Readers respond to recent articles on anthrax vaccinations, President Bush's lies about Iraq, veterans against the Iraq war, and Greens vs. Dems.

By Salon Staff
Published December 12, 2003 12:27AM (EST)

[Read "A Shot in the Dark," by Eric Boehlert.]

I respect the honorable impulse to serve one's country through military service. But the litany of our government's mistreatment of military personnel is an early warning to young men and women who wish to enlist. From Gulf War syndrome to exposure to depleted uranium, from the risky anthrax vaccine to the cutting of veterans' benefits, we do not do right by our soldiers.

It is my wish, however naive, that potential enlistees will learn more about how they may be treated as soldiers and veterans, and think twice before enlisting. If this became common, it could properly force our nation to reconsider how we use the military, and how we treat its members, who risk their lives and livelihood in sometimes nebulous or poorly justified actions.

-- Ben Seigel

Vaccines in and of themselves are not bad. However, the companies which produce vaccines are businesses and are constantly weighing the greater good against their profit margin. So consumers must be properly informed before having foreign substances introduced and then they should make their own decisions. The military's refusal to allow members of a voluntary army the same rights private citizens have in regard to their bodies is unconscionable.

Also, I don't mean to be a conspiracy theorist, but I found the following statement telling: "If the anthrax letters were never sent, then the FDA wouldn't have re-licensed the BioPort plant; then there would be no vaccination." And we still don't know where the anthrax letters came from, do we? In terms of motive and benefit, one can't help but wonder what every BioPort employee (who had access to anthrax for the creation of the vaccine) was doing in the fall of 2001.

-- Alison Aske

[Read "Now Playing in 2,600 Home Theaters: Bush's Lies About Iraq," by Michelle Goldberg.]

Boykin Curry, Moby's friend, considers himself a staunch Democrat, yet he says that he will vote for Bush if Dean is the Democratic nominee.

Curry can consider himself anything he wants, but a person who would vote for a Republican candidate for president, particularly if that candidate is Bush, is hardly a "staunch Democrat." Since he is "furious" at Bush for his handling of the Iraq war, I wonder what horrible things Curry believes Howard Dean has done that would make him put aside his fury and vote for a liar and a murderer instead of the standard bearer of his party.

It is telling that Curry is a Joe Lieberman supporter since, if Lieberman were a Southern senator, he would already have gone over to the Republican Party.

-- Martin Jacobi

I applaud Moveon.Org's organizational skills, and their creativity with the "House Party." But the film "Uncovered" was a huge disappointment. Sure, the movie's useful to a point -- it shows that the Bushies lied, and that they lied in lockstep. But after the initial hilarity of seeing this dreary chorus wears off, the film's energy dies. All I can say is ZZZZZZZZ.

It feels cobbled together. It relies too heavily on talking heads. It reveals nothing new. And as Goldberg implies, the case -- though overwhelming -- is thinly argued here.

When the film ends, viewers are encouraged to distribute the film as widely as possible. My question is why? And to whom? Who is the intended audience? Nascar dads? Bush supporters? FOM's (Friends of Moby)? I suppose all of the above. But is anyone likely to be convinced by this film that the war was a bad idea (who wasn't already convinced)? Perhaps a few. Nevertheless, MoveOn and liberals' precious resources are better spent elsewhere.

-- David Hyde

I think it bears pointing out that Moby's society-party version of the MoveOn event was hardly representative of house parties that happened across the country, where they were mostly attended by actual MoveOn members who are not rich Republicans.

-- Elizabeth Durack

[Read "Letter From an Army Vet."]

A grad student here at the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago slipped me a copy of Terry Dobbelaere's letter. Needless to say it made my day.

I'm one of those forgotten men of the '60s who served with honor as an officer in the Army Infantry. Yes, I ate a lot of dirt, and a lot of other unmentionables. But I've tried to stay away from the V.A. [Veterans Administration] for fear of dying of neglect. Well, events have a way of making even the most proud of us humble and now I'm going to the V.A. as part of a prostate cancer research project. What Terry described is so true here in Chicago. Vets, at least those of my age group (60+) are not pleased with what President Bush, the Shrub or Twig, is doing. Servicemen's lives are way too precious to be wasted by another knight in shining armor having young men die for his ideals.

I have stopped voting because the choices are nonexistent. I still feel very close to anyone in uniform. The world needs to know that what keeps anyone alive in combat is not the equipment or the training -- it's the love of your fellow men in arms. Making it back alive is a mixture of luck and group action. There are no John Waynes in true combat. And for sure, there is no George W. Bush. He wouldn't last through basic.

My congratulations to vet Dobbelaere. To see the true heroes of this country, just go to a V.A. facility.

-- John Reilly

Thanks for publishing Mr. Dobbelaere's letter about his V.A. hospital visit. Recently, my friends and I have wondered in general what the pulse of veterans may be about Iraq and dealing with terrorism.

I thought it was a beautiful gesture for all the other vets at the meeting to so respectfully allow a minority view to be heard (even though he was in the shrinking majority that still thinks Saddam was involved with 9/11).

Given that I have never served in the military and have never fought in an armed conflict, much less a full-scale war, I can only imagine the depth of my resentment if Congress and/or the president made me wait three years to see a doctor to deal with my ailment, injury or disability after going off to fight somewhere. Actually, I can't imagine how black that abyss of betrayal may be and what that would do to me as a person.

-- Kamalesh Thakker

[Read "San Francisco's Greens vs. Democrats Grudge-Match," by Joan Walsh.]

Wow, it is painful to see that the Green Party still does not have its act -- and I use "act" not for a lack of a better word -- together.

As a firm believer in the need for a third party that truly represents progressive and community of color's interests, I've reached the conclusion that the Green Party is not the answer. Though neither do I believe in the Democratic Party's silly mantra of "If you're not with us, you're helping them" and find it highly offensive when self-righteous Dems attack people for voting for those who truly represent their dreams and aspirations.

As painful as it is to say this, I believe there is no viable option for progressive voters out there right now, and the Green Party's racism and the Democratic Party's lack of backbone seems to show this. As a working-class Latino and supporter of the Nader-LaDuke ticket, I was always amazed at the lack of representation of communities of color and working-class folks at the Green Party rallies. Self-righteous college types repeating slogans seem to be the norm, and I was always amazed that LaDuke, a sharp and eloquent speaker, was kept in the background while my man Nader, a great visionary but possibly the world's worst speaker, was always doing the keynotes.

A third party is a necessity for a true and healthy democracy. I believed that then and I believe that now. I don't believe the Democratic Party is the answer, but I also don't believe that the Green Party's silly antics will build an alternative that doesn't just spouse college type hippies' temporary need to show solidarity with the working class.

Regarding the latest mayoral race in San Francisco, I think that Greens in SF don't have a platform and they're just not doing their homework. And will someone explain to me why the Greens ran a candidate against Paul Wellstone, of all people, in Minnesota? Sorry, I just had to ask.

Next time they meet, the folks who were yelling at the African-American ministers (cited in Joan Walsh's article) should count how many working-class union members, urban youth, working mothers, meat-eaters, unemployed, mothers, people who go to ballgames, and people of color are at their meetings. Perhaps they should know that in our communities we respect our elders and would never associate with those who yell at them.

-- Mauricio Martinez

I am a self-confessed bleeding-heart liberal. Have been for a long time. And I am fed up with liberal cowards. I place much of the blame for the beginning of this on Michael Dukakis. He conducted his entire campaign (except when riding tanks) running from what he clearly was -- a liberal. He apparently began a tradition because we have been running ever since.

From then to now, finding a Democrat willing to stand up for what is right is more difficult than locating a fresh blueberry in a Maine snowstorm. None of the current presidential candidates need apply. What we need is someone who can look Americans in the eye and proudly state the liberal cause. We all know when individual issues are presented objectively, the public almost always comes down on the liberal side.

Why the disconnect? We cower before the Limbaughs and Savages. We sit back and let them define us! And, guess what: Their definition is not very flattering.

We need to emphasize our age-old principles: Equal rights. A fair wage guaranteeing decent living conditions. A return to superior educational standards for all communities. Healthcare for all citizens. Finally, and importantly, extrication from this evil war with some kind of justice for the conquered, and, salvaging at least a scrap of self-dignity. Attainable only through international efforts which requires a leader who can resurrect respect for America.

We must become politically savvy, emphasize our strengths, not those issues which are basically private choices. If we get back to the basics, we will win. Think Hubert Humphrey.

-- Robert Peck

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