White House reporter Helen Thomas calls George W. Bush "the worst president in American history." One look at how we go about selecting our presidents indicates why we've done such a poor job recently. A rational voter would take a hard look at the candidate's history and performance in public life, and use that as the main criterion for selecting a president.
Television can't present a compelling image of 34 years in Congress or 12 years as governor, so we simply ignore that facet of a candidate's portfolio. Instead, we study body language on the campaign trail, looking for clues or just waiting for that disastrous moment when the fatal slip is made.
We are told to ignore Wesley Clark's achievements in one of the world's most competitive meritocracies. Focus instead on that hideous argyle sweater. We are told that Howard Dean is "too angry"; he was captured on tape admonishing an aggressive cameraman for intentionally hitting another reporter in the head with a camera to move her out of the way. And does he really punctuate every sentence with "yee-ha?
We go about selecting a president much the way a winner emerges on SurvivorIsland. Ignore the contestants' accomplishments in the real world and consider only their behavior in the artificial world of the campaign trail.
I would advise everyone to turn off the TV and search the internet for old stories on the candidates. That is where the truth will be found.
With the current system, we elected a "uniter not a divider" who has polarized the country in a way we haven't seen since the Civil War. If nothing changes, don't be surprised when we elect another "empty suit" as president --- a flight suit at that.
Thomas D. Bohan, Apple Creek Lane, Greece
It is incredible that George W. Bush should be focusing on colonizing the moon and Mars. A planet does not export its war-making and irresponsibility into outer space. Is Bush's view of the future the one promulgated on the Black Sabbath album Master of Reality?
GBW should be concentrating on improving people's lives on earth.
Greg Stark, Clinton Avenue, Rochester
The religious also suffer discrimination
The advertisement paid for by the Rochester Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, appearing in your January 6 issue, speaks of an all-too-frequent prejudice that is rampant throughout the United States.
It breaks our hearts for India Tracy that the shadow of the KKK follows her. It also angers us that blatant discrimination against any child --- be she or he of any religion, or none --- exists in the "Land of the Free."
Instead of sending a donation for the Legal Trust Fund for India Tracy, I am forwarding this information to The Rutherford Institute. This is the type of case for which Attorney John W. Whitehead established his legal group. The Institute has attorneys all over the country who stand ready to fight for any child or adult who experiences unfair treatment. Often the person cannot afford the legal fees. The Institute, which is funded by people who believe in Constitutional fairness for everyone, helps fund the attorneys from donations.
We need to realize that it is not only minorities who are denied rights. Some Institute attorneys have filed amicus briefs in the crucial Supreme Court case of the ElkSchool District v. Michael A. Newdow. These attorneys argue that the court should overturn the California District Court's ruling that the "under God" phrase in our nation's Pledge of Allegiance violates the US Constitution.
Atheist Newdow (who is both a medical doctor and an attorney) is especially angry that his daughter and her mother joyfully attend a Bible-believing church.
Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute successfully reached a settlement on behalf of Carmine Sauchelli of Bayville, New Jersey, who was unlawfully prohibited by county officials from handing out religious materials in a public park. Rutherford attorneys charged that OceanCounty violated Sauchelli's First Amendment rights to free speech.
In a more disturbing case, in November 1998, two nurses arrived at the Head Start program in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to examine the children enrolled in the program. One nurse took blood samples while the other allegedly removed the undergarments of the 4 and 5-year-olds to perform genital examinations. Traumatized children cried or cowered in fear. Parents were outraged that they had not been advised of the exams. The attorneys argued successfully that the invasive, unauthorized examination constituted unreasonable searches and seizures in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Closer to home, several years ago the VictoryBaptistChurch in Henrietta was assisted by Rutherford attorneys when a Rush-Henrietta principal refused to allow students to distribute religious literature at the high school.
The list goes on. People of all ages, colors, and beliefs have been successfully defended by Mr. Whitehead's organization.
In a culture that becomes more and more secularized, we must be informed and aware of how we can defend our Constitutional rights. Unless we are all treated fairly, none of us is. The framers of our Constitution knew this.
City readers may choose to follow Americans United for Separation of Church and State as their ad suggests. I invite those whom I've convinced to contact The Rutherford Institute at PO Box 7482, Charlottesville, Virginia22906-7482.
Doris S. Naundorf, PictureBookPark, West Bloomfield
I enjoyed Adam Wilcox's article on the local burger scene ("Burger Patrol," January 21). I'm a burger freak myself, but I don't get out to eat much and haven't for a long time; money woes, you know. I usually make my own burgers, whether grilled or fried, depending on the season. But I very much appreciated the input of the judges, particularly Stan Merrill, a guy I have known for years, but have lost touch with. However, I know he knows his stuff.
I'm partial to Don's Original, particularly at Sea Breeze. Best hot sauce. Diablo sauce, I used to call it, owing to the distinctive red color, as opposed to the usual brown. But of course that's all relative.
Thanks, Adam, for a well-written, thoroughly researched article. It gave me a ton of info on new places to try.
Well done, so to speak.
Jason L. Brown, Pittsford
Whether I agree with the viewpoints or not, I always enjoy reading City Newspaper and appreciate your high literary and creative standards.
But I especially enjoyed "Burger Patrol," not least because it resonated with me directly. A number of years ago, when I still lived in New Jersey, several friends and I undertook a similar exercise. I wrote a piece called "In Search of the Perfect Hamburger," which is at once a semi-chronicle of the effort and a parody of the show of the same name and cheesy psuedo-documentaries in general. It appears on my website http://www.irwinsjournal.com (in the "Irwin's Journal Online" section).
It's well documented among my family and friends that if I don't have a burger at least once a week, I begin to exhibit withdrawal symptoms.
Thanks for the piece and a few new places to try, and the resulting opportunity to cheerfully consume more bovine-based calories... I think.
George Irwin, Blossom Circle West, Brighton
I read with great delight Adam Wilcox's article on the burger scene in Rochester. I also appreciate the depth of research your team puts into each project. I still have your article on chicken wings and keep it as the definitive Rochester reference on wings.
And, Stan Merrill: What a guy. In my book, his street-wise palette is a trusted asset in the Rochester food scene.
I think Wilcox pointed out well the differences between the two burger camps: the fast-food style that depends more on the added flavorings than on the inherent taste of the meat (which is there more for texture than anything else) and the really good burgers.
Had I been on the Burger Patrol, I would have added few baseline criteria:
Distinguishing among places that cook burgers from fresh-ground meat and those that cook frozen, pre-formed hockey pucks. Fresh meat has a tremendous impact on the quality of the burger. It's a difference you can see and taste in terms of flavor, texture, and juiciness --- the three criteria for judging the quality of any meat product and establishing some form of apples-to-apples comparison, so to speak. (I have some background here as the CMO for a high-end meat company.)
More emphasis on the method of cooking --- fried, broiled, and grilled (wood vs. gas) --- as an element of a particular burger's flavor profile.
And finally, some specifics on the meat: percentage of fat content (15 percent fat, 85 percent lean being the ideal); what cuts of meat are used in the grind (is it all chuck, sirloin, top round, a combination?). The very best ground beef for burgers is a blend of muscle cuts (an important consideration in the post-BSE era), tenderloin for texture, chuck for juiciness, and sirloin for beefy flavor.
My only criticism is that the beginning of the story --- calling the act of eating a burger "daring" --- was a little too sensational. I think this unreasonably plays on the fears of less-than-informed consumers who recoil at the media's depictions of cattle stumbling and falling down... calling it mad-cow disease instead of BSE.
As a former journalist, I think the public deserves a media that informs responsibly.
Looking forward to your next project (Asian, Italian, chicken, hot dogs: We could use all these and more).
David Richards, CathawayPark, Rochester
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