Piling on Paula
I don't speak for the Dallas Morning News, nor do I presume to answer for everyone else who works here. I have to say I found your attack on Paula LaRocque completely unwarranted [BeloWatch, December 22]. I have worked with Paula for 12 years and have consistently benefited from the association. She's intelligent, insightful, and helpful; I consider her a writer's asset, as well as a friend.

By the way, anyone who would employ the phrase "one of the most universally disliked" could use a writing coach.

Doug Swanson
(Editor's Note: Doug Swanson is a Dallas Morning News reporter.)

Pining Away
Your BeloWatch column reminds me of a schoolboy who hates and criticizes the boyfriend of his "secret love" (who doesn't know he's alive!).

As far as "Familiar story" [BeloWatch, December 15]--you bet! Check out D magazine's May 1992 article, "Ridin' & Ropin'" at Pig Park. Are you saying first is best?

Why not devote the space to something new and interesting? No one has a gun to our head to make us read Belo publications. Get over it. Most of us rise above our competition by outperforming them, not criticizing them.

John Storace
(Editor's Note: Criticism has its place too, but on this point, the reader is correct. D did mention Pig Park in print before the Observer published its story.)

Suffer the little children
I have been waiting a long time to get something off my chest regarding the content of the Dallas Observer. Your publication is undoubtedly the raunchiest in town, and a disgrace to those of us in Dallas who consider ourselves Christians. If you want an explanation for why I say this, look no further than the next paragraph.

Your "reporting" is very pro-liberal, and I have often been taken aback by your absurd stories and innuendos concerning such notables as Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and other Republicans. You continue to run ads in the back of your paper for homosexuals who are looking for sinful relationships, and you print phone numbers for kinky phone sex companies--in plain view of any decent man, woman, or child to see! Your publication belongs on the back shelf of a convenience store magazine rack, covered in plastic. If one of my kids ever brings home a Dallas Observer, he'll be sitting on a pillow for a week--and that's a promise.

Stop corrupting the minds and hearts of decent Dallasites--there's enough wickedness in the world already.

Thad Beaumont

Lighten up
I don't know why, but every Thursday, when I pick up my copy of the Dallas Observer, I flip straight to Robert Wilonsky's "Street Beat" column. Maybe I do so for the same reason crowds of human ghouls rush after a speeding ambulance or fire engines: when we get there, we are usually assured of feasting our eyes on a suitably horrible mess of bloodied and writhing bodies.

Who wrote the absurd rule that the two main prerequisites for becoming a music critic are misanthropy and a pathological fear and hatred of music? Whoever it was, Wilonsky obviously put a yellow highlighter to the text.

Lighten up, Robby, baby.
Jimmie R. Markham

Welfare spending
Occasionally, when I think my senses can bear it, I read Molly Ivins' weekly infomercial in the Observer. Usually--and this time is no exception--I ask myself, "Are there folks out there who believe this?"

Ms. Ivins' states near the end of her column ["States' rights," December 1] that welfare is just over one percent of federal expenses. Surely, the editors do not believe this. Most knowledgeable people estimate welfare spending to be much higher. Martin L. Gross in A Call For Revolution says 78 certified federal welfare programs exist today. He goes on to say that federal and state welfare spending in 1994 is more than $300 billion--making it the largest item in the federal budget, or about 20 percent of federal spending.

Howard Lohmuller