Media Vampires of Sodom
Having just unplugged my Comcast cable, I read the headline on the June 16 issue [“Who’ll Unplug Big Media?“] and said, “I will!”
Tain’t Funny McGee: Part Deux
I find Robert Grossman’s June 16 “Comix Nation” disgusting, obnoxious, repellent, repugnant, useless worthless nonsense and–back to the beginning of the alphabet–CRAP!
HARRIETT F. GOODMAN
North Hollywood, Calif.
Harsh criticism is an inevitable accompaniment to partisan politics, so it’s not shocking that The Nation has tossed rhetorical brickbats Hillary Clinton’s way while covering Barack Obama with big, wet editorial kisses. This is, after all, a journal of opinion. But your odious cartoon goes far beyond advocacy deep into the realm of hateful, paranoia-fueled extremism. This thirty-year subscriber has had enough and canceled his subscription.
New York City
I didn’t find the cartoon funny; in fact, I found it kind of slanderous. Since The Nation endorsed Obama in the primaries, a cartoon that would otherwise look merely sophomoric, unhumorous and just the view of one person looks more like an editorial. It doesn’t make my job–persuading Hillary supporters we should all come together–any easier.
New York City
Hillary brought up the RFK assassination more than once, which was widely noticed and commented on. Without that there would have been no cartoon.
Obama Is Us
In her June 16 column Patricia J. Williams quotes GOP strategist Roger Stone saying in The New Yorker, “Are you black? Are you Hispanic? Are you gay? [If not,] then why the fuck are you a Democrat? You should be with us.” Stooping to Stone’s level, I’d respond: “Are you black? Are you Hispanic? Are you gay? Are you a woman? Are you poor? Are you middle class? Do you care about other people? the environment? Then why the fuck are you a Republican? You should be with us.” Barack Obama represents the closest thing we’ve had to “us” in a long time in a presidential candidate. Let’s make sure “they” (the corporate elite and the warmongers) don’t get their hands on our White House again.
Nurses: Can’t Live Without ‘Em
College Place, Wash.
I can’t speak to Esther Kaplan’s other examples, but I know firsthand that she is flat-out wrong to cite the deal our union negotiated allowing us to organize Oregon nursing home workers as a capitulation to management or abandonment of staffing goals [“Labor’s Growing Pains,” June 16]. It is precisely the opposite. As a certified nurse’s aide and a proud member of SEIU Local 503, I can tell you that our efforts led to a 30 percent improvement in nursing home staffing requirements in Oregon. Until last year the ratio of nurse’s aides to residents on day shift was 1 to 10. By next year that will be reduced to 1 to 7 under the state regulations we won.
We have also increased the number of unionized Oregon nursing homes from two in 2002 to twenty-three today. This has allowed us to bargain contracts that increased the starting wage for CNAs at my facility from $9.25/hour in 2004 to $12.80/hour in 2010. Just as important, we have won respect and a voice in how our facilities run. The result has been lower staff turnover and better care for our residents, a top priority for me and my SEIU brothers and sisters.
I commend Esther Kaplan for tackling such a complex subject, but she did not go far enough in criticizing SEIU. Its tactic of making deals with business in order to secure contracts may grow its membership, but at what cost? At the cost of prohibiting rank-and-filers from organizing new members and from striking? That defeats the purpose of having a union in the first place.
And since when is having any contract more important than fighting for a good one? Workers should not be lying down whenever SEIU tells them to, just because it’s a labor union. That’s UHW president Sal Rosselli’s point and that of SEIU’s reform group, SMART. Andy Stern’s repudiation of efforts by SEIU organizers and members to retain their independence, his top-down approach in negotiating contracts and his capitulation to corporations goes against the very core of basic organizing principles.
For some, the militance and audacity of the California Nurses Association was a breath of fresh air after Stern’s questionable tactics. But the behavior of the nurses’ union in Ohio, and its equally top-down (and quite fascistic) approach to organizing (disclaimer: I once worked as an organizer there), is no cause to celebrate. Instead of allowing SEIU and CNA to frame the debate, we must look to radical labor models to find a path to better working conditions and worker strength.
Our Bodies: Alive & Well
It is splendid that Linda Gordon’s “Translating Our Bodies, Ourselves” [June 16] highlighted Kathy Davis’s prizewinning book while describing the national and international women’s health movement and the origins, impact and travels of Our Bodies, Ourselves (OBOS). Gordon describes a time of hope and activism that we loved being a part of. The article refers to a misconception about OBOS that left the impression that it was meant to be “read by an individual in private.” But the 1970 preface to Women and Their Bodies states, “These papers should be viewed as a tool which stimulates discussion and action, which allows for new ideas and for change” within group discussions “in harmony, sharing, arguing, disagreeing. It was exciting to talk about how we could act together on our collective knowledge to change the health care system for women and all people.”
We saw the resulting book as a living instrument of knowledge, a facilitator of communication and an agent of change. In fact, it was our constant dialogue with one another and with the hundreds of women who responded that expanded the book’s depth and scope over a period of four decades. The methodology (at the outset developed almost accidentally) of connecting personal experiences to the broader society enabled each of the many women’s groups here and abroad to repeat the process on their own terrain. They created new books and other materials to fit their specific cultural and political circumstances. We have welcomed all these exciting developments. Note that the OBOS organization is alive and well, with a diverse and dedicated staff. Check out our website and blog at ourbodiesourselves.org). Contribute information (and funds, if possible)–and rejoice with us that OBOS has taken on so many different lives of its own.
NANCY MIRIAM HAWLEY
Founders, Our Bodies, Ourselves
John Adams, Always a Pleasure
After watching HBO’s John Adams and reading Nicholas Guyatt’s insightful review [“Adams Ribbed,” June 16], my thoughts turned to Jack Shepard’s 1975 book The Adams Chronicles and the Emmy-winning WGBH miniseries starring George Grizzard, now on DVD. Grizzard’s portrayal of Adams was sufficiently gripping that I still recall a few scenes, including a hilarious battle with Ben Franklin in Paris about the merits of fresh night air. Maybe it was Grizzard’s raspy voice or the glint in his eyes as he darted into a moment of irascible independence, but Grizzard seemed particularly well cast to capture some of the essence of Adams the person, to the extent that ever-imperfect historical records convey it.
WILLIAM E. COOPER
The illustration for last week’s cover story, “Loving McCain,” by Eric Alterman with George Zornick, featured Newsweek‘s Fareed Zakaria, who has written some of the strongest foreign policy critiques of the GOP nominee. The Nation regrets the editorial error.