What do Ukraine and Ohio have in common? Should the CIA play dirty? Has Bush soured Canadians on America for good? Salon readers weigh in.

Published December 3, 2004 6:29PM (EST)

[Read " Democracy Inaction," by James K. Galbraith.]

James Galbraith writes, "We'll get our democracy back, one of these days, when the Democratic Party has a mass base and is prepared to use it in the same way" [as the Ukrainians].

What a load of crap! Does Galbraith really believe that if the Democratic Party amassed its base to demonstrate in the streets anything would come of it? That the mainstream media would cover it? That election fraud would be exposed?

I am a voting rights activist. Between Common Cause, Black Box Voting, Verified Voting, the Greens and the Libertarians, there are literally hundreds of news stories about election fraud in this country that the mainstream media are ignoring, but thousands of us are working to expose. We are working like crazy to document and expose the 2004 U.S. election fraud against a clock that winds down on the last days of democracy. But now you tell us that's not enough? Now you want us out in the streets? So we can be ignored like we were when we marched by the millions against the Iraq war before it started?

Recently the news media fawned over the Ukrainian sign-language interpreter who bravely committed an act of civil disobedience by refusing to sign the government's lies. Yet how many times have you seen Bev Harris of Black Box Voting in the U.S. media? Once for about 30 seconds on CNN last week. Has Salon done an interview with her?

I am sick to death of Salon's snotty, elitist attitude toward those of us who are working so hard on this issue. It is not the responsibility of the Democrats to march in the streets or expose election fraud; it is the responsibility and duty of all the people and their free press -- oh, that's right, we don't have a free press in the U.S.

-- Peggy Tibbetts

James Galbraith is yet another voice expressing the view that when the Democrats are back in power everything will be different. As a lifelong Democrat I'm very disturbed by this thinking because it illustrates a denial of the fact that the Democratic Party is in deep trouble. More importantly, in the 2002 and 2004 elections the American people outright rejected Democratic candidates.

Since the elections Democrats have immersed themselves in obsessive soul-searching. They've taken to quoting the Scriptures (Nancy Pelosi), or decided that "values" can mean social policies and entitlements. Few seem to have admitted that John Kerry was a disaster as a presidential candidate and the sad fact was that he was better than the other nine.

Let there be a recount. But let's not spend another four years in futility shrieking that Al Gore (John Kerry) won.

-- Kathleen Cavanaugh

Thank you for Galbraith's article; the only problem is that it's three weeks late. Salon is no less guilty than the rest of the media of telling those of us outraged by voting irregularities to sit down and shut up.

What happens if during the one week available to do a recount massive fraud and irregularities are found in Ohio, enough to change the outcome? Will you stand up for democracy then no matter how messy it gets? I hope so.

-- Mark Garrity

Galbraith takes a good shot at trying to draw a parallel I think a lot of us on the American left would like to harp on right now, between the Ukrainian election scandal and the tinkering that recently took place in our own system. It's a big, tempting target when you hear the Bush administration reeling off about election fraud and demanding a recount in a foreign country.

To make the comparison, however, detracts from what was actually suffered by voters in Ukraine, which in all fairness was far worse than any of the underhanded slights that took place here. According to a Ukrainian friend of mine, her mother was stopped just outside a polling place and warned by armed men, in no uncertain terms, not to vote for Victor Yushchenko. Now as rotten as our system is here, and as hypocritical as it sounds for the Republicans to be raising any such alarms, we haven't yet sunk to those lows, and hopefully -- so long as even the far right still has to pay some kind of lip service to democracy -- we never will.

-- Josh Strike

[Read this week's edition of "Right Hook," by Mark Follman.]

Are we supposed to take Don Bendell's views about revamping the CIA seriously? His résumé reads like a cowboy with attention deficit disorder.

I love his recommendations: "Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV's) are a neat and necessary invention for intelligence gathering, as are satellite photos and videos, but for our very survival, the United States must now flood every terrorist breeding-ground country with trained, qualified agent-handlers, each with their own net of in-country agents. We must also propagandize, blackmail, or hire indigenous prostitutes, homosexual lovers of officials, disgruntled spouses, and the like to supply us with hands-on, eye-witness, on-the-ground intelligence reports, which can be evaluated and compared with electronic surveillance, news, internet monitoring, and other collection operandi."

This is a great set of recommendations for what we might have done before we got into the cluster-fuck called Iraq. We might have been able to insert agent handlers under cover as U.N. personnel, reporters, etc. -- if we had any trained agent handlers left. Building the kind of networks he describes, which apparently we do not have, will take years.

A lot of conservatives seem to operate under the assumption that Osama bin Laden's strategy is a military one. In one of his speeches, he threatened to destroy the United States economically. So far he has managed to get us to destroy our own reputation throughout the world and to cooperate by destroying 50 percent of the value of the dollar. Militarily, bin Laden has no chance of defeating us, and I suspect that he is smart enough to know that. But he doesn't have to. He has cowboy George and the swivel-chair roughriders to do the job for him.

-- Gerard Pierce

[Read "War Room," Salon's news & politics blog.]

Eric Boehlert's post on Bush's visit to Canada refers to us as "once friendly," because 0.01 percent of the Canadian population did a little demonstrating.

To the U.S. in general, rest assured that Canada is still friendly. In a poll just two days ago, 71 percent of Canadians declared the U.S. to be our best friend and closest ally.

For Bush in particular, however, we were never a place he could hope to go without a couple of thousand protesters showing up -- just as they do in Canada for any kind of World Trade Organization or G8 summit in recent years. Just prior to Nov. 2, another poll indicated that Bush would lose here to Kerry by a hefty 80-20 margin if Canadians had a vote; but were Kerry to have won and then visited us, the crowd of protesters would be smaller but still sizable. Any U.S. president naturally attracts them.

Just please don't imagine that our friendship for the U.S. as a whole is such a fair-weather sort that any one president could weaken it.

The good relationship endured through a nasty little conflict in Southeast Asia we wouldn't help you with, either -- and without any border fortifications being built to keep us from taking in draft dodgers. Before that, we never complained when America showed up two years late for World War II.

Trade disputes, wars, Celine Dion -- these problems happen between friends, but a strong relationship can always survive them.

-- Roy Brander

By Salon Staff

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