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The American ruling elite needs all the "heroes" it can sell, and now that one of their top apologists, William F. Buckley Jr., has cashed in, it's the corporate media's job to cast him in bronze. "Giant of the right belongs to the ages" was the Mail Tribune's ludicrous headline over his half-page puff-filled obituary. Though the rhapsodizing continues, these paeans to his memory omit some of the juiciest bits in the Buckley story.

Just one example: This elegant, fastidious poseur with the fake British accent, raised in the lap of luxury, was only one generation removed from the depredations of a Texas freebooter — more precisely, an oil-looter — operating in Mexico in 1914 following the coup of Gen. Victoriano "The Jackal" Huerta. Under Huerta's dictatorship, Buckley Sr. made a killing in Mexican oil. When the next president, Alvaro Obregon, booted Buckley out, he went to Venezuela, where, working with the Rockefellers (Standard Oil), he reaped another fortune.

So Buckley Jr. is hardly the first multi-millionaire's son to have discovered the great appeal of "conservatism." It's merely the "I've-got-mine-Jack-screw-you" philosophy, in spades. Making greed respectable was as natural to Buckley Jr. as seizing foreign wealth was to his father. — Isaac Walker, Ashland

Regarding the question of why we should help our animals: God has given all humans the ultimate gift, the gift of free will. We are able to better our lives no matter from where we have originated.

The animals who share our world, and of whom our Lord commands us to be good stewards, are completely at our mercy. Most have been brought, unwanted, into this world because we are too ignorant to spay/neuter and provide a lifelong commitment.

I believe how we, as a nation, treat our animal companions shows just how far we have fallen. God gave us these wonderful creatures to enrich our lives ... just think of the joy and devotion a dog or cat brings to any home. That we cannot prevent this cruelty is one of the saddest legacies we will leave behind come the end.

Do not obtain a pet unless you are willing to make a lifelong commitment. Make sure you are able to provide for that pet. A puppy or a kitten is not a toy to be played with for a short time and then discarded. It is a sentient being who deserves a life of love and care. — J. Lallo, Medford

Mr. Esquivel said, "I've met former gays, but I've yet to meet a former black, or a former Hispanic." What the hell kind of snotty, la-dee-dah remark is that? Sal should get off his high horse and do something constructive.

What's uncivil is people like him butting into other people's privacy and trying to force them to live his kind of life, whatever that may be; not one I want to be associated with, that's for sure.

If anything should be "dump"ed it's his attitude. — Marlyn Mason, Medford

I applaud Chris Conrad's decision to join the Elks (Tempo, March 7). More than anything, I like his reasons for joining. Charitable organizations are a great tradition in this country — back to Ben Franklin and further. And, hurray for swimming against the stream! In the '60s, you had to fight the establishment to be "radical." Today, joining an established group like this is radical.

I'm not an Elk. Closest I've come to the Elks is playing at the club during the Jazz Jubilee. But I love that charitable clubs like this exist, and I love what they do. Carry the torch, young man! Bravo! — Theresa McCoy, Jacksonville