THE CHAD MAN COMETH...
For nearly four decades, the fine New York Yankee outfielder, Roger Maris, suffered the ignominy of the asterisk after his sixty-one-home-run record until absolved by Mark McGwire. Now, I feel that this election requires the reinstatement of this special character. Therefore, might I suggest that hereinafter The Nation refer to the President-elect as George W. Bush*.
PETER SPANG GOODRICH
HE'S DIMPLED, HE'S PIMPLED, HE'S...
To summarize the Florida events (tossed votes, visually impaired justice, conniving legislators, scheming brothers, partisan election officials, rioting right wingers and legions of habitually duplicitous lawyers) in two and a half words: George W. Putsch.
The January 1 editorial "No Honeymoon" suggests that George W. Bush's call on the country "to put politics behind us" is a (disingenuous) call for bipartisanship. It seems to me that Bush's phrase reveals, inadvertently, his political program. If we think of the word politics in its original sense, the affairs of the citizen, the phrase "put politics behind us" emerges as a clear and chilling statement of the intentions of His Fraudulency, George the Unready, President of the United States by the Grease of the Supreme Court.
THAT ONE'S NO WAG
Regarding the Republican majority in the US Supreme Court's electoral antidecision: What a bunch of Scaliawags!
On the cover of the January 1 issue, the words "irreparable harm" appeared in big, bold print, and a quote from Justice John Paul Stevens announced that the December 12 decision by the Supreme Court making George W. Bush the President had eroded "the nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law." But for me, as a 16-year-old high school student, no such irreparable harm was done, because, quite simply, I have never had the comfort of that confidence.
I have grown up with the conservative Rehnquist Court, only reading about the liberal Warren one in history books. I have seen unprovoked searches at my school, kids younger than me sentenced to adult jails, racist drug policies practiced and promoted and myself and my peers portrayed and treated as members of some malicious "Columbine generation." Thus the Court did not damage itself in my eyes, it simply reinforced my vision of it as a partisan, conservative, malevolent faction of a justice system out of control. Please do not read into this letter that I, or others of my generation, have given up hope, or that we do not care about politics, for we do; just know that we have not grown up with the reality of courts that are "an impartial guardian of the rule of law," but rather a hazy dream of them.
Chapel Hill, N.C.
The news of the death of Daniel Singer came like a fist in the gut ["Daniel Singer," Dec. 25]. I never met Singer, but he seemed a friend, a comrade in the truest sense of the word. Among The Nation's many fine writers, Singer stood out as the most radical. His principled leftist politics combined an understanding of our history, a commitment to our current struggles and a vision for our future. I urge readers who have not yet done so to read Singer's Whose Millennium? Theirs or Ours? and to embrace the fervent optimism with which he greeted the twenty-first century.
Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.
I sighed out loud on a Metro North train at the news of Daniel Singer's death. The ride to work will be longer without him.
ACROSS THE UNIVERSE...
It's not often one gets to correct his professor, and I can't resist [Jon Wiener, "Lennon's Greatest Hits," Dec. 18]. A close reading of the text (something Jon always taught us to do) suggests that Lennon wasn't saying "count me out" of revolution but of destruction: "If you're talkin' 'bout destructio-u-u-un, don't you know you can count me out." I can't quarrel with Jon's overall interpretation, though. The fast version certainly has a "let it be" attitude.
Jon Wiener says, "Several of Lennon's most memorable lines have not been appropriated by pundits or Op-Ed types: 'Instant Karma's gonna get you' remains untouched, at least according to Nexis." Maybe so, but the day after Lennon's murder, that line appeared on the signboard outside the Memorial Union at the University of Iowa.
New York City
John Lennon's "Gimme Some Truth" should get radio time on the hour these days. Nay, it should be broadcast off the rooftops of every town square and major city. Thirty years after it was penned it seems more timely than ever. That the Republicans have appropriated Lennon's works is a travesty. "I've had enough of reading things by neurotic psychotic pig-headed politicians. All I want is the truth/just gimme some truth. No short-haired yellow-bellied son of Tricky Dicky is gonna Mother Hubbard soft soap me with just a pocketful of hope." These words are as incendiary now as they were then, perhaps more so.
'DOWN' ON THE FARM
"The Last Farm Crisis" [Nov. 20] was a welcome contribution to the discussion of the concentration of control of our food system in the hands of a few corporations. I would like to correct a misconception and reinforce one of William Greider's points.
The dangerous misconception promoted by agribusiness and repeated by Greider is that sustainable alternative agriculture systems have lower yields than the industrialized one. Researchers and organic farmers have amply proven that organic farming can be higher yielding per acre and that those higher yields can be sustained for longer and during less favorable weather conditions. Sustainable agriculture on small farms producing for local communities has the potential to raise and equitably distribute more food of higher quality than our current system. This would require more farmers. US agricultural policy has for too long had the goal of reducing the number of farmers to near-extinction, a trend that will leave us undernourished while fattening the Cargills and Monsantos.
Greider's call to involve consumers in creating a whole-food system--or better, many local whole-food systems--is crucial to reversing this trend. Less than 2 percent of us are farmers. Farmers and consumers need to work together to change agricultural policy. European and Asian consumers have proven--by refusing to buy food containing genetically modified organisms--that consumers can also affect the food system through food-buying choices. Many American consumers are choosing to build local food systems by supporting local sustainable farms. Shopping at Farmers Markets or through Community Supported Agriculture farms, both of which are growing at record rates, is a good place to start.
Seattle Tilth Association, www.seattletilth.org
William Greider compares the collective state farm system of the Soviet Union with the current "centralization" of US agriculture. The comparison is more accurate than one may realize. The Soviets were enamored with the economy of scale. The result was mega-farms (50,000 acres plus) and a top-down management system where only a few people controlled the food chain. Farm workers had no vested interest in the farming operation, so labor was a problem. These same conditions are developing in the United States. Perhaps the most uncanny similarity between Soviet agriculture and corporate-controlled US agriculture is the rising importance of small farms. As much as 40 percent of the food in the Soviet Union came from small, private farmers, which Western economists used as an illustration of the shortcomings of the Soviet system. Soviet consumers preferred food from private farmers, because they were assured of better taste, freshness and lack of chemical or bacterial contamination. The fastest-growing segment of US agriculture today is the organic-sustainable sector, with production on small farms--for the exact same reasons!
William Greider implies that there is some natural alliance among family farmers, environmentalists and animal rights groups. But the traditional American farmer is no more humane or environmentally enlightened than ADM or IBP. As an independent rancher (I raise free-range goats), I am concerned about the spread of corporate agriculture and sympathetic to the struggles of the smallholder to maintain farming as more than an expensive hobby. But the environmentalist rancher is rare, as is the humane rancher. For the most part environmental and animal welfare concerns (except for the prize horse or family dog) are based on economics. It is only the most enlightened among us who see the need for prairie conservation over the next 100 years over profits this year. And it's only because animals in constant pain do not produce good meat that their welfare is considered. Any coalitions need to ensure that rescued farmers sign up to mending their ways.
Every conversation about farm reform walks right around the huge elephant sitting in the progressive living room. Here's a crisis you can actually do something about, today, in your own home, using a powerful tool that's available to everyone who reads this--your fork. By eliminating animal products from your diet, you cease to be a participant in a truly shameful situation--9 billion US farm animals that suffer horrid lives and deaths each year. There are plenty of sources for information about animal free (vegan) diets, including Vegan Outreach (www.vegsource.com/vo) and Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (202-686-2210).