Letters to the Editor

Say what? Horowitz thinks Republicans are too NICE?! Plus: Grateful Dead producer defends cut-and-paste editing; marriage-savers are wrong about monogamy.


Letters to the Editor
December 3, 1999 10:00PM (UTC)

Republicans lost in space
BY DAVID HOROWITZ

(11/29/99)

According to David Horowitz, the problem with the Republicans is that they
need to take their gloves off and attack the Democrats.
This is of course utter nonsense. We have lived through the
hyper-partisanship of the "gays in the military" debate, the Republicans'
(skewed and unfair) attacks on the Clintons' health-care proposals, the
demagoguery surrounding every Clinton proposal, climaxing with the trumped-up impeachment of our president.

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Horowitz is wrong. What the Republicans need to do is prove they can govern sensibly. If Social Security, education and welfare are a mess, remember that the GOP has been in charge of the White House for 12 of the last 19 years, and of Congress for the last five (not to mention control of the Senate during the Reagan administration). The Republicans lose in issues that matter to voters because voters are wise enough to know the Republicans would rather work themselves into an angry froth than solve problems.

-- Ken Schellenberg

Republican education programs are patently not about support for public
education and public schools. Instead, they're
politically loaded packages designed to cater to the various right-wing
constituencies that wish to balkanize American education and culture.

Fundamentalist Christian Republicans, alarmed that their ideas
(particularly those about race and religion) are not given primacy in
public schools, demand something called "school choice." School choice is
expressed in publicly funded vouchers used to pay for the education of
one's children. The fact that vouchers are expressly a means to fund
private religious schools, and that such conduct means violation of the
establishment clause, is conveniently sidestepped.

This "choice" is less about overall quality of
education than about educational content. It is clear that some devoutly
religious parents find the teaching of evolution (for instance) in the
public schools upsetting, as it conflicts with their beliefs. This is fine
-- it's their right to disagree.

If the Republicans are as fond of the marketplace of ideas as they consistently claim, they should fight
for a truly public education -- a standards-based, competency-based public
school curriculum that ensures that each child has a base of reading,
writing, arithmetic and reasoning skills that will enable him/her to
function in the world. Then they can tell their children that what they have
learned in school is incorrect, if they so wish, based on their religious
beliefs -- and they can accept the results when their children use their
beliefs in the classroom and are given lower grades because of it. The
common educational base -- a common history, a common science, a common skill set, a common ability to reason -- is critical if we as a society are not to splinter into tiny groups fearful
of each others' ideas.

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If Republicans do otherwise -- that is, restrict their children's access
to ideas that don't square with their doctrine, and so demand public
funding for those ideas -- they tacitly admit that their ideas have
failed in the marketplace and that the only means to promulgate them is to
deny children access to the greater world of ideas.
When Republicans admit that the goal of a quality free public education,
in public schools, is what they're after, then the public will take their
ideas seriously.

-- Matt Hayden

This piece states that 90 percent of funding for education originates at the
local level, then in the next paragraph blames a Democrat-controlled
Congress (which hasn't existed for several years) for the sorry state of
education. I think the inadequate education given to most Americans has
to have come from the same place it have always come: the local controlling authorities.

-- John Bonanno

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David Horowitz's characterization of the test ban treaty issue and debate is
ludicrous. The notion that the country with the best verification and
simulation technology and the world's largest nuclear weapons stockpile
would be put at a disadvantage with respect to North Korea or Iraq by this
treaty can only come from the mendacious or stupid.

Even the argument over whether our verification technology is good enough
misses the point. We are far ahead in nuclear weapons technology. We are
even further ahead in the technology needed to build and maintain bombs in
the absence of testing -- even if the other side is conducting
ultra-low-yield tests. We have not only thousands of working warheads, but
many fully tested designs. The treaty would not affect our ability to
build more bombs. It is a much greater handicap
to those trying to build their first bomb than it is to us.

Without the treaty, Iraq and their ilk get to take the easier road (of larger tests)
to bomb development. The treaty is not about an Iraq vs. U.S. nuclear arms race -- it's about slowing down Iraq and convincing Iran to back off. The treaty is in our national interest.

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-- Russell Williams

As a former student of a poor inner-city school, I find it galling that
Horowitz blames Democratic policies for the plight of public schools.
While perhaps the Democrats have not done enough to help, the real culprit
lies in the white (and largely Republican) flight from our cities. This
flight has been abetted by Republican policies which shunt social problems
(and their costs) on urban residents. I remember the first time I visited
a suburban (and overwhelmingly Republican) public school ... the roof
didn't leak, they had a real playground, they even had art classes. Why
should their schools, only 10 miles away, be so much better?
The Republican plan for school vouchers would simply aggravate the problem
by fostering further flight and punishing already suffering urban schools

-- Greg Stroud

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Sharps and Flats: "So Many Roads"

BY SETH MNOOKIN

(11/29/99)

In his review of the new Grateful Dead box set, Seth Mnookin calls our decision to edit the botched
beginning of a song "nothing less than sacrilege." He also implies that
fading jams in or out is an inappropriate way to present the band's improvisations.

I can only assume that Mnookin is simply unaware that many of the Dead's
best-loved live albums -- the so-called "Skull and Roses" album, "Europe
'72," "Live/Dead" and "Dead Set" -- also contained edits, tunes faded in
and out, cut-and-pasted jams and even harmonies and keyboards overdubbed
in the studio long after the performance. Such edits and corrections --
sensitively done -- are the tradition of Grateful Dead live albums, not
an aberration. We made a decision to make a slight edit to the start of
the final performance of "So Many Roads" so that Robert Hunter's powerful
lyrics could be appreciated with a vocal performance that did every verse
justice.

Edits on live albums aren't necessarily indicative of a Milli Vanillizing
of the music. Miles Davis' early '70s "live" recordings were pastiches of
many different performances layered in the studio by Davis and producer
Teo Macero, and the long jams on CSNY's "4 Way Street" were woven together
by Graham Nash at the mixing board. One can hardly accuse Glenn Gould's
cut-and-paste renditions of Bach of lacking "honest, genuine effort," to
use Mnookin's phrase.

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Perhaps because Jerry Garcia didn't have the luxury of imagining that every note
that he played was holy, he wasn't kept up nights by the "sacrilege" of
making smart editorial decisions about the music.
Dead fans who cannot tolerate such alterations have the opportunity to
explore the thousands of hours of raw, unadulterated live Dead available
for free in the tape trading community.

-- Steve Silberman

Co-producer, "So Many Roads (1965-1995)"

Breaking character
BY CLAIRE DEDERER

(11/22/99)

Philip Seymour Hoffman may be non-talented, fat and someone you would never
ask out on a date, but geez ... Clair Dederer cuts him down like a
person who ran over a little old lady. Is this an
honest critique of Hoffman's acting ability, or just line after line of
insults for someone who's just trying to pay the rent?

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-- James Hamilton

Close the door on open marriage
(11/29/99)

One of the main reasons
marriages end is because of people's unrealistic expectations. The idea of
monogamous/romantic/happy forever marriages is relatively new to human beings
(the last 100 years or so). People are just not that simple. Although some people are quite
content with monogamy, statistics and history show that the majority of people are not
monogamous. For those who aren't, our culture embraces serial monogamy. And when each relationship
ends, it's deemed a "failure."

I don't have a solution for this couple's marital problem, other than
researching the roots of the "ideal marriage" and deciding whether it's
meant for you. Being aware of how we came to have such standards is the first step in
understanding ourselves in relationships.

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-- Mike Ryan

This couple successfully negotiated what many would call two infidelities; they both changed jobs; they're raising their first child with solid concern for her needs -- and they're still speaking? Fabulous!

They tried something difficult, and the experiment didn't succeed. So -- next! If they apply the mutual respect and admiration that allowed them to make it through all those tough moments, they'll be back to humping like bunnies whenever they and the baby have had enough sleep ... which should occur
sometime in the year 2018.

-- Lisa Moricoli Latham

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Attack of the holiday gift guides!

BY JENN SHREVE

(11/19/99)

I was offended by the remarks about "A Real Man" by Norah Vincent. I have
been married for almost five years to a wonderful woman who had the
strength and courage to get her sex changed. In today's politically
correct climate, journalists can no longer make snide remarks about
African-Americans, Hispanics or women. Transsexuals, however, seem to be
fair game.

I found this article acutely derisive towards transsexuals. It just
underscores the fact that in the media, transsexuals are invariably
referred to by their former genders and names; their
problems are trivialized, and they are relegated to the same social tier
as junkies and rapists.

Jenn Shreve asks, "Can someone please tell me what is the
point of obsessing over this relatively rare operation?"
The answer is twofold. For one thing, young people who suffer from gender dysphoria need to be aware that there is a cure (therapy and surgery) and that they are not alone.
These young people live in a hell of self-hatred and fear. It is far better that they get therapy and surgery when they are young than later on in life, when it will cause confusion and pain
for their spouses and children.

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Also, transsexuals are often the victims of hate crimes, even murder. The
media sets the tone for social behavior. When the media treats
transsexuals like freaks, it sends a message to the public that it is OK to
treat these people differently from those who are "normal." It tells
parents that they are justified in being embarrassed by, and therefore
disowning, their transsexual child. It even makes it easier for
some wacko to assault and murder his beautiful girlfriend when she
confesses to him that she grew up as a boy.

I hope that, in the future, Shreve thinks about what she is saying in
her writing and how it may carelessly hurt. Transsexuals don't have powerful publicists. They can't afford first-class lobbyists. Their numbers are too few to demand the attention and
respect that the gay and lesbian community has won.

-- Mark Roth


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