Readers pick a few nits about Katha Pollitt’s column on poverty and heap praise on Bob Moser’s reporting about the “Ditch Mitch” McConnell movement in Kentucky.



Burbank, Calif.

Katha Pollitt’s “Poverty Is Hazardous to Your Health” should be required reading for all Americans [“Subject to Debate,” Oct. 8]. The trouble is, there are conservatives without compassion who think they could never be in the position of Dr. Barry’s patient. They think the reason is that they’ve made “good choices” and this woman hasn’t. Guess they wouldn’t have had that child–oops, but they oppose abortion and often contraception. I guess they just would never have had sex. (Ha!) Pollitt’s column makes me more outraged than ever at conservatives’ lack of sympathy for the poor.


Huntsville, Ala.

I don’t know how often Katha Pollitt’s doctor friend deals with cases of head lice in her impoverished patients, but there is a simple remedy. Mayonnaise, applied liberally to the hair and scalp and combed through with a fine-tooth comb, will kill lice and get rid of nits. Unlike with Nix or Rid, if you don’t get all the critters out with the first application, it is safe to reapply the mayonnaise immediately. Furthermore, the stuff is a marvelous hair conditioner. A jar of mayonnaise costs about $2 and can be paid for with food stamps. I learned this tip from my daughter’s school nurse and can testify that it works. I doubt if y’all will publish this note from an Alabama janitor, but please do pass it along to Dr. Barry.


Orono, Me.

I am saddened to see that not much has changed since my days in an inner-city health clinic. I now work in a health center at the gateway to northern Maine. Rural poverty adds one extra burden–geography. While the urban and suburban poor at least have access to centers like the one at Yale, like the woman Pollitt mentions, the rural poor often have to travel three or four hours for health services.




Vive la Révolution, Louisville! [Bob Moser, “Kentucky at War,” Oct. 1] As a native, I don’t hesitate to defend my hometown every time (and there have been many, many times) a Northerner has snubbed my state for its “hillbilly” past. True, there are rednecks in Kentucky. But you can go as far east as Kennebunkport and as far west as Monterey, and you will still find rednecks.

I also don’t hesitate to correct people who assume that Kentucky is lumped in with the red states. As Bob Moser says, Kentucky and the rest of the South is a purple area. I know how the people of my hometown work politically–they have common sense, they know injustice when they see it and they aren’t afraid to speak up when they see those injustices. Bravo, LAPC! Bravo Ditch Mitch! And Bravo Louisville! I raise my late-night bourbon to you.


Owensboro, Ky.

Thank you for this article! I retired recently and have been catching up on the oil wars and the systematic destruction of rights in the United States. It’s scary, very scary. The Ditch Mitch group will hear from me tomorrow.


Sonoma, Calif.

I laughed out loud at the creativity of the protesters and truth seekers in Kentucky. I hope other communities get ideas from them. I feel less alone when I march carrying a sign these days, knowing others across the nation are doing it.



Franklin, NC

Jerry Mander and John Cavanagh’s “Beyond ‘Green Shopping’ ” [Sept. 24] brought back memories. We of a certain age recall a few things about World War II that might be useful. There was a little rhyme that appeared on posters and walls:

Use it up.
Wear it out.
Make it do,
Or do without.

This is an excellent counter to Bush’s “shop till you drop” to foil the terrorists.



Moab, Utah

Like Christopher Ketcham in “The Hundred-Mile Diet” [Sept. 10/17], I believe that buying regional food–and other products–is the right thing to do. Also like Ketcham, I have two homes: the Moab house I lease to a family and the apartment I rent in England while on a two-year project. I use public transit or walk 90 percent of the time, conserve energy and pay to offset the emissions from my flights, homes and used car. But I’m still using double the resources necessary for one person–far more if you consider that in much of the world, a family of eight could live in my modest three-bedroom house. And they’d be farming the twenty-foot piece of land around my house rather than complaining about lawncare.

I’m not ready to give up traveling to plant community crops, but I agree that a mix of solutions can make a dent in our impact on the environment and keep us from overtaxing the regions that are capable of feeding us year-round.




Phyllis Bennis twice cites the figure that 70 percent of the American public is antiwar [“Letters,” Sept. 10/17]. While that statistic may be true vis-à-vis the war on Iraq, I believe Scott Ritter’s assessment is more accurate: the American public isn’t antiwar per se; it’s against this particular war because we’re losing it.

Unfortunately, Nation readers and our fellow travelers who are against the war on Iraq (and Afghanistan) because it is illegal and immoral are a small minority. Otherwise, there would be more people in the streets, a loud clamor for impeachment hearings, significant opposition to a strike against Iran, and the Democrats in Congress would feel more heat to bring the troops home now.



Columbia, Mo.

The ills of journalism so eloquently summarized by Eric Alterman [“The Liberal Media,” Sept. 10/17] are the reason that faculty at the Missouri School of Journalism have published What Good Is Journalism, a book intended to demonstrate how central good journalism is to the health of democracy.

A national survey conducted for the book and reported in Chapter One shows that consumers of journalism see its flaws but recognize its value in their lives. Other chapters trace the rise of NPR, show how a local newspaper builds community, explain how Washington reporting benefits citizens, describe the benefits to society of investigative reporting, introduce journalist heroes in emerging democracies and tell how to push for higher quality journalism.

George Kennedy
Missouri School of Journalism

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