The Evil Twin Gets the Credit, Again

St. Paul, Minn.

OK, I know you’ll get hundreds of letters about this, but those of us who live in St. Paul get pretty irate when the media say something happening here is in Minneapolis, as does your lead editorial “We’ll Take It From Here” [Sept. 15]. We are two very different cities. The Republican National Convention was in St. Paul, Minnesota. The March on the RNC was in St. Paul, Minnesota. St. Paul is the capital of Minnesota. Minneapolis is across the Mississippi River–a nice place to visit, but…


Open Letters on Our Open Letter

Corning, N.Y.

In a fit of self-delusion, I signed your “Open Letter to Barack Obama” [Aug. 18/25]. But owing to the stands he has taken–from his vote on the unconstitutional FISA bill to his desire to expand Bush’s faith-based initiatives, from his comments on NAFTA and the death penalty to his nonsense about offshore drilling–he represents little change and little hope. Instead of opposing the American empire, he promises to manage it better. As a corollary, instead of opposing a corrupt and oppressive political and economic system, he promises to manage it better. If Obama will say almost anything to get elected, why pretend that a thoughtful and reasonable letter such as yours could affect him? I’m baffled by my having signed your letter.


Bellingham, Wash.

I am 65 and consider this the most important election of my life. We have an opportunity to elect a President whose values represent what is best in our nation. Obama comes from a unique background and has a unique intellect with the street sense to get elected and to turn the ship of state in a new direction.

I ask that all of us unite to fully support Obama and the other Democrats running in this election. It is not a good time to harass Obama and other Democrats, who face a difficult and important election. We may not agree with them on all issues, and we must continue our efforts in support of those issues. But we should not attempt to force our candidates to run their campaigns on our pet issues.


Bedford, Mass.

I think you are pushing much too hard on this rare and wonderful candidate. He, and all of us, find ourselves in a truly dirty fight. The senator needs all the support we can give him. He has quite enough to handle.


Rochester, N.Y.

I read your Open Letter. Well done. But remember, if we want change and to leave the Republican disaster behind, we must allow Obama to be more moderate. I hope the left has the courage, decency, intelligence and political savvy to grant Obama some flexibility until after the election. Let’s not ruin the show by being too ideological.


Labor’s Helping Hand

Hong Kong

Christian Parenti’s incisive “Class Struggle in the New China” [Aug. 18/25] is incorrect on one point. Regarding Chinese labor activist Han Dongfang’s 1992 visit to the United States for urgent medical treatment following his release from a Beijing prison, Parenti writes, “But the US labor movement took an interest in his case, and the Service Employees International Union managed to bring Han to New York, where he was treated and had one lung removed.”

In fact, it was Human Rights Watch that brought Han to the United States, in September 1992, and Lane Kirkland of the AFL-CIO kindly provided union funds for his treatment and medication. As Human Rights Watch’s principal China researcher at the time, I was responsible for Han’s case from his arrest in June 1989 onward and helped plan his 1992 visit to the United States. The SEIU was not involved.


Parenti Replies

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Han told me that SEIU 1199 took care of him in New York, “near Columbia,” as he put it. My apologies to others crucial to his case; I didn’t mean to shortchange their efforts. In any event, it was good that Han had allies, just as continuing support is appreciated by Chinese labor activists now.


Loving Rachel Maddow!

Highland Park, Ill.

Even Rebecca Traister’s excellent “Mad for Rachel Maddow” [Aug. 18/25] did not fully capture the outstanding traits that make Maddow the most informative commentator on radio and TV. Her depth and breadth of knowledge, engaging personality and unique people skills make her my favorite commentator.


Stony Brook, N.Y.

Ever since I started listening to Rachel Maddow on Air America, I’ve been impressed by her cogent analysis of events. I guess I was not alone in noticing her uniqueness. Her only negative: she’s “not fond of animals.” (Who’s perfect?)


Not My Commander in Chief

Howard, Ohio

I intended to write commenting on the pertinent letter from Doug Wichert [“Soap Out Your Mouth,” Sept. 1/8] about the insidious ploy of the President claiming the ubiquitous power of Commander in Chief over this nation. I was going to point out that prior to August 6, 1948–the day I enlisted in the US Army as a paratrooper and a sergeant explained that my ass was now his–I had no Commander in Chief. The day I left the Army, May 5, 1952, I again had no Commander in Chief.

I was going to say that all through the travesty of the Bush Administration, every time I’ve sat before my television and heard Bush claim that mantle of absolute tyranny, I’ve wanted to launch my tired old frame out of my easy chair and drive my fist right through the ceiling. I’ve craved to be able to stare straight into his shifty, conniving eyes and inform him that he is my servant, hired temporarily to execute the laws of the land as laid down by those who were sent to Congress to represent me; that I had not risked my life for nine months of combat in Korea to return to the States and subject my being to the caprices of a monomaniacal, megalomaniacal, paranoiac, sociopathic, pea-brained draft dodger who would have to strain his intellect to be a mediocre county commissioner.

This is what I was going to say–until I discovered that your Letters page is limited to those who have access to the Internet. Life is complicated enough in this savage, convoluted culture. I have fought my battles. Cancel my subscription.


We assure Mr. Reinbeau, and all our readers, that we publish letters whether they arrive by hand, US Postal Service, e-mail, carrier pigeon, oxcart or dog sled. –Ed.