Goading Galbraith

To the Editor:

Among the complaints that Charles Taylor has with Peter Galbraith’s book on the Iraq war [“Breaking Up Is Good to Do: The Case for an Iraqi Split,” Book Review, July 31] is a big one, which proves to be a major error, and a small one, which is so minor that it’s astonishing he even voices it. Although Iraq was indeed a “genocidal dictatorship” under Saddam Hussein, that fact had little to do with the Bush administration’s invading. “Liberating” the Iraqis and bringing them “democracy” were, if one remembers, way down at No. 3 on the administration’s list of pretexts, put into play as a fallback when Nos. 1 and 2–W.M.D. and an Al Qaeda connection, respectively–were exposed as patent bullshit. My own guess about the reason for invading Iraq connects but two dots: Dick Cheney’s still-secret “energy summit” and the invasion itself. Of the several genocidal dictatorships extant in 2003, only one had oil reserves whose sale could–in the minds of the administration’s war planners–pay for the invasion/occupation and ensure a fuel supply for the next generation of Hummers.

As to Mr. Taylor’s longed-for “touch of bewilderment, air of dismay” on Mr. Galbraith’s part: Exactly what good would they do?

Peter Plagens


Can’t Touch This

To the Editor:

Re Edmund Glover’s “Making Plans With Melissa Berkelhammer” [The Transom, July 31]: How this article does not win a Pulitzer is beyond me. Bravo, Mr. Glover. Bravo!

Michael Maney

Doylestown, Penn.

What’s With George and Hilly?

To the Editor:

Re “George and Hilly” [George Gurley, The New York World]: Hilly wants to exploit George. George wants to be exploited. They’re perfect for each other. What’s the problem?

Jessica Raimi


Big Bother

To the Editor:

Nicholas von Hoffman’s well-written piece runs 1,158 words, yet he never mentions one principle that distinguishes one party from the other [“Timid Democrats Fail to Pin Blame on Bush,” The National Observer, July 31].

And you know what? He’s right not to, because there isn’t one.

The Republicans have become the same power-swilling, self-dealing, government-loving slugs that the Democrats have been since F.D.R.

Teacher-union ignoramuses? Gay-rights demagogues? Deficits? The Beltway hot tub? Who cares, as long as we’re getting fat?!

As Winstone Smith sings at the end of Orwell’s 1984: “Under the spreading chestnut tree/ I sold you and you sold me….”

Christopher Manion

Front Royal, Va.

To the Editor:

If you tell me what the Democrats do stand for, maybe one day people will vote for them!

Paul Filler

Ada, Mich.

Old Europe on East 86th Street

To the Editor:

I lived near East 86th Street from 1962 to 1966. For a very short time, that area was rich in the remnants of Old Europe. Near the Café Hindenburg was Kleine Konditerei, where three shabbily dressed musicians played chamber music while we ate Sacher torte and sipped coffee.

There were lots of German restaurants, from seedy to elegant to beery Bavarian oompah places with lots of sausage, shorts, suspenders and hats.

Not to romanticize this too much: I should point out there was a near riot when neo-Nazi George Rockwell paraded down Germanic East 86th and was almost attacked by a group of Orthodox Jews from Brooklyn (probably Meir Kahane’s bunch).

Along Second Avenue up to the high 70’s were German and Hungarian butcher shops, bakeries and groceries. The Hungarian restaurants were excellent. One between 78th and 79th, called Tik Tak and owned by a Gabor, had a simple diner décor with a Formica counter–but the food! Oh my. On the corner of 77th was a fancier one called Tip Top, and on the corner of 79th and Second was the grand Budapest Café, which featured live Gypsy music.

I live in Rhode Island now and visited a few years ago. All gone. It seems pretty sterile now.

Robert Pearlman

North Scituate, R.I.

Kids Are Fun

To the Editor:

I loved Stacy Schiff’s piece on Linda Hirshman [“Who Killed Feminism? Let’s Blame Mommy,” Book Review, July 24]. The main thing that struck me about this polemic is that she glorifies work and grossly underestimates how much fun children are. They are one of the lasting pleasures in life, and most women would probably agree with me. And look where one child per family has gotten China! Anyway, I certainly agree with Ms. Schiff about the empty dishwasher barometer!

Molly Friedrich

Manhattan Letters