I just finished reading "Bursting the Bubble" on David Vetter, the "Bubble Boy" [by Steve McVicker, April 17]. What an amazingly wonderful yet sad article. I cried. I felt so much pain for all who were involved. David Vetter's life really addressed an issue that many parents with seriously ill children face every day: "Do you keep them alive at any and every cost?" What stand would any of us take? It's a hard question to answer. I am glad that David had Mary Murphy, and even if her book is never published, her story has been heard.
Thanks to the Houston Press for being brave enough to stand up and tell a story that no one else was brave enough to touch.
Obey's No Angel
The David Obey/Tom DeLay scuffle on the House floor was interesting for the facts that have not yet been reported ["Some Days Chicken, Some Days ...," The Insider, April 17].
During the 1996 congressional elections, labor unions deducted money from their members' paychecks without telling them that it would be used for political purposes. A quick look at the Center for Responsive Politics web site reveals that Mr. Obey took $132,500 of this money (through August 21, 1996 -- there may have been more after this date). Mr. DeLay took none. So who do you suppose might be more resistant to campaign finance reform? Perhaps when Mr. Obey is finished reading the 1995 papers and makes it to 1997, he won't be so willing to point an accusatory finger.
... And DeLay's No Biologist
I can't top your comeback to Tom DeLay. For years, I've simply referred to him as "the esteemed exterminator from the 22nd Congressional District." God, when/how will we ever be rid of him?
Years ago, DeLay was one of 16 congressmen to vote against reauthorization of the Endangered Species Act because an amendment to exempt shrimpers from using turtle excluder devices failed. I watched him on TV arguing that TEDs were not necessary and that the government was misinterpreting the statistics, and that because he was a biologist he knew how to interpret the statistics and that they did not apply to all sea turtles, only to endangered sea turtles! (Excuse me? Which sea turtles are not endangered? Okay, so loggerheads are only threatened ....)
So I called his office to express my surprise and admiration for this previously unheralded profession, and innocently inquired about his training and qualifications. The girl squirmed a bit, then said he had majored in biology at UH. I said that was wonderful but asked what had he actually done in the way of being a biologist. After some thought, she replied that he owned a pest control company, so she guessed he was an entomologist.
I called my exterminator and asked her what she had done to qualify to be an exterminator. She said she went to Austin and took a course for a couple of weeks. I asked if that made her an entomologist. She replied, "Oh, Lord, no, honey. You have to go to school for years and years to be an entomologist." I majored in sociology -- but that does not make me a sociologist, unfortunately. But I know an arrogant, devious, pompous sleaze when I see one.
Keep up the good work!
Page S. Williams
Quanell and the Sons of the Confederacy
In reference to your article on Quanell X ["Would You Buy a Revolution from This Man?" by Randall Patterson, April 3]: I feel that Mr. Patterson's description of Quanell's "announcement of an army had been most notable for its absence of soldiers" properly sums up the support that Quanell X will find in Houston. Quanell does an excellent job of pointing out the shortcomings of the community. Police violence and corruption of any form is intolerable, as is racism. Yet Quanell, with all of his religious enlightenment, would twist himself into the very form which he loathes. He would hold the Sons of the Confederacy responsible for the moral infractions of their forefathers. To do this is to hold the children born into the Nation of Islam responsible for the wrongs Quanell committed during his association with pimps and as a drug dealer.
If Quanell was able to better himself as a human and did so by opening his mind to the ideas of others, why then does he find it so difficult to believe that others are not capable of the same, and without the threat of a violent death?
Louis R. Carballo
I am writing to correct an error in Megan Halverson's review of The Member of the Wedding [Theater, "Alone Again," April 10]. The director of the production is Rob Babbitt, not Rebecca Udden, as stated in the review. The set, which I think neatly differentiates between indoors and outdoors, was designed by Beth Wood.
Managing director, Main Street Theater
Editor's note: The misidentification of Rebecca Udden was due to an editing error.
Late-Breaking Defense of the Honorable Jackson Lee
I was shocked by the biased, vitriolic attack by Tim Fleck on the Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee in your recent article "Driving Miss Sheila: Going Nowhere with the Worst Boss in Congress" [February 20]. Fleck's description of Lee is counterintuitive. He chronicles her brilliant political abilities and successes, but in the same breath characterizes her as a bungling, self-absorbed, attention-grabbing two-year-old. Sheila Jackson Lee and I worked together for several years in the legal department at United Gas in Houston in the early 1980s. We had adjacent offices and shared a secretary. She has a gracious character and a superb intellect, and is an excellent attorney. She has always seen herself as a public servant, and was active and successful in that role at the time I worked with her. She never displayed the arrogance, immaturity or abusiveness that Fleck describes by quoting a variety of anonymous sources. Her unique character and her dedication to public service are why she is in Congress today.
Great Falls, Virginia
The cover illustration for last week's issue, "School of Hard Knocks," was done by Michael Hogue, not Nicole Fruge.