The Mad Minute
Gun debate brings back memories of 'Nam: I loved the feature story "Firepower" by Jeannette Batz [May 1]. As a Vietnam War veteran, firepower meant the response by soldiers in enemy contact (firefight), and M-60s and M-16s were the source of that element of war. Yes, some soldiers got a rush from it, while others were scared to death by the whole idea of firing a weapon at another human being. Other comments from that experience were: "I can't wait to get back to my field unit so I can kill something" by an infantry platoon sergeant returning from R&R. And: "When I'm bored in my chopper, I like to fire off a belt of M-60 rounds into the treeline on a Sunday afternoon ... what a rush!" by a (helicopter) door gunner. I thought I was away from all that conversational content ... the fascination with guns. However, with the recent Missouri legislators' concealed-firearms discussion, those old conversations are taking place once again. Comments I'm hearing recently in community and workplace are: "I can't wait until after work to go out on John's farm and shoot my pistol ... gives me a rush," "When that right-to-carry bill becomes law, I'm buying me a gun and tak[ing] it everywhere I go." Welcome to the war ... or the Wild West!
Top Pork Gun
Hoo-rah for the Eagle: The F-15 fighter plane is universally regarded as the most outstanding aircraft in its field. In view of this indisputable fact, it was poor journalism on the part of Ray Hartmann to not even mention the superb quality of the F-15 machine in his recent column ["The Job Hunter," April 24]. Instead of being objective, he elected to be petty in his criticism of Kit Bond's lobbying of South Korea for the $40 billion order [of new F-15 Eagles]. This is rubbish thinking. South Korea was willing to pay the price for the most advanced combat aircraft available. The fact that Bond was pushing for the sale is totally immaterial -- as is the fact that a number of Democrats were also pressing South Korea on this sale. It's too bad that Ray's perspective is so hopelessly biased. Here's hoping that his future columns will give both sides of the picture. He owes that to his readers.
Richard H. Gerding
Vote Early, Often
It's the St. Louis way -- city and county: The charges of voter fraud in St. Louis City don't really surprise me [Bruce Rushton, "Dead Man Voting," April 24]. St. Louis County is not much better. When I first moved here in 1996, I registered in the county for my residence in Maplewood. Three years later, I moved to University City and notified the election board. About a month after that, I received one of those cards that lists all persons at a particular residence that are registered. Imagine my surprise when I saw my name listed twice (once misspelled). I've called the board, written a letter and even visited in person. In every instance, the person I speak with assures me that they've taken care of the problem. To this day, I still receive the notices that I'm registered twice. I haven't yet, but maybe in the next election I'll vote twice. Everybody else seems to.
A couple of points on voter fraud: The article ["Dead Man Voting"] recounts incidents from the last two decades, about which we would not presume to have firsthand knowledge. There are, however, some more recent references about which we would like for you to have correct information. Joe Neill was not Democratic director of elections; rather, he served as one of four commissioners on the Board of Election Commissioners. Governor Holden appointed the commissioners currently serving. The current board hired me and my Republican counterpart, Gary Stoff. The directors' positions were vacant because the Democrat (Dorothy Cameron) had died and the Republican (Kevin Coan) had been arrested. Gary Stoff's experience includes his service as a former chairman of the Board of Election Commissioners, appointed by then-Governor Ashcroft, for service 1989-1993. Individuals who in any way gain knowledge of a grand-jury investigation are prohibited from discussing an ongoing investigation. While the implication [in the story] was that Keena Carter and Jeanne Bergfeld were being evasive, they were, in fact, complying with the law. The board receives information about felons from the secretary of state's office. The board office receives a list of state felons monthly and federal felons every four months. While the board has not published a response to the [more recent] Blunt report, independent investigation and research was conducted by board staff, the results of which were reported to the commissioners.
St. Louis Board of Election
There's two sides to every cut: In your story on Rabbi Rovinsky [Wm. Stage, "Working for Tips," April 17], you mentioned those of us who are opposed to the barbaric practice of circumcision. Besides Heidi Fleiss' father, the doctor and the people who call in death threats, there are among us rabbis and Jewish parents who can be as religious and/or superstitious as Rabbi Rovinsky without cutting on other people.
Jack Pittman Ulrich