Readers weigh in on the ascent of Governor Arnold, America's divided pro-Palestinian movement, and Tom DeLay's tele-harassment campaign.

Published October 10, 2003 7:35PM (EDT)

[Read "The Moviegoing Voter," by Cary Tennis.]

I have yet to read a better-argued and heartfelt polemic against Schwarzenegger than Cary Tennis' "The Moviegoing Voter." There is a lot to be said in favor of the simple, irrefutable wisdom of not voting into positions of juggernaut power those who have relished, at whatever point in their lives, in brandishing a personal and social morality that pisses in the face of the norm: a consensus against turpitude is one of the foundation bricks of a healthy democracy. But then again, much of America -- not just California today -- seems to be going through a troubled, and troubling, period where the posings of demagoguery and musculature are being preferred over the certainties of objective, if not exactly dispassionate, rational analysis.

We could extend Tennis' "distrust" of "large political promises" all the way from California to the White House and not once hit a wrong note. Arnie has an intellectual (to be charitable) doppelgänger in Dubya (or maybe it's the other way around). One flexes the muscles in his arms at every turn, the other flexes the muscles in his brain at every turn. It will be interesting to see whether Arnie takes California down with him before Dubya can take California down with the rest of the country. If things go on the way they are, that's a certainty, too.

-- Kajal Basu

Cary Tennis tells us how much he's been thinking about Arnold Schwarzenegger. But oddly, Tennis doesn't seem to have done quite as much thinking about Gray Davis, the man Schwarzenegger is replacing. While Mr. Tennis worries about a "revenge-driven" democracy, he didn't seem to have any time to spare pondering the democracy Davis offered: a governor who peddled his ass as frequently as some crack whore on Hollywood Boulevard, who pandered to almost anyone with a large enough bank balance. I would encourage Mr. Tennis to give a little equal time to the people he's thinking about. Then he might sleep a little better.

-- Roy Griffis

Thanks to Cary Tennis for his brave attempt at explaining the incomprehensible truth about yesterday's election. The most progress I've made in discussing what happened yesterday is to repeat stubbornly, "I don't want to talk about it," so I really admire Tennis' willingness and ability to immediately dig right into the dark, troubled (and troubling) soul of the California voter.

Tennis mentioned how good Alabama looks right now. I spent this morning looking at Web sites about employment, rental homes and school districts in Seattle. I'm serious. I don't think I want to live here in California with all the people who voted for Hollywood on Tuesday.

-- Nancy Kerns

The best analysis of our collective illusions and delusions as manifested by Tuesday's election results. Thank you, Cary, for a magnificent tour through our state's psyche. There must be some award for such writing.

-- Bill Hines

[Read "Arnold's New York Times admirer," by Joan Walsh.]

Thank you to Joan Walsh for confronting this wing of selective rights advocates. Many of these women, who whimsically define women's rights, attempt to show their own power by defying feminist standards. They refute simple logic and clear evidence to show how powerful and sophisticated they can be with words. They need a sensitivity course in women's suffrage. They forget that it was the sacrifices of women, who have made their jobs and opportunities available to them. We no longer have to stand outside the White House with placards requesting the right to vote, or accept men's leftovers for education and career choices. These women, who climb the ladder and kick it away from the building, denigrate the hard-won advances and dignity of courageous women around the world. Hillary Clinton said it best, "Women's rights are human rights."

-- Martha Jackson

I saw a bit of the footage from the interview with Schwarzenegger conducted by Melanie Sykes, and as a male of about his age, I admit to being totally creeped out by the way he leered at her and spoke about her physical attributes as though he was talking to the butcher about a plump goose. But there seems to be no end to the women who excuse such behavior as boys-will-be-boys, including a woman I saw on local (San Francisco) CBS news who said, "One woman's grope is another woman's cuddle."

The woman who said that, and I suspect Maureen Dowd, should spend a little time at a rape crisis center to learn what this issue is really about.

-- Cameron Causey

[Read "The Hacky Sac Intifada," by Chris Farah.]

As someone who has spent a good deal of time working both for the freedom of imprisoned First Nations activist Leonard Peltier and human rights in Tibet, the behavior of the non-Arab students Farah describes makes me cringe. It seems to me that the golden rule of adopting a cause that rightfully belongs to a people of whom one is not a part should be to always serve them as they wish you to. If this were to involve a sacrificing of one's principles, one could simply step aside and channel their energies in another direction. It seems to me, however, that the non-Arab radicals Farah describes are only being asked to sacrifice their chance to indulge themselves at the expense of Palestinians.

-- Erik Goodman

Why is it that Farah portrays the dissembling and "marketing" strategies of the American pro-Palestinian movement as smart policy, while he implies that the same tactics, when used by the Jewish community, are manipulative and sordid? The implication is that it's Salon's and Farah's opinion that the Palestinian activists are right, and that Israel has no right to exist.

Both sides commit atrocities in this conflict, yet you for some reason seem to blame it all on Israel. What would you have them do? Give up and surrender their country altogether? I don't think you'd be singing the same tune if it was your shopping mall or favorite nightclub that got bombed.

-- Stephen Segal

[Read "Right-Wing Crank Yankers," by Michelle Goldberg.]

I just finished reading Michelle Goldberg's article on Tom Delay and MoveOn.org. I was appalled at House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's office staff's unethical behavior and had to find out for myself if this was true. I called the office number listed at the bottom of the article and got through to DeLay's office. I said that I had just finished reading the Salon article and asked if it was true that they had been forwarding calls concerning the FCC resolution to MoveOn.org. The phone receptionist I was speaking to freely, and with no sense of shame, admitted that they had indeed been doing that.

I was so stunned that I asked again to make sure I was understood -- she again, with a light and airy voice, admitted that that is what they had indeed done. I was so shocked by her attitude about this matter that I stumbled getting out my statement to her and to Tom DeLay, that I felt what they had done was unethical and I was lodging a complaint about it. She got a bit terse, and said she was glad I felt that way and hung up on me.

I do not know whether to laugh or cry over this. I am a member of MoveOn.org and a Californian. On Tuesday a known assaulter of women was elected as governor of my state, then I read about this immature and unethical behavior on the part of one of our top elected officials, and finally, I get this cheery admission of that behavior from his office. What, pray tell, is an average citizen to think and feel? I suppose one needs to both cry and laugh at the absurdity of it all, for the inmates are truly running the asylum.

-- Paula Schwindeman

By Salon Staff

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