Obama No Boomer

Lakewood, Ohio

Alexander Cockburn is one of my favorites, as are all your columnists. Everybody. But I must take exception to his June 9 column, “From Palmyra to Obama.” His take on history is great. Indeed, Palmyra was a victim of the fortunes of the Roman Empire. There is a lesson to be learned. However… We are not Rome. We are America.

The world will absolutely be a better place merely by the fact of Bush’s absence. No doubt. (He’ll be missed like Herbert Hoover. Now we need another FDR.) And it will be a better place because, unlike Bush, Clinton, Cockburn or myself, Barack Obama is not a baby boomer. Big plus. Besides his brains, class and heart, his youth gives him a huge leg up on anybody in sight. This guy deserves the complete support of what Hunter S. Thompson called a doomed generation. After our statistical hogging of the culture, the least we can do is get out of the way. It’s their turn.


Technically, Cockburn is not a boomer. –Ed.

Crime: Driving While Hispanic

Columbia, S.C.

Thank you for Roberto Lovato’s “Juan Crow in Georgia” [May 26]. Very few media sources shed any light on the other side of the illegal immigration issue. It seems that in this country being Hispanic is becoming a crime. I am a US citizen of Mexican descent, and my wife is a legal resident. We fear these oppressive laws because they are not just targeting illegal immigrants but also legal Hispanics. They open up a lot of racial profiling by law enforcement. Here in South Carolina, the government is starting to pass oppressive laws similar to those of Georgia. We’ve witnessed state troopers putting traffic stops in Hispanic neighborhoods and asking for driver’s licenses. I have heard of cases across the country similar to the one in the article, where citizens of Latino descent are interrogated and even turned in to ICE. In Phoenix this happened to a citizen who was third-generation Mexican-American. His “crime” was that he was Hispanic. We fear the same will happen to us if we ever encounter local law enforcement on the road.


East Lansing, Mich.

When nearly all forms of elite capital are freely permitted to cross national jurisdictions, working classes are unfairly disadvantaged by immigration policies that prevent them from selling their labor to the highest bidder. If the international community is keen on allowing big business the flexibility to relocate jobs across national borders, doesn’t justice require permitting labor the right to follow?


Salt Lake City

Roberto Lovato writes, “Georgia’s estimated 500,000 undocumented immigrants must think twice before seeking emergency support at hospitals or clinics because of laws that require them to prove their legal status before receiving many state benefits.” Since 1986, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) has provided open access to US hospitals’ emergency departments regardless of ability to pay, citizenship or insurance status for patients presenting an emergency condition. This is an unfunded mandate, and 50 percent of emergency care is not reimbursed to the providing hospital. Hospitals have been fined for noncompliance with EMTALA. No state law can supersede the federal statute. Changes in state laws affecting benefits (Medicaid being a state benefit) will certainly decrease hospital reimbursement but do not directly affect access to care for the undocumented.

The United States has one of the most comprehensive and generous provisions of emergency care in the world. Most wealthy nations with “universal coverage” exclude undocumented immigrants from their definition of “universal,” and some actually criminalize treatment of such patients.

Emergency Medicine

Let Them Eat Ethanol

Missoula, Mont.

Thank you, John Nichols, for “The World Food Crisis” [May 12]; finally, a discussion of the crisis that does more than blame biofuels. Turning US corn–genetically engineered cattle feed–into ethanol is not taking food from people in Africa.

We need to solve the real issue, the convergence of massive commodity speculation with the destruction of agriculture in poor countries. WTO, NAFTA, CAFTA, G8, IMF–the acronyms of corporate power–(1) systematically destroyed agriculture in impoverished countries with “free market” policies, (2) created trade deals that ensured poverty wages and (3) fostered a “market” system whereby commodity speculators on the Chicago Board of Trade determine the price of corn in Zambia and rice in Haiti. With the end of the real estate bubble, investment bankers and hedge funds are bringing us the food bubble–record profits in a world where 3 billion people have no money. As Nichols suggests, money is essential. But solutions will come with food sovereignty, not charity.

The G8 governments need to take agriculture out of global trade agreements and stop the IMF, the World Bank and people like Robert Zoellick from dictating economic policy to poor countries. The $400 billion debt of impoverished countries held by international financial institutions needs to be canceled immediately for every poor country with a democratically elected government–and canceled without IMF “reforms.” People who cannot afford to buy food should not be suffering from the debts racked up by the dictators who oppressed their grandparents.

Finally, the rich countries need to help poor countries redevelop agriculture with assistance informed by local farmers, independent of transnational corporations. Genetically modified seed from Monsanto is not food sovereignty.


Franklin, N.C.

John Nichols perpetuates an oversimplification–that growing for export markets is “bad.” I am a founder of Asociación ANAI, a Costa Rica-based nonprofit that has devoted much of the past thirty years to enabling small family farmers in the Talamanca region of Costa Rica and Panama to compete in export markets. More than 2,000 families are realizing decent incomes based primarily on the production of organic chocolate, banana and other products for export. The income has enabled them to stay on the land, improve their conservation practices and produce a significant proportion of what they eat. In 1980 their main alternatives involved logging and/or selling their farms and/or seeking employment in nearby agro-industry. For further information, check out www.anaicr.org.

Executive director, ANAI Inc.


The documents from the Directorate of National Intelligence, revealing the scope of intelligence outsourcing, mentioned in Jeremy Scahill’s “Blackwater’s Private Spies” [June 23] were first obtained by journalist Tim Shorrock, author of the new book Spies for Hire, and reported in Salon, followed by the report by blogger R.J. Hillhouse cited in the article.