By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
So Much To Answer For
I'd like to point out some factual errors. Joe did not die in his sleep; he died after walking his dog, of a hereditary heart condition. His heart just stopped working, it seems (not a heart attack, as has also been reported). He was born John Mellor (not Joseph). To say he only had a gentlemanly interest in his latest group is inaccurate. He dedicated as much energy and passion to the Mescaleros as he did to his previous works and collaborations.
Milo Miles replies: As to the cause and circumstances of death, I was working with the facts available by deadline. It is, however, John instead of Joe. And as to how successful his later projects were (he could have worked his ass off on them and still "seemed" to have only gentlemanly interest as I carefully put it) and how his looks stacked upopinions may vary.
James Ridgeway [Mondo Washington, December 25-31] writes that politicians speculate that "[Bill] Frist could be a presidential candidate when Bush finishes his second term." What makes them so certain that Bush is a shoo-in for a second? First of all, nobody can predict the future and right now the economy is weak; Osama bin Laden has not been caught; the outcome of Bush's vanity war on Iraq is unknown. Also, Bush's re-elect number is under 50 percent and the recent CNN/Time poll had his approval rating at only 55 percent with a disapproval of 36 percent.
Bush is far from the colossus that the media would like us to believe.
It is unfortunate for Mr. Hentoff to have chosen the Yaser Hamdi case as the vehicle to imply that the constitutional rights of American citizens in general are in jeopardy.
Did Mr. Hamdi, when he traveled to Afghanistan, think to himself that regardless of what he did while there the Bill of Rights was on his side, and that should he be captured by American forces he would have the kind of legal defense provided, for example, to the Chicago 7 back in the '60s, or even to Timothy McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombing case? And are all actions of American citizens to be handled with full equity regardless of how dangerous, extreme, or even odd those actions are?
It can be forcefully argued that Mr. Hamdi is a traitor, but even more forcefully argued that he is exactly what the government says he is: an enemy combatant. And one, no less, found halfway around the world in Afghanistan, having taken up arms against the forces of the country of which he is, nominally at least and probably at most, a citizen.
The fact that his case gets this much attention is probably the best Mr. Hamdi can hope for, and is no doubt much more than he expected when he decided to journey to Afghanistan.
Nat Hentoff replies: It cannot be argued, forcefully or otherwise, that Hamdi is a traitoruntil he can be in contact with his lawyers and has had a full due process hearing in which the government has to produce clear evidence that he has done anything illegal. See my column, "George W. Bush's Constitution," on the government's failure to prove anything against him so far.
Kudos to Nat Hentoff for saluting the Eugene, Oregon, city council's efforts to register its disgust with the United States Patriot Act, and protect that city's residents from its abuses ["Crossing Swords With General Ashcroft," December 25-31]. As Hentoff notes, it has joined cities from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Flagstaff, Arizona, to Tampa, Florida, in an attempt to protect the people within its jurisdiction from a federal government intent on abandoning the Constitution to suborn its illegal activities.
Too bad our own City Council here in New York City is so busy renaming streets, banning cell phones from movie theaters, and making smoking illegal in nightclubs and bars to be bothered with trivialities like the constitutional rights of the citizens it represents. Our own police department is currently trying to undo the Handschu Agreement, which protects New Yorkers from being spied on by cops during political or religious meetings. And our City Council? Not a peep.
It seems strange to me that in your "Top Shelf: Our 25 Favorite Books of 2002" [December 11-17], only five of the 25 titles mentioned were written by women. It surprised me to find such an unbalanced list in the Voice.
I understand that you picked "your" favorites, and that choice of favorite reading matter is as subjective as that of favorite ice cream flavors. I can't question your individual taste. I do wonder, however if the lack of gender diversity in your book choices reflects the same lack in your staff. My guess is that it doesn't reflect your readership.
Rita Ferrandino's feature story "Fueling Fear: Experts Warn of Nuclear Horror at Indian Point" [December 18-24] should be required reading for all our statewide elected officials who are afraid to speak up and call for the closure of Indian Point. The continued operation of this very dangerous nuclear power plant puts every New York resident who lives within 50 miles of Indian Point in jeopardy. The consequences of a successful attack against Indian Point or meltdown would be severe and could have devastating impacts on lives and property values in the entire Hudson Valley.
Our officials must put the safety of their constituents ahead of campaign contributions from Entergy. Close Indian Point now. It's a no-brainer.
Greenburgh, New York
Dasun Allah's obituary for Sonny Carson ["Sonny Carson Dies," January 1-7] erroneously reported that the activist had been honored by a decree signed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a proclamation by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. No such proclamations were signed by either Bloomberg or Markowitz, despite earlier reports in several other newspapers.