Readers respond to excerpts from "Big Lies" and to Arianna Huffington's California candidacy.

Published August 21, 2003 10:08PM (EDT)

[Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 of "Big Lies," by Joe Conason.]

Thank you for the bravery and freedom of expression that is so seldom seen in the mainstream press's White House handouts. It has been a long time since someone stood up and decided to remind us that "truth" should not be politicized. A lie is a lie, whether told by a Republican or a Democrat.

As I recall, Clinton had his share of lies. But while his trysts and tales were not yet a cottage industry, lying in this administration has now become a profession: Try going to Google and typing in "Bush + lies." More than just the "uranium" and "Hussein loves bin Laden" weapons of mass deception will tumble forth.

For those who stand by their Bush man, right or wrong, and consider criticism of Bush as unpatriotic, I ask you to consider former President Theodore Roosevelt's words in 1918:

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American people."

There, Ann Coulter, is a true definition of treason.

-- Roy L. Absher

Only when liberals champion the entire Bill of Rights, including the Second Amendment as the means of the people to defend the First Amendment, will they be taken seriously as champions of freedom and dominate the next election.

Everyone wants to convince people in the red states why they are stupid for supporting the Republican Party, but if they believe in the Second Amendment, they have no choice. Try giving them one.

-- Carl Morris

The biggest myth of all is that the Democrats in America are actually liberal. In order to remain a viable party, the Democrats have been forced to the right of center in hopes of appealing to big business.

Take presidential hopeful Howard Dean. He is a proponent of capital punishment and lax gun control. And he's supposed to be the most left-wing out of the bunch.

The truth is that American politics are no longer ideologically based. It is simply a fight between two parties who are spouting off random policies in hopes of attracting voters from either side of the ideological spectrum. American elections have become a bout between Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

-- Nadine Giguere

Conason is correct in pointing out that the Republican Party hardly represents the economic interests of Middle America. But the Republicans are correct in pointing out that neither do today's Democrats. This hurts the Democrats a lot more than it does the GOP, because the GOP can win, and is winning, on other issues.

All the Democrats have left are the "cultural issues": abortion, gay rights, affirmative action and the like, plus pacifism. The relentless erosion of Democratic dominance since the late '60s, to say nothing of the past few years, prove these to be net losers for the party.

The majority of Americans are straight, white and Christian, with the associated cultural sensibilities. The Democratic Party has made it a point of style and principle to oppose the electorate on these matters, while allowing the reasons to vote for a Democrat -- namely support for labor and the middle class -- to wither away to the hollowest rhetoric.

Most Democratic activists are simply no longer interested in these matters. Apparently, nobody is. And the contempt they feel for mainstream American values is too strong to be effectively hidden.

It is really up to Democrats to change their direction. Going further to the cultural left will only hasten their demise. It's time to toss the political correctness out with the trash, along with the activists who promote it, and return to the old-time religion of fighting for the actual people who live in this country, not a ragtag band of aggrieved interest groups led by the mad scientists of academe and a few cultural elitists in -- you guessed it -- limousines.

Try siding with victims against criminals for a change. Try siding with the traditional family for a change. Then on top of that, side with labor and consumers against corporations. Agreeing to defend the country might also help.

It's a winning platform, for a party that agrees with it, as yours once did.

-- Timothy Usher

Joe Conason's serialized columns to promote his new book have been like straight shots of adrenaline. It's about time that a brilliant liberal stepped up to the plate to smack around hollow right-wing pieties.

What's more, he doesn't have to resort to histrionic overstatement in order to skewer reactionary inanity. The truth is sufficiently damning.

-- Terry Sawyer

[Read "Contender, or Spoiler?" by Tim Grieve.]

As I'm sure plenty of other readers have pointed, the phrase to denote a lordly, patrician air about a person is to "to the manor born" rather than "to the manner born" as it appears on the second page of your report.

-- Simon McGarr

A Salon copy editor responds:

Strange as it may look, "manner" is the preferred spelling of our primary reference, Webster's New World Dictionary. We also consulted Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage, which suggests that "to the manner born" -- in the sense of being accustomed from birth to behaving in a certain way -- fits this context. "To the manner born" has a long history, dating from Shakespeare; "to the manor born" is much more recent, and some authorities persist in regarding it as an error even though it has taken on a different meaning, that of being upper-class, perhaps.

Because the writer discussed Arianna Huffington's apparent wealth just previously, saying she has something of a "to the manor born" aspect would be merely repetitive. We felt that the writer was extending his analysis and that his choice should be respected in any case.

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I'm willing to listen, but a $7 million home and a $771 tax bill? I'd have to see complete financial transparency to buy that royalties and child support can explain this away. California voters, I would hope, are entitled to more of an explanation than the "looks can be deceiving" speech Huffington offered up last week.

It's shameful for her to posit herself as the voice of the working people when she's part of the same team of out-of-touch intelligentsia that she claims to be against. There are people below the poverty line that pay more in taxes than this woman.

Note to progressives: The programs you want our government to fund are supported by tax dollars. So why should they be supported by my tax dollars and not yours?

The only thing as annoying as conservative self-righteousness is the hypocritical self-righteousness of the left. All the candidates in the California race seem to possess this in abundance.

-- Chris Bernard

As the Green Party candidate often tagged as costing the Democrats a seat in Congress, I know full well that the Dems save their most pointed attacks for "spoilers" rather than focusing on the Republicans. So I am not surprised to see that the same poison pens are now being aimed at Arianna Huffington. Is the argument simply that any woman with the hubris to run without the assurance of winning is a spoiler? The traditional route to elective success for male candidates is for the novice to run first and lose, to gain experience and name recognition to win the next time. Are the rules somehow different for women?

I long for the day when Democrats focus less on eating their own and more on doing what Arianna does so well, which is to make coherent arguments about how the Republicans are taking the county in the wrong direction.

-- Bonnie Bucqueroux

By Salon Staff

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