Bum Rush

True to his Arkansas hillbilly roots, Jerry Jones has become little more than a buffoon, sporting bad toupees for the national television cameras that are recording his weird mannerisms and spasmodic antics during his team’s games. And now you crown him and his roster of overpaid underachievers Bum Steers of the Year simply because they produced yet another disappointing season [“The 2011 Bum Steer Awards,” January 2011]? Wake up and smell the manure, TEXAS MONTHLY. Jerry Jones has been the bummest of Bum Steers since he stumbled across the state line more than twenty years ago.
Edward Smith

The least you could have done was put Mack Brown next to Jerry Jones. That poor Bevo looks like a dadgum scapegoat.
Dalila C. Carrasco
Del Rio

You should be ashamed of yourselves for putting the Longhorns on the cover—or even on the list. These are a group of college students—not professional athletes, crooked businessmen, or philandering politicians. These 18- to 23-year-olds go out every weekend and, typically, get pounded. We hated seeing them lose, sure, but they were still classy, on and off the field. Give the kids a break.
Lynne Skinner

The obvious Bum Steer of the Year is TEXAS MONTHLY, for brushing aside the sad events in education, government, crime, and the environment in favor of what is, no more and no less, a game. Disappointing.
Sue Stewart

Nature Calls

My precious Longhorns as Bum Steers. The infernal proceedings of the governor and the State Board of Education. Immigration. Reliving the tragedy of Selena. Countless pearls of wisdom from the Texanist. These and many other pieces in TEXAS MONTHLY have inspired me to write many impassioned letters to the editor—in my mind. But, no, in reality, it’s a brief article by Rick Bass that has me banging this out on my wife’s laptop late at night [“Stuck Truck,” January 2011].

In the oft-dry creek beds behind my childhood home in northwest San Antonio, my little brother, cousin, childhood friend, and I spent many a day memorizing the contours of the floodplain, imagining where the creek began and ended and mythologizing dog and deer prints into bear and wild boar prints. I cannot begin to count how many dreams I had of the flooded creek bed: the sound of rushing water, the dry arroyo replaced with a raging river, the sense of awe at something so suddenly powerful.

As we entered driving age, both my little brother and I got our vehicles stuck in mud (thankfully at different times so as to salvage some vestiges of our parents’ sanity) and experienced both one-track-mindedness about freeing said stuck vehicles and relieved pride once accomplished. Time has passed inexorably.

My cousin assists in physical therapy at a local hospital, my friend is an accomplished guitarist, I teach high school chemistry, and, sadly, my little brother has long since passed away. But every time I pass the intersection of Hollyhock and Babcock, I am taken back to those days of losing ourselves in a small patch of wild suburbia, explaining muddy sneakers to our mothers, pretending to be outdoors experts, avoiding rattlesnakes, and wondering if it’s bad to wade and swim in brown water. Thank you, Mr. Bass, for taking me to the intersection of Hollyhock and Babcock.
James Rice
San Antonio

Life and Death

I have, for most of my adult life, been a proponent of the death penalty for the most heinous of criminals. But I may have been swayed by your editorial in the January issue [Behind the Lines, January 2011]. “Until the day comes when we are able to guarantee that our system will never put innocent men and women to death, we can’t continue to use a form of punishment that is irreversible. It’s time for Texas to put a moratorium on capital punishment.” That’s persuasive.

I have also, for most of my adult life, found it curious that those most generally aligned against capital punishment are also among those who most fervently and aggressively support abortion. I don’t believe there is a debate about the guilt or innocence of those who are put to death by that “irreversible” procedure.

So, I will join forces with you if you will meet me halfway. Let’s put a moratorium on all the killing—guilty and innocent.
Craig Hubbard

Your piece calling for the suspension of the death penalty in Texas was right on several fronts. I am a law-and-order person. I have no sympathy whatsoever for someone who would take the life of another person. There is no place on earth for them. At the same time, I have slowly come to the conclusion that the death penalty should be abolished on several grounds.

First, as you so clearly point out, the system is not without its flaws. Overzealous prosecutors are often the primary problem, but “we the people” are not far behind. I am not willing to trust my fate to a jury of my “peers.” This part of the system can be improved, but as long as it contains a human element, it cannot be rendered error-proof. Putting just one innocent person to death is too many.

Second, I know that it costs taxpayers millions of dollars to enforce the death penalty and takes years to finish the process. From a simple mathematical perspective, those guilty of this crime don’t deserve the waste of my time or money. Throw them in jail and be done with it.

Finally, you referenced the 22 freshman lawmakers coming in on the coattails of the national tea party movement. I personally buy into the theme behind the tea party. I am a child of the sixties, and I simply don’t trust government, and the bigger the government the less I trust it. I hope these folks “get it” and understand that limiting government has to do with both sides of the coin. I do not believe that any government has the right to take the life of another person.
Dan Solberg
via e-mail