Letters to the Editor

(June 16, 2008)


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The "White" Reverend Wright used as Strawman to Destroy Barack Obama

To the Editor:

When in the May 5th release you published Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., without tendentious cuts, we could finally understand what he was talking about. Now of course he's been silenced by pressure from the mainstream presidential campaign. The same thing is happening to Michael Pfleger, who not only has the Democratic Party but the Vatican on his back. Yet Pfleger is that rare thing, a genuine American hero -- not a PR creation. He came from a Chicago neighborhood that was rampant with white racism. As a young man he worked with Native Americans in Oklahoma where he found race hatred just as vicious. So he returned home and participated in his city's painful groping toward racial equality. He was an integral part of his Westside black community, and not some visiting do-gooder. That of course upset his religious superiors. Anyone interested in Pfleger's background should read the profile in the archives of The Chicago Reader.

Peter Byrne
Lecce, Italy - June 5, 2008


Some Appreciate our Stand: Gilles d'Aymery & Jan Baughman's How To Help The Nader-Gonzalez '08 Campaign

Dear Editor:

On behalf of the Nader-Gonzalez campaign, thanks for your excellent article "How To Help The Nader-Gonzalez '08 Campaign." We need people like you and your readers to help spread the word not just about the issues our campaign stands for, but practical ways people can get involved, and shake up the election. Getting Ralph Nader in the upcoming Google-sponsored debates is a top priority.

Until then, for your readers who have a knee-jerk reaction to the "spoiler" Nader, but have no idea what Ralph has actually done for the American People (The Freedom of Information Act, seat belts, airbags, free air and motel vouchers when you get bumped from a flight, just to name a few), I suggest they wipe the foam from their mouths and do some research on this most patriotic of candidates. Check out our videos on YouTube: our Web site is:
One of our most popular videos is "Why Democrats Lose."

For those interested in reading about the 2004 campaign, and learning more about Ralph's background and the ridiculous obstacles independent candidates must face just to get their names on the ballot, my new book, What Was Ralph Nader Thinking? has just been published and is available only at http://thewomandirector.com (all proceeds are used to fund Nader video projects).

Jürgen Rommel Vsych
Nader/Gonzalez Campaign Filmmaker
San Francisco, California, USA - June 3, 2008

[ed. Readers can also watch Jürgen's video of the Nader-Gonzalez's recent West Coast Tour on YouTube.]


But not everybody sees eye to eye: Gilles d'Aymery & Jan Baughman's How To Help The Nader-Gonzalez '08 Campaign


I am happy to see your issue on Chicago '68 -- I've enjoyed a couple of the pieces already, and look forward to reading the rest.

As one who _was_ "at Chicago," though, I deplore your support of Nader. If there was one lesson taught by Chicago '68 it was that extremism results in reaction, in the U.S. -- that this place politically is a delicate balance, between only two poles, and that our rightwing nuts will exploit the excesses of our leftwing nuts every time.

Chicago brought us Nixon. That particular 1968 street fair so panicked our Silent Majority that they ushered in eight years of the most deplorable presidency the U.S. ever has had. "Closer" accounts and analyses of Chicago '68 lose sight of this forest for focussing on its colorful trees.

And Nader brought us Dubya -- and Nader seems bent upon similar again, this year, doing his best foolishly or cynically to get McCain elected.

For the U.S. has a 2-party system -- for better or for worse, but this is the fact -- and the only effect of a 3rd is to tar the major party closest to it with an extremist brush, scaring the Silents into the opposite camp.

The U.S. is not a parliamentary system -- it is not like Britain, not like France -- if we ever replace the Democrats, or the other bunch, we must do so during the off years, when no election is on, first destroying the old edifice so that we'll still have only two.

But to try this at the height of the most ferociously-contended présidentielles in many years is madness, and counter-productive: Nader's fussing now, as Hillary has been too, simply enrages the Silents and drives another nail into the Democratic Party coffin at precisely the wrong time -- and elects McCain, for 4 More Years of Bush/Cheney policies.

Nader is perhaps cynical enough to want this, agent provocateur... But I am not: there is too much at stake -- too much damage would be done. Obama will make a great president, we all need to get behind him now.

Jack Kessler
San Francisco, California, USA - June 2, 2008

[ed. Jack Kessler, a long-time Swans reader, is the publisher and editor of FYIFrance.com, the preeminent Internet resource on libraries and online digital information in France and Europe.]


On The "Gorgeous" Florence Shay and the Special Issue on Chicago '68

To the Editor:

Thanks for letting me share in your thorough purview of Chicago 1968 -- the worst of times and the worst of times....as Mrs. DeFarge would mutter while knitting....

And for your accurate, acerbic interview of me by your Karen Moller at the Galerie Loeb in Paris where my held-over exhibition ends June 7, a day before my Nelson Algren exhibition opens at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. If you send me your snail address I'll send you a token check of support for your fine work... Further thanks for recognizing my famous rare book dealer wife Florence as "gorgeous." After 63 years of marriage to me her beauty amazes hordes of her admirers.

These have included several governors of Illinois, Paul Newman, Nelson Algren (who godfathered our first son), Joe Heller (who praised her writing), Marcel Marceau (who mimed us both at the dinner table), David Mamet (whose little known cartoon book she sells), several Chicago Bears, a Chicago Bull, and the chief smasher of the Smashing Pumpkins, Billy Corgan. She is the co-author (with me) of an upcoming book on Spanglish, and has edited the text of several of my picture books as well as currently serving as an editor of the legendary Caxton Club's newsletter for rare book-collectors. Her popular blog is at indianhillmediaworks.typepad.com/titles/

Thanks again

Art Shay
Chicago, Illinois, USA - June 2, 2008


From one "Gorgeous" woman to Another: Karen Moller's Art Shay's Traces Of A Bygone America

Dear Karen,

The "gorgeous" Florence Shay wants to thank the truly gorgeous Karen Moller for that gorgeous description of her in the review of the Art Shay photo exhibit. If anyone treats me off-handedly (too common!), I will correct them, and remind them they are in the presence of the "gorgeous" Florence. I do wish the photo didn't make it look as though I had a black eye.

Your review was sharp and intelligent. I've seen Art's photos umpteen times, and I'm still held by them especially when viewing them hung as thoughtfully as done by the Galerie Albert Loeb.

I'm grateful to the Loebs for the show -- I finally got to Paris! Now there's something truly gorgeous. It was chilly, it was damp, but it was Paris. I LOVED PARIS.

Thanks again, Karen, and if you are ever in Chicago...


Florence Shay
Chicago, Illinois, USA - June 2, 2008


The Right Connection: Gerard Donnelly Smith's "Boycotting the Hegemony" - Part I - Part II - and Part III (2005)

To the Editor:

I was just wondering who you think is going to get the job done if it's not someone that is big enough to have the knowledge, skill and connections. Yes, large corporations do hire government officials that bring the skills and knowledge needed, should they have a policy that they don't? Anytime someone applies for a job the hiring person takes all of those things into consideration when making the decision to hire or not. I am a recruiter and if I am hiring a supervisor part of my decision making is whether he has any loyal people that he can bring with him. When I last changed companies they wanted to know what kind of connections I had so I would be able to find the personnel that they needed. You can be fired for pics or things you say on the Internet... swings both ways. I kind of rambled, I'm tired but I read your commentary and felt the need to respond, even if I didn't do it very well!

Lori L. Davis
Houston Texas, USA - June 2, 2007


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Published June 16, 2008
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