Readers weigh in on President Bush's vacation and Dolly Parton's politics. Plus: A librarian from Ketchikan, Alaska, responds to Garrison Keillor's "Book 'Em."

By Salon Staff
August 23, 2005 12:00PM (UTC)
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[Read "The Vacationer," by Sidney Blumenthal.]

A vacationing president seems to be in direct conflict with the sacrifices required of a nation at war. And when flag-draped coffins come home from a combat zone, I would presume we are indeed a nation at war. Whether you support Bush and his politics or not, as a citizen of this country, you are at war. Our president has made it so.


So what are you sacrificing to win this war? My son does daily convoys in Iraq, so I know my family's sacrifice. He works in 120-degree heat surrounded by people who want to kill him, so I know his sacrifice. Other military families and troops, ditto.

If you support the war and Bush, are you volunteering your time supporting the troops with appropriate organizations? Signed up to help with Homeland Security? Sending goodie packages for troops to Iraq and Afghanistan? Driving less to lessen our dependence on foreign oil? If you oppose the war and Bush's politics, have you taken the time to write your representative? Did you participate in a candlelight vigil? Are you sacrificing your time to support the troops while opposing the policies?

I beg of you, please do something to help win this war and get our troops home as soon as possible. We can't change the fact that in wartime we are led by a president who requires five weeks of vacation to keep his "life in balance" (while my son got two weeks of R&R), but we can take action ourselves to sacrifice.


-- Monty Morrow

Blumenthal comments on the squeeze of gas prices and its effect on the American psyche: "Like oil crises in the past, it strikes at American feelings of independence, mobility, freedom and exceptionalism."

Sad, but true. While the PATRIOT Act, indefinite detentions and torture scandals can't shake flag-waving Americans' belief in their freedom and trust in their president, increase the price of gas by 50 percent and suddenly everyone acts like we're living under a repressive regime.


When conservatives talk about freedom, they're not talking about civil liberties; they're talking about their "freedom" to drive big cars without feeling pinched at the gas station. Unfortunately, high gas prices are here to stay.

-- Jesse Durst

[Read "Is Dolly Parton Antiwar?" by Rebecca Traister.]


I enjoyed Rebecca Traister's article, but I must voice my umbrage at the reference to Parton as a "proud fake flower of the South." Parton is proud of her heritage - no disagreement with that -- but fake? Not by a long shot.

With Parton, what you see is what you get; that may include a zillion rhinestones, but it's Parton's emotionally generous heart that creates the brightest sparkle, whether by song or by deed. Witness the Imagination Library, a literary program for preschool children that Parton created in 1995, which has probably done more to encourage reading than the No Child Left Behind Act.

I'm the last person anyone would accuse of being a rabid country music fan, but I've never failed to enjoy Parton's genuine descriptions of humankind. "Antiwar" or not, she's always been a humanist as well as a bona fide folk singer. That she chose to honor her fellow folk singers doesn't surprise me in the least. Her recent concert choices demonstrate that she's capable of delivering her opinions with subtlety and grace. "Red-state fan base?" That's just the tip of the iceberg.


-- E.J. Moore

Seems to me your stereotyping was a bit heavy-handed in this piece. But I expect you honestly believe that all rednecks are white Southern males and that okra comes from pigs.

Tennesseans (and hillbillies) have supported "our boys overseas" because more often then not, they were our boys! Miss Dolly is a hillbilly, but she'll tell you herself that she's got more money than God, so if she needs any of it to cover her ass after she shoots off her mouth, she's got enough to do it with. If she feels the need to sound off on any side of this discussion, she isn't going to be particularly worried about who might not agree with her.


-- Manya Marshall

Rebecca Traister writes, "Parton, 59, will probably never appear on a 'Vote for Change' lineup; she cannot afford to go all Dixie Chicks on her red-state fan base."

Parton makes more money off of Dollywood than touring. She can afford to say anything that she damn well pleases.

As far as I'm concerned, the Dixie Chicks were shit before their "controversial" comments. Their music was crappy and poppy then, and it still is. Parton, on the other hand, could say virtually anything and her fan base may disagree with her, but they'll still listen to her sing. Go ask Steve Earle fans.


-- Brad Bratcher

[Read "Book 'Em," by Garrison Keillor.]

As one of the city librarians in Ketchikan, Alaska, I got a big kick out of Garrison Keillor's desire to build us a gorgeous new library rather than a ridiculously overpriced bridge. Unfortunately, the very cruise ship he took to see Ketchikan a few summers ago is responsible for the inflated price of our proposed bridge, as the cruise industry has somehow convinced our city fathers that they cannot go around a tiny nearby island to find our city dock and must instead have a bridge tall enough for their mammoth vessels to cruise under. Their political will has resulted in a proposed design involving two bridges and a lengthy trip across town and two islands, when a simple point-to-point bridge from the airport parking lot on our island to the airport across the water would be a lot cheaper and make a lot more sense. Sitka and Juneau, Alaska, for instance, have lovely compact bridges crossing similar spans and the cruise ships manage just fine in those communities.

I must also point out to Mr. Keillor that our wonderful community does indeed exist year-round and, in fact, has a thriving arts community. We were named one of America's best small towns for the arts several years ago. We are world-famous for our annual wearable art show, for fine artists Ray Troll, Nathan Jackson, Evon Zerbetz and others, and for a remarkable collection of musicians, visual artists and writers. Our library circulates record numbers of books, and we have a thriving independent bookstore called "Parnassus." Poets and writers who have done readings in the past year include Stephen Dunn, Jodi Picoult and Janelle Cannon. Upcoming are Kathi Appelt, Pam Houston, Nick Jans and Teri Sloat. We also have a fabulous public radio station that carries that obscure little program "A Prairie Home Companion."


My husband, a journalist and jazz musician who was born and raised in Ketchikan, always says writers stay in Ketchikan for one day to write a newspaper article, two days for a magazine article and a week for a book. I invite Mr. Keillor to visit our community again and stay long enough to get the whole picture. Meanwhile, we are happy to accept donations for our library-building fund as we work toward our library of the future. We will be featuring a signed copy of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" in an auction of rare and signed books next year. Perhaps Mr. Keillor has a book of his own he would like to donate?

-- Charlotte Glover

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