Re: War with Syria

In his article “Bombs away” [Sept. 4], Bob Geary relates the dilemma of opposing the “Peace President” for his drone policy. However, with Syria, Obama blows that cover with Democrats.

Why do I feel like I’m being manipulated to support another war for morality? Being a veteran, I believe Eisenhower’s assessment: “I hate war … its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.” What part of brutal, futile and stupid makes war moral? Why does the U.S. government jail whistleblowers for exposing war crimes? Being a veteran, I’ve read military strategy, and Sun Tzu tells us that “all warfare is based on deception.” We are deceived into thinking war is moral if it prevents a bigger war. Do two wrongs make a right? Can you get to moral ends by evil means?

Where’s the economic reason for war with Syria? Being a veteran, I believe that Gen. Smedley Butler, winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor twice, got it right when he called out the war profiteers by saying, “War is a racket … few profit, many pay.” Who profits most by making war on Syria? No surprise there. One faction of the oil industry wanted a pipeline through Syria, and Assad would not let them do it. So that faction decided to arm anyone, even terrorists, who wanted to overthrow Assad. That started the humanitarian crises.

War happens when civilization fails. It is the most immoral act possible. Nothing, nothing can justify aggression against the people of Syria. Profiting from killing is immoral. Killing for morality is brutal, futile and stupid.

Wally Myers, Raleigh

Re: Franklin Street

I’ve owned a business downtown since 2003 and worked downtown since 1994, and I don’t think a year has passed without local newspapers letting everyone know that Franklin Street ain’t what it used to be [“Franklin Street at a crossroads,” Sept. 4].

Guys, I’m sorry the Rat is gone. I’m really sorry Pepper’s is gone; they served my favorite pizza in the world. I wouldn’t mind a Squeaky Dog every now and then, for that matter, and I’d love to be able to go hang out with Hans and eat at the Burrito Bunker, and play Black Tiger at Barrel of Fun.

But, hey! Guess what? I can still eat at Sandwhich, Mediterranean Deli or Lime & Basil. I can go next door to Mellow Mushroom, which is a thousand times more vibrant and exciting to diners than Ham’s ever was, and is certainly better for my business than Ham’s was.

I do have to give props for what must be the first mention in local media that perhaps West Franklin Street has it going on. You’re years late on that, but I’m proud of you for starting to catch up. And at least the article grudgingly admitted that many of the businesses that had closed had been replaced by other businesses. I know, I know, they’re objectively worse than whatever was there back when you were a college kid.

I guess instead of writing this same basic response every time the INDY runs this article, I should look to the future myself, and take solace that one day when I’ve moved to the castle to which all small businessmen retire, people will say, “Franklin Street ain’t what it used to be now that Chapel Hill Comics is gone.”

Andrew Neal, Chapel Hill Comics

Not only did the [Franklin Street] article do a good job highlighting the plight of Chapel Hill’s downtown entrepreneurs, but it was also surprising and refreshing to see you include (and agree with?) the perspective of the pro-business Republican minority in Chapel Hill.

However, I think your article missed one of the biggest contributors to the decline of Franklin Street businesses: the significant efforts and investment by the university and its food service contractor, Aramark Corporation, to increase on-campus dining by students, as well as faculty and staff. The combination of many new dining locations on campus (there’s now a 24-hour Wendy’s in the student union) and the construct of student meal plans has been the biggest factor in the decreased student patronage of Franklin Street restaurants (the foot traffic from which impacts non-restaurant businesses as well).

It is hard to argue that more dining options for students is a bad thing, but the fact is that money spent on on-campus dining is money not spent elsewhere in Chapel Hill, and Aramark’s fee (which I hear is 2 percent on total sales) is profit that evaporates from the local economy.

Most of the meal plans have a use-it-or-lose-it policy, making students feel compelled to eat on campus. I do not suggest that UNC or Aramark’s activities have been nefarious in any way (local restaurateurs may feel differently), but it is a notable factor, particularly as it relates to the university’s “vested interest in retaining Chapel Hill’s small business character.”

I work in an office on Franklin Street because I like the local character, but I probably would not stay there if I had to go to CVS instead of Sutton’s.

Mark Phillips, Chapel Hill

Re: Bulls playoff games

The majority of Durham Bulls fans are not true fans. They don’t care if the Bulls win or lose. They are not there for a competitive sports match. It’s a social event. During the regular season, when little is on the line, the games serve these fans well. But in the playoffs, when there is a supposed gain, a touted competition, they cease to serve them [“Extra innings,” Sept. 4].

This is not because Bulls fans are bad people, or insincere, or because the players are unskilled, or the league is poorly run. This is because the Bulls are not a true team, the league is not a true league, and the playoffs offer nothing.

But this can be remedied if AAA and AA leagues were tiered below the major league. If you can’t hack it with the big boys, you’re booted. If you whup ass in the minors, you’re moving on up. Can you imagine 1,500 fans attending a Bulls game where what’s on the line is the chance to have the Yankees, the Phillies, the Red Sox and the Twins (OK, that was a joke) come to town next season? It would be sold out.

Does this sound fanciful? Well it’s not. It’s called relegation/promotion, and every major soccer league in Europe uses it. An athlete doesn’t have to hope a manager chooses him to move up to the parent club. He and his teammates can kick and claw their way from AA to the majors if they’ve got the guts. Fans don’t have to see their best players stripped from them just when the stakes become highest. They can help propel that team from what would undoubtedly be scathingly competitive leagues toward a massive prize.

Let the parent clubs have their farm teams and their minor leagues if they want. Just don’t expect people to pretend it’s real.

Todd Levins, Durham