Letters to the Editor

The "other woman" should dump that loser! Plus: Brill's Content editor questions Salon angle; e-commerce today, gone tomorrow?

Published November 11, 1999 5:00PM (EST)

The other woman


Jane Underwood started "settling" long before she reached the
dreaded mid-40s; after all, she chose to have a child without caring
enough to provide a full-time father. I'm a 48-year-old, never-married woman who has a full and gratifying
life. Do I wish I also had a partner? You bet -- but not one like
Underwood dredged up. My advice to her: Ditch the loser, toss the hair
dye and get a life.

-- Barbara Nordin

Chinese take-out


Sean Elder's article on our coverage of the New York Times' handling of
the China espionage story characterizes our story as a hit piece, but
Elder adds very little of substance other than the Times' unfavorable
reaction. While Elder is free, of course, to argue the Times' side in
this matter, the article came as a surprise to us given Elder's comments
to our reporter, Rob Schmidt. In an e-mail to Schmidt. Elder wrote: "Good
work on the Los Alamos spy story ['Crash Landing']. Any feedback from
the Times or elsewhere? I'm trying to write a follow-up for Salon but
the editors at the Times haven't called me back (funny) ..."

Elder also told Schmidt that he had been planning a similar piece, but
needed a new angle now that we had beaten him to the story. It looks like
he found that angle.

-- Eric Effron

Editor, Brill's Content

Get Uncle Sam off my back! and other misguided impulses

Wills' book is a complete failure from a critical, intellectual point of view. Just to pick
one example of the author's egregious failures, he states that the "'right
to bear arms' language in the Second Amendment is a purely military right,
intended to apply to the militias of the day." If the evidence of the
Federalist Papers is to be believed, the author shows a callous disregard
for the facts. The purpose of the Second Amendment, as explained in the Federalist Papers (as well as many other documentary sources), is that the individual citizens of
the United States possess the weapons necessary to defeat a standing army
which threatens them, either from internal oppression or from foreign

In this and many other cases, Wills has deliberately chosen to
ignore contemporaneous evidence contrary to his ideology. This book is not
history, neither is it constitutional scholarship. It is about ideology,
and not an ideology the Founders of our country would espouse. Wills
lacks the intellectual honesty to say as much. A more correct title to this
work of fiction would be "Reasons Why I Like A Powerful Federal Government:
and Why Those Who Don't Are Inbred, Religious Fanatic, Hicks."

-- Robert Vance

Gary Kamiya's review of Garry Wills' new, pro-government screed is as flawed as the book itself. Kamiya writes, "The anti-governmentalists, far from being true to the spirit of the Constitution, are really partisans of the flawed and derided document it superceded."
The Constitution with its Bill of Rights was undoubtedly created to limit the power of government. The 10th Amendment, drafted in 1789 and ratified in 1791, reserves to the states all powers not delegated to the federal government. Only certain powers were delegated to the United States. The rest were reserved to the states or the people.

As for the foolish claims made for gun control in the early republic, one need only point out that there were no federal laws against the people possessing the same firepower and weaponry as the military until the advent of the 20th century. Most Americans certainly were armed in the early republic because of the great fear of a professional army. Moreover, the original Minutemen were hardly a "proto-FBI." They fought their Lexington and Concord battles against government troops dispatched from Boston to seize their firearms.

In a century that has witnessed mass murder and totalitarian enslavement of hundreds of millions by government, Wills' and Kamiya's citations of the few hundred victims of America's home-grown, "right-wing extremists" is disingenuous and absurd.

-- Michael Hoffman

Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

Everyman's e-commerce



I noted with amusement that Thomas Scoville, in his review of
"StrikingItRich.com," was looking for case of e-commerce failure.
One of the book's case studies in "success," Discover Games, indeed
lost its staff and closed shop shortly after the book was published,
and only recently has reopened in a much scaled-down fashion.

The lesson on the fleeting quality of e-commerce success should be
clear. It would be amusing -- and illuminating -- if Easton could revisit her cases studies come 2000, and publish a "where are they now" piece.

-- Sandy Antunes

"Outlaw" poets hog the mike


So Maria Russo thinks I look like a mothering giraffe and found my poem dreary;
and poor old Hirsch Silverman went on a bit and blacked out Susan
Scutti. Surely, though, "The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry," a volume comprising 50 years of outsider American poetry, deserves a serious review rather than a cranky sidelines report from the book-launch party. Have we really reached the time when the book is judged on the strength of its book party? Many already consider "Outlaw" to be the
successor to Don Allen's "New American Poetry." Did Russo even read it? C'mon, this is unworthy of Salon. Give the book a read, for crying out loud, and write about it intelligently. Let it stand on the merit of its texts, not its book launch.

-- Alan Kaufman

Bush gets an F in foreign affairs


Last time I looked, Mexico was not a "Central American nation,"
but, indeed, was and is part of North America. Similarly, if Mexico has
a "foreign minister," I am not aware of it. Gov. Bush was, is and, near as I can tell,
will continue to be a bit of a dumbo. If he is elected president, I may well head south.

-- Jesus B. Ochoa

El Paso, Texas

I cannot believe this is what a real reporter is supposed to do. If
Johnson worked for me, he would have been fired. You have an interview
with the prime candidate of the presidential race and you try to put him
in a bad light by asking names of leaders of countries? Hell, I can't
remember my phone number if someone asks me.

Gotcha politics played by the news media does not enhance its credibility with the public; instead, it
shows journalists up as lightweights and makes them about as popular and believable
as used-car salesmen. I look forward to Johnson asking each
candidate the same question. This is not important for a candidate to know.

-- Geraldine K. Smith

When Hillary finally declares, it'll be interesting to watch you press
hacks studiously avoid asking questions of equal moment to her. The
names of the chief executives of, say, Jamestown or Elmira would be an
excellent start. I have many ambush questions in mind, but if you try real hard, you can drum up a few of your own. I ain't holding my breath waiting for you to ask them.

-- John A. Vitale

Ammiano to face off with Brown


I am a resident of San Francisco who has supported Tom Ammiano from his
race for a seat on the school board years ago to his write-in bid for
mayor. I am incensed at the arrogance Mayor Brown exhibited in the
following: "Brown said that without Ammiano in the race, he would have won the
election outright and 'the citizens would have saved hundreds of thousands
of dollars.'"

The citizens of this city would have saved hundreds of thousands of
dollars in ridiculously inflated housing and rental costs over the past
four years if it weren't for Brown's cronyism. I'm originally from
Chicago; Brown's brand of politics makes me wonder if I ever actually left.

There is a Brown campaign ad appearing on taxi tops in San Francisco. The
ad reads: "World Class City. World Class Mayor. Any Questions?" Just
one, Mayor Brown. How in the world are you withstanding that FBI investigation?

-- Lydia Rose Paweski

As someone who
has been at least peripherally involved in both gay and straight politics
for almost 20 years, I now have hope for renewal in what has become an
overwhelmingly tawdry process. The success of the write-in
project makes me almost want to move from my affordable downtown
Sacramento home to San Francisco and commute for a few months, just so I
could vote for Ammiano. I guess all the grass roots have not been
replaced by Astroturf after all!

-- Stacy Selmants

Philly's I.O.U. mayor


I'm from Philly and just spent a week there
marveling at how the city shines after two terms under Ed Rendell -- like any
city, it has its dark side, but it's also now a vibrant, lovely city full of
potential (both realized and unrealized). But who knows what will happen as
John Street's supporters start calling in their favors. I believe this
election, and its aftermath, will in the long run illustrate the true cost of
"politics": The well-being of the many will get sacrificed to the selfish agendas of
the few who run the machine.

-- Anne C. Lear

Los Angeles

This article -- explaining how Street will have to
negotiate contracts with the very unions who put him in office -- was totally false. Both AFSCME district councils representing city employees, Nos. 47 and 33, did not endorse or support Street. Thomas Paine Cronin, head of No. 47, made no secret of his intention to vote for Katz.

The Construction Trades' Council of the Philadelphia AFL-CIO did endorse
Street, but as Roger Tauss, the former head of the mass transit union used
to say, they would endorse a tactical nuclear strike on downtown if it
meant the creation of construction jobs.

-- Bert Schultz


You call this a free election?



I read Christopher Hitchens' commentary with more than usual interest. As a
member of the Libertarian Party throughout the past two decades, I have watched with no small amount of disgust as the activities of
Libertarians and other third-party candidates have been routinely ignored by
mainstream media; as support for Libertarians or other alternative candidates
in opinion polls has been counted as "undecided" or "other"; as election vote
totals for Libertarians and other minor-party candidates have been tossed
into the "other" category (or worse yet, rounded into the totals of one or
both of the major-party contenders); as Libertarians and third-party
candidates have been forced to spend exorbitant amounts of time and money
simply to get their names on official ballots, and for their trouble haven't
even been invited to participate in "official" candidate debates. This last
slight may be most egregious: As the Reform Party's Jesse Ventura showed us
in Minnesota, an alternative candidate can win if afforded reasonable media
coverage and allowed to meet the major-party contenders head-on in debate.
Locking serious alternative candidates out of the official debates robs the
candidates and the voters.

The Libertarian Party candidate for president has been on all ballots in all
U.S. states, districts and territories for two presidential elections in a row:
No other third-party has achieved this status in the history of our nation.
But the Libertarian Party candidate has never been seriously considered as a
debate participant, and is routinely left out of opinion polls. Unlike the
Reform Party candidacies, which have been built largely upon the candidate's
personal celebrity or wealth, Libertarian campaigns are as close to the
grass roots as you'll find in American politics today.

Despite restrictions on ballot access, a paucity of coverage in mainstream
media, and many other formidable systemic obstacles, the Libertarian Party
has continued to increase in size and influence, especially during this
decade. Currently, around 300 Libertarian Party members serve in public
office, including a state legislator, county supervisors, mayors, city
council members, sheriffs, school board members and various regional and
state commissioners; we pick up a few more wins with each election. That
relatively small number of officeholders may be disappointing at first blush,
but the fact that it represents the best effort of one of the most vigorous
and committed opposition parties this country has seen in decades must make
us wonder: Just how unfairly are the cards stacked against alternative
parties and candidacies, and how much more diversity (not to mention good
government) might we have soon were the system's embedded biases to be
identified and eliminated?

-- James Merritt

Libertarian Party Forum Host

America Online News Channel

Christopher Hitchens referred to the "open purchase" of votes in the Iowa caucuses.
I assume he was referring to the Iowa Republican Straw Poll in Ames over the summer, where there was a price charged to vote, often paid by candidates. The caucuses, which unlike the straw poll have an official function in selecting delegates, occur in January, and do not impose a charge for admission or voting. I haven't heard accusations of votes being "purchased" in previous caucuses.

-- Terry Stanton

Dubuque, Iowa

Despite popular rhetoric, this country is a constitutional republic and not a "democracy." It was designed as a compromise and continues as such. It is plodding and halting
with multiple power centers; and, thank God (if one is still allowed to say
that in such chic circles), neither the political elite nor the mob has a
monopoly on power.

If one were to answer all of Hitchens' questions with a "yes" (and there is a kernel
of truth in most of them), we would, nevertheless, have the most deeply
ingrained institutionalization of popular sovereignty in the history of man.
Candidates who espouse views Hitchens would find acceptable could not even
appear on the national radar screen, no matter what electoral system were to
be employed.

And the basest canard Hitchens offers is in regard to the alleged racist plot
to disenfranchise the population of the District of Columbia. This
historical illiteracy ignores the fact that the district has been
disenfranchised from the beginning of this nation and long before there was
any black electorate in the district. Even so, for anyone who is so deeply
troubled by being disenfranchised, there is a simple remedy: Move.

That is my answer to Hitchens; if he disdains the advantages of being
an American, let him leave for whatever paradise he imagines is out
there. His whining will not missed.

-- Richard C. Koopman

By Letters to the Editor

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Cancer China Espionage George W. Bush Gun Control Guns San Francisco The New York Times