Ridgeway may be right about 9-11 and the president's prior knowledge, but that doesn't make Howard Dean the most qualified candidate to unseat the president. Dean's brazen lack of diplomacy would make him a scary president.

Dean's lack of experience in diplomacy would be lethal for this country. Bush's shortcomings have caused us to suffer enough: lack of health care, loss of jobs, huge deficits, and alienation of our allies. I'd rather have John Kerry than either of them.

Angela Worden
Naples, Florida


Re "Dean Calls 9-11":

We need to stop printing this kind of wild speculation in the intelligent liberal press; let's leave it for the Vince Foster loonies and National Review. Bush's responses to 9-11 have been shortsighted, arrogant, foolhardy, belligerent, you name it—but I don't see how we can point fingers at the government for not picking up on what must have been a handful of "correct" suspicions among thousands of warnings about far-fetched terrorist plots. I assume that most people in government, regardless of their political affiliations or professional qualifications, figured such a high-profile attack and mass suicide was unlikely to succeed because no one had pulled it off before. It looks foolish in hindsight, but I can't imagine any amount of digging is going to produce a "smoking gun" memo that really proves incompetence or willful ignorance about a catastrophe that is unprecedented.

I want to see Bush out of office in 2004. I don't want to see intelligent publications like the Voice over-reaching and descending into weird speculations that Bush or some Republican apparatchik knew about 9-11 and allowed it to go forward. Come on, that kind of conspiracy-theory mentality makes us look bad. There are plenty of demonstrable, even sensational, acts of cruelty and stupidity from the Bush administration to write about without resorting to imagined failings.

Dan Rothenberg
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Re Douglas Wolk's "Five to Three: A Smaller Warner Gives Up" [November 19-25, 2003]:

Wolk discusses my lawsuit against Chuck Warner, owner of the Hyped to Death label, and Bruce Brodeen, owner of Not Lame Recordings, seeking statutory damages for intentional copyright infringement and distribution of a song I wrote ("Blown Away") and put out independently on a 45 ("John Are") in 1983. I sued Warner because, without my permission or knowledge, he took my song, digitalized it, edited it, and then sold and distributed it worldwide (in part through distributors like Not Lame) as part of a CD-R compilation. Warner's intentional infringement of copyright to my song was immoral and illegal.

Wolk did not bother to contact me about the lawsuit. Instead, he apparently chose to be spoon-fed his information by Warner. Wolk suggests that as a little-known musician with few record sales, I really had no right to sue Warner. Indeed, while Wolk bemoans the fact that Warner spent $10,000 defending the lawsuit (even before talks of settlement began), he ignores the fact that Warner spent that amount in his own disingenuous attempt to evade the jurisdiction of the federal court in Baltimore, where I filed suit.

Since when did the Voice start championing the interests of businessmen over artists? Wolk claims that Warner "lovingly" assembled his CD-Rs of pirated materials that he "archived" (i.e., sold for his personal commercial gain). Well, I "lovingly" assembled my record: moving to NYC, putting together a band, rehearsing, working my day job, and living in my rehearsal studio to pay for the recording. And I also "lovingly" remember that the Voice's own Sylvia Plachy shot the cover photo, that the John Are 45 was on CBGB's jukebox for years, and that when I went to RCA Records' offices and was offered a record deal (I eventually signed with Columbia Records with my band, Cruel Story of Youth), my 45 was being displayed in the office of the a&r person who wanted to sign me. In short, the John Are 45 was the fruit of my and my band's work, and I copyrighted it to protect my interests in that record.

I wish that instead of helping businessmen attack artists who have the nerve to assert their rights against the pirating of their material, the Voice would provide information concerning copyright law that might be helpful to artists, especially in an age in which anyone's work, in various media, can easily be digitally pirated.

John Roberson
Catonsville, Maryland


Leave it to Richard Goldstein to detect pro-R. Kelly favoritism in contrasting the Chicago-based r&b singer's case with that of Michael Jackson ["I Believe I Can Open My Fly," January 14-20]. Goldstein sees everything through the alleged bias of sexual orientation. Goldstein is the Al Sharpton of sexual orientation, egregiously and narrowly condemning one and all for alleged homophobia. And he is as phony and dishonest as the current Democratic presidential candidate-cum-SNL guest host.

It never occurred to Goldstein that race might have something to do with these cases. Jackson is suspect with many African Americans because he long ago distanced himself as far as he could from blackness, whereas R. Kelly, whatever his sins, never abandoned the black community (he still lives in his native Chicago). Nor did Kelly hypocritically invoke "racism" (as Jackson did, belatedly seeking prominent black support, e.g., Johnnie Cochran) when he got into trouble. I am not defending either man. I'm just saying that Goldstein is nothing more than a predictable narcissist plying his phony writings in the hall of mirrors known as "alternative" journalism in the 21st century.

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