies. The last I heard, Osama bin Laden is alive and well. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the Northern Alliance comprises ruffians who rape girls and women and steal from the people, with no consequences. We'll never know how many Afghans we killed in that invasion, just like we'll never know how many Iraqis we kill. I think the "new rulebook" should require the US to stop "liberating" other people like arrogant bullies.
Stacy Taylor, Berkeley

Talk about misleading

Talk about ridiculously stupid non sequiturs. Andrea Mitchell allegedly used "good news judgment." But by Buel's own admission, she misled the public. It sounds more like Mitchell and the media (Buel?) were out to get Clinton.

Also, tell the imbecile who wrote this piece (not to mention Bob Woodward and the editor of your book review section), who states that "Bush set in motion this transformation without any input whatsoever from Vice President Dick Cheney" (et al.), "Observations such as these should put to rest the notion that Bush is not running his own show," and "Iraq, not Afghanistan, is the ultimate embodiment of the Bush doctrine," to read the freakin' Wall Street Journal ("In Iraq Drama, Cheney Emerges as Bush's War Counselor," Jeanne Cummings, Greg Hitt, 3/17/03).
Stuart Piacente, Berkeley

Gallipoli or baseball: Let the readers judge

Stephen Buel puts at serious risk his ability to be considered an authority on George W. Bush when he likens Bush's first fifty years of life to Winston Churchill's first half-century.

By age fifty, Churchill reported on war in Cuba for London's Daily Graphic and served the British military in India and the Sudan. He covered the South African War for the Morning Post (was captured by the Boers and escaped). He was elected to Parliament in 1900 (age 26). At the outbreak of World War I, he was Britain's first lord of the admiralty. He later served as minister of munitions and secretary of state for war and for air. He became colonial secretary at age 47 and helped negotiate the treaty that set up the Irish Free State.

Bush's greatest achievement before his fiftieth birthday was to convince Arlington, Texas taxpayers to bankroll a stadium for the Texas Rangers.
Mike Woitalla, Oakland

Editor's note Stephen Buel did not liken George W. Bush to Winston Churchill; author David Frum did. And while Buel's decade as an Arkansas journalist taught him a few things about our 42nd president, he has no desire to become similarly intimate with 43.

"Get a Whiff of the Big Brew," Food Fetish, 4/2

Mash this, Food Fetish

Michelle Turner either doesn't research what she writes about, or she doesn't take very good notes.

There is no vegetable category in the World Cup. Style guidelines can easily be found on the Bay Area Mashers Web site, www.bayareamashers.org

There are no hops that give Guinness a rich, chocolate flavor. Chocolate flavors derive from specialty GRAINS, not hops. That is a HUGE difference. Hops add bitterness and floral tastes to beer, and Guinness is definitely not a hoppy beer. I don't really think Guinness has a chocolate flavor either, but I suppose that's a matter of opinion.

I'm really sorry that there wasn't any beer available. Oak Barrel Winecraft is having its annual beer and barbecue festival on April 26 in Berkeley, and there will be plenty of homebrew to sample.
Sean Smith, Oakland

Editor's note Guinness contains four ingredients: water, yeast, barley and, yes, hops. However, Smith is correct that the stout's disputed chocolaty flavor comes from barley. As for the vegetable matter, that was a quote from someone who participated in the Big Brew.

"The King Is Dense," Film, 3/19

Horror flicks are just his speed

Movie reviewer Andy Klein complains that the movie Dreamcatcher is difficult to follow, that one has to have read all nine hundred pages of Stephen King's book in order to understand it. He's wrong; the movie poses no challenge whatsoever. I can only imagine how much he misses in truly intricate or subtle movies. But, then again, he never reviews these, so I guess we're safe.
Allan Marcus, El Cerrito

"FCC's Gut Instincts," Planet Clair, 3/19

And now, my second point

How can Michael Powell, the small intestine to his father's colon, be full of shit when the small intestine does not contain shit? Feces are formed by bacteria and resorption of water in the large bowel. Neither occurs in the small bowel. Thus your joke is nothing but the dumb mocking the dumb.
Allan Marcus, El Cerrito

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