C’mon, California… 14 Little Words!

Napa, Calif.

"State Races Matter," says John Nichols in "A 2010 Elections Primer" [March 1]. Indeed they do. And when the November 2010 dust settles, California’s legislature is likely to have just enough Republicans to exercise the tyranny of the minority on state budget and revenue matters. We need to end the antidemocratic "two-thirds" rules here so we can start closing the tax loopholes enjoyed by corporate interests and the wealthiest Californians. The California Democracy Act will eliminate the means by which a small minority of right-wing legislators–who put corporations and the wealthy above the vast majority of Californians; who gridlock the budget process year after year; and who block funding for education, social services and infrastructure–have done just that for more than thirty years. Our proposition is just fourteen simple words: "All legislative actions on revenue and budget must be determined by a majority vote." Go to CA4Democracy.com.





Looting Haiti’s Vaults


New York City

Naomi Klein’s "Haiti: A Creditor, Not a Debtor" [March 1] was right on–and about–the money. She highlighted four reasons Haiti deserves reparations: slavery, US occupation, dictatorship and climate change. This debt to Haiti was spelled out clearly in a report issued by the Foreign Policy Association in 1922, a committee that included NAACP stalwart Moorfield Storey and future Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter. According to the report, in 1914 US Marines landed at Port-au-Prince, "proceeded to the vaults of the National Bank of Haiti, and forcibly seized and carried away $500,000." This marked the beginning of a military occupation that continued until 1934 and an economic control that remains unbroken.



NPR’s Faux (Fox) Pas

San Jose, Calif.

Thank you, Eric Alterman. Finally, someone is saying what needs to be said about NPR ["Zinn-ophobia at NPR," March 1]. I heard the broadcast on the death of Howard Zinn and was astonished that the ever-paranoiac David Horowitz was asked to chime in. Alterman points out that NPR never bends over backward like this when a conservative dies (say, Gen. Al Haig); it just lights the votives and gets Juan Williams to wax nostalgic. The public stations had some cred years ago. Now they are bought and paid for. I call them Fox lite.


Asheville, N.C.

It is a mistake to define Howard Zinn solely as a historian and writer. I agree with Eric Alterman’s assessment of NPR’s ridiculous Fox-like inclusion of David Horowitz to analyze Howard Zinn’s career. But Alterman misses the point: Zinn was first and foremost an activist. He spoke out bravely, gave his time continually to justice movements and marched with us on the street right up to the end of his life. Whether his analysis was "overly schematic and simplistic" is of little concern to the activists who can only afford to read his book at the end of the day. It was the actions of his life, and not merely his words, that made Howard Zinn a man of the people.



Although I appreciate Eric Alterman’s takedown of David Horowitz, I take issue with his snarky remarks about Zinn’s life’s work. Alterman surely knows that 99 percent of academic historians would not deign to mingle with the great unwashed by participating in protests or civil disobedience. Zinn’s activism set him apart. Even as an assistant prof he took courageous stands for civil rights and peace that threatened his career. And "ideologically driven"? Compared with what? The consensus school? The "American exceptionalists"? Cold war liberals who supported the Vietnam War? I’ll take Zinn’s clear ideology any day over those who claim not to have one.


Seminole, Fla.

I took NPR’s choice of David Horowitz differently. NPR did the left a favor. The only one who looked bad after Horowitz’s commentary was Horowitz. If a person is unworthy of respect, turn on some music, let him step into the light and see how he dances. Give Ahmadinejad or Kim Jong-Il some time onstage to do the old soft shoe–and wait for the jeers and rotten tomatoes. Horowitz stepped on the stage in the limelight glare, slipped on a puddle of his own bile-infused saliva and fell flat on his big, fat, mean, nasty ass.


Berkeley, Calif.

Having David Horowitz comment on Howard Zinn is like having a Holocaust denier comment on Elie Wiesel.



Alterman Replies

New York City

Thanks, everybody, though I remain confused about Mr. Palermo’s definition of "snarky." I had differences with Zinn’s interpretation of US history. I stated these clearly and respectfully. Palermo offers no evidence, or even argument, to dispute these views. So who’s snarking whom?



John Logue Memorial Scholarship

Shaker Heights, Ohio

Thank you, William Greider, for "John Logue, 1947-2009" [March 1], a touching account of the man’s career. Logue was a pioneer in bringing employee ownership to the United States. The John Logue Memorial Employee Ownership Scholarship Fund has been created at Kent State. This endowed fund will set up an annual scholarship that will live on forever. It seeks to raise $100,000.

To contribute to the scholarship fund, please make a tax-deductible check to the KSU Foundation and put "Logue Memorial Employee Ownership Scholarship Fund" on the memo line. Send to: Department of Political Science, 302 Bowman Hall, PO Box 5190, Kent, OH 44242.



Satchmo’s Jazz

Irvine, Calif.

Thanks for the deliciously venomous headline for David Schiff’s equally pungent review of Terry Teachout’s Pops ["Not Even Bing’s," March 1]. With the addition of William Deresiewicz’s literary criticism and Barry Schwabsky’s art criticism to your pages, The Nation seems to be enjoying a cultural renaissance. I’ve seldom read an arts review as bracing and insightful as Schiff’s in any forum. Please give us more.



Correction: Even Worse than Reported

An editing error in Katha Pollitt’s March 22 column led to incorrect figures for the percentage of women in Congress. In all of the 2000s their numbers rose from 13 percent to 17 percent.