Backtalk

Jack Hitt's story "Harpy, Hero, Heretic: Hillary," on what drives the country's seemingly bottomless appetite for "Hillarating," drew plenty of attention from bloggers.

On Yappa Ding Ding, Ruth Ellis Haworth noted: "This article may be of historic importance to the place of women in politics.... The effect may be to clear the Pigpen-like haze that surrounds Hillary Clinton and give her a fair shot at running for president. The method is to expose everything—every gory detail, every prejudice, every fear, every thought we have about Hillary.... Once these things are out in the open, perhaps we can move on and see Hillary Clinton as a politician, and not as an icon of sexuality, motherhood, marital crisis, threatening femininity, female ambition/duplicity or feminine opportunism."

The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz opined that "either Hitt has had the gumption to commit to glossy paper what millions of Americans have been quietly buzzing about, or he has done a triple-gainer off the high board into fantasyland." Our letter writers, who seem to favor the fantasy land interpretation, respond below:

It's Her Record, Stupid
"Harpy, Hero, Heretic: Hillary" uses up a lot of column inches with sociological psychobabble and, at this early stage of the political cycle, meaningless prognostications that trivialize our politics. There's barely a word about her political positions, her demonstrated leadership—or lack thereof. The day before the last election, a postcard from her showed up in my mailbox. The graphic was of one person saying to another, "I'm standing up for Hillary Clinton the way she stood up to George Bush!" Which stand would that have been? Fighting for better armor for the troops in Iraq? Demanding the secretary of defense's resignation long after the entire country had concluded that he should go? Or something else to create the perception of a fighting senator? These were jabs that cost her nothing.
donald warner
Bronx, New York

I am appalled at your decision to print an article about Hillary Rodham Clinton that had nothing to say about any issues. I would expect something like this from the likes of People or perhaps Rush Limbaugh, but not from a supposedly progressive magazine like Mother Jones. Would you ever read anything as ridiculous as this about a man?
nancy dietrich-rybicki
Urbana, Illinois

Forget what Hillary says and what other people say about her. Look at her voting record. Pro-war? Check. Pro-tax cuts? Check. Pro-torture? Check. Pro-corporations? Check. Anti-choice? Check. Anti-privacy rights? Check. Anti-gay marriage? Check. Anti-immigrants? Check. Anti-working class? Check. Anti-unions? Check. Anti-environment? Check. That's why true progressives hate her.
lisa aug
Waddy, Kentucky

Road to Riches
Thanks for pointing out Goldman Sachs' double-dipping on the highway privatization deals ("The Highwaymen," by Daniel Schulman and James Ridgeway). But the repeated mention of highways being leased by "foreigners" is irrelevant and xenophobic. American companies will start winning these same deals when they get up to speed. Also, privatization can be a positive thing. Look at Chile, where Ricardo Lagos, the socialist ex-president, rebuilt a large part of the infrastructure using just the model you are attacking. The resulting services are vastly superior to what the state was able to do. The same is true in Australia. Apparently your writers took a spin on the Chicago Skyway on their way to the Indiana Toll Road, but what they didn't see was the terrible condition that road was in for decades prior to it being privatized. The city sold it to get out from under the costs of putting it right, something it proved chronically unable to do. Your writers take umbrage with the profits lessees of these roads stand to make, but the facts cited belie the complaint: A 15-year break-even point is hardly a get-rich-quick scheme, and a 300 percent return over 75 years is only 4 percent a year. These investments offer low risk, not quick profits.
bud theisen
Santiago, Chile

I have sent "The Highwaymen" to executives and Republican politicians who tell me, "This is the best thing I've ever read on the subject, and I can't believe it's in Mother Jones." Even better, they are passing it along. Motorists built our nation's interstate highways with our gas taxes—we own them. However, as the article shows, our current secretary of transportation wants us to believe that it is better to rent than to own.
lane kidd
President, Arkansas Trucking Association
Little Rock, Arkansas

Don't Believe the Hypermiler
After reading "King of the Hypermilers" by Dennis Gaffney, I felt I should renew my subscription to Redneck Reactionary Suburban Auto and forget about raising hell or protecting the environment. The article misses the point about Americans' addiction to oil. Increased fuel efficiency is great, but Wayne Gerdes' modern "suburban development" lifestyle, complete with a two-hour commute, suv-driving wife, and Hummer-owning neighbors, is a dinosaur gasping for its last breath. Gerdes' wacky analysis regarding Al Qaeda and oil revenues makes me suspect he's breathed in too many fumes while tailgating trucks. Imported oil and the tyrannies it supports are not directly related to 9/11 any more than to the depletion of cod stocks or high rates of hypertension.
alistair cairns
Hampden, Maine

Any thinking person knows that 59 (or 65 or 75) miles per gallon is nothing more than trying to put a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound. The only thing that will save this planet is reduced driving—by living closer to your job, using public transit, or, God forbid, your feet. I'm interested to know exactly how far this man had to drive on his "milk run." Maybe instead of engaging in his silly little contests, he could have walked. Can this punk beat 59 mpg? You bet I can. I don't own a car at all.
jamie cantwell
San Francisco, California

Let the Sunshine In
Kimberly Lisagor ("Sunshine's Bottom Line") is correct—if you live on the power grid, installing photovoltaic panels doesn't "pencil out." But there are more viable gadgets. Solar hydronic panels can heat your domestic hot water, your swimming pool, or a car wash. And then there's the most cost-efficient solar gadget of all—the clothesline.
jon kovash
Moab, Utah

 

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