Letters From the February 20, 2017, Issue

Letters From the February 20, 2017, Issue

Letters From the February 20, 2017, Issue

Cold war, hot takes… Peace as realpolitik… High note
… The gratitude cure…


Cold War, Hot Takes

Those Hacking Charges” [Jan. 16/23] speaks to me in calling for a de-escalation of the new Cold War, but I’m skeptical about calling on the president to convene “an independent commission, composed of experienced Americans,” to investigate the allegations of Russian hacking.

Can we be sure that the “experienced” persons chosen will not reflect the very mind-set that threatens to launch a new Cold War? Is it likely that the president would appoint any of the veteran intelligence officials who recently signed an open letter questioning the CIA’s allegations that the Russian government interfered with our presidential election?

Jack Justice
santa fe, n.m.

The editorial “Those Hacking Charges” makes a case for a balanced appraisal before the facts are known. However, the times of easy analysis when all pieces of the puzzle fit together are long gone. From the scientific to the political, simple answers are unavailable. But this does not mean that they are unknowable, only that the answers are contentious—­and that they require a good deal of thinking about who benefits from the outcome.

Your editorial is a considered, rational, progressive, “politically correct” analysis that attempts to satisfy both sides of the argument for the sake of minimizing the rocking of the boat. But this anemic approach papers over known facts: The outcome of the election was overshadowed by many suspicious events, from incomplete vote accounting to demonstrated hacking of the Democratic National Committee as opposed to its Republican counterpart. The extensive capability of Russian hackers does not “prove” their complicity, but it certainly demonstrates that they would not be so amateurish as to leave clearly identifiable “fingerprints.” Other events, such as the political assassination of Russian reporters or expat whistle-blowers, cannot be “proven” to have been carried out by Russian agents working for Vladimir Putin, but the overwhelmingly reasonable blame assuredly fits.

So, yeah, maybe the “proof” is not available—but the culpability and demonstrable benefits are as plain as day.

Robin Rapport
rush, n.y.

You know, it is possible to walk and chew gum at the same time, and it is possible to recognize the seriousness of Russia’s attempt to elect Donald Trump while acknowledging that this was but one of many factors that tipped the scales, including (for example) Hillary Clinton’s neglect of Michigan and Wisconsin while trying to achieve a landslide victory by winning Texas or Georgia.

Steve Phillips’s article “Are Black Voters Invisible to Democrats?” [online only, June ’16], about maximizing the turnout among African Americans and Latinos, suggests a far better direction for progressives to take than endlessly refighting the civil wars of the 2016 primaries, or making de facto apologies for Russian interference in our elections because the CIA has also done many dreadful things.

Andy Moursund

Peace as Realpolitik

Thank you, thank you for your special-feature section in the Jan. 16/23 issue, “Toward a New Foreign Policy,” made up of statements by six experts. It did my Quaker roots good to be reminded that “peace in the world” is not just a sentimental dream but realistic, practical, and sensible. It is also, of course, the only alternative to a “world in pieces,” as the kids of the 1960s sang as they marched.
Christiane Marks
copake falls, n.y.

High Note

I am the lyricist of “The Rules Don’t Apply,” from the Warren Beatty film Rules Don’t Apply. My co-writer was composer Eddie Arkin. Eddie and I waited many years for this film to come out, and we were disappointed that it did so badly at the box office. We were working on a song for my new album a few weeks ago, and when we were on a break, Eddie’s wife Pat told us about the Stuart Klawans article mentioning the song [“Ornaments to the Season,” Jan. 16/23] and read it to us. We were both pleased and touched.

My late father, Leonard Feather, was a critic; he used to like it when an artist would write him to say that what he wrote made them feel good, so I thought I’d drop a line to say thanks.

Lorraine Feather
worcester, mass.

The Gratitude Cure

One secret to overcoming depression, I learned long ago, is to be thankful for what disturbs us. This technique is helping me with our current political situation.

I am thankful for the contrast—­in demeanor, in language, and in prime directive—between the outgoing president and the incoming one. Barack Obama’s moderation and reason epitomize my loss, and make me see the danger that may come in so many ways I cannot assess.

I’m grateful for the dread that even those who voted for Donald Trump now feel. “We’ll wait and see,” they say, even as he says and does what can be seen—from the outset, an attempt to eliminate ethical oversight, and now threats to health care, justice, the economy, and the environment. Then there are his confusing tweets, his dismissal of the press, his private “White House” in New York City. My hope is that what they cannot see, they can feel.

I’m grateful for the urgency that is launching people to act in small groups and in uncountable boycotts and acts of silent resistance. Many have decided to join activist groups or to run for political office. Most of us have decided to become what we have, until now, lazily resisted becoming: citizens.

I am especially grateful to The Nation. You are a model for the many people who are now joining you in your vital work for our country.

Dorothy Sterpka
west hartford, ct.


Stuart Klawans’s “Ornaments to the Season” [Jan. 16/23] described Billy Crudup’s character in Jackie as an unnamed William Manchester. In fact, Crudup’s character, dubbed “The Journalist,” is a composite of more than one reporter, including Manchester as well as Theodore H. White.


In Tom Hayden’s “The Forgotten Power of the Vietnam Peace Movement” [Jan. 30], a caption described a photo as being taken at a Democracy Now! event in May 2015. While Democracy Now! covered the event, it was organized by the Vietnam Peace Commemoration Committee.

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