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It’s the Dynasty, Stupid

Doug Henwood nailed the rightward political drift and military hawkishness that define Hillary Clinton [“Stop Hillary!” Essay, November], but I cannot resist adding something Clinton said during the 2008 primary campaign that I consider sufficient by itself to disqualify her from the presidency. Speaking to reporters on her plane that March, she emphasized that Barack Obama was less experienced than John McCain, thus becoming, to my knowledge, the only presidential candidate of any major party in the history of our nation to suggest that the other party’s candidate was a better choice than her own primary opponent.

David Pino
Wimberley, Tex.

We elected Barack Obama to end military incursions into the Middle East, and he failed us. The last thing most of us want in a president is extreme hawkishness, yet this is precisely the characteristic that Clinton has repeatedly demonstrated. She is also a great friend to corporations. In concert with Bill Clinton, Rahm Emanuel, and the Democratic Leadership Council, Clinton has pulled the Democratic Party to the right in order to attract corporate campaign contributions and lobbying dollars.

Charlene M. Woodcock
Berkeley, Calif.

Describing Hillary Clinton’s 1993 health-care bill, Henwood states that she “reject[ed] a Canadian-style single-payer system.” It was obvious then, as it is now, that getting such a system passed by Congress would be impossible. I fear that Henwood downplayed the extent to which Clinton is simply a politician. This is not an inconsiderable skill. Perhaps if Obama had made better friends with the opposition we might have had a bit more of that “hopey, changey stuff” we voted for.

And for whom would Henwood have us vote if Hillary is nominated? Paul Ryan? Mitt Romney? Scott Walker? My own preferences for 2016 are Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, or a ticket on which both appear. But barring them, I’ll gladly vote for Hillary.

Sondra Rosenberg

Henwood’s article plays into the Republican hope that a charismatic populist figure from the left will beat Clinton in the 2016 primaries, as Obama did in 2008. The Republicans know that the only way they can win in 2016 is to run against someone other than her. Henwood’s criticism undermines the left’s best chances to encourage a more just society — for example, ensuring that a Democratic president fills the next Supreme Court vacancy.

William S. Owen
Elected Member, Democratic National Committee
Knoxville, Tenn.

Bad Eggs

I read with interest Deb Olin Unferth’s well-researched, even-handed, thoughtful, and saddening article on the factory farming of laying hens and its harsh conditions — crowded cages, ammonia-filled air, boredom, frustration, fear, and painful debeaking [“Cage Wars,” Report, November]. Particularly discouraging is Unferth’s conclusion that a healthy and happy environment for laying hens, given the enormous rate of egg production today, is impracticable and out of the question.

Unferth, understandably, stops short of advocating the only sure relief for the misery of all our factory-farmed animals, which is for us to consume fewer of them (and what they produce) so that we can provide decent conditions for the rest. The arithmetic can be done using familiar statistics. We as a nation waste 40 percent of our food — theoretically, four out of every ten chickens. Two thirds of us are overweight or obese, and many more are a little plump: we are overeating. If we stopped wasting food, and at the same time ate reasonable portions, far fewer animals would be needed, and we could give them something closer to the life they deserve, including more room, more fresh air, and an environment more appropriate to their natural behaviors. As it is, our ongoing all-you-can-eat buffet intolerably condemns our food animals to an almost-all-you-can-suffer existence.

Lydia Davis
Nassau, N.Y.

The debate about whether a chicken can be confined humanely in a sixty-seven-square-inch cage space is as absurd as trying to determine how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, because there is no humane way to confine chickens in cages. Marginally larger cages, a popular compromise position among egg producers, are only somewhat less inhumane. But unlike the impossible question about dancing angels, there is a simple solution to the problem of cage space: Go vegan.

Philip Schein
Hampton, Va.

Though the vast majority of eggs in American supermarkets are produced in cages in which chickens have insufficient room to spread their wings, some companies, like Burger King, are demanding that their egg suppliers abandon such inhumane treatment and move to cage-free systems. As Unferth notes, such systems are a marked improvement for the animals.

The egg industry lags behind others in the food sector. The veal industry, rocked by criticism of its intensive confinement of farm animals, has largely moved to crate-free housing systems. The pork industry is beginning to shift in that direction, too. The egg industry should do the same by going cage-free.

Paul Shapiro
Vice President, Farm Animal Protection, The Humane Society of the United States