Re Curtis White's "Concerning Sotoligarchy" [December 3-9]:

Unfortunately, Curtis White may be all too correct. I think, however, that the problem with the American public is not so much one of stupidity as of fatigue. Per Howard Beal's suggestion in the movie Network, they just want to be left alone at the end of their stressful day, content that they've paid their bills and ready to escape into sitcom land.

Terry Molloy
Jerome, Arizona


What ticks off people like Curtis White is that Americans really do think for themselves instead of letting people like him think for them. I hear far more diversity of opinion among conservatives—and far, far more actual thought and reasoning—than I've ever heard in any group of liberals.

We do think for ourselves, Curtis White. That's why we disagree with you, and why we voted for Bush. And why we will again.

James Ritchie
New Castle, Indiana


I understand, Curtis White: People in this country are too "stupid" to have divided their votes in their last presidential election between a candidly immigrant-hating xenophobe and a kleptocrat who holds office to avoid prosecution—as happened in the land of Proust last year (whose citizens seem to be unaware of their government's cynical complicity in mass murder—in Africa, in the Middle East—on a scale that makes Bush's sins look like chump change).

Oh, and we Americans have so much to learn from the author's Chilean exile friends, advocates of that inevitable historical force, Marxism-Leninism!

Middle-class intellectuals on the left in this country are displaying many of the characteristics once found in right-wing extremists, notably status anxiety. White's essay is an unintentional illustration of the syndrome.

Mark Richard
Columbus, Ohio


I just finished Elizabeth Mendez Berry's article on Jay-Z ["The Last Hustle," November 26-December 2] while listening to his album Reasonable Doubt. This piece may have been the best I've ever read. Although I'm not sure how long your interview lasted, you touched on points that I would've asked if I were interviewing him. My friends think that all I do is sit and listen to Hov, but if there was anyone with the charisma, wit, and honesty (aside from Pac and B.I.G.), I wouldn't mind trying new music.

Living in Vegas is an advantage that I have when it comes to meeting famous people. I've met everyone that I set out to meet except Jay. (I was on the stage at his concert at the Palms, but I've never actually met him.) Ironically, I'm constantly mistaken for him in public. That's not a good thing to me because I think I'm more handsome than he is!

Tyrell Jamerson
Las Vegas, Nevada


Re Ta-Nehisi Coates's "Caught on Tape" [November 21, villagevoice.com], about Eminem as a racist:

Coates hit the bull's-eye. I find it so hypocritical for The Source, which has had a running beef with Eminem for years, to want to blast him for his "early" racism but not for his "initial" homophobic lyrics, which also put down the "brothas" who may be in the life or even on the "DL." But it's always been OK to have open season on "faggots" in the rap world, I guess.

Michael S. Lisowski
Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Rick Perlstein's "Attention, Wal-Mart Voters" [December 3-9] was very uplifting. His research was great. While it would be easy to stereotype small-town politics, it is impossible to find a journalist who cares enough to travel to small towns and get real opinions.

Thanks for clearing up stereotypes. Now, if we can get off the NASCAR-dad kick and the new one, Terror Moms, we might gain real insight.

Karen Spurr
Austin, Texas


I can't believe Rick Perlstein would compose a sentence like this with a straight face: "Clinton knew there was danger to Americans from a terrorist group called Al Qaeda and did do something about it, if perhaps not all the right things, whatever those might have been."

What exactly did he do? Was there a secret Clinton War on Terror that we never knew about? If so, cough it up. It'll be the scoop of the century.

Mike Armstrong
Los Angeles, California

Rick Perlstein replies: Newt Gingrich, for one, disagreed. "I think the president did exactly the right thing," the then Speaker of the House said of the Clinton administration's violent response to Al Qaeda's bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. But see the August 21, 1998, Washington Post: There was one Republican senator who thought he shouldn't have done anything at all. His name was . . . John Ashcroft.


Kareem Fahim's report on the Democratic debate was spot-on ["Ignoring the Voters, Democrats Pile on Pitiful Dean," villagevoice.com, November 25].

As a Dean supporter, I'm always in favor of the good doctor, but there's a right response to being tag-teamed by those who envy his position as No. 1: leadership and laughter.

Bob Jacobson
San Mateo, California


Sharon Lerner is right to say that the multitude of new contraceptive options coming on the market these days represents a revolution of sorts ["Period Piece," December 3-9]. But the revolution is not only a decade or two late—it's also incomplete. Organizations like mine that provide prenatal care and family planning to low-income women often cannot afford to offer the newer and more costly methods mentioned in the article. The reason is that the value of the federal Title X family-planning funds that we rely on has decreased at least 60 percent since 1980, when adjusted for inflation. These days, the big funding increases are going to abstinence-only education programs, rather than to the programs which help low-income women prevent unwanted pregnancies by providing medical care and contraceptives.

So while Candace Bushnell celebrates "a whole new way" for women, most of our low-income clients must make do with the old way for the foreseeable future.

Ellen Rautenberg
Medical and Health Research Association of NYC Inc.
Lower Manhattan

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