Web Letters | The Nation


Don Imus and the State of Women's Sports

I agree that it is time for Imus and other potential Imuses to be forced to contend with the damaging statements that make on a daily basis. These statements or catcalls, more like it, have nothing to do with freedom of speech. They are the equivalent of drive-by shootings--intended to do damage, but quickly and without recourse for the victim. Radio listeners are a block of media audience that has paid attention to these kinds of assassins because they provide an outlet for smoldering resentments throughout the country, resentments based on ignorance and in many cases illiteracy. The authority to say anything about anybody gives them a chance to vent their frustrations...and generally it's all about bringing successful people down.

Imus is a perfect example of the small town bully yelling insults from the sidelines as the world moves on unaware of this wannabe cowboy and his red-neck pals taking potshots. He knows how really insignificant he is, and that's why he is so intimidated by people who succeed in whatever field, be it athletics, politics, journalism, or any area of life that requires intelligence and hard work.

The fact that well-known figures appear on his show is not because they admire him, it is to use him as a way of getting publicity, of being in the spotlight--and appearing like an all-round guy's guy. Imus is really a pathetic figure, more to be pitied, than sanctioned. But he needs to go, nevertheless, because his remarks are unacceptable to a society that prides itself on the values of self-respect and civil behavior.

stephanie rivera

Richmond, Rhode Island

Apr 11 2007 - 3:05pm

How Specialist Town Lost His Benefits

Just when you think Bush and Co. can sink no lower, you read an article like this. It is beyond surreal, the gumption this administration has. I'm thinking, since it's absolutely obvious that our president suffers from personality disorder, and since the voters of the country were not aware of this condition when he was elected (well, most of them were not), I think it would be appropriate to strip him of his job, his insurance, and his lifelong benefits. He should also be required to use his elitist family's bank accounts to reimburse the country the billions he has stolen from it, including Specialist Town's $15,000.

A couple years in a cage with a hood over his head listening to the Dixie Chicks turned up to 11 would be nice, too.....

Jim McKay

Brooklyn , NY

Apr 11 2007 - 11:10am

Jesse Jackson Can't Help Obama

Mr. Hutchinson has written a complex and nuanced assessment of Jessie Jackson that seems to praise him in a backhanded way and bury him on the other. It is no secret that Rev. Jackson is first a politician of great skill and cunning as are ALL politians regardless of hue and second, a living standard bearer of our civil rights heritage. His personal and political conduct past and present to some has been regrettable. Therefore, at this juncture in his career, luster of past civil/human rights glory tarnished, according to Mr. Hutchinson, Jessie is relegated to the shadows of political import to the African-American community. Perhaps this sentiment is a bit premature.

Mr. Jackson hosts a nationally broadcast radio program and has near instant access to all media outlets at a “moment of crises” for the black community, i.e., the latest media scandal involving Don Imus and the Rutgers women’s basketball team... Jackson is still listened to by a great portion of the black electorate which is key because Black Americans who vote will always associate Rev. Jackson with the battle to win this franchise.

Second, as far as the passing of the civil/human rights torch goes, Mr. Hutchinson is right. I don’t see Obama or many other black elected officials in the congress or otherwise of his generation fighting for that flame if you will. Mr. Obama’s hesitancy to articulate in the affirmative for gays in the military after remarks by Gen. Peter Pace recently is evidence of this among the other issues sighted by Mr. Hutchinson. Surely that upwardly mobile faction of blacks who want to divorce themselves from the style of Rev. Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton will shout from the rooftops about the “New Black Leader" they have found in Obama.

Tarnished and all, Jessie still matters to most blacks and to some in the white power elite and the democratic party who count on the Jessie factor to get out the vote for whoever the democratic standard bearer may be. What is more interesting to me is to see what kind of civil/human rights leader Mr. Obama becomes. There are many injustices left to address such as the over representation of blacks and Latinos in the criminal justice system. My sense is that until Jessie and Al pass away, there may not be many takers of this torch who can be effective in holding us all accountable for the racial progress our country is desperate for.

Sherletta McCaskill

New York City, New York, NY

Apr 10 2007 - 8:57pm

The Ethanol Hoax

How much corn do we need to grow to use ethanol?

According to how stuff works it takes 26.1 lbs of corn to make 1 gallon of ethanol.

Through research performed at Cornell University, we know one acre of land can yield approximately 7,110 pounds of corn, which can be processed into 328 gallons of ethanol.

Using a Toyota Camry, the best-selling car in the USA, averages 30mpg on the hwy and one gallon of gas is equal to 1.5 gallons of ethanol; you get approximately 20mpg on ethanol.

Let's say the average mile driven per car in the USA is around 13,000. That takes about two acres of corn.

According to the University of Missouri, about 70 million acres are used to grow corn in 2004. So if all the corn was used to fuel cars we could equal 35 million cars could run off the current level. Granted, no more nachos.

I have tried to find a consensus of how many cars there are in the USA and I get roughly 150 million. Keep in mind that the older cars and trucks will start to wear out and as new flex-fuel vehicles are available we can increase production of the sources of ethanol and get off of the Arab oil binge.

Today, nearly half of ethanol plants in the US are farmer-owned cooperatives. Additionally, a sizeable percentage of the facilities under construction are also locally controlled.

With few exceptions, corn is the primary feedstock for US ethanol production. Ethanol can also be made from other products such as grain sorghum (milo), wheat, barley, sugar cane or beets, cheese whey, and potatoes. Cellulosic feedstocks such as municipal waste or recycled products, --rice hulls, bagasse (fibrous residue from sugar cane), small diameter trees, wood chips, and switch grass--may also be used to produce ethanol, but these products are not yet utilized on a commercial scale. http://www.ethanol.org/production.html

The USA put a man on the moon. I think that we as a nation can decrease our dependence on foreign oil with technology that we have now and that will be developed in the next few years. Ethanol is not the only answer but it surely will be in the mix.

Michael Chavers

St Petersburg, FL

Apr 10 2007 - 5:58pm

The Ethanol Hoax

You are absolutely correct that corn ethanol as a energy source is a hoax. More petroleum energy is used to make it than you get back burning the ethanol.

Your example of the high-speed train operating in France is also correct. They do a great job, and keep making them better.

But, there is something about this issue that you did not mention.

France gets 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear power. They use their own nuclear plants to not only meet their domestic electrical energy needs, and to run those magnificent trains, but also to earn money exporting electricity to neighboring countries. They have achieved energy independence, and don't emit a lot of carbon dioxide in the process.

I agree that we should build high-speed trains in the USA. But, we will need something other than coal, oil, or natural gas to power them. Solar and other politically correct "renewable" energy sources will not do the job. We need more nuclear power as well.

Charles Hanes

San Jose, CA

Apr 10 2007 - 5:40pm

How Specialist Town Lost His Benefits

I am saddened to see our government using an age-old insurance defense ploy against our soldiers in “How Specialist Town Lost His Benefits” (April 9, 2007) by Joshua Kors.

I am an outraged lawyer with no formal medical or psychiatric training. Some years back I noticed that insurance companies were denying some disability, personal injury and other claims by alleging the plaintiff was either “malingering” (that is, lying), was not injured or was suffering from a pre-existing condition unrelated to claims of brain injury, post-traumatic stress or depression.

After 10 years of extensive investigation and study of the tests insurance company doctors use to diagnose brain trauma, I discovered to my horror that doctors were administering the wrong tests, scoring incorrectly and intentionally misdiagnosing plaintiffs.

Many people with brain injuries are stigmatized as “malingerers” or as having serious psychiatric conditions when, in fact, their behavior and symptoms are nothing more than healthy and typical reactions to injury and pain.

The government takes the position that Jon Town and many others like him have a previously undiagnosed condition known as a personality disorder. The government sure is spending a lot of money on apparently incompetent psychologists who screen soldiers as fit for combat, but who later are diagnosed with a serious pre-existing psychiatric disease after they return from the battlefield!

Does this mean the government is putting guns in the hands of deviants? How comforting.

To have a diagnosed personality disorder, one must have personality traits so severe they “cause significant functional impairment or subjective distress.” (American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, Text Revision, page 686 (APA 2005). His or her behavior “deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture… .” Many with personality disorders find it difficult, if not impossible, to obtain and maintain significant relationships.

How amazing that Town was able to marry and have children, all the while suffering from this severe condition, hidden until a government doctor branded him with the disease.

According to your statistics, government diagnoses of personality disorders among military personnel increased 25 percent between 200l and 2006. That is staggering. Someone somewhere should be reporting this apparent psychiatric epidemic.

I’d like to meet those soldiers Col. Steven Knorr claims were “quite pleased” at being diagnosed with a personality disorder and discharged. Why would anyone be pleased upon receiving a diagnosis of a condition that is likely to interfere with his or her ability to keep a mate, maintain a job or relate to a parent or child?

Major Byron Strother claims that diagnoses at his hospital were made “only after careful consideration of all relevant clinical observation, direct examination and appropriate testing,” yet Captain Patrick Brady spent only 30 minutes with William Wooldridge. The most common personality inventory test in the nation is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), which takes 60 to 90 minutes just to administer the test (see http://www.pearsonassessments.com/tests/mmpi_2.htm).

How, then, could both a test and a complete psychological examination of Wooldridge have been conducted in 30 minutes? I’d sure like to see the testing data supporting that claim of “personality disorder.”

Don’t our veterans deserve, at a minimum, a little intellectual honesty?

Dorothy Clay Sims

Ocala, Florida

Apr 10 2007 - 10:32am

Killer Weather Ahead

It is truly amazing how much trouble the flat-earth cabal has distinguishing the difference between climate and weather. To mix metaphors, it is nice to know that the ostriches will still be around for a while, even if they all live in the U.S.For those who understand the science, the precautionary principle or risk-benefit analysis, how about some steps to mitigate the effects of the American fascist/consumerist culture? The last time our country faced a significant enemy, we were not afraid to ration luxuries to defeat the axis powers. We could easily assign carbon values to every commodity and give legal residents monthly rations. This has the advantage of allowing people to choose how they want to use their carbon allotment as well as discouraging more coal burning in China (locally made crap would have a lower carbon value). Additionally, Mid-East oil would be of less value than domestic, and our few remaining small farmers may actually be able to make a living as their low-carbon produce would command a premium in the marketplace. Of course, such a quota system is not on the table since the rich and powerful would not be able to heat/cool their McMansions and drive to the beach/mountains in their Hummers

Brad Foster

Eugene, OR

Apr 10 2007 - 1:27am

How to Get Out of Iraq

Just wondering; you state: At times Bush has warned that Iraq could become an Al Qaeda stronghold...

Then you state: Turkey, Jordan and Iran are not going to put up with an Al Qaeda stronghold on their borders; nor would Shiite and Kurdish Iraqis.

So, Iran & Pakistan (and Turkmenistan and Tajikistan & Uzbekistan) were doing what, exactly, while Al Quada basically co-owned Afghanistan with the Taliban prior to our invasion?

Charles Wilson

Davis, CA

Apr 10 2007 - 1:02am

The Ethanol Hoax

Mr. Von Hoffman hits on a sweet note in mentioning trains but omits our history with them. Two historical points are worth mentioning.

First of all, George Washington set about trying to create a national transportation system involving canals. This project did not get far before the invention of the train made it obsolete. Nearly a century and a half later, General Motors and the oil industry purchased many of our trolley systems with the specific business plan of dismantling them in order to create greater demand for their products.

Now we have a dangerous, loud and polluted landscape populated by obese angry people who are all waiting for the next quick-fix magic bullet from some corporate huckster.

The solutions are clear, and with a little courage on the part of all of us we could prevent the decimation of the planet by climate change. How about carbon quotas for each American? Each product would have a dollar price and a carbon price and each legal resident gets a monthly carbon quota, just like the sugar and flour quotas in WWII. (If you must live in a 5000-10000 square foot house you may have to choose between heating/cooling it, taking in housemates, and driving) Couple quotas to a real gas tax of several dollars per gallon which is earmarked for public transportation and an official policy of preference for carbon-free transportation (bicyclists, skaters, and pedestrians) and we just might make it.

As the adage goes, “no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public”. Unfortunately, American stupidity isn’t just enriching fascists anymore, it is leading to the end of life on this planet.

Brad Foster

Eugene, OR

Apr 9 2007 - 10:29pm

The Ethanol Hoax

How stupid an idea is the promotion of ethanol as a fuel alternative? Very. What is the attraction of this highly impractical plan to supplement the antiquated energy method of fossil fuels with a new fangled, high tech farce that keeps the agricultural-industrial complex and the oil business humming away. Let’s break this down.

Corn, a main ingredient in this out-of-one-pocket, into-the -other charade, is now grown everywhere on behemoth factory farms. Corn, as it has been engineered for industrial purposes, takes up vast stretches of land, and requires cataclysmic amounts of water. As propagated through this perversion of nature, corporate corn production depends highly on insecticides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers.

All these filthy, McNasty technologies pollute our watersheds and aquifers, create dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico, and ruin our estuaries in the propagation of a freaky weed that is the key source of high fructose corn syrup, and consequent childhood obesity, and epidemic diabetes. Get this. The chemicals going into growing factory farm corn are primarily from the petroleum industry, the other main beneficiary of this ethanol deception mouthed by the decider-in-chief on TV.

If this scheme doesn’t make any sense to you, that’s okay. It shouldn’t because it doesn’t. In order to grow corn to put into alternatives to petroleum, the agro-business leviathan uses petroleum to fertilize, transport, irrigate, cultivate, and pollute the fields with pesticides. Ethanol as an alternative is a shell game, not a breakthrough. \

If we must use any of that god awful petroleum from volatile parts of the world, just put it right in my gas tank. But stop pitching ethanol as the next great technological wonder that will save us all from kingdom come!

Hmm....foreign oil from dubious mideast precincts or ethanol from a environmental blighted American homeland: Name your poison.

Plenty of clever, hopefully ethical people out there have better ideas for fuel alternatives that can become quite profitable and are earth friendly. These folks are not working in the oil industry or for the agricultural industrial complex.

Good old American ingenuity, if you believe it still exists, will one day promote real solutions that are not simply a ruse to redirect material and financial resources to and from the usual corporate special interests such as the oil slops at Texaco or the corn goons who are Monsanto. Industries related to solar, wind, and other renewal resources are about to have their day. If you are a gambling fool, that’s the stock market pony to place your hard earned money on. Save the planet and let the ethanol be!

John Mark Kowalski

Canaan, NY

Apr 9 2007 - 7:24pm