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How Zephyr Teachout Taught Democrats a Lesson in Democracy

What we have learned from the 35 percent percent of New York state primary votes that Zephyr Teachout received is that there are a lot of people with the capability of voting who prefer to not understand how politics works. (Like making sausages) Also, they want to not have to think too much about how their rights are protected. Honest government, or less costly government, is a matter of grays rather than absolute blacks and whites.

By the way, I never have heard or seen Zephyr Teachout’s campaign platform. It was not discussed in your article, nor in any media story I saw or heard before or since the election. It was the same situation in the 2008 elections. Undefined “hope and change.” I could not vote for that phantom then, and I could not vote for another phantom, Zephyr Teachout, now.

Cheri Fistel

Bronx, NY

Sep 12 2014 - 11:02am

Patriotic Heresy vs. the New Cold War

I think it is refreshing that The Nation is open to publishing alternative viewpoints on the crisis in Ukraine. That said, it seems that the frame The Nation is applying to Ukraine is not consistent with how the magazine typically addresses issue of national sovereignty and self-determination.

Certainly, Ukraine has a history of being subjugated by other countries and has a diverse population divided between Russian and Ukrainian speakers. However, Russia’s annexation of parts of Ukraine is a dangerous step. I find Roger Cohen’s fallacy about the lack of a Ukrainian people straining to be out from the yoke of Russia to be troubling as a potential excuse for Russia’s annexation of part of another country. Certainly, it could be applied to almost any country, particularly historically imperialist states like Russia that have made it a practice to annex other territories. It could definitely be applied to the United States as well.

What is fair about his article is that the people who live in Ukraine (if there is no concept of a Ukrainian people) are stuck in the unpleasant position of being chess pieces in a new battle between East and West. I think at best they are stuck between two villains, and while the rest of the media are unbalanced in favor of the West, it does not benefit the nation to present a view that is inappropriately favorable to the East.

Eric Hosken

New York City

Aug 29 2014 - 1:09pm

Why Is Washington Risking War With Russia?

In this article, as in previous articles published in The Nation on Ukraine, the Ukrainian government has been portrayed as a proxy for Washington, while Russia has been portrayed as justifiably reacting to an existential threat. While entitled to his views and to promote them, Stephen Cohen, who has co-authored this piece and has authored others on the crisis in Ukraine, has ignored the views of many liberals and opponents of the Putin regime in Russia, which readers of the The Nation are entitled to know. Briefly, many liberal opponents of the Putin regime believe that Russia is in the grips of aggressive nationalism, which has been deliberately promoted by its leadership. Allow me to share an excerpt from an article “Goodbye Europe,” by Lyudmila Ulitskaya, a critically acclaimed Russian writer, which I have translated (with some help from Google), below:

I am a Russian writer of Jewish origin and Christian education. My country today declared war on culture, declared war on the values of humanism, the idea of the freedom of the individual, the idea of human rights, which was developed by civilization throughout its entire history. My country is ill from aggressive ignorance, nationalism and imperial mania. I am ashamed of our parliament, [which is] ignorant and aggressive, of the government, [which is] aggressive and incompetent, of the country’s leaders, toy supermen, worshipers of force and deception, I’m ashamed of all of us, of the people who have lost [their] moral bearings.

Ulitskaya’s article, on the whole, is deeply pessimistic, and I share to a great degree her pessimism. But, aside from that, it represents the views of a minority in Russia that is courageous and honest. She deeply cares for her country. She recognizes that Russia is suffering from ignorance and aggressive nationalism. Readers of The Nation need to be acquainted with the content of articles and writings of other brave Russian intellectuals, who oppose the anti-democratic, chauvinistic and militaristic Kremlin leadership. Ulitskaya and others like her represent the type of Russia that needs support. Unfortunately, The Nation has been supporting the Russia of Putin and his corrupt, imperial chauvinist cronies.

Bohdan Klid

Edmonton, Alberta, CANADA

Aug 27 2014 - 3:07pm

Without Parents or Lawyers, Thousands of Children Brave Chaos of Immigration Courts Alone

I have been an immigration lawyer for more than thirty years, including seven as an immigration counsel on the House Judiciary Committee. I have written an article in which I propose an alternative for handling the unaccompanied alien children crisis in a way that I think would be in the best interests of the children and could be acceptable to both parties. “Meeting the Challenge of Unaccompanied Alien Children at the Southwest Border: Is there a better way?” (July 10, 2014).

Nolan Rappaport

Washington, DC

Aug 26 2014 - 10:04pm

How the War on Terror Created the World's Most Powerful Terror Group

This is why The Nation is so yesterday. The truth is, the US created ISIS and weaponized the group, just as the US created the fictitious band called “Al Qaeda.” ISIS is the new home-fashioned boogeyman. Just as America and Israel created Hamas to soften Fatah (who?), they can create new Islamic enemies just with a snap of the ol’ AIPAC. You see. It’s the same clown dressed in ever-new clothes. And even The Nation is falling for the storyline now. Boo! Scared you.

Richard Mann

Seattle, WA

Aug 22 2014 - 5:59pm

The New Cold War and the Necessity of Patriotic Heresy

This article is a tissue of lies.

Cohen claims Ukraine is hopelessly divided. This is a lie. They had a free, fair and presidential election in May, and 55 percent of the people voted for Poroshenko—a moderate, pragmatic, middle-of-the-road candidate who is also a Ukrainian patriot. (The far right candidates on the ballot got a combined 2 percent of the vote. So much for Ukraine’s supposedly scary far right.)

Cohen claims the EU association agreement was a “reckless provocation.” This is a lie. The agreement is meant to improve workers’ rights, environmental protection, energy-saving, the fairness of the judicial system and many other good things all progressives should support. Read the full text here.

Cohen claims: “In February 2014, radicalized Maidan protests, strongly influenced by extreme nationalist and even semi-fascist street forces, turned violent.” This is a lie. Here is the footage of Yanukovych’s thugs murdering dozens of unarmed protesters in cold blood (note that the video has an age gate; there are some grisly moments).

Cohen explicitly calls the current Ukrainian government a “coup.” This is a lie. The democratically elected Ukrainian parliament voted by 328-to-0 (well over the necessary quorum) to impeach and remove Yanukovych, after his thugs opened fire on Maidan.

Finally, Cohen blames the violence in Donbass on Ukraine. This is a lie. Putin has sent thousands of mercenaries and guns to destabilize Ukraine, including T-64s, APCs, Grad missile launchers and the SA-11 antiair missile system which shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, killing 298 innocent people (in addition to the copious satellite and air-log evidence, citizen journalists have found a raft of forensic and other evidence pointing to Putin’s culpability).

Putin needs to stop his godawful war of imperial aggression on Ukraine, immediately—and leftists need to stop whitewashing Putinism as anything other than the wretched petro-gangsterism of Russia’s 1 percent, which it indeed is.

Dennis Redmond

Miami, FL

Aug 13 2014 - 3:30pm

The New Cold War and the Necessity of Patriotic Heresy

Cohen writes, “The same is true of the surreal demonization of Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin—a kind of personal vilification without any real precedent in the past, at least after Stalin’s death.” Hello!? Putin is a dictator. He is fomenting military disorder on a bordering country. Remember Hitler. He was did the same! (He also was “democratically” elected.)

Curt Degler

Pondicherry, INDIA

Aug 13 2014 - 2:32pm

Government Whitewashing Didn’t Stop With Watergate

To me, the most significant part of Alterman’s essay is when he says the national security state is out of control. No less a figure than Harry Truman appeared to have similar thoughts. In an op-ed piece in The Washington Post on December 22, 1963, exactly one month after the assassination of President Kennedy, Truman wrote, in part, “I think it has become necessary to take another look at the purpose and operations of our Central Intelligence Agency.”

This was a remarkable public statement coming from a former president, and doubly remarkable in that it came from the president who spearheaded the establishment of the CIA after World War II.

He went on in the piece to say he believed the CIA had ventured off into activities that he had not foreseen when he helped set up the agency.

Translation: Truman was saying the CIA was out of control. And he said this fifty years ago. (Fifty-one this November.)

The headline for Truman’s op-ed was “Limit CIA Role to Intelligence.” In other words, Truman wanted the CIA to change direction and to operate within the parameters he had helped to lay down. It’s fascinating to wonder whether Truman stipulated that the Post publish his piece one month after the assassination of President Kennedy and if he did, whether Truman had any suspicions of a CIA role in Kennedy’s murder.

My approach is to look at the sequence of events. In June, Kennedy used his commencement address at American University to announce his agreement to negotiations on a test ban treaty and the suspension of atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons.

Kennedy also praised the accomplishments of the Russian people. Kennedy was calling for a lowering of tensions with the Soviets. Implicit in that was the possibility of ending the Cold War altogether. In November he was dead, and one month later Truman’s op-ed piece appeared. The national security state has been out of control almost since the moment it was created.

John Kirsch

Mazatlán, MEXICO

Aug 13 2014 - 10:58am

Against Intervention in Iraq

It’s ridiculous to suggest bombing the barbarians will make things worse in Iraq. ISIS has genetic links to cockroaches, not doubt, and so it’s unlikely it can be completely eradicated, but from what I’ve read about this group, the more of them that are blasted to smithereens, the better. If America can help with that, it is finally doing something useful with its bloated military. Bombs away, and fast.

Bill Rankin

Edmonton, Alberta, CANADA

Aug 8 2014 - 11:41am

Israel Must Stop Its Campaign of Terror

I disagree with Chris Hayes’s position that Israel’s response to Hamas’s constant bombardment of rockets into Israel is inappropriate, that the killing of Palestinian civilians is a consequence of Israel’s overreach, and that the Palestinian civilians have no culpability for the violence. Hamas has made no secret of its desire to destroy Israel and has been shooting rockets into Israel for months. Israel has the right and responsibility to protect its citizens.

Years ago Israel withdrew from Gaza and turned the territory over to the Palestinians, who elected Hamas as their government. Instead of focusing its energies on establishing a functioning country, Hamas spends its money on weapons to be used against Israel. In spite of Hamas’s inability to govern effectively and create a viable economy, the network newspeople report that the majority of the civilians in Gaza support and would re-elect the organization.

Hamas is solely responsible for the retaliation from Israel; when Hamas stops launching rockets into Israel, Israel will stop bombing Gaza. It is Hamas’s responsibility to protect the Palestinians, and the way to do that is to stop launching rockets into Israel. To blame Israel for Palestinian casualties is unfair and illogical. Israel did not initiate the violence; Hamas did. Chris Hayes’s comments to the Rabbi on his August 1 evening program were wrong-headed and offensive.

Paula Hannah

Aug 2 2014 - 1:10am