Backtalk

September/October 2010 Issue

The Beck Leading the Blind

A cover story (Stephanie Mencimer's "The Golden Fleece") revealing the shocking truth: that Glenn Beck is a money-driven fraud? Is that supposed to surprise or inform any of your readers?
JESSE EDELSTEIN
Merced, California

That blind followers of a huckster get fleeced because they followed his advice is nothing new. The world has been and still is full of charlatans who will exploit people's ignorance and stir up their fears for personal gain. I can't say I feel bad for those who get taken by them, because they have only themselves to blame.
JESUS PERNAS
Melbourne, Florida

Toxic Assets

Jacques Leslie's "What's Killing the Babies of Kettleman City?" gives us a taste of our future. Our comprehension of the harmful effects of any one chemical we release, let alone their menacing combination, is minimal. The problem largely stems from the fact that we have granted corporations the rights of persons, without requiring any responsibility or accountability on their part. It's like turning a bully loose to run rampant through the community and requiring his injured victims to stop him.
GEOFF HUGGINS
Winchester, Virginia

Death Defying

In "Meet the Real Death Panels," 73-year-old James Ridgeway says, "I'd be willing to give up some expensive, life-prolonging medical treatment for [my Gen X son], and maybe even for the good of humanity. But I'm certainly not going to do it so some Well Point executive can take another vacation." Well, I am 63, and I am not willing to sacrifice my life for any young person, nor do I expect any nonagenarian to sacrifice her life for me. For the good of humanity, I will promote the awareness that people of all ages are equally entitled to life-prolonging medical treatment, and if anyone's Gen X children are worth their salt, they will repudiate any benefits bought at the sacrifice of a parent's life.
FELICIA NIMUE ACKERMAN
Providence, Rhode Island

Ridgeway makes many good points, but death and cost are frequently mentioned in the same breath. For example, all passenger cars could have racing harnesses and roll cages, and these features would undoubtedly save some lives. So Ridgeway wants to make them mandatory, and perhaps have the government pay for them. The problem is that we can easily spend several times our economic output on various life-saving methods, so forgoing the least cost-effective might save lives by allowing us to invest in more cost-effective methods.
JøRGEN HARMSE
Austin, Texas

Racing to Conclusions

The most important thing I learned from my 25 years as a cop was to talk to all the witnesses before making a conclusion. I felt I was only getting half the story in Aura Bogado's "Hazing Arizona," and a very slanted half at that. The events surrounding David de la Fuente's arrest were made to sound nefarious. His principal crimes were that he was driving without a license, presented a fake license, and gave a false name to the cop. That's at least a couple of misdemeanors and possibly a felony in many states. The author snuck in the question by de la Fuente's friend about being pulled over because of the color of his skin. Nice technique...suggesting racism on the part of the cop without saying it directly.
JAMES WILTERDINK
Marina del Rey, California

Yo No Soy

In "Get Behind Me Seitan," Kiera Butler makes the assumption that those of us who choose a plant-based diet automatically turn to sodium-laden, garbage soy substitutes. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most vegetarians and vegans choose such a diet for health and/or ethical reasons and consequently most of us do not eat garbage food, regardless of whether it's meat or plant-based.
JIM WHITE
Raleigh, North Carolina

Straight to the Source

I was perusing a bookstore, saw the brilliant cover art on the May/June issue, and bit. I've already read nearly every article and am sorry the magazine wasn't longer. I've rarely seen such careful research in a magazine article, and the sources were so nicely acknowledged that I found myself looking for endnotes as if I were reading a journal. Brava, Mother Jones!
RACHELLE ANKNEY
Chicago, Illinois

Editors' note: A few months ago, we got a phone call from subscriber Thomas Conroy, who asked: "Why do you choose to capitalize 'Tea Party' as if it's an established political party?" Good question, Thomas. We huddled and decided to lowercase it henceforth.