Letters

FACTUAL MISCONDUCT?

Re Kareem Fahim's "The (New) Electable Howard Dean" [December 17-23]: Here you go again, Mr. Fahim, misstating the facts. Senator Kerry did not "support the war." He voted for the resolution to allow the president to go to war with Iraq "as a last resort." He also voted for the resolution to ensure that Saddam Hussein would permit the inspectors back into Iraq—something Saddam had not allowed in the '90s without the threat of war.

Also, I was a delegate at that Florida Convention, and your depiction of it is totally inaccurate. I greeted many so-called Dean supporters (they were wearing campaign T-shirts) outside the building during Dean's speech. "Why aren't you inside listening to your man's speech?" I said. They shrugged their shoulders. Could it be they didn't care what he had to say?

As for the closing description of Dean outfitting himself in faith—it's the same as Bush donning the flight suit.

Angela Worden
Naples, Florida


HOWARD DEAN RESURRECTION

Kareem Fahim is spot-on in his analysis of Howard Dean—and why the capture of Saddam doesn't do diddly to Dean's political standing.

As the Gallup and ABC polls show, the 2004 race wasn't affected at all by Saddam's capture, and Bush got, at best, a small boost in his current ratings. But that increase will last only until the next bombing that kills U.S. troops—or until enough anxious Americans realize that Saddam's capture won't shorten their loved ones' tours of duty. In fact, it may well have lengthened them, as Iraqis previously reluctant to fight against the U.S. occupiers for fear of allowing Saddam to regain power will now be free to join the insurgents operating 24/7 to get the U.S. out of Iraq. (And of course, there's still the question of why Bush went after Iraq and pretended it was involved in 9-11.)

Dean's political obituary has been recited so many times in the past, I have it down cold. And every single time, he proves that he is not dead—and that which does not kill him makes him stronger.

Tamara Baker
St. Paul, Minnesota


BOXED IN

I read with interest Jennifer Gonnerman's article "Suicide in the Box" [December 17-23]. As the ranking member of the state senate committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections, I have long been concerned about New York State's overuse of Special Housing Units (SHUs). Inmates with disciplinary problems who are sent to the SHU are locked in their cells, with minimal human contact for 23 hours a day. This is heartbreaking and shameful. As I've traveled all over New York State inspecting SHU units, I have reached the conclusion that SHUs are simply warehouses for New York's mentally ill.

Roughly one in four inmates—505 out of 2,235—housed in SHUs are officially acknowledged to be mentally ill and are on the state's Office of Mental Health caseload. Anyone who experiences the extreme 23-hour-a-day isolation of the SHU will face mental health problems. Studies show that isolation of this nature can cause depression, increased paranoia, agitation, manic activity, delusions, florid psychotic illness, and suicide. Those who have mental health issues even before being placed in the SHU will experience a dramatic increase in their symptoms.

The fact that those sent to the SHU have mental health issues makes sense. Those without mental health problems know enough not to do something that will place them in jeopardy of going to "the Box."

While placing problematic prisoners in SHUs may, as the New York Department of Correctional Services asserts, make prisons safer, the question is: at what cost to our state's morality and values?

Thomas K. Duane
29th Senate District
Chelsea


GOODBYE, MR. GIDDINS

Re "Flee as a Bird" [December 17-23]: I will miss Gary Giddins's Weatherbird column very, very much. He has always struck me as one of the few intelligent, perceptive, and considerate critics of jazz and American culture. There are many columns I will always remember, including one that appeared shortly after Miles's death and another on the Mingus Big Band. My music collection is full of albums I doubt I would own if I had not read about them in Weatherbird. I understand that after 30 years, the bi-weekly format could grow wearisome. Thanks for all the great writing.

Bill Burke
San Francisco, California


I became a regular reader of the Voice in the mid '70s when my then college roommate subscribed as part of our mutual ascent into great black music and the jazz tradition. Your columns have always been of value to me and will be sorely missed. I will continue to look for your voice out there. Best wishes in your newest adventure.

Jerry Nuckols
Fort Thomas, Kentucky


To say that Weatherbird will be missed risks profound understatement. Giddins's range, eloquence, and human decency have made him a writing hero to many. We long to see where he can stretch out next (and not just for Bing's second volume).

Leonard Benardo
Park Slope


Hope to see you again soon, Gary Giddins! Pity you're leaving the Voice. I'll do my best to follow you wherever you go. You've made my jazz reading a pleasure. With you, it's much more than required information on the subject I love.

Jose Hosiasson
Santiago, Chile


Godspeed to Gary Giddins, surely one of the finest in his field. I hope that whoever steps in to fill his sizeable shoes will be at least half the considerate, eloquent writer he is.

Todd S. Jenkins
Contributor,DownBeat
San Bernardino, California


CORRECTIONS

The original meaning of a sentence in Eva Yaa Asantewaa's review of Esse Aficionado (December 17-23) was altered during the editing process. It should have read, "They have a certain obsession with making and unmaking spatial patterns, and they traffic in mannequin-like isolations and eccentric lighting cues."

In the story "The New Electable Howard Dean" (December 17-23), meetup.com was mistakenly referred to as a "liberal group." Meetup is a nonpartisan, commercial venture. The Voice regrets the error.


AWARDS

Voice Shelter columnist Toni Schlesinger, who is also a theater artist, was just awarded a $2,000 Jim Henson Foundation grant for her next play, to be presented at Arts at St. Ann's in the spring.

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