Web Letters | The Nation


Mario Cuomo Gave Some Great Speeches. But What Did He Actually Accomplish?

Of course the same could be said about Obama, who Fox News often called “the silver tongued one” during his first campaign. Now, the Democrats are talking big [Wall Street tax for example ], assuming even if they are unable to recruit new believers, they will at least hold on to their true believers. Look, John Nichols is buying into the rhetoric.

But as Alterman called it, all of this b/s is Kabuki Democracy at work.

Democrats have no chance of getting the financial transaction tax out of the GOP Congress. So their Wall Street backers can take comfort that, while the Democratic “base” is appeased, the fat cats coffers remail fully stocked. The same goes for the Republicans, who know their mindless faithful will whoop it up when Obama vetoes Keystone, Social Security, Dodd-Frank and Obamacare “reform.” Nothing need become law as long as there is fodder for the upcoming debates and twenty-four-hour “news” commentary.

Cuomo once set up an $80,000,000 fund for housing the homeless. An advocate for the homeless, who praised Mayor Koch, indicated that the fund heavily touted by the governor was virtually unaccessible because of unreasonable red-tape conditions. The funds were later used to balance the state budget.

Mario Cuomo, master of campaigning in poetry and governing in prose.

Asher Fried


Jan 13 2015 - 3:06pm


It is pretty simple to me and many others Hillary Clinton is unacceptable as the Democratic nominee for president. Her votes for military force, her insistence on “triangulation” her position on the board of Walmart. This woman is a grasping, power-centric individual who doesn’t care what side of the fence she is on, as long as she’s in control. No, not now, not ever. I’ve voted Democrat all my life and I will not vote for her. There are more and more people like me out there. Walter B. Pewen

Walter Pewen

Santa Barbara, CA

Jan 10 2015 - 12:29pm

Stop Blaming Protests for Police Killings

Your hypocrisy on this issue is not just stunning but appalling. When an unstable man shot Gabby Giffords, The Nation was quick to hop on the anti-gun, anti-Palin bandwagon and talk about how “eliminationist rhetoric” contributed to the shooting. This specifically referred to a PAC-type advertisement run by Palin that advised “targeting” weak Democrat House members in districts where they could be replaced with reliable conservatives. This “eliminationist rhetoric” combined with cross hairs over the face of one of these weak Democrats was deemed to be beyond the pale of civilized discussion.

However, when Mayor De Blasio made his comments about police brutality, the were made very shortly after a very public protest where video showed the participants weren’t singing, “This Little Light of Mine” but were being lead from the podium in a chant of, “What do we want?” “Dead Cops!” “When do we want it?” “Right now!”

For your editors to write an editorial absolving the “protesters” of any culpability in the officers’ deaths is appalling in its hypocrisy, and quite frankly, dishonest in your refusal to acknowledge this very salient detail. Garner’s death was tragic, but the video clearly shows him resisting arrest for a crime related to the collection of cigarette taxes. The left’s continual refusal to accept the reality of this will only lead to more crime and death among communities of color.

Darin Zimmerman

somewhere in IO

Jan 5 2015 - 10:15am

Naomi Klein in Conversation With Michael Moore

I completely agree with Naomi Klein and with articles related to the subject. However, I can only see two ways of bringing about the very necessary changes that Naomi suggests. The first is a “Pearl Harbour.” Sandy was nowhere near large enough to qualify and neither was Katrina. We need something of the order of a total failure of the seed crops (wheat, corn, barley, rape seed etc.) of the Northern Hemisphere to have any effect, but by then it will almost certainly be too late. It may even be too late now but only time will tell.

On the other hand, perhaps we could succeed with starting a new movement called the PPCT, which stands for whoever Pays the Piper, Calls the Tune. It recognizes that as long as we allow any individual or company to financially support politicians in any way, they will call the tune and no reform will be possible. This is so anywhere in the world but most importantly in the USA.

William Hughes-Games

New Zealand

Jan 3 2015 - 6:45am

Courting Disaster

I really like The Nation magazine’s honesty and great articles, but when it comes to India, I think The Nation doesn’t believe in cross-checking facts mentioned in its articles. The article by Muhammed Idrees Ahmad mentions that Junagadh and Hyderabad were Muslim-majority states where people wanted to join Pakistan, but were annexed by India, which forced Pakistan to attack Kashmir using tribals. This is absolutely false, because Junagarh and Hyderabad were both Hindu-majority states where people wanted to join the Indian Union and there oppressive rulers belonging to other religion to join Pakistan which Mountbatten disapproved stating geographical location.

Secondly, while accusing Indian army oppression, the writer simply forgets why the army is there in the first place. It is because of terrorism sponsored by Pakistan. What about Baluchistan and sind captured by Pakistan? The situation there is identical with Kashmir. So why doesn’t Pakistan show India some light by giving independence to Sind and Baluch if it wants Kashmir to be free? Why it oppressed people of Bangladesh which forced them to get out of Pakistan? Why are Hindus in an abysmal state in Pakistan? The so-called article 370 is a temporary clause, which was made clear by B.R Ambedkar to the Kashmir constituent assembly, and according to the British Parliament division plan and all other rules. Kashmir is legally part of India, not a disputed property between Pakistan and India as Western media love to portray it. The issue is between us and our Kashmiri brothers and sisters. And Western media and Ahmad should never forget the Kashmiri pandits who were forced to leave their home because of the terrorism of Pakistan. Why see only one side of a coin? Thank, if you care to read it, with lots of love from India to The Nation.

anmol sharma


Dec 30 2014 - 7:46am

What's Next For the Voting Rights Movement?

It is unfortunate the Florida effort to amend the state constitution to allow felons to vote specifically excludes those convicted of murder and sex offenses and will enshrine bigotry and discrimination against those people into the state constitution. Apparently redemption, second chances and good citizenship and voting are okay for only some felons. Thus corrupt government officials who sell out their offices can regain their voting rights but others cannot.

Martin Luther King sought the right to vote for all Americans; he did not do so at the expense of others, whether white, Hispanic or such. The GLBT movement has sought rights and equality for all GLBT people. Thus today a gay person convicted of murder can get married but in Florida will not be allowed to vote if this amendment passes.

Even worse, is it is faith-based groups leading the effort to further discriminate against and disenfranchise people convicted of murder and sex offenses in Florida. Would Jesus really not want sex offenders and murderers to vote, or would he believe they too are entitled to citizenship and human dignity?

I was convicted of murder in 1987, served seventeen years in prison, and I live in Florida and while the state and everyone pushing this amendment wants me to follow the law and pay taxes, they do not want me to vote. And no one will tell me why I should not be able to vote. If convicted felons can’t vote we should not have to pay taxes. Yet no one is saying that.

I have advocated for felon and prisoner voting rights since 1989 but have never thought that the rights of one group of poor, oppressed and disenfranchised people should come at the expense of another. I hope that people of faith and conscience ask themselves what would Dr. King and what would Jesus do before they consider voting for this amendment. Would they throw murderers and sex offenders under the bus of political expediency? If they wouldn’t, why should you?

I am the executive director of the Human Rights Defense Center.

Paul Wright

Lake Worth, FL

Dec 22 2014 - 6:49pm

Why the Torture Report Won’t Change Anything

Torture? It’s just a drop in the bucket. We kill and maim worldwide in the name of “democracy” and halting the spread “socialism” and “terrorism”.

We pay for 41 percent of the entire world’s military extravaganza. We pay for our CIA, military personnel, weapons and munitions to be in nearly every country on Earth.

We routinely unleash our CIA and military to inadvertently destroy the lives of innocent women, men and children around the world. Of course it is sad, but their governments simply were not fully committed to our ideal of unrestricted free enterprise, unfettered capitalism, exploited natural resources or exploited workers.

We bankroll our CIA, its predecessor and our military to provide funding, training, personnel and equipment for terrorist thugs in Latin America, Africa, Asia, Europe or the Middle East for decade after decade of human rights abuses, with the blessing of every single President and Congress. We invent and use the most destructive weapons in history. We shower tons of bombs and napalm and missiles and ammo and land mines on innocent civilians around the world—cumulatively, probably more than a ton of destruction for each person on Earth.

We kill with our video-gamed drones like science fiction’s UFOs. We salt the earth with debris from our cluster bombs infused with “depleted” Uranium. We destroy homes, towns, villages, farmlands and livelihoods in our unrelenting search for terrorists and commies.

We are the world’s most self-righteous, omnipresent killing machine. We will continue to capriciously kill and maim innocent women, men and children as “collateral damage”, simply because they will be in the wrong place when we unload today’s dose of annihilation.

We are terrorists to the innocents we terrorize in our search for our elusive terrorist du jour.

Don’t believe me? See how far you get reading former State Department official William Blum’s Killing Hope before you want to throw up, or world War II bombardier Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States before you clench your teeth.

Torture—it’s just an unfortunate drop in the bucket. We obsess over the inhumanity of torture as we go right on killing and maiming “collateral damage” each and every day.

How demonic, how insane are we to pay for this evil? Our inaction belies our hollow outrage. We are not “a principled people”. We are only “exceptional”.

Sid McCausland

Palmer, AK

Dec 19 2014 - 7:11pm

The CIA Didn’t Just Torture, It Experimented on Human Beings

Many thanks to Lisa Hajjar for her piece on James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen’s project of human experimentation in CIA’s “interrogation” program.

It turns out that Mitchell and Jessen, in addition to being disgraces to their profession are straight-up plagiarizers. They ripped off their “novel” ideas about learned helplessness from the CIA’s own KUBARK manual, which Hajjar mentions in her excellent piece. Mitchell and Jessen refer to techniques intended to produce “debility, disorientation and dread,” which sounds suspiciously like this passage from that manual. Here’s a direct quote from the manual, as reproduced in Chapter 1 of my book Mainstreaming Torture:

“Control of the source’s environment permits the interrogator to determine his diet, sleep pattern, and other fundamentals. Manipulating these into irregularities, so that the subject becomes disoriented, is very likely to create feelings of fear and helplessness,” [thus producing what the manual calls a condition of] “DDD”: debility, dependency, and dread.”

The CIA was so clueless and dissolute that they bought back their own research from a couple of vicious con artists.

Rebecca Gordon

San Francisco, CA

Dec 19 2014 - 12:45pm

Why #BlackLivesMatter Should Transform the Climate Debate

Given that the “Black Lives Matter” movement is a wake, first—a grieving process—it is imperative that we be respectful and patient. We all have causes, most of them, in the end, in common. But before we ask for someone to share their power with us, we must thoroughly and with all our hearts acknowledge their humanity and their needs.

Jennifer Hathaway

Ramona, KS

Dec 16 2014 - 8:44am

Why #BlackLivesMatter Should Transform the Climate Debate

Klein’s linking of racism to climate change is clever, but her focus on environmental factors largely ignores the infectious diseases, hunger and violence that has had (and continues to have) a far greater impact on poor people of color than climate change. That will likely change in the coming years, but ignoring their more basic needs now will only accelerate the pace of that arrival. Promoting the massive climate march in NY, she spoke about the need for a “movement of movements,” bringing economic, social, peace and environmental movements together to transform the system now damaging our collective life support.

US foreign policy does appear to be racist. But it would more accurately be called “nationalist.” Our response to Ebola and ISIS was slow and insufficient… but we have done virtually nothing about Ukraine either. What’s needed is for all these movements to come together and make the Universal Declaration of Human Rights an enforceable document. At least the most of the world would have the basics to address the growing climate challenge we must all face.

[The author is the former chair of the United Nations Assocation Council of Organizations.]

Chuck Woolery

Rockville, MD

Dec 15 2014 - 12:22am