Recycling Kissinger

I sent this letter to The New York Times on an article making fun of Kissinger critics:

Neal Pollack’s article (Dec. 3) making fun of those who are shocked or amused by the Kissinger appointment made me think of Tom Lehrer’s explanation why he stopped composing and singing satirical songs in the 1970s: “Who could do satire after Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize.”

Seriously or not so seriously, there was Kissinger’s bugging of National Security Council members and his own staff, all at the behest of Richard You-Know-Who. Then there are all the corpses buried in the closets of Chile, Indochina, Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan), and assorted other places.

What comes around goes around as they say, and Kissinger keeps on being recycled by governments committing and covering up crimes.

George Bush’s decision to appoint Kissinger to direct an investigation of his administration’s September 11 intelligence disaster is the most “courageous move” a President has made since Richard Nixon appointed John Dean to investigate White House involvement in the Watergate crimes.

Norman MarkowitzBelmar NJ

Fact checking helps

I was gratified to see the reviews of Buhl and Wagner’s Radical Hollywood in the PWW (11/9). For the most part I agree with Tim Pelzer’s comments. The book certainly deserves a place alongside the growing number of volumes devoted to Hollywood and the Left.

I would like to mention, however, that despite the accurate and fascinating account of the history of the left in the film industry, the formation of the Screen Writer’s Guild, the activities of such organizations as the Anti-Nazi League and the Independent Citizen’s Committee for the Arts, Sciences and Professions, and the struggle to make films which addressed issues such as fascism, racism, and unemployment, the book is badly flawed when it comes to the specifics of many individual films.

A few instances:

Dana Andrews, not Walter Brennan, was the protagonist in Jean Renoir’s Swamp Water. Andrews is held hostage by Brennan, not Walter Huston, who played Andrews’ father in the film.

Dorothy McGuire is mistakenly referred to as Gregory Peck’s wife in Gentleman’s Agreement, and Dean Stockwell as their son. Stockwell is Peck’s son, but Peck is a widower who is just embarking on a new relationship with McGuire.

Other errors such as these abound and are most annoying to a film buff who shares the author’s political views but is appalled at the slipshod research which went into analysis of the films.

I look forward to future volumes from Buhle and Wagner, whose earlier titles included Tender Comrades, which comprises priceless interviews with Hollywood blacklistees, and A Most Dangerous Citizen, a biography of Abraham Polonsky (though I’m still waiting for a more in-depth treatment of the life of that fascinating, consumate artist and friend).

Again, the book is indispensible, and yet I trust their future efforts will benefit from more scrupulous fact-checking.

Michael SheplerWalnut Creek CA

Bushwhacked again

Like lemmings marching to the sea Americans appear destined, in fact, hellbent on iideological suicide. “Home of the brave, Land of the free” has become passe apparently. You don’t need a political pundit to interpret this year’s election to realize that many Americans have aggressively and vehemently cast the baby (democracy) out with the bathwater drowning out any passionate liberals, the working class and the oppressed for a little humanity or at least equal access unto the law. The nation has turned to and endorsed corporate greed i.e. Enron and political corruptness – the disenfranchisement of the electorate in Florida.

Let freedom ring! The Re-Publicans led by the “Pres” have retrofitted the American dream, robbed us of our personal investments, stripped us of any sense of fair play and put in place policy makers content to undermine the future of the children of America yet unborn. This is indeed a sad day for all citizens, for the ugly American just got uglier.

Michael ChaneyMinneapolis MN