Web Letters | The Nation


Descent into March Madness

Are you kidding me? The article about March Madness was absolutely ridiculous!

I'm sorry that a coach said the N word back in the 60s. It's really too bad. BUT it is absolutely condescending to assume that the N word is reason for a talented kid to quit playing basketball.

I'm sorry that March Madness has turned into a corporate event, but so has about everything. The kids love the attention and excitement, and I love watching.

Christy Fisher

Tucson, AZ

Mar 22 2007 - 12:05pm

Who's Afraid of Gardasil?

I am trying very hard not to take the well-intentioned comments of the other readers personally.

I was first diagnosed with HPV in the spring 2000. I had a hysterectomy during Hurricane Katrina (at the ripe old age of 33).

I went through years & years of biopsies, surgeries & phone calls to my office that started, 'Well, we've determined that you don't have cervical cancer, now we think that you might have.... Come in for the test tomorrow.'

Did you see the woman on NOW discussing how she & her husbands were virgins when they got married? Then she was raped in the grocery store parking lot. Now she is fighting for her life.

Parents can opt out. Mandates force insurance companies to cover the bill. And Medicaid to cover girls that are going to have enough problems. I had a hard time covering co-pays for the years I was averaging a test or biopsy every 3 weeks.

If I was uninsured and/ or still in school, I would have been even less equipped.

Honestly. Tell me why I am supposed to be grateful? Or why I should ask my niece to forgo the vaccine? (Since I will certainly never have my own child.)

Why do you people think that we deserve the lot we have been dealt?

Meg Warren

Little Rock, Arkansas

Mar 21 2007 - 8:36pm

The Porn Plot Against Prosecutors

The effort of the Attorney General to eliminate all pornography would be well-received in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, and other places with strong family values.

The book, The Enemy at Home accurately captured the shared values of foreign terorists and American fundamentalists; let our fundamentalists seek more fertile ground in the more moral parts of the world.

Todd Peterson

Washington, DC

Mar 21 2007 - 6:08pm

Saddam's Last Laugh

"According to an opinion poll of 5,000 Iraqis carried out over the past month, 49 percent say they are better off now than under Saddam, and 26 percent say life was better under Saddam. More than one in four said they had had a close relative murdered in the past three years." Audrey Gillan. "The Regrets of the Man who Brought Down Saddam". --The Guardian. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0%2C%2C2037219%2C00.html_

In no way is this a defense for this botched war, but yet a check used on the statistics for this story.

Gary Ridley

Mt. Pleasant, MI

Mar 21 2007 - 2:40pm

Conscience and the War

President Bush warned if the US troops were withdrawn from Iraq prematurely, the whole region would slip into chaos.

According to Bush’s previous statements the violence is entering Iraq from Syria and Iran, Turkey is fully protected NATO member while Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are stable democratic regimes and trusted American allies which would eagerly host the American troops withdrawing from Iraq.

It means the American withdrawal would only harm Syria and Iran.

Does it mean we keep our troops in Iraq to protect our enemies from chaos?

Kenan Porobic

Charlotte, NC

Mar 21 2007 - 11:19am

Who's Afraid of Gardasil?

In early March the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) estimated the populationprevalence of HPV infection in American women aged 14 to 59 years old. What the CDC study authors found was an overall prevalence of HPV (anytype) infection in 26.8 percent of the American females studied, with 3.4 percent infected with one of the four HPV types in Merck's quadrivalent vaccineand 2 percent infected with one of the two vaccine types (HPV 16 and 18) associated with cervical cancer.

The study noted that 90 percent of allHPV infections are cleared from the body and do not become chronic. This means that less than one quarter of one percent of all American women are at risk for chronic infection with one of the two HPV types associated with cervical cancer which are contained in Merck's Gardasilvaccine.

These new HPV prevalence data seriously call into question the cost benefit ratio for Gardasil, particularly when taking into account short- and long-term serious vaccine reactions being reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), such as five cases of GuillainBarre Syndrome (GBS) and cases of syncope with seizures, facial paralysis and other signs of brain and immune system dysfunction. The editorial in JAMA also questioned whether the two HPV types in the vaccine would be replaced by the other HPV types associated with cervical cancer, limiting the vaccine's effectiveness. On May 18, 2006, the FDA staff questioned this possibility.

The Washington Times reports that ACIP chairman Jon Abramson and other committee members did not want Gardasil mandated. If this is true, then ACIP should have stated that fact clearly when they made their recommendation in the summer of 2006 that all eleven-year-old girls get the vaccine. In light of newly published HPV prevalence data and the fact that Merck only studied Gardasil in a few hundred eleven-year-old girls for a few years, together with reports of serious adverse events such as GBS coming into VAERS, the CDC's ACIP members should be more worried about unanimously recommending GARDASIL for routine use with inadequate supporting evidence.

This is worth repeating...there have already been five cases of GBS, and the vaccine was only tested on a few hundred girls.

Despite the growing list of outstanding scientific questions about the vaccine's necessity, safety and effectiveness. All we see is knee-jerk endorsements of school mandates for this vaccine. American children should not be viewed as guinea pigs by drug companies, health officials, doctors, or politicians.

Kenneth Stoller, MD, FAAP

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Mar 21 2007 - 9:44am

Congress, End the War

In his speech on the fourth anniversary of the Iraq War, President Bush gave his support for the Democratic proposal to withdraw the US troops from Iraq by the end of 2008.

President Bush solemnly declared that the success in Iraq is a matter of months, not days or weeks.

Any success coming in 2009 would be a matter of years. Since President Bush never lied to the American public, we can rest assured our troops would be home by the end of 2008.

Thanks God they will be going home together with President Bush.

Kenan Porobic

Charlotte, NC

Mar 21 2007 - 9:15am

Europeans Do It Better

On the face of it, it does seem silly to promote childbearing in an overpopulated world. But it's not as simple as the author of this article makes it sound.

If the industrialized countries fill up the demographic gap through increased immigration, they will obviously let in the educated classes of the developing world, not the illiterate ones. This brain drain is in fact already happening and it is not diminishing population growth in the South, but increasing it by retarding development.

The underdeveloped world needs those people which it spent so much to educate much more than the West does.

Some other factual errors:

One: Europe did not recently start encouraging births. These policies date back to the aftermath of the FIRST world war. So many young men had been killed that women had to work the fields and factories while simultaneously replenishing the population. The day care and subsidy programs have been expanded since then but they are hardly new.

Two: France's "immigrant" Arabs have French nationality and go to French schools. They don't need to be discovered as they are fully counted in the demographic debate.

Mostly though, it is the idea that you can just add up people and move them around like commodities that is wrong. If Japanese engineers don't have enough babies, the problem is not solved by bringing in Sudanese farmers. Nor by educating those farmers to be engineers and then depriving their home countries of their skills.

Hans Bavinck

Toulouse, France

Mar 21 2007 - 8:38am

Conscience and the War

Deposing a strongman inspires conflicting and complementary hopes locally, regionally and worldwide. Agendas compete in strengths that vary in the mix of violence, electoral politics and economics, in a slippery rock-scissors-paper interplay.

Martial law imposed by an overwhelming foreign military and police force coupled with elections organized and overseen in the interest of universal suffrage to produce an internationally acceptable clean vote for a constitutional convention can produce a post-fascist Germany and Japan, the variety of post-colonial African states of the 1960s, or a post-Soviet Russia.

Add to that beginning a period of occupation to enforce law and order and deliver economic aid and the choice of whose law, whose economic decisions and for how long produces colonialism like the Raj, Cuba as USSR client-state, or postwar Viet Nam, among other outcomes. Whether the occupier is a single nation, a coalition from the region or outside it, or a UN force, the policy choices for the UN Security Council, NATO or an ad hoc coalition of nations with vital interests of their own in the area, still involve deciding when any intervention is justified and when nation-building becomes imposed cultural change, to the deciders and to the rest of the world.

One possibility is for the UN to declare that one-person, one-vote electoral majority rule with conscience and civil rights for minorities, plus a social safety net. This is the ideal basis for a state but the Security Council will only intervene in any area to prevent genocide and widespread torture, or to relieve epidemic famine and plague.

Such a vote in the UN General Assembly would involve at the least the principle of the supremacy of religious or secular and ideological or pragmatic value, and would establish a standard impossible to apply except by judicial interpretation which would be seen as super-legislative fiat by the losers, whether made by a court or the Security Council.

A treaty proposing any similar or opposing standard for enforcement by regional or coalition forces of its signatory nations would only gather the like-minded, their clients and allies, all of whose interests and positions shift with events. As with supply and demand, it’s the various states’ national interests, including the desire for different kinds of international respect, that intersect given areas’ conflicting interests to produce points of intervention and abstention, where human beings suffer and die, often leaving us a visual record of it, as individual as the 9/11 cell-phone calls.

And yet, the US policy choice is between meliorative-pejorative politics-as-usual and an isolationism or world hegemony based on contemporary Hiroshima-effective demonstrations of authority.

Jerome Davis Muller

San Francisco, CA

Mar 20 2007 - 6:36pm

Congress, End the War

I doubt the accuracy of the claim made in this editorial that there would be "tremendous educational and practical progress" made on opposing the war just by losing a vote on the withdrawal plan put forward by Rep. Barbara Lee.

While Lee's plan may be better in terms of appearing to bring the war to an end more quickly, being unable to pass it is not sound politics. We are past the point of making symbolic gestures, which is what this editorial appears to endorse.

But what happens next? What do you do after the Lee plan fails? Do you just say, "Well everyone has been educated. Good work; let's go home."

What will we have learned: splitting the broad opposition to Bush with demands that are too sharply on the left and making symbolic but highly moral (to some people) oppositional statements fail to end the war.

Pelosi's plan is more than a symbolic gesture.It would make withdrawal the law.

The tactics for winning a fight in Congress offered in the editorial would hand much hard-fought political momentum back to Bush, who will then claim that the Democrats have not been able to offer a sound alternative and thus his stay-the-course/escalation is the only alternative.

We should take the fact that Bush is so strongly opposed to it as a sign of its significance. It is a good point at which a movement for withdrawal can take its first steps.

Joel Wendland

Ypsilanti, Michigan

Mar 20 2007 - 5:00pm