KEEP THOSE FILMS COMING...
To add to everyone's list of films on labor ["Letters," April 16], I recommend a recent documentary about work, poverty and unionizing: Roger Weisberg's 2005 Waging a Living: Working Overtime in Pursuit of the Elusive American Dream. It supports a discussion of some of our widespread social and economic problems. And the stories of the three women and a man depicted make it of interest for gender studies and feminist economics classes.
Cliffside Park, NJ
Has historical amnesia taken over? One of the great labor films, Salt of the Earth, made during the madness of McCarthyism and under unbelievable pressure and violence, is not mentioned by any of your letter writers. It is based on a strike in New Mexico and directed by one of the Hollywood Ten (H. Biberman). He was arrested during the filming and directed the film by letter and phone from prison. It's the only blacklisted movie in American film history. It's a must-see.
I'd like to add a great movie about the American working class: Blue Collar (1978), directed by Paul Schrader and starring Richard Pryor in what may be his finest film performance. Blue Collar is both a funny movie and a biting social commentary about three friends at a car plant who seek revenge against their uncaring bosses and crooked union officials. This movie is one of the best on class warfare and one of the most overlooked.
SPRING: A YOUNG MAN'S FANCY TURNS
Eric Alterman's "The Many Man-Crushes of Chris Matthews" [April 9] was absolutely hilarious. I read it three times and couldn't stop laughing.
I have read The Nation for years and have never read a more offensive column than "The Many Man-Crushes of Chris Matthews." If it was meant to be funny, it wasn't. If it was meant to be perceptive, it wasn't. If it was meant to disparage a real friend of the left, it succeeded. Chris Matthews asks the questions that I want asked and other commentators don't ask. Sometimes people on the left just don't get it. Yes, I have a crush on Chris Matthews, longtime liberal--liberal that I am.
How many times is Chris Matthews going to bring up Hillary Clinton's high-pitched voice?
Eric Alterman's on-cue column overlooked Matthews's inappropriate comments to female guests. He comments on their looks in a manner that is way, way out of line.
Jeanette S. Harris
South Riding, Va.
Chris Matthews, like Seinfeld, notices that socks disappear in the dryer. But instead of socks, Matthews's observations focus on Barack Obama's love handles or how Dick Cheney reminds us of the crabby old neighbor we stayed away from when we were kids.
La Mesa, Calif.
One more Chris Matthews "man-crush," one more nauseating than all the others: Tom DeLay. Matthews insists on having this party hack, who has done zero to improve anything or anyone, on his program.
Matthews made his reputation by acting like a liberal. He interviews Trent Lott, never calling him on his nay vote on Nixon's impeachment. The real proof: After interviewing G. Gordon Liddy, Matthews calls him "a great man!" No more need be said.
Eric Alterman has finally put things in perspective for me and answered all my questions in one easy-to-read column. I've been questioning the same comments made by Chris Matthews over the last few years. Now I know--it's a man-crush kind of thing. Absolutely! Chris recently stated that he's very confused as to why Mitt Romney was able to raise so much money in his bid for President. Someone needs to tell him, "It's his chin, Chris! It's his chin!"
GARDASIL: TO VACCINATE OR NOT?
Concerning Karen Houppert's "Who's Afraid of Gardasil?" [March 26]: While the idea of a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is wonderful news for women, I would be a lot more comfortable with it if more tests were being done. In the past we've seen promising medicines turn out to be horrific nightmares.
We should approach this very slowly.
Portola Valley, Calif.
This is not a safe vaccine. The government collects data on vaccine damage, as reported by doctors and patients, and Gardasil has been listed with increasing frequency. In fact, Gardasil problems in January accounted for more than 12 percent of the nearly 1,500 vaccine damage reports!
New York City
Only months ago the medical establishment was congratulating itself on the sudden drop in breast cancer rates, though the decline was attributed to the fact that doctors had stopped prescribing HRT to menopausal women. Millions of women had been strongly encouraged to take these drugs, in part to prevent the very disease they wound up causing. This is what happens when populations are used as guinea pigs. Now they want to do the same to girls as young as 11. The FDA has already received eighty-two reports of serious adverse events, tests have not been performed to see if the vaccine itself causes cancer and the effect on reproductive capacity is unknown. Gardasil is genetically engineered but has not been tested for genotoxicity. Long-term effects won't be known for years, when these girls will provide the statistics. By then Merck will have raked in billions and, having orchestrated regulations to preclude any liability for vaccine damage, will laugh all the way to the bank.
Many of the annual 6,200 HPV-induced cervical cancers could be prevented with better education and screening. Read Christine Northrup on this: "It is far more prudent to optimize a woman's nutrition and lifestyle so that her immune system is functioning optimally" than to mandate a vaccine whose risks are unknown.
New Haven, Conn.
I don't believe the government has the right to mandate any kind of medical treatment or procedure. Citizens of this country have a constitutional right to privacy, and any kind of mandated medical procedure is a clear violation of that right.
Santa Cruz, Calif.
Legislative momentum to promote HPV vaccinations would be better spent forcing universal availability rather than inevitability. Given the choice, most parents will opt for inoculation, which will provide the desired public health benefits without reinforcing a dangerous precedent.
South Riding, Va.
Can you imagine a vaccine to prevent prostate cancer? That would be a welcome scientific breakthrough. But what if prostate cancer were caused by a sexually transmitted virus? Would we be engaging in a national debate about the promiscuity of men and whether or not they "deserve" prostate cancer? Would Bob Dole or Rudy Giuliani become the "poster children" for men who deserve what they got because of their past behavior?
For critics of Gardasil who cite "lifestyle choice" as a reason to oppose the cervical cancer vaccine (which immunizes against four strains of cancer), I would suggest that there is a long list of illnesses that we treat at taxpayer expense related to lifestyle choice. Heart disease and high cholesterol can be caused by poor diet. A choice. Skin cancer can be caused by overexposure to the sun and failure to wear sunscreen. A choice. Lung cancer, emphysema, complications from obesity or diabetes--linked to personal choices.
Men carry the human papillomavirus at the same rate as women. Most men will never know they carry it and will never develop a single symptom. Women, however, can develop cervical cancer from the virus and a number of other complications that can be painful, life-altering or fatal. Women, therefore, need to speak out to protect their health and their lives. This is about health, not sex.
The same cultural conservatives who oppose abortion claim they are only trying to save lives, not control women. Here is their opportunity to save lives. Support Gardasil. Unless, of course, it is about controlling women.Kim Stanley
IMMIGRATION: A VEXING ISSUE
I would like to share my opinion regarding your view on immigration. I agree with just about everything your publication prints, except on this issue. I come from a family of legal immigrants, and I do not understand why anyone would think that coming here illegally is OK. I work in the medical field, and it makes me sick to see that we are basically providing free healthcare for people here illegally, while my kids (21 and 26) are uninsured--and that my husband lost his good job six years ago and can't even get a job working at a restaurant, much less any big company, since one hires illegals and the other outsources.
I am sick of the education system, which spends more time and money on bilingual education than on kids diagnosed with learning disabilities (my son). (By the way, I lived in Latin America as a child, and when I came here I was immersed in English, and that is the way I learned, as fast as I could, to function in this American society.) I am very liberal, I always vote Democratic, but I am getting so angry that this side is so misguided by illegal (yes, illegal) immigration.
Legal immigrants or illegal immigrants--what's the difference? These are people, often in dire straits, trying to make a living in a land that, despite all our problems, does offer opportunities. I don't believe illegals are taking anybody's job away--they are doing the work most of us won't do, and they provide cheap labor for a myriad of industries. It's up to all of us to insure that all jobs pay at the very least a living wage to all workers, irrespective of their legal status.
Furthermore, Hispanic illegals are forced out of their own countries, directly or indirectly, by US policies that have established, supported and funded repressive governments that put profit over workers' rights and prevented anything approaching the redistribution of wealth. Had we actively supported democracy, justice and freedom in these countries, and not the opposite, the need to immigrate to the United States may well have been obviated. The truth of the matter is that we owe them big time! And the least we can do is allow them to make a living in this country.