Web Letters | The Nation


Al Gore, Global Statesman

Never have I seen someone so taken by a sleazy politician as Mr Hoffmann, from the content of his article. Gore is a flaming hypocrite, making his own monumental & personal contribution to global warming through his lifestyle & then justifying it with "eco credits" Sorry Al, send 500000 killowatts worth of gases into the air and the damage is done: you can't take it back, especially by planting trees somewhere else that won't start doing their job for another 15 years.

Gore has always been one of those elitists who, because of his "vision", plans to do what is best for all of us whether we need it or not whether on economic or social issues. Mr. Hoffman may submit to this rejector of individual thought if he chooses: I need no Al Gore to keep me straight.

Chip Thornton



Mar 26 2007 - 9:40am

Veiled Intolerance

Much of this article is excellent, but Mr. Wolin is too determined not to blame the victim. He begins his article with a list of apparently disturbing events, the first being the cancellation and ultimate performance of a flamboyantly anti-clerical version of a Mozart opera. He then describes his list as comprising "overheated and intemperate responses" to acts of terrorism committed by Moslems.

Was it "overheated and intemperate" to cancel an intentionally provocative performance? Or was it "overheated and intemperate" to let the piece go forward? Perhaps neither decision was overheated or intemperate. Perhaps the murderous riots that Moslems have staged on a number of occasions when they have decided that Islam has been insulted are a bit "overheated and intemperate" themselves, and have made people nervous.

Mr. Wolin sounds a bit nervous himself at times, for example when he refers to the "Rushdie affair"--it is an "affair," apparently, when religious leaders encourage their followers to murder a man because of a book he wrote. Mr. Wolin, it seems to me, yearns to put all the blame on Europeans for not understanding the Muslims, but of course he can't quite manage it. Don't be afraid to stand up for the Enlightenment, Mr. Wolin!

Don't be ashamed of believing in free speech and free thought! These are good things! And, dare I say it, they will outlast the bloodthirsty bigots who claim to speak and act on behalf of "the Prophet"!

Alan Vanneman

Washington, DC, USA

Mar 26 2007 - 9:18am

Lockdown in Greeley

To the editors:

I really would like to hear more from writers of letters-to-the-editor in your April 2 issue who, in response to Marc Cooper’s article, advocate mass deportation of undocumented immigrants and massive increases in border security. I’m sure they have carefully considered all sides of the immigration issue before coming to their conclusions, but I’m too dim to get it. Perhaps you could give them the space to explain, in small words, how they get around the following problems:

1. The law of the United States is clear: Being undocumented is not a crime, and undocumented people are not criminals. If they were, the government would have to overcome beyond a reasonable doubt in every single case that the immigrant is a.not a citizen, and b. not here legally. How much would the taxpayer save if the immigration service had to do this?

2. Very large numbers of immigrants are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters and spouses of US citizens and documented immigrants. How will state and federal budgets benefit from the huge demand for social services to fill in for the caregivers, parents, and providers of the abandoned US citizens and legal residents?

3. How will the country instantly replacement of the many doctors, nurses, teachers, carpenters, laborers, small-business owners, and other ‘criminals’ who, because of expired visas, nightmarish bureaucracy, arcane rules, among other reasons are here illegally? (The letter-writers should send their solution to Colorado. They seem to be a little desperate there since they drove out their immigrant agricultural workers.)

4. For that matter, how will social security be strengthened when this disproportionately young group of contributors (who, incidentally, will never recover a cent they paid in) disappears? Has it got something to do with New Math?

5. There are 10-12 million immigrants living in the United States. If the government must deport a population equivalent to that of Pennsylvania, how big will the budget surplus be?

6. Apparently, bleeding-heart Ronald Reagan’s blanket immigrant amnesty of 1986 must have violently torn the country apart leaving the nation in ruins of smoldering ashes. But I was here the whole time, and I didn’t even smell any smoke. Why not?

7. Do barriers to return to the United States once deported increase or decrease the odds that immigrants will try to stay here permanently?

8. Do strict immigration laws weaken or strengthen the negotiating power of immigrants to bring their wages to the same level as citizens? Do they become more or less likely to join a union? Are they more or less likely to be scabs? (Hmm, maybe cracking down on underpaid immigrants will be as helpful to working people today as cracking down on underpaid African Americans was to working people in the pre-civil rights South!)

9. Clearly, these anti-immigrant writers have irrefutable proof every single one of their ancestors came here legally (not counting the laws of Mexico or Native Americans). They have read and understood the entire immigration code and know how easy it is to comply with. Never mind those nattering naybobs who call it an inconsistent, nonsensical Byzantine monstrosity.They know exactly what an immigration lawyer would charge them to prove to the government that they themselves are legally here. (Or is it that our efficient, courteous, smooth-running immigration service could never misidentify and deport citizens?)

10. They must have a plan as to who will change the sheets in their nursing home beds in a few years or decades. As Katha Pollitt points out in the same issue, the US population would decline were it not for a large flow of immigrants, and the average age of US citizens grows steadily.

11. The consensus among economists is that immigrants bring in more value than they receive. Apparently, they’re full of crap. Please elaborate.

12. Would the world have been a better, or a worse place had immigration laws been looser in 1939 when we turned back the ocean liner St. Louis to Nazi-occupied Europe with 917 Jewish refugees on board? Are we not zealous enough in deporting their modern counterparts?

13. Are they being more selective? Maybe they're just talking about 'economic' immigrants such as those whose livelihood has been ruined by our subsidized agricultural products and 'free trade' agreements or perhaps those whose children are at great risk of dying before the age of 2 from preventable diarrheal diseases in their native countries. I'm sure they've thought hard about that.

14. When can the government tear down the Statue of Liberty and turn her into pennies? Apparently, these writers think her words don’t apply, it would be fiscally responsible, and she is French, after all.

I am sure that these letter-writers can’t be mean people. They must have a rational, moral way to justify condemning 10-12 million individuals as criminals and parasites, but I can’t figure it out! Maybe it’s like string theory.

Looking forward to the answers!

Tom Garvey, MD, JD

Lexington, MA, 02421

Mar 25 2007 - 11:05pm

The Porn Plot Against Prosecutors

O"nce Bush began his second term in the White House, Gonzales declared the prosecution of pornography portraying sex acts between consenting adults "one of the top priorities" of his department. He signed off on an FBI headquarters memo that recruited agents for an anti-porn task force. That memo stated that prosecutions would focus particularly on material depicting "bestiality, urination, defecation, as well as sadistic and masochistic behavior."

Sounds a lot like how prisoners were treated by the US Military at Abu Ghraib.

Richard Riewer

Norrth Hollywood , California

Mar 25 2007 - 10:15am

How Specialist Town Lost His Benefits

I can't even begin to describe the rage that fills me as I read this article.

I have heard anecdotal evidence from friends who have or are serving in Iraq about the miserable way we have been treating our Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans, and this just tops it all off.

The notion that we should have invaded Iraq in the first place is debatable by (semi-)reasonable people, but one thing that should be self-evident is the idea that our veterans should be provided only the best of care and consideration.

Specialist Town and his family should enjoy the benefits of my tax dollars for the rest of his and his wife's life, however long that may be.

Worse comes to worse, take a cut if Dick Cheney's Halliburton stock options to foot the bill. It would certainly be a better use of the money.

Christopher Cox

Florida, NY

Mar 25 2007 - 9:39am

How Specialist Town Lost His Benefits

George W. Bush is burning bodies, burning money, and burning futures in Afghanistan and Iraq. American citizens must have the provisions of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness protected. Without those provisions, soldiers have no safe home in which to return.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates Social Security and Medicare will rise from 8.5 percent of annual economic output to 10.5 percent by 2015, growing to 15 percent by 2030. Increases will mean that the ratio of publicly held federal debt would rise from 35 percent today to 100 percent by 2030.

The Federal Reserve Chairman warned that such high debt would reduce private investment, slow economic growth, and lead to low confidence among businesses, investors, and consumers. Interest on the federal deficit is the fastest growing part of federal spending, consuming $220 billion in 2006.

Projection predict the deficit will consume an additional $270 billion by 2008. Each U.S. citizen owes almost $29,000, their share of a collective total of $8,700,769,194,975, roughly $9 trillion. The US currently pays more to foreign creditors than it receives in investments from other nations, a situation that hasn't happened since World War I.

Paying interest depletes money for domestic programs. Free-market economists claim the debt is only a small percentage of the gross national product, six percent in 2005. They say the federal government can write checks at any time, risking only a little inflation; so, they claim the national debt is not a concern. Realities of a global economy dispute those claims.

Flow of funds into U.S. markets depresses U.S. interest rates and increases the huge trade imbalances. A high national debt disrupts international economies because there is nowhere else countries can invest safely for the returns they receive from U.S. markets.

While the U.S. continues to import inexpensive products from China and India, interest rates in other countries remain low. Oil prices don't shoot up, and there are no serious recessions.

Some government economists predict that the economy may stay on track and be able to absorb shocks such as occupations of foreign countries and national disasters. A study by the Brookings Institute on sustained US budget deficits predicts the optimistic, economic scenarios could change dramatically.

"Failing to act sooner rather than later, though, only makes the problem more difficult to address without considerable instability, raises the probability of fiscal and financial disarray at some point in the future, and runs the risks of further constraining policy flexibility in the future," the study reported.

If the U.S. could no longer borrow as it has been doing, interests rates would skyrocket, home values would plummet, people would lose their jobs, and government services would be slashed severely.

Cited by many economists is the long-term danger debt created by Social Security and Medicare deficits. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned Congress in January that the longer we postpone funding to Social Security and Medicare, "the more severe, the more draconian, the more difficult the adjustment is going to be."

The White House has a choice. It may care for its fellow Americans, or it may neglect and abandon its fellow Americans. We see now which course the president has taken, neglect and abandonment of the people.

Jerie Leep

Tenkiller, Oklahoma

Mar 25 2007 - 4:13am

Waiting for C. Wright Mills

It's disappointing that the Nation is still willing to publish this sort of "revolutionary" drivel. When Cuba traded Batista's dictatorship for Fidel's, it moved from a gangster state to a totalitarian one, hardly a step up.

Alan Vanneman

Washington, DC,

Mar 24 2007 - 9:49pm

The Many Man-Crushes of Chris Matthews

The 'boy sopranos' of MSNBC are one of the great mysteries of our times.

Alterman accurately depicts the pitiable Matthews' fleeting loyalties to seemingly unlikely personalities from Tip O'Neil to Richard Nixon to Dumbya Bush as being related to his adolescent fascination with swaggering bully boys.

His latest Giuliani swoon is but the latest stupefyingly idiotic manifestation of Matthews'current wet dream

. I can hardly wait for Chris' orgiastic squeels when Hulk Hogan tosses his hat into the ring.

Roy Murtishaw

Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Mar 24 2007 - 7:41pm

The War Against Google

As the number of web pages on the internet grows larger - which it is doing exponentially - the number of wrong answers to any search query also grows. As the haystack gets bigger it becomes harder to find the needle. For this reason, the best search algorithm will win.

Perhaps more importantly, as the age of the internet increases, the number of web pages that are no longer there will also increase. Who possesses this mammoth archive? The answer is Google.

No one outside the company really knows how many servers Google has. Some outsiders estimate at least 100,000 machines already. Increasingly, these machines will hold the history of the internet - the web pages of old. There will be no other place to get them.

This is no small matter. Since the 1990's, we have been participating in a new age of history - the digital age. This is as profound a change as the shift from prehistoric Egypt to historic Egypt. Every photo taken before the dawn of digital history - unless it has been scanned into a digital format and replicated on the web - is in danger of being lost to future historians. More importantly, it will not be searchable. It will not be a part of future analysis of historic trends in any meaningful way. It will not be in the data base.

With the possible exception of some mammoth government archive - and few people believe this actually exists - only Google is thinking ahead enough to save our digital history. The importance of internet advertising, for example, will pale in comparison with this irreplaceable asset.

John Baltic

Macomb, Michigan

Mar 23 2007 - 11:01pm

How Specialist Town Lost His Benefits

The Bush Admin has been doing the same thing with unemployment Insurance.

Cutting people off of benefits using narrow standards, and often illogical reasoning. Saving money for Halliburton/Blackwater while claiming lower jobless statistics.

These Bushie fiends ARE vampires, despite recent scientific papers to the contrary.

David A

New York, NY

Mar 23 2007 - 8:42pm