Letters to the editor

Fighting for Elian Plus: In Alan Greenspan we trust; medical museum story needs checkup.


Salon Staff
April 19, 2000 8:00PM (UTC)

C O R R E C T I O N

In the story "Tainted witness," posted on Jan. 12, 1999, the amount of a fraudulent loan at the center of David
Hale's allegations against President Clinton was incorrectly stated. The correct figure is $300,000. A correction has been made.

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Why they can't all just get along

BY MYRA MACPHERSON
(04/13/00)

To Cubans who crossed to Florida in leaky boats the idea of sending anyone back is
tantamount to sending a Jew back to Nazi Germany. It is criminal for our government to persecute the family of Elian Gonzales. Why does the
government and the press pretend that Castro is not still an enemy of our country and of our people? We have so many socialists in our press that we must treat Castro as if he were an enlightened being.

Castro is, in truth, a brutal dictator who is so feared by his own people that they continue to risk their lives to get away from him. They will all tell you when they don't have guns to their heads that anything would be better than being forced to go back.

-- Paul C. Cowan

Isn't it strange that the Cubans who came here for freedom are now denying it to poor little Elian and his father? Elian has a right to see his father; the relatives and crowd in Miami will not allow him the freedom to do that. Juan Gonzales has a right to see, and make decisions for, Elian. He is being denied his parental rights. Why would he want to stay in a country where publicity-seeking relatives and political activists can take away his freedom in order to promote their own agendas? Where is the justice in that? Are they any better than Castro?

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Elian will be very angry someday when he finds out what they have done to him.

-- JoAnne Porter

One of the more amusing sides of the entire nauseating Elian Gonzalez soap opera is the belief that Juan Gonzalez might actually want to stay here. Just think of it. America, the land of the free, the home of the brave, the country without Fidel, where Juan can speak as he really wants to. What these chuckle-headed dolts are ignoring is the possibility that the man might actually despise America, the land of the hated relatives, of the kidnappers of his son, of the government with no moral courage.

Another point that everyone is ignoring is that even if he did stay here he'd never see his son again. After all, in the paranoiac climate in Miami do you honestly think that anyone would trust him alone with Elian? The attitude will most likely be that his defection would simply be a secret plot. The instant that he thought he could pull it off he'd be on a plane some dark night heading back home to Cuba. At best, he'd be allowed closely supervised visits with the boy, visits which, like now, ensure that certain people don't say the wrong thing (like, "Papa, I love you").

-- Gerald J. Gentile

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Showdown in Miami

BY JOHN LANTIGUA
(04/13/00)

It appears that a new way of acquiring a child has been devised. No more fertility treatments. No time-consuming adoption procedures. Simply spot a kid you like, grab him, and he's yours! It might seem a bit unfair to the original owners, but it's certainly their right to find a different kid, who may, in truth, be better than the first one!

-- Marilyn Jenkins

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If it were a mother instead of a father trying to get Elian back, sentiment would be entirely different; those trying to withhold her son from her would be considered heartless. In such a case as Elian's, why doesn't a man get as much recognition as a loving parent as a woman would?

-- Richard Kelly

Alan Greenspan's nightmare
BY IAN WILLIAMS
(04/17/00)

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Ian Williams jumps at the chance to blame Alan Greenspan for the drop in the stock market by pointing to his "obsession" with inflation. He imagines Greenspan in his PJ's, cowering under the sheets to avoid the Inflation Monster. To Williams' credit, I concede that Greenspan might be a bit overzealous about inflation, but he has a reason to be. Current thinking about monetary policy holds that the only power the central bank has is the power to keep inflation at a minimum. Price level changes spread unevenly through the economy. If every price in the economy rose at the same time, inflation would be less worrisome. As it is, some prices change before wages increase. This is where the losses in real purchasing power are felt.

Why did the market take a dive? The CPI data released last week showed that Alan Greenspan's inflation fears were true. The markets have been flying in the face of Greenspan's threats of massive interest rate increases because there was no data to back him up. Now there is data to show that inflation is coming. Greenspan has been saying the same thing for years: If there is inflation, the interest rates will go up. Investors are reacting to the economic data, not to Greenspan.

The markets should price the future interest rate increases into securities prices, which partially happened last week. If Williams wants to blame someone for the drop in the stock markets, he should blame the investment managers who ignored Greenspan while supposedly hanging on his every word.

-- Sean Thompson

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Ian Williams has missed the point totally. The reason Alan Greenspan is single-mindedly obsessed with inflation is that is what we pay him for. The rest of the Federal Reserve's work is regulatory trivia and window dressing to save face for a self-contradictory Congress.

-- Len Winner

Williams' assertion that the U.S. economy is growing relatively slowly is preposterous; specious claims of relative global growth aside, the U.S. economy grew by 4.1 percent in 1999, compared to historical averages of about 1 percent. In addition to factual inaccuracy, consider this howler: Williams claims that as unemployment rises, spurred by higher interest rates, "so does any tendency for employees to ask for more money." Apparently the rest of us missed the seminar on how unemployment causes spiraling labor costs. From his tone, Williams seems most concerned with combating income inequality and the double standard applied to the wealthy. These are admirable goals, but his arguments are as ill-formed as those of the conservative supply-siders he presumably disdains.

-- Owen Rodgers

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Bush meets with gay Republicans

BY KAREN OLSSON
(04/14/00)

As a Houstonian, I'm amazed at the media coverage of George W.
Bush and whether he will meet with Log Cabin Republicans or
support gay marriage.

The fact is that private consensual sex between gay male adults is a crime in Texas and people can be -- and have been -- sent to jail for
that crime, even here in Houston last year.

Although an attempt is made to overturn this law in each session of the Texas Legislature, Bush never supports this effort and it fails. In fact, during his gubernatorial campaign against Ann Richards, he attacked her for favoring repeal of the law.

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As a Texan, to me the question isn't whether or not
Bush supports gay marriage -- it's whether or not he supports gay imprisonment, and thus far, the answer is "yes."

-- Patrick O'Neill

Little house of medical horrors
BY ROBERT STRAUSS
(04/10//00)

One hopes that Robert Strauss got a few more facts straight when he was working as a journalist. The level of inaccuracy was what I might have expected from a high school newspaper reporter, not from someone with Strauss' credentials. To begin with, the Mutter Museum is part of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, a private medical society started by, among others, Dr. William, not Edward, Shippen. The American College of Physicians is a national organization of internists, located on Independence Mall. Dr. Mutter was a surgeon and not an historian, who donated his collection 140 years ago to enlighten students and fellow physicians. Almost every subsequent fact in the article is also egregiously incorrect, reflecting a perverse misreading of the information provided about the exhibits. I hope your readers will be sufficiently intrigued to come and visit the museum, and sufficiently intelligent to actually read and comprehend the labels.

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-- Gretchen Worden

director, Mutter Museum

I've lived in the neighborhood of the Mutter Museum for years: It's one of the many small museums that make Philadelphia unique. Unfortunately, the museum was recently taken over by a faceless corporate "health system," which announced plans to do away with the museum as not fitting their corporate message (i.e., health is a clean, happy-faced business of clients and white-coated employees, er, doctors). Those plans seem not to have progressed beyond the talking stages, for now. The Mutter reminds us, albeit graphically, how precious good health really is by showing us the worst. And, besides, it's just a great, creepy old Victorian museum untouched by time.

-- Peter Baker

By the way, the museum sells a calendar, which is a useful appetite suppressant and emetic.

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-- Andrew Langman

Ethan is on the front
porch, reading

BY VIRGINIA TUBECK-DROZD
(04/12/00)

I also have a learning-disabled son, and feel many of the same frustrations and despairing thoughts as the author. I cannot help but wonder if it is perhaps those of us who find true joy in literature, in reading and writing, who despair the most. It goes beyond the simple tasks of job applications or directions -- neither of those have ever brought me joy, either. However, the thought of not following the antics of Harriet the Spy, and later embellishing my own bicycle with "spy tools"; or reading the simple words of Anne Frank, and for the very first time truly understanding how events in textbooks were real; as an adult, to debate the expense of a hardcover new release vs. waiting on the library list, and anticipating the crisp feel of opening a new book -- these will never be part of my son's history, or of his joy.

Reading will remain a struggle throughout my son's life, and my tears are not only for his struggle, but for my knowledge that this abundant and simple joy will never be his.

-- Kim Ward Bacso


Salon Staff

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