Yes, We Did

Pine Mountain, Calif.


Yes, We Did

Pine Mountain, Calif.

The tears are coming now. Not since the cruel, hopeful spring of 1968, working with Eugene McCarthy to end a different war, have I felt such relief. No one I voted for ever won anything in those days, and no tears came. The tears are coming now. In sheets. Old tears. Buckets of them. They’ve collected a lifetime. I haven’t cried for decades. Now I can’t stop. Every time I see Jesse Jackson or John Lewis or Andrew Young or old black ladies hugging and crying outside some Southern clapboard church or a gang of students dancing in some campus quad, I hear the echo of Martin Luther King Jr., and the tears come again. Free at last. An old white man cannot know what black people feel. Their trials can only be imagined. But this one shares their joy. My tears are black.


San Francisco

I would like to give a Nation gift subscription to a Mr. Barack Obama. In January 2009 his address will be 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC 20500. I would have gladly given this subscription years ago, but I’m afraid the current resident would not only leave the magazine unread week after week; he wouldn’t even bother to recycle it.



Portland, Ore.

I liked Jonathan Schell’s reference to Obama as a “gifted political man–a kind of Mozart of politics” [“When the Gloves Come Off,” Nov. 3]. I shared this happy turn of phrase with friends, and one said, Obama is certainly a Mozart, but we must play the instruments.



Danville, Calif.

Going back through the Nation archive (a truly invaluable resource) I came across Jonathan Schell’s “The Case Against the War” [March 3, 2003]. How prescient was his opening quote from Dwight Eisenhower on “pre-emptive war” coming from the president who also warned us against becoming a war economy. Oh, to hear Ike’s words if he saw the state of his Republican Party today.


Medicare (Dis)Advantage

Cataumet (Bourne), Mass.

Perhaps Trudy Lieberman should write another article on healthcare, providing background on Medicare Advantage, how it came about and what its status, coverage and projected costs are. Few healthcare workers seem familiar with the program, and even its subscribers are not adequately informed about it. When it was added to our Medicare insurance, I immediately suspected a move to privatization of healthcare, as Lieberman confirms in her answer to Mary Milliron’s letter to the editor [Nov. 24].


Prop 8/Prop Hate

San Francisco

Richard Kim’s “Marital Discord” [Nov. 24] touched a still-raw nerve in this reader. I’ve heard all the explanations proffered for the passage of the hateful Prop 8 except for the explanation that seems to me to be the most blatant and most disturbing. The enemy who defeated us on Prop 8 is not quasi-hidden homophobia among ethnic minorities; the enemy is not the “disorder…endemic to gay efforts”–although those are real and dangerous concerns.

The enemy is religion! Religion is the tool the conservatives used to strip us of a fundamental civil right–the blind, unquestioning herd-think that is inherent in every religion. Proponents of Prop 8 used faith-based, Karl Rovian divide-and-conquer politics at its most cynical and its most evil, and it worked! It will always work as long as “faith” remains more important than knowledge or even civility to the 52 percent of Californians who unbridled their homophobia on November 4 and the out-of-state Christers who felt compelled to contribute money to keep us queers from gettin’ too uppity.


San Francisco

It is interesting that fundamentalist Christians are busy “defending” marriage. Early Christians were exhorted not to marry because marriage gave a man control of his children and wife and their property. Paul found this limited the ability to convert, since children had to have the consent of the father in their activities. By denying the validity of the family, Paul and the early Christians undermined Roman civil authority. As an anthropologist and religious scholar I have written on the Dead Sea Scrolls and the evolution of Scripture. The nature and the composition of the family are not part of that body of literature. Later additions were made to satisfy the needs of people.


Lancaster, Calif.

At 18, I was an airman in the Navy. I fought for freedom for every American. I signed up to give my life for this great country. Now I wish I could take my patriotism back. It is time for my country to include me in freedom for all Americans. I am so disturbed that a country that has opened its doors to people from all different cultures, religions and ethnic groups has turned its back on my rights and the rights of other Americans. The right to choose to marry whom I love. The right for all Americans who are consenting adults to choose whom they love. I would have died serving this country, and I will die fighting those I once served to not be treated as a second-class citizen.


All Aboard the Green Train!

Circleville, W.Va.

Robert Pollin’s “How to End the Recession” [Nov. 24] is excellent but doesn’t go far enough. Among his proposals for public works, he suggests help to public transportation. If we are to be green, we need more. We need to shift from our automobile culture to a rail culture. Sure, we should repair the auto infrastructure. But it’s more important to make a start on reaping the global warming, economic, energy, land-use and quality-of-life benefits of a rail culture.

Let’s build a Supertrain that runs from Boston to Dallas via New York, Philly, Baltimore, DC, Charlotte, Atlanta, Birmingham/Montgomery, Jackson and Shreveport. At an average 200 mph, a Supertrain would make the entire Boston-Dallas run in eleven hours, burn no carbon fuel and use much less energy than airliners or cars. Need one add that the trip would be much more comfortable than the alternatives?

Half the route would pass through the heart of the red states and serve as a permanent advertisement for the uses of government. And let’s build a Supermetro. DC would be a good site. The current Metro is a commuter railroad that brings workers from the suburbs to the center and back. But most workers commute from one suburb to another and are stuck in their cars, facing the horrors of the Beltway.

A Supermetro would add three rings to the system, perhaps at four, eight and twelve miles from the center. With this, the Metro would become a system for escaping the Beltway and cars, rather than for escaping the inner metropolitan area. It would be a system for the ascendancy of urban life. The moon shot was JFK’s signature project. A Supertrain/Supermetro could be Obama’s. As Pollin says, “This is no time to be timid.”


Corrections–Names & Numbers

In Sean Penn’s “Conversations With Chávez and Castro” (Dec. 15), Juan Almeida’s name was misspelled.

In Nick Turse’s “A My Lai a Month” (Dec. 1), the caliber of rockets fired from helicopters was 2.75 inches, not millimeters.

In Marcela Valdes’s “Alone Among the Ghosts” (Dec. 8), the “n” was dropped from Carlos Monsiváis’s last name.

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Katrina vanden Heuvel
Editorial Director and Publisher, The Nation

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