How Do You Say ‘Sotomayor’?

Olympia, Wash.

She was raised in the projects, humble and poor;
Among her own people she’s Sotomayor.
But Barack Obama has raised her higher,
And most will now call her Sotomayor.

(with a tip of the hat to Calvin Trillin)

Torture by Any Other Name

Mount Dora, Fla.

It did my heart good to read Katha Pollitt’s May 18 “Subject to Debate,” with its mention of the Japanese use of the “water treatment”–as we called it during my two and a half years of torture, starvation and beatings, from April 1943 to September 1945. Since all the fuss about the recent US torture programs, nobody seems to refer to the Japanese use of this useless type of interrogation or how it was adjudicated at the war crimes trials in Tokyo in 1946, at which my skipper testified about our treatment at various camps (including the illegal navy camp at Ofuna).

At the trials one, perhaps more, of our guards was sentenced to hang and several more were given prison sentences. All this serves to support the prosecution of American leaders like Bush, Cheney, Addington, Yoo, etc., who planned and carried out the torture programs of the past several years.


Safe Sexting?

Pacifica, Calif.

One wonders just how long these law enforcement officials spent poring over the allegedly pornographic photographs of teens [JoAnn Wypijewski, “Through a Lens Starkly,” May 18]. Did it take a minute, or maybe multiple viewings over the course of a few days, until they felt able to carefully discern whether they, the adults, felt titillated by the photos? That seems to be the standard being imposed.

Where is the line beyond which these arbiters of decency become the consumers of the (alleged) child porn? And were the laws involved really written so that children should be charged by the authorities for viewing pictures of other children? I feel confident in stating that we are alone in this practice in the Western world.

I am disturbed by the increasing number of ways our criminal justice system is finding to prosecute our children.


Foreclosures Are Rolling Along

Medford, Ore.

Kai Wright, in “More Mortgage Madness” [May 18], hit the nail on the head! This system is broken. The government wants the loans modified, the public certainly wants to see the loans modified and the attorneys and loan modification companies can facilitate the modification; yet an almost impenetrable wall has been erected at the servicers’ headquarters. Consumers should not give up hope–there are a lot of great modifications happening. But in most cases the modifications happen despite the servicers’ inadequacies. This problem is fixable but not while inexperienced, entry-level customer service representatives of the servicers are working with inexperienced, entry-level nonprofit counselors for the borrowers.

Although bleak, this story is dead-on.

JOE YATES, president

Lebanon, Conn.

My story mirrors Kai Wright’s article. As soon as the Homeowners Affordability Stability Plan was announced by the Obama administration, I hoped I could refinance my subprime loan with Saxon Mortgage Company. After several phone calls, multiple transfers and mixed information, I was told what forms to download from their website and how to proceed. After months and many follow-up phone calls, I was assured that a “case manager” (who seemed to only have voicemail) had been assigned. After another multitude of follow-up calls, I was denied refinancing because one document was missing from my file. The clincher is that the document was not listed on the checklist of required documents from the website. I was furious and asked why no one had bothered to call me. The only response was, Sorry, your case is closed–you are welcome to start the process over again…

I question whom these programs will actually help. I’m betting on big business, corporations and the financial elite.


Socialist Reading List

New York City

George Scialabba’s May 11 “Only Words,” a beautifully written, sensible, even tragic analysis of two books on contemporary liberalism is, in the view of this Nation reader and “Western Marxist,” superb. His too infrequent essays strike just the right tone for socialists who need to retain their commitments and keep up with the lesser books that big-time publishers bring out. I am sad to find that both the New York Public Library and Amazon seem not to have his Divided Mind or What Are Intellectuals Good For?


Thanks for the Poetry

San Jose, Calif.

Thank you for the Adrian Louis poem “Rockabilly Blues” [May 11]. More people need exposure to his work–and to Native American literature in general.


A Matter of Declension & No Capital

In Jana Prikryl’s “The Kundera Conundrum” [June 8], the last syllable of Martin M. Šimecka’s name was misspelled. Also, Dana Goldstein’s June 15 “The Selling of School Reform” should have said “the hedge fund Khronos LLC” (not Capital).