Bashing Bush; New York Press is a Bunch of Losers

| 16 Feb 2015 | 04:52

    Among the missing facts:

    1. Judi Bari said I wasn't the bomber. She spent the last seven years of her life investigating every detail of the case. On p. 313 of her book Timber Wars she wrote: "The bomb in my car had a 12 hour timer, so it couldn't have been placed anywhere but in Oakland, where I stayed the night before it exploded." And, on p. 139: "My ex-husband and I have a cooperative relationship in our divorce, and he has no motive at all to bomb me. Mike was taking care of our children at his girlfriend's house when the bomb was planted, and she can verify that Mike did not leave her house at any time when he would have had the opportunity to place the bomb."

    2. Darryl Cherney (the other victim) says I wasn't the bomber. In an article Darryl has written, entitled "The Lies of Bruce Anderson," Darryl says: "Mike Sweeney has an airtight alibi of his whereabouts during the timespan that the bomb could have been put in the car... Anderson has given accounts of his theory and they contradict, leading many to believe that Bruce does not even believe his own theories."

    3. The Redwood Summer Justice Project says I wasn't the bomber. This is the organization Judi and Darryl set up seven years ago to investigate the bombing and prosecute their lawsuit against the FBI. In a statement made in February 1999, the project denounced Anderson's claims as "Blatantly false charges being spread by long-time enemies of Judi Bari." Recently, the Project's director wrote, "There is no 'counter case' to our reasonable suspicion that Judi and Darryl were bombed by agents of Big Timber and/or the government" (Ukiah Daily Journal, 11/10/99).

    4. Judi Bari denied on Steve Talbot's video, and later in Timber Wars (p. 140), that she or I had anything to do with arson at a Santa Rosa airfield. She compares the slanderous charge to the display of photos of burning logging equipment, "which have also been falsely associated with me."

    5. Our local district attorney says Bruce Anderson is wasting his time. After reviewing everything Anderson could come up with (which hasn't changed in a year), District Attorney Norman Vroman declined to investigate, and told him: "You need hard facts, not conjecture, innuendo, speculation, guesses" (KZYX radio, 5/24/99).

    6. Bruce Anderson and Alexander Cockburn were foremost among Judi Bari's enemies among the lunatic left. Anderson raged against her for seven years in his Anderson Valley Advertiser, accusing her of being the bomber, running a cartoon of her wearing a swastika and denouncing her as "a lie factory." When Judi died of cancer in 1997, Cockburn wrote a nasty obituary in The Nation calling Judi "prickly and arrogant," and declaring, "There were many on the North Coast who detested her." Now that Judi can no longer defend herself, these enemies are trying to drag her name through the mud and undermine public support for her lawsuit against the FBI. There's more detail on my website:

    7. This isn't the first hoax attempted by Bruce Anderson. In 1988, he published a completely phony interview with our congressman, using the byline of an actual reporter from the Des Moines Register. For six days, Anderson insisted the interview was genuine, in the face of outraged denials from the congressman and the Register's reporter. Finally he admitted it was a fabrication. As for the outraged reporter, Anderson said: "Fuck him if he can't take a joke" (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 2/10/88). Anderson was universally condemned as a dangerous liar, except by Alexander Cockburn, who wrote a column praising the hoax and describing Anderson's rag as "everything a local paper should be" (The Wall Street Journal, 3/3/88). Now we see history repeated, with Anderson perpetrating a hoax and Cockburn cheering him on.

    The falsehoods about me in Cockburn's article are too numerous to list in this brief letter. Virtually every statement is wrong, even down to simple details like where I grew up, or what my Ramparts article was about. Most serious are the libelous statements that I attempted murder, rape, domestic violence and arson. Under law, repeating these libels is the same as inventing them yourself. You have no right to print these lies. Retract them.

    Mike Sweeney, Ukiah, CA

    Alexander Cockburn replies: I should say I was never an enemy of Bari, and the piece I wrote about her in The Nation when she died in l997 praised her courage and her brilliance in turning the destruction of the redwood forests into a national story. Sure, she was prickly and arrogant, and yes, a lot of people on the North Coast did hate her, including the sicko who put a pipe bomb under her seat, aimed at her private parts and perhaps also those of her sometime lover Cherney, who was sitting beside her. I don't think that "agents of Big Timber and/or the government" set that bomb, and the Redwood Summer Justice Project seems mostly to be angered that the case being made by Bruce and the others might get in the way of a plump million-dollar settlement from the government, for Bari and Cherney's wrongful arrest.

    "Virtually every statement is wrong"? No, Mr. Sweeney, my article was an accurate outline of the case being made publicly against you, charges I gave you the opportunity to comment on and, where appropriate, to deny. The best person to answer the points in this letter is the man who's been making the case against Sweeney, Bruce Anderson, editor of the Anderson Valley Advertiser. So, here's Bruce:

    "1. As everyone associated with the case knows, including Sweeney and his late ex, the device was not active until all the time on the clock elapsed. In other words, if the bomb had been placed in Oakland with 12 hours on its clock, it would not have exploded until sometime well after JB had arrived in Santa Cruz, her destination that day. As for their amicable post-divorce relationship, there are lots of people, including Judi Bari's last landlord, who are prepared to testify that neither their divorce nor their post-divorce relationship was a happy one. Indeed, it was stormy and replete with mutual recriminations.

    "To date, Sweeney has offered no less than three separate, contradictory accounts of where he was the day before the Oakland explosion, presumably a day etched sharply in his memory: (1) At work (which was his desk at the MEC in downtown Ukiah, the town where we think the device was placed in JB's car; (2) at home with his children, home being the Redwood Valley property he still shared with Bari; and (3) with his girlfriend and his daughters at the girlfriend's house, wherever that was at the time. Why doesn't Meredyth Rinehart verify or testify Sweeney was with her?

    "2. Invoking Cherney as an authority on anything is a stretch. The article called 'The Lies of Bruce Anderson' hasn't been published anywhere I'm aware of. My theories of the case, like everyone else's, have been revised to fit new findings. And which contradictions Sweeney and Cherney are referring to here is unstated.

    "3. Redwood Summer Justice Project was organized by Judi Bari and Carryl Cherney to pay their lawyers. Note that Earth First! was dropped as a plaintiff in the suit. RSJP employs female-only friends of the late Bari and operates out of a Sonoma County post-office box. They've never revealed their books.

    "4. The producer of the KQED documentary on the Bari bombing, Steve Talbot, says that Judi Bari herself told him that Sweeney destroyed the hangar in Santa Rosa. He is preparing an article on the case in which he plans to reveal more about the case which is not currently known. Bari did pressure Talbot into including an on-camera disclaimer about Sweeney in the film, but she never denied telling Talbot that Sweeney had in fact destroyed the hangar in Santa Rosa.

    "5. D.A. Vroman's stance is a lot more complicated. What he has also said is that he lacks the resources and the tools to investigate a 10-year-old case as complicated as this one. He remains interested in it but requires more hard evidence to act.

    "6. The Bosco interview was an exercise of my great satirical gift. It's not my fault people can't read. It was also, by the way, my way of attempting to smoke Bosco out on the offshore oil issue then raging. Also, the Press Democrat never says fuck. And fuck Cherney and Sweeney if they can't take the Bosco joke. Cherney thought it was boffo at the time."

    Wholly Unexpected Was that an endorsement for George W. Bush I saw in your last issue ("Editorial," 3/1)? I thought you fellows didn't do endorsements?or is this a new trend? Good to see that an "alternative" paper has decided to back one of the two major candidates! I thought you fancied yourselves to be gnarly rebels in the publishing world. I guess you're getting old.

    My friends and I are sick of Democrats and Republicans alike, and we're in our early 40s, so I guess that puts your average ages at about, oh, late 80s. And I'm also wondering if your incomes are over $40K, because that would additionally explain your strange love for Bush Jr. (Have you forgotten how terrible a president his father was? Or maybe you think politicians should always pardon their cronies when they violate the law, as Bush Sr. did with all those Reagan crooks after the Iran-Contra scandal.)

    J. Carpio, Manhattan

    Governor of All Our Hearts The 3/1 unpaid campaign advertisement for George W. Bush, disguised as an "Editorial" and obviously written by Russ Smith, is an insult to the readers of New York Press?at least to the readers in New York City who, unlike Smith's Rush Limbaugh-loving fans in rural America, do not share his infatuation with the frontrunner for the Republican nomination. I have never before read an editorial that was so completely out of synch with the sentiments of a publication's regular readers, and of the majority of its editors and contributors. Someone reading the Press for the first time would most likely infer from this editorial that its readers and writers were all naive right-wing zealots like Smith who believe that the Great Executioner is the Great Savior of America?if not of humanity. As a New York Press reader for eight years I know that most of its readers and writers are politically sophisticated enough to realize that the fact that George W. "is a man who promises [emphasis added] to represent every economic and social class in America" (as the editorial enthusiastically asserts) does not mean that he is a man who actually will represent the interests of any class other than that of the richest white male corporate moguls in the United States who have financed W.'s campaign and anointed him as heir to the throne. One does not have to be a Marxist to realize that Bush will not "end...class warfare" but escalate the war on the poor and underprivileged in America, just as he has done in his native state of Texas?as Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose show in their recent biography of him.

    If George W. were truly the "compassionate conservative" he claims to be, he would call for a moratorium on the death penalty, as George Ryan, the pro-death-penalty governor of Illinois, did last month after he discovered that many innocent people had been executed in his state. When Larry King asked Bush, who has authorized 122 executions in Texas since he became governor, if he should not follow Ryan's example, Bush responded in the negative and claimed that he knew "absolutely" that "everybody" who was executed in Texas was guilty. Considering that it has now been discovered that one of out seven people executed nationwide was innocent, Bush was either blatantly lying or the victim of a delusion of psychotic proportions.

    In fact there is reason to believe that there are a greater proportion of innocent people executed in Texas than in Illinois, as the quality of legal representation is so poor in Texas that in at least three cases defendants were sentenced to die by judges after their lawyers slept through substantial portions of the trial?and these trials were upheld by Texas' higher courts! Apparently in Texas the constitutional right to a lawyer does not mean that the lawyer has to be conscious. Not only does Bush deny that any innocent people have been executed in Texas, but he has vigorously opposed measures designed to minimize the number of innocent people murdered by the state: He vetoed a bill that would have created a new public defender's office and he quashed a bill banning the execution of the mentally retarded.

    One does not have to be an anti-death-penalty "card-carrying member of the ACLU" to realize that George W.'s sense of compassion and justice is no more developed than that of a typical member of a lynch mob who is so blinded by his desire to find scapegoats to satisfy his primitive blood lust that he is not concerned with whether the accused is innocent or guilty?although in W's case the motive is more likely to be a primitive lust for political power than for blood.

    As a convert myself to the Christian faith, I cannot think of any of W's actions that more dramatically conflicts with Christian principles than his refusal to make any effort to intervene?despite the pleas of both the Pope and Pat Robertson?to save the life of his fellow born-again Christian Karla Faye Tucker. Bush did not question the sincerity of this woman, who asked that she be spared so that she could spend her life in prison ministering to sinners. Rather he claimed it had no relevance in his consideration of whether to grant her mercy. Apparently Bush's understanding of Christianity is even more deficient than his knowledge of foreign affairs, as one of Jesus' main teachings is that God desires us to forgive others, and that as Christians it is our obligation to welcome and show mercy to repentant sinners?not to murder them. In an interview in Talk magazine?that the interviewer admitted he found quite disturbing?Bush did a mock imitation (in falsetto voice) of Karla Faye Tucker (that he had frequently performed in the past to amuse his friends) pleading for her life: "Please, please, Guv'nor, Guv'nor, don't kill me, save me, save me!" George W. Bush has betrayed the basic tenets of Christianity and has about as much right to call himself a Christian as did Judas Iscariot.

    W. is a reformed substance abuser?who learned from the mistakes he made in his youth (so he says)?and a self-proclaimed Christian. Thus one would have hoped that he would have shown particular sympathy to other abusers who were not graced with his family fortune and status, and who unlike him could not afford the finest lawyers to get them out of a jam when they faced the prospect of spending time in prison. Yet as governor of Texas, George W. cracked down on first-time drug offenders from poor neighborhoods, most of whom had probably used far less drugs than W did during his "irresponsible youth." Under the previous governor, Ann Richards, first-time offenders received automatic probation with drug counseling; when W ran against her he ridiculed this approach, calling it "Penal Code Lite." Once in office Gov. Bush signed a law mandating that first-time offenders, even those caught with less than a gram, be forced to serve jail time from six months to two years. Whereas under Gov. Richards the parole rate was about 80 percent, under Bush it fell to an all-time low of 20 percent. As a result of the compassionate conservative's punitive policies aimed at poor people who had made the same kind of mistakes he himself made in his youth, the prison population in Texas has risen from 41,000 to 150,000 since he has taken office.

    One does not have to be a Clinton sympathizer to realize that George W. is a vile scion of privilege who lacks compassion for the disadvantaged, and a representative of corporate America whose primary driving force is his hunger for power. I hope that the writers and readers of New York Press will take every propitious occasion to make it clear that although Russ Smith provides New York Press' guiding editorial inspiration and is its original financier, he did not authentically speak for New York Press in the "New York Press editorial" that hailed the Great Executioner as America's knight in shining armor prepared to save her from the forces of political corruption and moral decay.

    Seth Farber, Manhattan

    Soup Bones Re: Peter Eavis' criticisms of tax breaks for high-tech companies ("Top Drawer," 3/1): If you want the economy to grow it is not "out there" but perfectly logical to favor technology if you can, as opposed to farming or strip mining or tourism or prostitution. And certainly it's better to produce something useful than to play money games on Wall Street, producing nothing. I frankly don't know why is losing so much money. That's your bailiwick. But Jeff Bezos is not stupid, and if someone laid some Amazon stock on you I bet you'd hang on to it. I find it incredibly dishonest that you would compare high-tech companies to S&Ls in the 1980s, and especially to Whitewater. The latter was a fraud. Certainly educated people like the Clintons could see very well what they were getting into, and that it was not just an investment.

    Bill Bradley's boilerplate rhetoric about technology changing people's lives, though trite, is quite correct. Thanks to technology there are many things available today to everybody that were not even available to kings 50 years ago. Think about that. One of the greatest things about computers is that software can spread around the world and filter down to everybody rapidly, at nominal or no cost. In how many other fields can you say that?

    If is just "a website that answers your questions by, er, referring you to other websites," well, that is what a search engine is. It's not eccentric, it's not a dodge or a runaround. It's indispensable, and if you don't see why then you'd better just forget about writing about the Internet. You don't get it.

    As for your assertion that the tech sector is "being invaded by an army of opportunists and slackers," doubtless you are right about opportunists?just like Wall Street. But slackers? If demand outstrips supply, employers are going to try to compromise in hiring where they can, but there's nothing unusual about that. Most people in the tech industry work extremely hard. Whatever they are, they are not slackers.

    Joe Rodrigue, New Haven

    Ida Let It Slide I was distressed by Ida Nieves' 3/1 letter, which called me an 'N Sync favoritist and a callous disser of the Backstreet Boys. I've liked BSB since "As Long As You Love Me" and 'N Sync since "I Want You Back," both songs that will outlive their times. Like Ms. Nieves, I think the so-called Orlando feud is nonsense. I sincerely wish both bands' fans would unite and enjoy everybody's triumphs, be they former theme-park entertainers, former Mouseketeers or simply hardworking Floridians getting theirs. I think Ms. Nieves looks unfairly on the talents of 'N Sync?surely she can cop to the awesomeness of Justin's voice?as well as of Christina Aguilera?again with the awesome voice?though she and I have similar opinions of 98 Degrees. Furthermore, those who call me the white Speech are incorrect. In fact, Speech is the black Doughty.

    M. Doughty, Manhattan

    Dead Letter Office George Tabb's 3/1 piece "The Tabb Theorem," if applied to New York Press, works very well. Strausbaugh, Smith, Slivka, Richardson, Taylor... Need I say more? You guys are losers! Aaron Bernstein, Manhattan

    Enter Sandman I am writing in reference to George Tabb's "The Tabb Theorem," which argued something to the effect that people whose last names start with the letters A-O are richer, healthier, sexier and just plain better than their P-Z counterparts. All I know, George, is that when Miz Lorenzo the French teacher went down the rows checking to see if people did their homework, I don't think the guys at the end of the list felt slighted in the least. After grimacing at Esther Barbosa for not doing her homework and sneering at Arona (not Glenn) Danzig for not doing her homework either, yours truly had to endure a 20-minute diatribe for being the straw that broke that old camel's hump. The entire semester, I don't think she once got to the other half of the room, particularly to check if that douchebag David Sandman ever did his fucking homework.

    The grass is always greener...

    Robert Gampert, Cambridge, MA

    George Clinton For President George W. Bush's mea culpa about his Bob Jones University speech is long overdue, and leads to at least one question. Bush rightfully slams Bill Clinton for being a poll-driven president, ever eager to pony up whatever opinion is currently supported by focus groups and polls. But isn't this sudden reversal pretty much the same thing? Bush finally noticed that he was getting hammered with Bob Jones U.?those pesky polls again?and made the appropriate political calculation. It's about time, sure, but after weeks of petulant denial, it's hard to ascribe any finer motive. Karl Rove must go. Any objective examination of the Bush campaign suggests that these guys are in over their heads, big fish from a Texas pond, who have stumbled repeatedly, reducing a frontrunner with astounding advantages?money, establishment support, even, yes, pretty decent press coverage?into a pol fighting for his political life. (Okay, the latter is an exaggeration, but sheesh, he certainly didn't expect it to work out like this.)

    Rove's weekend talk show appearances didn't help much. He still uses the political equivalent of "I know you are, but what am I?" when responding to criticism. Though at least we now know where Shrub learned that the best debating technique is to shout when others speak.

    Harley Peyton, Santa Monica, CA

    The Great Leader In Slippers MUGGER: It is refreshing to read the truth as you presented it in your 2/23 column. The LBJs (Liberal Biased Journalists) are doing everything in their power to get Al Gore elected. Thank God we've got truthsayers like you out there for us unwashed millions. We will come forth in November and the socialists will wake up to a nightmare. Conservatives will take over all three branches of the federal government.

    Keep up the good work.

    Henry C. Smart, Suisun City, CA

    Russ Sees the Truth but Waits MUGGER: Finally, I have found someone who speaks the truth (besides Rush Limbaugh of course) about this Bush/McCain tug of war. Thank you for your objectivity?even if, in contrast to your McCain-loving media peers, you look like a veritable Bush cheerleader. Fortunately, I get out a bit more than your media peers do, and find the people around here, and indeed all across the country (I'm a mortgage lender, and so speak to people all over the country on the phone) aren't taken in by the media-generated McCain "phenomenon." People don't trust the media, and they don't trust McCain. Again, thank you for your objectivity. It's nice to have another place in the media world where I can go to confirm the truth. My wife is a nervous wreck over all the torture this good man Bush is forced to suffer. I'm a loving husband, so it will be my pleasure to share with her what you have to say. Kudos and thanks for your service to your craft and your country!

    Michael Briggs, El Cajon, CA

    War Hero? Therefore Traitor MUGGER: I read your 2/23 piece, in which you discussed John McCain's rhetorical dependence on his experience as a captive in Vietnam. I think this story might amuse you: "The young American was somewhat of a troublemaker, proud and quick to anger and not particularly worried about giving affront or staying within the rules. His educational attainments were not something to write home about, but he was ambitious and brave and he relished military action. But he met with disaster. Enemy fire crippled him. Nonetheless, his bravery and courage in the face of the enemy made him a heroic figure to Americans.

    "In later life his behavior was not so heroic. He benefited politically from the intervention of others on his behalf and benefited socially from a second marriage to a wealthy, much younger woman. But his old habits of disdain for others and a willingness to skirt the law brought him condemnation by Congress on ethics charges. And when his pride was injured he was willing to betray the principles for which he had previously fought, even to the point of giving an enemy aid and comfort.

    "His name is not John McCain. It was Benedict Arnold."

    Bruce Youngblood, Austin, TX

    McCain Mutiny MUGGER: Please continue your spirited and incisive attacks on John McCain. I consider him a danger to our republic. The prevailing wisdom is that Al Gore will savage George W. Bush in the debates, as he savaged Bill Bradley at the Apollo Theater. Gore is a master debater and just may eviscerate Bush. But, as a former debater, I know that debating skills, strategy and techniques are really quite simple. Gore's attacks and his responses to attacks can easily be deduced?that is, if someone like you does the deducing.

    Why don't you offer yourself to the Bush campaign in the role of debate strategist? You can submit your resume via a document in which you outline both Bush's and Gore's attacks and counterattacks, in a concise, objective and pragmatic manner. Even though Gore has insulated himself from the press, there is more than enough fodder in his debates, speeches, campaign commercials and public record to allow the delimiting of at least 80 to 90 percent of the sum and substance that he will exhibit during the debates. The only way Gore can win the election is if he trashes Bush during the debates. If the debates are a draw, Bush wins.

    You would be doing us all a great service if you applied your political acumen and communication skills for our guy George. You're better than William Safire. If Safire can do it, you can do it better.

    Sorry if this is too much stroking, but please consider it.

    George Mikos, Concord, CA

    Gasping for Air Catherine Seipp: I wanted to let you know how convincing the sentiments expressed in your 3/1 "Letter from L.A." were to me. You showed just how embarrassing Oxygen's general mentality is. I immediately canceled my online subscription. Name Withheld, Chicago

    Mighty Mice Regarding Catherine Seipp's 3/1 "Letter from L.A.": Seipp wrote that she could understand that "stupid teenagers might need a bit of hand-holding [to ensure that they'd have a voice in the 2000 election] via MTV's Rock the Vote." What she meant was, "...via MTV's Choose or Lose." "Rock the Vote" is an independent nonprofit organization.

    And if she happens to wander over to and reads some of the letters submitted to our "Speak Up" section by our users, she might even rethink her assumption that the teenagers in our audience are stupid.

    Jon Levin, associate producer,, Manhattan

    Against the 70s Catherine Seipp: I'm not sure what made your superb 3/1 column catch my eye, since I was only looking through the apartment section for a friend, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I wonder, since your e-mail address is so fearlessly displayed at the bottom of the page, if you will be deluged by predictable and dogmatic condemnations of your views. My guess is you probably will be. But judging from the tone of your article, you don't seem the kind of person who needs me to tell you not to pay attention to the shrill, lockstep ravings of those politically correct automatons. You wrote a swell piece, and that's all there is to it! Born in the 1970s, I am quite without the genetic capacity to stomach the touchy-feely, pseudo-feminine gobbledygook of my generation, particularly as it is evidenced in the media. I indulge myself by imagining that I am the last of the angry young men, and though I have been called "reactionary" by friends, the plain truth of it is that I just want to be left alone. No, actually that's not true. But I really hate Lifetime, and although I've never seen it, I bet I'd hate Oxygen, too.

    Theo Caldwell, Manhattan

    WFP Ass?Cheap Andrey Slivka's account ("New York City," 2/23) of the Working Families Party and its recent event with Hillary Clinton was pretentious and insulting. As a young writer's attempt to show off how smug and cynical he is, it was a success, but that's about it. Slivka made no serious attempt to understand the Working Families Party's agenda for the reform of the political landscape of New York state. He asked no questions of any WFP organizers, requested no documents and showed no curiosity about our actual work.

    There were more than 500 people at the recent WFP gathering. About half were white, half people of color. About 40 percent were union members. This lively, diverse group was there because they support the core issues in the WFP's program: living wage laws, affordable health care, genuine campaign finance reform, investment in education and more.

    When Slivka singles out "this elderly, black guy standing over here, yelling at Hillary to testify, pumping an occasional fist, this retired Transit man, or whatever he is," he betrays a contempt for the working-class people in New York, who, we are proud to say, are the bedrock of our party. Your readers deserve a more serious exploration of the WFP than this overheated rant. Sending us an e-mail at is one way to get that more thorough look at an unusual and interesting new political formation in the city and state.

    Dan Cantor, executive director, Working Families Party, Brooklyn

    Andrey Slivka replies: The thesis of my piece was that the Working Families Party is shoving the corrupt, right-leaning, authoritarian harridan and corporate apologist Hillary Clinton down the throats of its vulnerable, gullible working-class constituency in a sleazy grab for power, and that this is a bad thing. A "left" organization works to elect a sold-out, pro-death penalty, pro-corporate, Drug War-supporting, human rights-violating, Iran- and Sudan-bombing, stock-cheating shyster and political hack whom leftists of integrity despise?and I'm the one who's cynical? Cantor's a week-too-late spin doctor for an organization that's pimped its members out in the street for a couple shekels each.

    Cantor is correct, however, in calling my article "insulting."

    Beyond the Zero I enjoyed John Strausbaugh's 2/23 "Publishing" column. However, Strausbaugh may have paid Salon an inadvertent compliment when he wrote that its stock "hasn't budged since it dropped to half its initial worth." Doesn't he mean "initial price"? "Initial worth" gives it a value of something north of zero. Jeffrey Gilchrist, Manhattan

    Elaine's Booze-ler I do not read Taki, not to mention New York Press. As an artist (MFA), a writer (MA) and an intellectual, I would rather listen to NPR's Corey Flintoff speak truth to power or read serious alternative journalism in the Utne Reader. However, this time I make exception. I work for Josh Harris and I was with Josh at Elaine's, as New York/London badboy Tom Phillips noted in the 2/9 "The Mail." Actually, he did not mention me, but that's only due to his personal pique. Nevertheless, I do recall seeing Taki wearing a fanny pack, but I did not see the phone call. Honestly, I couldn't care less.

    Rather, the fanny-pack catfight between Taki and Tom Phillips serves only to obscure the fact they are both hypocrites. Both of them profess Shogun politics and medieval attitudes, yet both lead lives that are oh-so-moderne! Taki admits to a libertine sex life and, according to "Page Six," Tom Phillips used a phony diagnosis of depression to obtain handicapped license plates for his sports car.

    The rumors Mr. Phillips repeated about Mr. Harris are just rumors. Whether you dine at Veruka, Patroon, Pastis or even Moomba, you've heard them. That doesn't make them so. However, New York Press readers should note that Mr. Phillips is no longer welcome at Nan Kempner's parties, and Ed Koch got him banned from Marylou's. Why do others continue to kiss his ass? At least Taki can write.

    Tom Phillips' idea of an intellectual argument is one part physical intimidation and two parts drunken screaming. His idea of chummy company is washed-up actors like Dabney Coleman and booze-addled strumpets like Candy Bushnell. Don't take my word for it. Ask anyone at Jean Doumanian's holiday party last year. Woody Allen didn't appreciate jokes about his "mother-in-law," and I didn't find them tasteful at all. He may be a spokesman for Generation X, but he certainly doesn't speak for me.

    T. O'Toole, Ridgewood, NJ

    Louie Primo I am very disappointed by your shot at Lou Reed ("Billboard," 2/23). I thought you were going to say something like, "He canceled his gigs in Austria to protest the neo-Nazi Jorg Haider, yet he played a sold-out show at the Knitting Factory not long ago. Apparently he doesn't object to our local neo-Nazi, Rudy Giuliani!" That would've been a better point than the one you made. Claire Francis, Brooklyn

    RUC in a Hard Place John O'Sullivan's 2/23 "Top Drawer" piece regarding Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein absolutely sickened me. Mr. O'Sullivan takes Sinn Fein to task for failing to leave the security of its constituency in the hands of the police (the Royal Ulster Constabulary) or the British Army. The RUC is over 90 percent Protestant in a country that is getting closer and closer to an even division across religious lines. The RUC has a long and noted history of refusing to come to the aid of Catholics in Northern Ireland. Furthermore, they have been exposed in English courts as having shared their intelligence files with Protestant paramilitaries for the purpose of political assassinations of Catholic citizens. The RUC is regularly used to deny even the most basic of civil rights to the Catholic population. It is unfortunate that it falls upon the IRA to police the Catholic population. Given the alternative, it is clearly the lesser of two evils. The IRA needs to retain its weapons until a lasting peace has been established. There must first be established a justice system that guarantees all citizens equal protections under the law. No one asked Nelson Mandela or the ANC to disarm prior to negotiating a peace with the racist apartheid regime in South Africa. Why should Ireland be any different?

    New York Press, I'm surprised. Perhaps next issue we can expect insightful commentary on the plight of white colonialists in Zimbabwe, or a supportive piece on the Russian death squads operating in Chechnya. Mr. O'Sullivan may wear his racism on his sleeve, but as an institution I would expect more of you.

    Sam Hutchins, Manhattan