Web Letters | The Nation


A New Documentary Profiles Liars for Hire

To compliment, or complement the story… There is quite a historical timeline for lying, but today’s birthday marks one of the more notorious eras. From Paul Joseph Goebbels, 10/29/1897-5/1/1945, Reich Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda: He openly acknowledged that he was exploiting the lowest instincts of the German people—racism, xenophobia, class envy and insecurity. He could, he said, play the popular will like a piano, leading the masses wherever he wanted them to go. As Joachim Fest writes, “He drove his listeners into ecstasy, making them stand up, sing songs, raise their arms, repeat oaths—and he did it not through the passionate inspiration of the moment but as the result of sober psychological calculation.” Albert Speer said in his final speech at the Nuremberg trials that Goebbels “made the complete use of all technical means for domination of its own country. Through technical devices like the radio and loudspeaker, 80 million people were deprived of independent thought.”

Allen Brand

Bremen, OH

Oct 29 2014 - 11:47am

Before Ebola, Health Officials Thought the Age of Epidemics Was Over—It Wasn’t

Two October 2014 articles about Ebola insist that world relief is necessary to contain the contagious disease. That should not be the first excuse to reach for. The government of a specific country is responsible to resolve their own crisis. An analogy about two kids going hungry in a single parent household may provide the insight about the responsible person. The correct solution is for a social worker to find out where the money is spent. Then the parent should be instructed to spend money on food, rather than on alcohol. The most frequent option to resolve this hunger is to have a nonprofit organization provide the food each day. Such a inept decision just prolongs the lack of responsibility by the parent. Let the government of a country spend its own funds to resolve its own problems.

Adam Young

Elk Flats, CA

Oct 27 2014 - 4:15pm

Vote Working Families Party to Pressure Andrew Cuomo

What has happened to The Nation? I never would have dreamed you’d endorse Cuomo. A vote on the WFP line is a vote for Cuomo. What good is the WFP if they are unwilling to challenge someone like Cuomo? They copped out last spring, revealing that the WFP is not an independent, progressive party, but merely a wing of the Democratic Party. Had they nominated a progressive candidate, that candidate would be polling at 40 percent or better. Look how well Teachout did, and she was an unknown. It’s frustrating to watch the opportunity missed this year. There’s a progressive candidate running, Howie Hawkins on the Green line. Even The New York Times acknowledges that a big vote for Hawkins is the way to keep pressure on Cuomo.

Susan Markus

New York City

Oct 27 2014 - 7:58am

Exclusive Excerpt: How Pro-Choicers Can Take Back the Moral High Ground

While reading the excellent article on America’s eroding abortion rights, I was surprised and disgusted by a pop-up ad that came out of nowhere while I was reading. It was for Covenant House, an organization that purports to help homeless youth. It stated that there are five anti-trafficking bills currently stalled in the US legislature, and asked for my e-mail to fight this.

As a sex worker and sex worker rights activist, I couldn’t have been more affronted to see this advertisement connected to an article about the political erosion of women’s rights over their bodies. Anti-trafficking organizations hide their true purpose in the language of moral outrage against child exploitation, but they intend to do away with the entire sex industry, most of which is populated by consensual adult workers such as myself. Anti-trafficking law disproportionately hurts the most marginalized populations in our society, just like anti-abortion law (noted in Michelle Chen’s article “The Problem With Anti-Trafficking Dragnets” on this website in March).

I don’t understand how running an anti-trafficking advertisement is consistent with The Nation’s socially liberal attitude, especially on top of such a strong call for an end to abortion restriction. Please rethink accepting money from an organization whose policies hurt poor sex-working youth of color, and please examine all future advertisement sales to political organizations who may not have your readers’ best interests at heart.

Editor’s Note: Interested readers can examine The Nation’s long-standing advertising policy.

Jolene Parton

Oakland, CA

Oct 26 2014 - 11:49am

WATCH: Are America’s Police Departments Waging a War on Black Bodies?

So much horribleness when it comes to cops with guns—same with civilians with guns. In my area, a blond, blue-eyed, innocent civilian was gunned down and killed by police by accident, also a Hispanic father of eight, grandfather of ten, was mistakenly gunned downand killed by police, and a Persian kid, running away from police, showing him his cellphone, had ninety rounds of bullets put in him by police. No human should have these modern guns—-they kill too quickly and humans cannot handle them—even cops. This is not only a black issue.

Lisa Q.

Oct 22 2014 - 11:02pm

Joan Rivers Gets the Last Laugh

Katha Pollitt’s essay on women comedians failed to mention Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett and Phyllis Diller, all of whom were enormously successful with either their own TV shows or, in Ms. Diller’s case, as a stand-up comedian who never let her age or gender stand in the way of success.

Michael Groom

San Luis Obispo, CA

Oct 10 2014 - 7:44pm

How the World Let the Ebola Epidemic Spiral Out of Control

Who else besides who? Lou Costello says President Obama, another issue he failed to take a lead on.

Asher Fried

Croton-on-Hudson, NY

Oct 9 2014 - 2:52pm

What’s Wrong With the Radical Critique of the People’s Climate March

Jonathan Smucker and Michael Premo describe the People’s Climate March as a “vibrant movement ecosystem.” PCM is not an “ecosystem.” It is ironic that writers describing a march to protect real ecosystems would co-opt the term to describe the march itself. Can we have better science education, please?

Chris Robertson

Portland, OR

Sep 30 2014 - 3:10pm

Bloomberg Beyond the Billions

How could Eric Alterman write an entire column about Michael Bloomberg’s mismanagement as mayor of New York without mentioning the CityTime scandal even once? More than $500 million was embezzled, most of it on Bloomberg’s watch, and most of the crooks involved private sector contractors.

It’s bad enough when governments contract out work that could and should be performed by civil servants, but the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations contracted out oversight for the CityTime project. Oversight?!? I’ve worked on a multi-year automated time and attendance project for a large public sector agency myself, and our handful of contract programmers, trainers and business analysts were supervised every step of the way by a similar number of agency information technology, human resources and business office staff, with agency executives providing overall oversight. Bloomberg contracted out that whole middle layer of public supervision and oversight, and his appointee to oversee the whole project seemed to be more interested in protecting some of those contractors than in getting a good system built.

CityTime is a scandal that should regularly be thrown in the faces of the peddlers of privatization and contracting out and the dogmatists of the Holy Libertarian Church of the Indisputable Efficiency of the Market, be they ensconced at the Manhattan Institute or the Cato Institute, or in the pages and editorial boards of the daily newspapers and Reason magazine.

Charles K. Alexander II

Albany, NY

Sep 29 2014 - 5:03pm

Will Georgia Be the Next Ukraine?

I and my Japanese wife just read this article.First of all, the title is confusing, because what is happening in Ukraine is already happened in Georgia. Secondly, the author writes “everything,” and as a reader I was lost. Every time I read a paragraph, I did not get a point.

Shakarian does not realize that NATO is “expanded” because the Eastern European nations do not trust Russia and want to join the West. NATO does not force anyone to join the organization. In fact, since the Soviet Union collapsed, NATO invited Russia to conduct joint military exercises.

As I read the conclusion of the article, we realized that Shakarian points out his anti-Georgian and anti-Western views. This is not journalism.

Pat Gogh

Philadelphia, PA

Sep 26 2014 - 6:05am