Readers say Dems should fight for the filibuster, and debate the Bush administration's justifications for war in Iraq.

Published May 24, 2005 8:56PM (EDT)

[Read "A Democracy Can Die of Too Many Lies," by Bill Moyers.]

Bill Moyers' description of the political maneuvering with regard to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting just came to my attention and I find it devastating. It is clear that much more reportorial attention needs to be paid to this topic before public broadcasting becomes an artifact of the past.

Having just read "The Plot Against America" (by Philip Roth) I could easily have assumed that Moyers' report on CPB activities was just one more illustration of the "it can't happen here" America described in the book. The really frightening thing is that this is not a novel. Moyers must not be allowed to hang out there alone. The story needs to be pursued, researched, documented and most of all published.

The attack on public broadcasting seems to be part of a faith-based lobby that has no interest in facts, fairness, honesty and, least of all, balance. Isn't there something immoral in a group of people describing things in such a way as to distort reality ... or do I have morality confused with something else?

Moyers deserves high praise for sticking to his standards. And we need to give an askance glance to others in the media who do not have the interest or the courage to take up the cause of fairness and truthfulness.

-- Charles M. Weisenber

[Read "Dump the Filibuster!" by Farhad Manjoo.]

The name Neville Chamberlain comes to mind when reading this story. It appears that the Democrats can keep the right to filibuster if they promise the Republican leadership they will never use it. Appeasement seldom works, especially when dealing with those whose words and promises are hollow tools used to gain the advantage.

Appeasement favors the Republicans all around: They get their judges (and whatever else the Dems might want to filibuster) and, in case they lose the majority in the next election, they will still have the filibuster option. Rest assured they will not hesitate to use it.

-- Jim Foster

You have to be kidding. This fight is for the life of our democracy. My mother, a lifelong Republican, said that a compromise with this bunch reminds her too much of Chamberlain and Hitler. You do not compromise or negotiate with tyrants or terrorists. How are these Republican senators different? They want everything they want regardless of the wishes of the 48 percent of the American people who voted against Bush (that's if you credit their numbers). Respecting the voices of the minority is what we are trying to teach the Iraqis, while that principle dies in this country. The point of the filibuster is to stop actions that are so abhorrent to the minority that they are willing to stop Senate activity to prevent it. If you can't convince 60 senators that an action is really good or necessary, then that action shouldn't be taken. The point of our democratic structure is not to speed up the process, but to slow it down to prevent errors and injustice.

Democrats must be prepared to go through with the threat to refuse unanimous consent in perpetuity until the Republicans understand that Democrats will not back down. The way to stop a bully is to fight back. Filibuster and refusal of unanimous consent are two weapons available to Democrats to fight this political war.

-- Robbin Jones

Although Manjoo makes some important points about the uses and abuses of the filibuster and the possible future benefits to progressives if the filibuster goes the way of the passenger pigeon, he misses one important point in his analysis. The purpose of all of these governmental structures and rules that he decries as "anti-democratic" is precisely to prevent the tyranny of the majority. Pure democracy, majority rule, can be the most tyrannical and deleterious of all forms of government, because its inequalities are almost completely intractable. And the founders of our nation knew that. (Admittedly, at the time, the majority they were most concerned would seize power was poor and working white people.) As a gay man, I'm quite concerned about any political move that seeks to take away any of the checks on the power of the majority, even when those checks can sometimes have undesirable effects. While the filibuster was indeed used to block civil rights, it has also been used to block anti-civil rights legislation. It is a tool that cuts both ways, but is it really a tool that we want to throw away?

-- J. Todd Ormsbee

[Read "The Lies That Led to War," by Juan Cole.]

From the day that the attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor took place on Dec. 7, 1941, to the day that the U.S. defeated Japan (VJ Day -- "Victory Over Japan" Day) on Aug. 15, 1945, a time period of 1,348 days had elapsed.

Friday, May 20, of this year marks the day that the so-called war on terrorism reached its own 1,348th day (from Sept. 11, 2001), making the duration of the current conflict that our country finds itself engaged in as long as the U.S. involvement in World War II.

Regardless of what one's opinion is of the "correctness" of this on-going military action, the fact that this endeavor is exceeding the time frame that World War II was fought within is a disturbing one to say the least.

The U.S. cannot "win" in Iraq no matter how good our intentions. The anti-American insurgency will grow with the creation of each civilian casualty, regardless of whether these casualties were inflicted by the insurgents or by the U.S. This might not seem fair, but "fair" is not part of the equation in this conflict. Any "calm" that American forces are currently experiencing in Iraq (relative to that experienced by ordinary Iraqi citizens) is illusory.

I personally witnessed this same situation in Lebanon in 1983. We tried "nation-building" there the same way we are trying it in Iraq -- with similar results: more non-combatants were killed than combatants. When the U.S. pulled out of Lebanon in 1984, the people of that country eventually sorted out their own problems. The Iraqi people will have as good a chance as the Lebanese of solving their own political situation without the presence of U.S. forces. Let's not allow this war to drag on any longer.

-- Eric Lewis

If the end justifies the means, then how can lies be lies if they serve the objectives of one country under God? Can lies in defense of freedom be lies? Freedom is the end game now to gain security, isn't it?

What, exactly, is being sought as the end? Universal freedom? Cheap oil? Defense of Israel? Fulfillment of prophecy? Big money for big business? More power to government and/or religion?

Who is this war serving? Not me, not my God, not the dead, not our economy, not our Constitution, not our country and not our future.

It seems to me that our real enemies are those who devise and justify their lies as a means to their self-serving ends. That is truly evil. Their foot soldiers are those that are manipulated to buy the lies in service of an honestly perceived higher purpose. Others benefit from the lies while proclaiming the glory of the higher purpose.

We were told that the moment for accountability had passed with the election. It has not. There is still time to uncover the lies and expose the Bush administration's real intentions.

-- Tim Lester

While it may be true that George Bush was "obsessed" with waging war on Iraq, I think the greater context of the administration's rational and deliberate strategy to create the conditions for perpetual war and empire is lost in Cole's article. The article by itself is inaccurate and consequently dangerous in the sense that Salon readers might be given the impression that Bush alone was the driving force behind the war, when the evidence indicates that, at best, he was along for the ride. The single greatest (but not only) proof of this are the several policy papers published by the so-called think tank Project for a New American Century (PNAC), which was populated with those who would become some of the most prominent members of the Bush inner circle: Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, among others.

In the most famous of these papers (all of which advocated massive increases in military spending and the proactive "projection" of U.S. military force, especially in the Middle East and specifically Iraq), there is the astoundingly prescient statement that: "The process of transformation is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event -- like a new Pearl Harbor."

True, the Downing Street memo is "decisive" in the sense that it is the first "material" evidence of a conspiracy to lie and manipulate the public into accepting a war, but that conspiracy clearly extends deep into the 1990s and perhaps beyond, and I believe it is imperative for Salon to maintain this context in all that it publishes.

Indeed, more than anything else, the memo is significant in that we must once again contemplate the possibility that 9/11 itself was an inside job.

-- Gordon Durnin

By Salon Staff

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