Richard Reeves

Reader Email Archive

Thanks for a great column. I've downloaded the book to my Kindle and began reading it last night.

You might also be intersted in Dr. George Friedmans' book, The Next Hundred Years.

In it, he traces a societal pulse in China that goes back for ages: as the coastal region grow richer, the inner region becomes unruly. This results in periodic social upheavels.

He predicts one will happen within the next twenty years.—B.S.

Some extrapolated lines cross in 2103? It may very well be a Mad Max world by then, and society's destruction may not be via a nuclear war as in the movie. We are already at peak oil. Just fail to find a practical substitute for fossil fuels and all this high tech-driven easy living comes to an end relatively soon. The present era, or maybe even the prosperous Clinton years, may represent the golden age, the peak of human civilisation. Enjoy it while you can. The Republicans are sure set on making policy like there's no tomorrow.—M.O.

I have followed events in Asia since my military duties in Korea (1957-58) and Viet Nam and its neighbors 1962-68. I recently read an interesting comment on America by a Chinese investor. He said America is a great place for the Chinese to build factories-the land here is cheaper, electric power is cheaper and more reliable than the Chinese. Further advantages he cited are cleaner air and water.

The great bloviator, Tom Brokaw, coined the term "Greatest Generation", to credit the marvelous achievements of his father's time. But if you look at the virgin land this continent was only a couple hundred years back-it is no wonder we still have residual advantages over Asia-which is an overpopulated and comparatively overworked land.—R.C.

Wow, what a piece! I've shared today with several folks who were AP colleagues covering past politics.—H.L.

Your op ed piece entitled "Afghan mission impossible", at least in the Raleigh NC News and Observer, was published on Nov 17. I cannot emphasize too much how important it is for distinguished writers, such as yourself, to keep this issue in the public eye. Trying to pacify west Kandahar while we are laying off teachers will lead to the death of this country as we know it and is the fruit of a military industrial complex that is out of control. We need political profiles in courage and none are appearing.—K.J.

Robots are the ultimate step in "privatising" government functions, especially the military. We had over 150,000 mercenaries in Iraq, and the CIA uses contractors extensively in AfPak etc. I don't think we are winning their "hearts and minds". A lot of these "Islamofacists" already hated us for our freedoms, now they seem to get even more upset when we accidentally murder a few women and children. What to do?

But at least Obama and Hillary are going for success in Palestine. Netanyahu agreed to freeze some settlement activity for 90 days provided America gives him our latest jet fighters and guaranteed vetoes of any UN criticism. Is this leadership...or what?—R.C.

Ha! Isn't that how the machines took over the world in the series of "Terminator" movies? Actually, the premise has been used in untold numbers of scifi programs and movies. Once the machines come to the realisation that they are "superior" to the humans they serve, they undertake to replace those humans. Can it actually happen? Not any time soon, though with continued advances in AI and robotics, the day may come. Being a former electrical engineer, you should like this: a number of very versatile ground-based battlefield robots have been designed and tested. Google "Big Dog," among others. These things remind me of small primitive versions of the imperial walkers seen in the Star Wars movies. Also lots of neat tri- or quad-rotor hovercraft that can spy or carry ordnance. One can see these devices, and weapons like microwave or ultrasonic "pain rays," used not just on battlefields, but as police weapons to control a country's own civilian population, which is even more chilling. I think we'll soon see the end of organised protest or political dissent. Any technology that can be built will eventually be used...for good or someone. Your next generation of automobiles will be factory-equipped with chips and transponders that constantly pinpoint the location and vector of your car to the authorities...maybe even sniff it for chemicals like pot smoke or ethanol. Some corporate vehicles are already constantly monitored for location and speed by GPS. They will be used not only to enforce the law but to bill you for use of the roads, which will all be converted to tollways in the future, as taxation is eliminated and replaced by user fees to accomodate the whims of the rich. How do you feel about missing out on the coming brave new world?—M.O.

They used the open primary system in Louisiana for about thirty years, ending the practice just recently. It usually guaranteed that the most conservative candidate would get a spot in the runoff, because the conservative electorate generally votes in lockstep, and the trend is always further to the right, more to the right, can't get far enough right. Since Louisiana loathes "liberals" (the equivalent of moderate center-right Republicans outside the South), the other qualifier was usually a Republican "moderate" or a Democratic populist, who would lose the runoff in most districts. The exception was Orleans parish which would always send a black Democrat (Jefferson) to Washington. (I'm describing the dynamics since the South was "lost for a generation" by LBJ and Civil Rights.) I think most California districts have enough right wing voters to guarantee a spot for one of their guys in every runoff. Don't look for this to solidify the Democratic majority in the state caucus because Dems are simply not as militant and organised as the GOPers. It will probably push the state contingent in the direction of parity, which I find troubling because the Republican party has become downright dangerous in recent years.

As to the commission, there is no guarantee that politics will be removed from the process. The professions of the selectees you mentioned are most frequently correlated with conservatism (entrepreneur, engineer, marketing consultant, insurance exec, consumer analyst...maybe the caregiver, low income tenant advocate & attorney are liberals) . The only way to remove human bias is to apply a computer algorithm that mathematically calculates the most compact districts of equal population without regard to party registration or ethnic makeup.—M.O.

I have read all of your books as well as a regular reader of your columns which I usually enjoy, though I often disagree.

Your column of November 15th hit home, in very a hard, sad, tragic and personal manner. The tears were flowing as I read your column and as I write this.

I am 55 years old and lost have many friends, children of my friends and friends of my children in various military misadventures and am always reminded of something my father told both my then recently turned 18 year old brother and myself (10 at the time) at Thanksgiving in November of 1965 regarding the Vietnam War.

He told me that:

  • As an Estonian refugee, escaping to Sweden and then the US after WWII, living in the US he always hoped for the next war to help liberate Europe, and the world (including Estonia) from Communism, which he believed would be the only way of prying the Communists out of Eastern Europe
  • If that sort of war would occur, he would want to participate, if he could
  • He would be proud if his sons would participate also in a war of that sort
  • He believed that the Vietnam War was not that war but rather a politicians wars, one that they weren't prepared to win, didn't know how to win, and were frightened to appear to lose
  • He told us that Vietnam was just a politicians war, where many would die, run through the meat grinder, for no good reason, without being permitted to win, before the US politicians got tired of their mess and left

Unfortunately, you are correct about the US in Afghanistan (and Iraq), as was my father about Vietnam 45 years ago.

It is a pity when we repeat the past, over an over again, without having bothered to learn anything in the interim.

May you and your family have a good and joyous Thanksgiving, and celebrate the many blessing we have.—V.R.

This contrived war is not merely pointless, it demonstrates the absolute degeneration of our Beloved Country. The attempt to force tribal people, with their decentralized governments, into a centralized Western controlled Kabul will never work. These local leaders are disparagingly called "Warlords". When facing Resistance forces in Iraq or Afghanistan, we label them "Insurgents" or if our drones accidentally murder a few dozen, they are called "militants" (an inexcusable characterization acquired from America's "friend and ally" Israel). We have to be sad and ashamed.—R.C.

I cried when I read your column on the tragedy of Afghanistan. Like you, I cried for my country.

This child of the Vietnam era feels as though he already has been the Afghanistan, although I decidedly have not. In so many ways that God forsaken country and the war there remind me so much of Vietnam, which continues to haunt my aging generation.

Anyway, thank you for writing the column. Thank you for being -- still -- the most articulate voice in our troubled land on the issues of the day.

My family and I send you and your family the warmest Thanksgiving and holiday greetings.—R.G.

Liar, Afghanistan has an elected government. The US armed forces and those of other nations (UK, Australia, Germany, etc.) are no more occupying Afghanistan that we are occupying Germany or Poland where US troops are also stationed. Don't tell me that it doesn't just kill you that you and your friends failed to bring about a US failure in Iraq?—D.F.

I guess it's up to the soldiers to lay down their weapons and walk home. No soldiers, no war.—K.W.

I thought I was the only one who reacted this way. The futility of what our government has embarked on saddens me terribly every time I hear of another young soldier giving his life.—P.W.

I am 78 years old and I tried to read your column of 11/15 to my wife but I could not because I became too choked up. It was the best editorial I have ever read. Somehow it should be made available to every citizen in the U.S. and that must include all the people in our government.—R.W.

The conclusion you reach in this article is exactly correct. However, you forgot to mention how our congress people are adding to their wealth with these wars, as the young people die.—D.Z.

Why do you think that protests taken to the streets and mall of DC don't seem to be in the cards. Why are the American people so lost when the evil that's being done is all around them. Are we that dead, or puppets, or zombies? What's happened to us? I despair, are we without hope, have we just given up to the junta? Why don't you make that the subject of your next book.—B.K.

Thank you for writing this article. I am glad that someone in the media is finally stating what has seemed so obvious to me for a very long time, America is no longer exceptional and will not be exceptional until we decide to stop acting like hypocrites and refusing to take responsibility for our actions. "Why do they hate us?" was the refrain after 9/11. Why indeed. What do people expect from the Iranians when all we did was overthrow their government and reinstall the Shah who with the help of the CIA became one of the most oppressive regimes in history? What do people expect from Iraqis when we install a dictator and then 50 years later decide that he is no longer useful to our needs and invade/occupy their country? What do people expect from Palestinians when we support unconditionally a nation that has run a deadly occupation for 60 years? How do we expect to be the world's moral leader when we behave so immorally?—A.L.

I weep too. I have not served in the military, though both my grandfathers, my father, and two brothers did. When on the Jim Lehrer News Hour they periodically run the "honor roll" of servicemen and servicewomen killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, it's difficult looking at those young faces and understanding why our country is pursuing such a futile path.

I plan to reprint this editorial and mail it to as many people as I am able - including Congress and the White House.—J.M.

You stated occupation. No occupation of Afghanistan when New York was attacked on 9/11.I served did you? I do NOT want any of my family to serve, I did but people do not care until something affects them.What do you suggest pull back and then let them attack with nukes? You do know that some of those nut jobs just want to kill all infidels. We are not able to all sit around the campfire and sign to allah, nor would I for one want to.—J.M.

I see you are still spewing your hatred for the USA.. Youre not a real american why dont you go live in France if America bothers you so much. I still think you are a commie POS.—Anon.

Great column. You have been beating this drum for years. You were right then; you are right now; and you will be right when we withdraw, but what small comfort is that when you realize your protestations are futile and the war machinery drags on? I know you are a defender of Obama and think he has done well as president, but for me what he has done in Afghanistan is truly unforgiveable. I know he campaigned on it being the necessary war, but I believed he was insincere and was doing this to inoculate himself from attacks from various hawkish factions or to prevent him from being labeled a defeatist. But it sure seems to me as though once he was elected, his decision to remain in Afghanistan was a result of pure political calculation in that he wouldn't be deserted by liberals, which has proven true, and that conservatives have been restrained in their critique of how he has handled Afghanistan, which is also mostly the case. To sacrifice hundreds of American lives and thousands of Aghanis to preserve his political ambitions and maintain is viability is the lowest calumny,

Anyway keep writing these sorts of columns. Every once in a while perhaps the NYT, WSJ, WAPO, LAT etc might run of your or Bacevich's columns about Afghanistan where it might make a difference in public opinion, although with Congress firmly in the pocket of defense contractors, with a sinking economy, and a volunteer army of children of unpolitically connected families, I doubt it. I had hoped that the tea partiers might make a difference on this issue, or that economic reality would force congress's hand, but for all that I read about deficit reduction, very few advocate cutting off the financial and bloody spigot.—D.M.

Thank you for this important message. But, how can we get the president to listen and stop this insanity? Can we hope that the 2012 election can stop this madness, another two years of these killing fields? And spending the money needed to save America? The real problem is that Americans, for some reason, want us in this catastrophe and those opposed are helpless to do anything about it. How to end the madness?—C.S.

I too cry over the war news daily and particularly over the loss of young American soldiers. I haven't read a column to date that describes this very basic response. I hope it doesn't mean that Americans have grown numb to our wars so that their emotions are blocked, but, in all likelihood, this is the case. I always find myself wondering when Obama, like his predecessors, greets the wives of dead decorated soldiers with small children in tow, how he keeps himself from thinking about the futility of the enterprise that took their lives. I hope in your next or future columns you might challenge your readers to turn their despair into protest. Maybe you have been making this call regularly. Forgive me if I have overlooked such.—P.T..

Thank you for writing this. I've felt this shame for some time now and you put it succinctly, powerfully. I'm sorry we as a country are so untouched by pathos when it confronts us in the form of the broken bodies and spirits caused by our actions. It's as if we've severed those nerves that enable us empathize with the shame we bring to the countries we occupy. I don't blame the cowards in Washington but rather those in our living rooms and kitchens.—T.K.

Delusional as always, delusional. My goodness what are us hopeless, hapless right wingers doing not behaving as you and your ultra liberal intellectual counterparts would have us behave. I guess all that "secret" money is what turned the tide. Or maybe getting clobbered Tuesday is Bush's fault as well!!—Anon.

It will be fun to watch and now that the Democrats have been shorn of their representatives in marginal districts, what's left is much more liberal. The Tea Partiers and even the non tea party republican house members will pull the Republicans even more to the right. There is little room for compromise when each side sees itself as principled and acting on the side of the angels. I disagree with those who think that the tea partiers won't want to work with Obama because that will give him something positive to run on. I think they would work with him, if Obama compromises on his principles, but even though Obama has been remarkably unprincipled (apologies to you and your daughter, but his rejection of public financing for his election was incredibly cynical and the repercussions of it undercut his attacks on the Citizens United Supreme Court decision) I don't see him selling out on health care or on environmental issues. Likewise, the tea partiers will never compromise on their desire to cut spending or shrink the size of government.

I thought Pat Buchanan had the most interesting assessment for areas of compromise. Since the tea partiers are primarily fiscal hawks, yet by and large want to maintain social security and medicare, the likely area of agreement for cuts between liberals and conservatives would be military spending. However, its not at all clear whether the tea partiers (both the members and the elected representatives), fall into the Ron Paul camp, or even the Glen Beck camp (most Democrats don't realize that he has called for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan) or whether they fall into the more hawkish camp of Sarah Palin and Jim DeMint. The other area that if Obama is astute, he can exploit, although his hands may be tied because of his Wall Street contributors, is that the tea partiers are, to use a stereotypical term "main streeters" whereas the Republican party establishment is Wall Street. I don't think the tea partiers want to get rid of financial regulation although that is what some of the newly elected Republicans have said. I think they want to make sure there are no more bailouts.and if there are they will butt heads with the leadership on that.

What we will learn in the next two years is who is a statesman, who is a politician and who is an ideologue. Unfortunately, I think I know the answers already and I am frightened. Lets hope I am pleasantly surprised, but I am not holding my breath..—D.M.

"All campaign funds aren't the same. Even the purest campaign-finance overhaul advocates have trouble faulting small grassroots contributions. ... Large contributions from corporations, unions, trade associations or wealthy individuals are another matter; these donors often expect something in return. Few of those making sizable and secret gifts to the (Republican) effort are engaged in selfless acts of good governance."

My question: Do you think the AFT, SEIU, and AFSCME are interested in good governance or protection of their own interests? For what it's worth, I believe the donations should not be anonymous; however, that also implies the risk of coercion. Think the executives from Boeing might get a visit from an administration representative if it gave a big donation to the opposition? "You know, Jim, Lockheed is also bidding on that contract."—A.H.

I totally agree with you on this one. I've never understood how a corp., union, etc. funding a political campaign can be construed as free speech.

You just had to call out the Republicans as taking sizable and secret gifts, which makes it appear the Dimocraps do not - YOU KNOW BETTER. And while I'm nitpicking, these Marxist goofs currently in the White House are damn near to bringing the country down and the Left are applauding.—S.K.

No question that the Citizens United decision by the court was a game changer much to the detriment of our democracy. As you say, it allows big money practically unlimited influence, certainly enough to swamp out any financial input that the ordinary citizen may have to offer. But an earlier and equally skewing conservative move (these changes ALL benefit mega-corporations and their Republican tools in congress and are hence conservative) was the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which made it possible for modern-day robber barons like Ruppert Murdoch and corporate giants like General Electric, Disney and AOL-Time Warner to monopolise the media, strangle true fair and balanced news coverage in the cradle (replacing it with a sham slogan) and put a conservative slant on over 90% of any expressed political opinion. Prior to that was killing the Fairness Doctrine by Ronald Reagan, which had served this country well for many decades. The result is a public that has been so lied to and propagandized that it is outraged at the very people and movements attempting to preserve their rights and improve their economic situation. The extreme right wing, which has most of the money and therefore most of the power in this country, has used the media to turn America into a Bizarro World where everything that's true is rejected and everything that's false is religiously believed, where the people love their oppressors and hate their neighbors and fellow workers, where being brainless and shameless rules. Having been born in the forties, for most of my life I would never have believed any of this to be possible had I not lived through it myself. I still have to pinch myself to be assured this is reality and not some bad dream.—M.O.

While I have no argument with anything in your column - It Was Not Politicians Who 'Took Our Country' - I don't think you dedicated enough comment to the obvious; it's the politicians who enable and abet this ubiquitous corruption. I know the point is there in summation, but it's low key. Unfortunately a lot of the electorate has to be hit over the head with obvious to get their attention.

The two-party system has become the one-party system, the party of 'Me' and 'My friends.'—M.R.

Richard: You are one of the few columnists I still read. Most seem to be cheerleaders for some wealthy or powerful patron. The absolute corruption of our administration, Wall Street, congress and political cronies of Cheney or the so-called "Defense Establishment" is very distressing. I served in Viet Nam and made it to mid-ranks (major) before I left. I never saw a single instance of corruption, although I knew it was going on in "allied countries" and to some extent at our political levels then--but none I ever experienced directly. I would have seen it, of course! But it is so open and endemic now, at the highest levels, it really is destroying America. Help!—R.C.

You noted that when Social Security began, "In the good old days most people did not live long enough to collect it." Doesn't this make you wonder if the real objective of the plan was different than the stated objective (mandatory secure retirement)? Did the program's designers fail to consult actuarial tables? Were they ignorant of life expectancy? Because if they knew that most contributors would never collect, then the program was a deliberate scam from day one, just a clever way to collect more from hard-working citizens without having to call it a tax.

You went on to review declining birth rates, but ended the column with "three obvious answers" to the problems caused by the growth of the aging population: "more taxation, rationing of medical care, immigration." Didn't you forget the most obvious answer: having more children? I know this answer takes the most time and effort, and the results are long delayed but they are also long-lasting. The upside-down family tree is a serious threat to prosperity.—N.R.

Gingrich, Palin et al have already conceded that the people who propose to build the mosque/community center have a constitutional right to do. Legally, the opponents of the center have no leg to stand upon whatsoever. Their argument is of a political nature, citing the adverse effect upon psychological well-being of, for lack of a better word, the polis. They wage their dispute via voice and pen. This is a far cry from the mid-19th century Nativist Movement which saw Roman Catholic priests and nuns dragged out into the street and beaten half to death, their churches set afire. Bloomberg's evocation of that era constitutes an invidious comparison. The whole argument is fast becoming pointless anyway. One side concedes on the legal point and makes a political argument against the mosque, the other side concedes (more or less) the politics and makes a legalistic argument for the mosque. As a result, each side is talking over the other's head and preaching to the choir as it were. One thing is clear: it doesn't take a genius to figure out that choosing this particular spot at this time in our history as the site of a place of worship for Muslims was sure to generate a firestorm of protest, rightly or wrongly, notwithstanding their legal right to build it. Having the law on your side doesn't necessarily guarantee anything, as Martin L. King learned many years ago. Our constitution calls for a republican form of government even though more often than not we are ruled as though ours was a democracy.And as this controversy demonstrates, democracies can be messy places sometimes.—H.B.

You know Afghanistan--and I served in Viet Nam. Expansion of already mistaken plans to invade this landlocked country in Asia was a terrible blunder. Originally, it was OK to go after Osama with special forces. But to put ground troops in by air and treacherous roads (no seaport) was a terrible idea to began with. The insertion of 30,000 additional troops with the thousands more already there or promised, will take at least two years--considering the massive logistics required to support what is the equivalent of an Army Corps. Yet, Obama tells us he will begin his drawdown in one year!

I voted for Obama and certainly don't trust the republicans. But every decision Obama has made has included forced and ambiguous provisions (health care and financial "reform"). His circular Afghanistan build-up/drawdown tells me the man is a conciliator and not a leader. The generals wanted more troops and Cheney accused him of "dithering". Many, including his VP and Afghan Ambassador, favored a smaller force. He compromised where a real decision was needed. This is not leadership! Last comment: I always seek out your columns. I often quote you how on your return to America after years away, you were amazed not just at our obesity, but how our Country had become the land of the Super-Fat.—R.C.

The Reeves essay in my morning edition of the HUNTSVILLE TIMES (your critique of Obama's administration to date) impressed me very favorably. My excuse for not writing this letter twenty years (or maybe thirty) ago is probably 30% procrastination and 70% envy-reason for finally getting around to the task is roughly equal parts of obligation and gratitude. Your high standards for stringing words together with honesty (first and foremost), succinctness, readability, and a smidgeon of satire and humor are the cause of my envy.

This morning's article made me think (for perhaps the hundredth time in the past five years) that you or I (an eighty-year-old) could die of old age and you'd have never known just how much I've appreciated the Reeves' columns during so much of our respective lifetimes. Snuff out your damn lamp, Diogenes, here's Richard Reeves, a by-god honest man!!

I don't remember ever having had reason to doubt any of your as-presented facts in the hundreds of your columns I've read over the years.

You've been a great asset to our country. Thanks to you and other such honorable members of the Fourth Estate!!!!—F.H.

You are obviously setting up a red herring. Nobody is arguing that LEGAL immigration should be curtailed. This is a country made of LEGAL immigrants. Ellis Island is a testament to this. Foreigners were welcomed into the country after being processed. There is huge difference as to what is happening today. Even JFK only allowed 250,000 new immigrants into the states during his term. Every civilized country has LAWS dictating terms of immigration. Those that have lax standards are enjoying the trauma's of an unregulated system, i.e. Great Britain and the USA.

The only 1st step to take is what the majority of Americans want: Close the border, shut it down and stop the tide. Deal with employers that hire without papers, stop the lunacy of every baby born in the USA even if parents are illegal, auto citizenship thereby dividing families. Then see what is left and deal with them in a fair and equitable way that stands the test of LEGALITY.

Of course with a President such as we have and his unschooled in the real world Harvard acolytes, they will not have the fortitude or guts to do what is proper and legal. This a sad time in our country, where a solution that makes sense cannot be permitted due to divided loyalties, and those loyalties unfortunately are not to the greater good of our country.—C.R.

I read Haaretz and get more "balance" than from the American press and politicians. Balance is the kiss of death for any politician in the US. Bob Novak is an exception - although I disagree with him on almost all other issues. The power of fear and the flag can destroy reason.—F.C.

The issues with corporations using the initiative process to bypass the legislature is nothing new.

In his not very revealing autobiography, Artie Samish, explained how using the right misleading slogan was used routinely to pass initiatives that otherwise would be quite unacceptable. The real scandal in this case is that very few consumer oriented groups took official positions or put much money opposing props 16 and 17. Because the Democratic nominations for Governor and Senator were not highly contested, whereas the Republican nominations were (even though Fiorina and Whitman won in a walk) I think PG&E and Mercury gambled that the turnout would be a more conservative electorate and theoretically more favorable to them. The reality is is that the majority of California initiatives are voted down unless it stirs up a particular social issue, such as those surrounding illegal immigrants, bilingual education, affirmative action, same sex marriage, gun rights. I think that had propositions 16 and 17 been on the November ballot, even in this which appears to be shaping up as a Republican year, they would have been voted down by even wider margins.—D.M.

Agree. But I would add that talking to the American people is also a power of the president, as he/she reacts to events. Don't you think the president would have been better served if he had articulated 3 or so main points of his "change we can believe in" philosophy? For example, deciding to open up deep water drilling was criticized by the left. But if he had said something like "energy Independence" as one of the 3 (which would realistically include some oil, along with nuclear, solar, wind), then he might separate the drilling disaster from his program. Right now he looks like a typical Democrat, always on the defensive. As you have said, Ronald Reagan was a master at returning to his simple and easily communicated themes, or tying whatever action (or reaction) he did to those themes. He could be more flexible, such as getting out of Lebanon. Obama now seems to have most people confused. I'm no fan of R.R., but I believe he would have had a clearer message. Obama is a refreshing change from the fool, but I think his failure to communicate three or so great themes (energy, education (job training), economy or whatever) will probably be the reason for a failed presidency. I hope he figures it out soon. I loved "Alone in the White House."—D.L.

His response to this disaster was far too slow. He should have used his albeit limited power to mount a major skimming and pumping response the first week, Calling in supertankers and other oil companies with real expertise and capabilities would have been expensive--but imagine the cost now that this has not been done. A scientific study team sailed into the gulf last week and reported oil on the surface in every direction, but not another ship in sight.—R.C.

Do not dilute the public anger at Washington. Rand Paul is an amateur who spoke from his heart not his head. While I agree with everything you say in your article about checks and balances; there is one element missing in your logic; the extreme overstretching of the Democratic majority and White House of government intervention. Main Street knows that Wall Street made out in the bailouts so they could return to their riches. While people don't want the Wall Street to be unjustly regulated, they do want to see some justice, not a government Wall Street partnership. The fact is unemployment is 17 to 20% not the propaganda of 10%. Small businesses are not expanding because everybody is on the sidelines with what money they have left. They are scared because of the tax consequences of the end of the Bush tax cuts, government enforced increases in healthcare costs per employee, and anybody who owns a business and is in their 50's know what over regulation in the 70's did to profits. Obama says he is going to help small business, with his glib I really do kinda care speech. What you don't know is that in order to get any benefit's of his proposal's, you must be paying your employees under $20,000.00 per year, or you must be a disadvantaged minority owned veteran to participate; and oh by the way, it only applies to government bids. Horse shit! He was definitely the wrong man at the wrong time. People are angry, and many voted for him and have second thoughts. The government Unions and their thuggish behavior are going to split this country very soon. Government workers both at the state and federal level must be shorn of their high salaries and no cut benefits like the rest of us. This is class warfare in reverse. The idea of a government job was to make less than the private sector in return for job stability and a decent retirement. This has been bastardized and if continues, the ramparts will go up, and it will not be hippies but middle aged Americans that have had enough!—C.R.

Surely the correct answer is that we are a nation being undercut and bamboozled by crooks. Most of us plead innocent and can only be convicted of obliviousness or indifference or outrage. Cretins on Wall Street may pillage and burn the middle class underpinnings of their ~and our~ long-term prospects, true. Their destructiveness is worse than crooked since it threatens our republic for their short-term benefit. Apart from them, my sense is that most of us still can and do value decency, honesty and honor, despite knowing that the usual array of crooks operate among us.—C.D.

Mr.Reeves asked the question "Are we a nation of crooks?". The answer is "Hello...anybody in there? A little late to the party aren't we?"

The whole financial crisis was due to the fact we are a nation of crooks on every level.

Citizens at large: Lied on load applications to appear to be qualified to own a home.

Businesses: Looked the other way or helped citizens to appear to be qualified for mortgages. Wrote ticking time bomb mortgages to force citizens to refinance and generate more fees. Packaged these toxic mortgages into huge packages to disguise what they really were. Then misrepresented them as AAA level bonds, the safest bet out there. They frequently targeted foreign gov'ts and nationals, essentially acts of war.

Honest Brokers: Rating agencies went along with the fraud and blessed them as AAA when in fact they were C, junk.

Insurance Companies: Wrote insurance policies to the tune of trillions of dollars betting their whole companies on these junk bonds to generate extra fees and year end bonuses.

Government: Is so in bed with banks and Wall Street thugs one would think they were married. Bet our children's future and really the future of the country on rescuing these tens of trillions of dollars in fraudulent actions.

In summary, the citizens, business, captains of industry, government oversight civil servants, congressmen from both parties and presidents, both Republican and Democrat, had to be corrupt to pull off the caper called "The Financial Crisis". Exactly who isn't involved, the mafia? So yes, Mr Reeves you are finally catching on that the US is corrupt to the core. And saddest of all news, our form of gov't wasn't' designed for a corrupt citizenry and ultimately won't survive it. Oh, you haven't figured that part out yet. You will get there a couple of years after it happens.—J.R.

Are we a nation of crooks? I still think most Americans are honest and hardworking, but we have an increasing number of crooks in our midst.

They were given license to hoodwink the rest of us by Republican conservatism which, since Reagan, has preached that government and regulation of anything is bad. Everything should be thrown into the private sector and no rules should be applied. The strong and privileged should just be allowed their god-given right to victimize whomever they can. Free markets and free trade should predominate the economic sector because the word "free" is in their descriptor, and everyone knows god wants us to be free, never mind that monopolies and de-facto economic feudalism are the inevitable end products of unregulated laissez faire capitalism. (You want to sanctify anything in America? Just attach the word "free" or "freedom" to it.) Game theory accurately predicts human group behaviour and the board game "Monopoly" was based on actual American history. Why should we be surprised where Reaganomics-Gone-Wild has taken us thirty years down the road?

The people with the power are still manipulating events, including the perceptions and attitudes of the public, long after they quite conspicuously wrecked the system. They own congressmen and senators (mostly but not entirely within the GOP) and (I hope I am wrong) perhaps even a piece of the presidency. They own most of the media, which puts out their dogma and version of instant revisionist history 24/7 on the "news," cable TV opinion shows, "serious" political interviews and call-in talk shows (dominated by right-wing extremists). Someone with a right-wing agenda clearly is out there organizing the Tea Baggers, gun brandishers and other "grassroots" screamers. Yes, Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann are the fronts performing this job, but someone behind the scenes is ensuring that these ladies realise millions of dollars in personal revenues for their trouble.

These "fixers" have a serious minority, if not a majority, of Americans believing that the financial crisis was due to their own irresponsibility and selfishness (the accusation of working/middle class selfishness is bandied about with impunity as you'll know if you read the endless newspaper forums on the internet). These are the hard core tea baggers, who see just as much, if not more, culpability for the economic mess down their own street than on Wall Street. They will argue that their foreclosed upon neighbor who accepted the mortgage he didn't understand and really couldn't afford was more of the problem than the predatory bank or finance company that shoveled loan money at him and insisted that he accept the terms of an ARM he couldn't begin to fathom.

I knew what these swindlers were doing when I retired in 2004, moved to Florida and, very cautiously and deliberately, bought a house in 2006. I had an 805 credit score and put $100K down, yet the crooks were trying to lasso me into an adjustable rate mortgage. I had to pay additional thousands in points to get a standard 30-yr fixed. Four years later, the house is worth $150K less than I paid for it ($100K vs $250K). My 403(b) lost nearly half its value, and the trust fund for my state's teachers' pension plan lost 40% of its value, meaning no COLA's for as far as the eye can see. The state owes the fund tens of billions in unfunded liabilities which they can never hope to make good because they have way too much other debt--they couldn't pay their teachers, police or firefighters without the stimulus money that the governor and the Baggers rail against. Yet the haters of D/democratic government who rant on the National Mall would insist that not only was this scenario predictable by ME, but it was also MY fault due to MY insatiable greed! How dare I procure a place to live in my old age after a career of educating their post-adolescent hooligans with the knowledge required for entree into lucrative careers in medicine and biomedical research.

Just give a break to the poor bankers, brokers, financial moguls and the Republican pols who do their bidding and all will be made well, they say. Hypocritically lambast them in public, to be sure, but cut 'em a break by stopping any regulatory legislation. Just stop Obama, the Democrats and their mad socialism/communism/Marxist/fascism/Stalinism (pick one, several or all). Throw all those traitors out come November, give the GOPers all the power once again by default (no "third ways" in America) and pay no heed whatsoever to the facts that preceded Obama's short term of office. Don't try to tell us what Bush did, cuz it's all good in comparison to "socialism." That's a partial description of America's recent nutty history in a nutshell. Even the Democrats predict they are going to have their heads handed to them in November, and possibly in 2012. How is this going to get better when the Party of NO (as in No Connection to Reality) is being handed the keys to the asylum again, hardly an election cycle after they were sent to their room for eight years of psychotic mis-behaviour? 21st century America has got to be a major disappointment for anyone with even part of a functioning brain.—M.O.

Whatever chance Karzai has, he cannot afford to be seen as an American puppet. I was in and out of the Viet Nam war in the 60s and regret that Obama apparently had no adviser with your (or my) experience. The escalation in Afghanistan was an unbelievable blunder! Allowing the Paulson/Bush "Too big to fail" swindle continue under Geithner and Bernake is an equivalent domestic disaster. I voted for Obama, but he has lost all credibility as a leader. I guess we should have seen his incompetence in the oxymoronic name of his book "The Audacity of Hope".—R.C.

I just received the first issue of a newspaper covering our newly adopted city. My first impression of the quality of their paper was your editorial. I am so impressed that the paper runs your column. Some days I want to just scream that we cannot be so polarized as a country. Whining, stomping one's feet and demanding that one was is the only way is not going to keep the USA a great country.

When some of the Democrats voted against the Health Reform Bill, my thoughts ran along the line of "they think for themselves and represent the people". When I saw that not one GOP voted for the bill my thoughts were the opposite, "they are robots and do not want to speak up in fear of their leaders in the party". At least one Republican must have had constituents that wanted improved medical opportunities.

I am trying to figure out where the Republicans went wrong. Maybe it was way back with the Watergate Break-in. That may have been the last time I voted Republican for President. When Carter was president they tried to smear his good name. When Clinton was president they looked for bad financial dealings to let the world know American's choose poorly for president. Now it is Obama and the good old boys are at work again stirring the pot. The GOP knows that a portion of the population is undereducated and they will buy into the negativity without checking the facts, and thinking for themselves. Just a visit to and one can see how easy it is for junk to be spread as fact.

My belief is that the majority voted for Mr. Obama to be our President and having done so, the majority is also in support of any effort he can do to make this a better country. I think the next major election might see the Republican Congressional members finding their jobs at risk. They have gone to work to collect a check and used their work hours to hurl insults and act undignified. It is ok to have an opinion and share it, but do so as an adult with some sense of intelligence.

Thanks for your opinion as it must not be a popular one in Texas. Keep up the good writing.—L.S.

The party of NO is proving to be the party of kNOw nothings. Angry as they make me, I am not unhappy with the approach they are taking, as I believe it will result in a smaller than normal loss in the mid-terms.

On another topic: I bought your Nixon book. I detested the man, but decided it wouldn't hurt to relive the era. Reading it was not pleasant. Went between nausea and anger and couldn't make my hair stop standing on end. The only thing I cannot figure out is why anybody else has bothered to write another book about the man. They could just read your book and save themselves a lot of time and effort.

And a question: Am I the only person who thinks of the new health insurance plan as TeddyCare?

Thanks for your columns. Please continue to persevere.—E.G.

This morning I read your opinion piece in the Huntsville Times about General Alexander Haig's passing away and the role of the military. You wrote:

With Nixon's backing, Haig was appointed secretary of State in 1981 by a new Republican president, Ronald Reagan. He lasted only 17 months, ruining himself by going on television wild-eyed and declaring he was in charge of the White House when Reagan was wounded by a would-be assassin.

I take strong issue with your characterization of then-Secretary of State Haig and his comments to the media.

Haig didn't "ruin himself." You Nixon-Reagan hating jackals in the media tried to do that to him. You took his words out of context, clipped off the parts about his being in close touch with the vice-president who was on the way to the White house and then served it up to the public as if Haig were staging a coup. The sad thing is that you're still doing it.

"Wild-eyed"? Please look at the video linked below starting at minute 1:03 and then tell us again that Haig was "wild-eyed." Although the question he answered was inaudible, it almost certainly asked who was in charge. Haig was as calm and straightforward as anybody could've been when he answered. He most assuredly was NOT "wild-eyed."

The only "wild" people there at that impromptu press conference were members the media shouting questions at him.

You also wrote with what I perceive as disparagement:

At the same time, the ending of a civilian draft by Nixon inevitably separated the military from most of the rest of society.

You've got your chronology and your emotions all mixed up. Nixon ended the draft in 1973, keeping a promise he made during his 1968 campaign to end the draft when the war was ended. This was widely celebrated at the time. Somehow you neglected to mention the dreary years that followed when Jimmy Carter did his damnedest to dismantle the armed forces. How'd Carter's "speak softly but carry a wet dishrag" diplomacy work out?

As far as separating the military from the rest of society you must've forgotten the late 1960s and early 1970s when the "rest of society" separated itself from the military -- draft and all. In 1968 some representatives of "the rest of society" even spit at me in the San Francisco International Airport.—F.S.

Spot on-I'm glad you're airing this issue and viewpoint for people to consider. I always appreciate your wisdom and apt historical perspective.

"Recent history - watching bright and dedicated young officers try to build civil societies in Iraq and Afghanistan - makes you wonder if MacArthur, a political general if there ever was one, may have been right all along."—T.A.

"They want their kind of health care, with government money but without government regulation, and they don't much care anymore about paying local taxes for the education of other people's children, particularly if those other people are darker or speak with accents."

Really? I dont remember seeing any signs about screaming "No money for black students".

I guess I can impute paternalistic racism on liberals. "You know, the blacks need the liberal intelligentsia to be their advocates because they are poor and stupid, but only because of white racism." You used to write intelligently. I miss those days.—Anon..

This whole piece reeks of projection; especially the last line.

You're pissing down your own leg in fear, and calling good people names to try to make it all go away.

We'll see what the 'new' America is in the next 15 years.—Anon.

Don't you think the juxtaposition of the demographics with American Idol, i.e. Sarah Palin, is far out? She's the Idol candidate: good teeth, good skin, a perky personality, devoid of substance. America is crying out for leadership; driving all night for a glimpse of her is proof of that. Obama is like the Colts in the big game, playing not to lose at every turn, on every play, unlike the Saints who went for the win. Look what happened. Obama could lead this country if he chooses, but he's hanging back, afraid to do it, timid. Remember Gen George S. Patton, as portrayed by George C. Scott in the movie, quoting "L'audace. Toujours l'audace!' That used to be Barack Obama's word.—P.M.

Dick Graves, who worked with me at AP & covered Gov Scranton's '64 belated Pres campaign through '64 convention, saw your latest column I relayed to him. He responded: "RR singing my song...usually does". He wrote folks don't grasp Constitution & how it spends - including financing wars - none US has won since WW 2 in which he served & wounded in Pacific. He noted, sardonically, US should resign as "world leader" letting Switzerland & Sweden choose successor. He always was taken by Ike's warning about "military-industrial complex."

I often wonder about what the moderate Scranton thinks of Republican party & Tea Party movement now. He's 93. Last time I spoke with political reporters at Scranton Times-Tribune, for which I once toiled, they said he was active & well. He lives at family estate near Scranton but I recall winters in Florida. Looking out on 2 feet of snow in DC, I wish I did.—H.L.

You are so out of touch of main stream America that it only proves that you are a hack for the Democrat (now socialist party) . Why don't you go move to France or something. The majority of people like this country and their health insurance, I'm sure you are happy with yours. Why would you want to change something that works unless your agenda is to destroy America as we know it. I'm glad the truth is coming out despite people like you.—Anon.

I dunno. I think you pulled a lot of punches on this one.

Seems to me Mystery Man Brown is a product of ineptitude on the part of the Democrats. They failed to act as a cohesive party, and, even with their huge majority, the could not rise up to the challenge of naked Republican obstructionism. Rather they looked like a pack of backroom deal makers, trying to maximize their own individual take of the swag. They overtly failed to "feel our pain," as Bill Clinton would have put it. They did little that was effective to address the jobs crisis or the foreclosure crisis, unless you think that goosing the stock market through bank bailouts was supposed to make the common man happy in his penury. I hate to say it, but even Obama seems to show little empathy for the stricken working class. I can't believe he doesn't feel it, but he doesn't show it. Some tips from Bill Clinton on acting the part of a Democratic president would do him well. Yes, he plays nice with the Republicans, but I don't care about that anymore. Gets him absolutely nowhere. Moreover, they are eating his lunch every day.—M.O.

I have read your column for years. Your column on Haiti just about moved me to tears. Thank you, sir, for reminding us what it means to be Americans, the kind of Americans I, like you, grew up believing in. Thank. God bless you!—R.G.

You may not agree with Dr. Jolly or Brooks, or Reagan or me. But we all seem to end up in about the same place: Something has gone terribly wrong in America, and you're on you own, buddy!

It seems to me that the level of corruption and self-serving that has always existed to a degree in politics, business and everything else has risen to such a high level that America has gone over the cliff into a, sort of, non-violent, white collar anarchy.—S.K.

You are right about the GOP leadership, it needs to be more than radio personalities, two of the most successful have past and possible present addiction problems. These problems I believe are prevalent in their rhetoric and behavior.

It is not that Barack doesn't deserve a solid "B", it has a lot to do with the people who surround him. Like it or not, the Right Wing has uncovered some very disturbing advisors and people who have populated the fringes of science and social activism . It does not help that Mr. Obama was a community organizer, (A very low impact undefined position based on his educated pedigree) and suddenly the likes of ACORN fall off of the tree of sanity. Also, who are the fat cats during the collapse; CEO's or the likes of Nancy Pelosi, the wife of a very successful California businessman, Diane Feinstein, Harry Reid, George Soros, Dollar Bill Clinton etc. etc. etc.

The other painful truth is our "New" position in the world. Those that are emerging are less likely to show us respect, not because of the bellicosity of W., but because of the attempted dialogue with those who understand and believe that power comes from the end of a gun.

By the time we get to the Mid-terms Barack will have a solid "C", and by the 2012 election a solid "D".—C.R.

President Obama receives B++ considering a flaming torch on both ends---the economy and the war---were passed onto this administration. Can President Obama and the Democratic party save the American Dream---yes, if their plan for the economy is successful and I'm not economist nor a socialist. Can the future cost of the new Health Care bill exceed the incoming tax revenues and snap the American economy into a socialist state? Then life in America will be similar to life in the Ukraine---boring. President Obama's administration must be going into its fourth year of this term with a fairly successful admistration to win a second term.

I can't fault President Obama for the present State of the Union, but only look back to the previous eight years his administration.—M.C.

Just read your article about our boy Harry. Good piece, but you are old enough to know that the quip about the impossible taking a little longer came from the Seabees, not the Marines.—Anon.

Mr. Reeves, perhaps since your daughter works on the White House staff, you should recuse yourself from writing columns about this President and this administration as if they were going to be objective. I should just let go my criticisms of your article based on that fact alone. But, what the heck. It's the day after Xmas, and I'm ready to jump back into the dialog about what's happening with healthcare and all the other agenda items that are being forced upon us at this time.

The Republicans may indeed be saying "no" to everything simply because the Democrats don't know how to say "no." Even if some of the more moderate ones wanted to object, they are being bullied, cajoled, bribed, and manhandled to step to the podium with "yes" on their lips. Since the numbers regrettably are against the Republicans until 2010, what would you have them say in order to make their points and to represent most Americans who actually don't want this healthcare bill??? They have offered alternative ideas, but are given no quarter whatsoever. The only muscle they have for the moment is perhaps through such powerful voices as Rush Limbaugh. I'm quite sure the Republicans would love to have anyone, anyone in the mainstream media speak for them. But that's not about to happen either. Thank God for talk radio! Otherwise, the Democrats might actually come to believe that they speak for everyone and indeed have a lifetime "mandate" to champion their agenda.

And there are leaders in the Republican Party if you would pay attention and not be enamored of the "thoughtful, cool" Obama. For example, Newt Gingrich continues to have an intelligent, time-tested voice of conservative persuasion and may indeed emerge at the head of the Party. I don't remember hearing anything at all about Obama except a few years ago when, once again, he made a speech at the DNC. Beyond that, he did not lead this Party until he managed to beat Hillary Clinton in the primaries. And he has had the great good fortune to have been the candidate who followed 8 years of the opposition party, who now operates with a majority in the House and Senate. No wonder he looks smart! No wonder he gets a B. I long for 2010, when balance will be restored to Congress so that these jackals have to work with each other across party lines. We'll see if Obama remains as brilliant then.

I'm not at all sure how he has improved our standing in the world. That's something liberals love to say, though the results of all those good, good, good, good vibrations are nebulous. Iran has become more of a menace than ever before, Afghanistan is getting more and more dangerous, and turning Pakistan into a reluctant ally. North Korea, well, just hasn't changed its insane activities either. Israel and Palestine don't appear any closer to dialog than they ever have been. Perhaps you were referring to our standing in the world in Scandanavia. They like Obama so much they awarded him a prize just based on what they HOPE he will do.

And, trust me, in 2010, the Republicans will have a firm platform on which to launch their campaigns. It will be very clear and very distinctive from the Democrats' campaigns. As a parent, surely you realize that it's so much more popular with your children to say "Yes", but often the best lessons come from "No". The Republicans will urge fiscal responsibility, individual accountability, cost savings in government programs rather than spend, spend, spend, and concrete ways to encourage small business and the middle class.

While you visited a doctor in LA, no doubt, who wanted a single-payer system, I too have talked with many doctors myself and heard many different opinions about this healthcare reform. None of them is encouraged by what's in this bill, and these doctors believe it is fraught with disaster. Yet all of them want ways to help the needy while not penalizing everyone else, including doctors. Your anecdotal comment offers just one man's viewpoint.

Finally, I'm curious as to how you have determined that Obama's assignments are to get out of Afghanistan and to RAISE federal revenues. Do you have some special knowledge or insider trading that gives you the audacity to make these pronouncements? I know this may be a hard concept to understand, but our government really should try to satisfy the majority of its citizens with common sense and understanding of our history. No one wants to be involved in war. But if we're there, we should do our best to accomplish our goals and not try to make this an 18-month program. And, could it just possibly be that LOWERING our federal deficits and the endless spending we're engaged in might have to go hand-in-hand with RAISING federal revenues??? I feel certain, and sick, that this administration has already figured out how to achieve this item on your wish list. It's called higher taxes, and I'm preparing for the worst.

If Obama gets a B, I must conclude that you go easy on your students at USC........Happy New Year, and thank you for your time.—L.S.

Richard: your columns exceed last one every time out. Give you an A-plus for content & full disclosure in latest.—H.L.

The column was titled "We, the people, are not at war". Thank you very much for this column. Spot on!—B.E.

I agree with you on this subject - nice article.

I would like to see, not only the draft reinstated, but, additional military possibilities offered to the American citizen which would further connect "we the people" to the wars we partake in. Such as - middle aged men allowed to volunteer into the army to man the less rigorous but highly dangerous duties, which would spare the lives of some younger soldiers and show the young that the war is indeed worth fighting.—Anon.

The US government seems to have determined that it need not adhere to its constitution on a multitude of different levels, one of which has been the failure of congress to declare war in our country's last several major conflicts, including Afghanistan. Various presidents have invaded numerous foreign countries without proper constitutional authority, making them all illegal wars and the chief executive a war criminal. The pretexts for theses conflicts were, as often as not, blatant lies.

The unconstitutional activities of the executive and legislative branches by no means end with illegitimately starting wars of choice. All signed treaties ratified by the senate are declared by the constitution to have the force of law. The president is not given the authority to unilaterally change the law or nullify any ratified treaties, yet that is exactly what was done to the Geneva Conventions and to nuclear weapons treaties. Due process and habeas corpus were also unconstitutionally negated in a tyrannical collaboration between the executive and legislative branches in the Military Commissions Act. The senate has been running roughshod over the constitution since its inception with the practice of the filibuster. The constitution clearly outlines only two or three specific instances in which a supermajority is required for any congressional body to effect policy (most notably in impeachment and removal from office). The constitution does not confer filibuster rights, in fact it specifies majority rule on all legislation. The filibuster was merely a very early usurpation of constitutional power by those elected to office. I'm sure one could discern dozens of other ways in which our American government has been acting fraudulently for generations, if one took the time. Apparently, rules and process have always been considered suitable for chumps, not for power brokers with their predetermined agendas.—M.O.

For once I agree with your column on Afghanistan. Now what are we to do about the scientists that are smearing our profession. Remember our honor system? It worked and demonstrated how the engineering and science should be trusted. Now the world should not trust anything our profession says and publishes. No wonder space suttles explode and bridges fall down as engineers fudge the data. The politicians are in bed with them funding the fraudlent agenda. It must stop! I could go on for days but it will not do any good. Thanks for letting me bend your ear.—C.H.

My remedy - blow the whole place up and start over.—S.K.

You correctly point out many of the problems.

Please note, that if not for Prop 13, my mother (now 87) would not be able to stay in the house she and my father purchased in 1955.

Also, as I pointed out in a previous letter, I am a public school teacher (part-time). The waste I see, every day, is staggering. I could easily fire half of the "support" staff where I teach and it would only make my job easier.

Keep the teachers: Fire the staff!—B.S.

Exactly. Get out ASAP!—B.S.

The "low level of the healthcare debate" is even lower than I had imagined it could go. It makes you feel a little embarrassed for your fellow Americans who are too stupid to realize that Medicare is a government program--one that even works fairly well, according to them! Today there was a mass rally of these idiots at the Capitol. Their angry diatribes were incoherent, illogical and inaccurate. Their complaints were also, basically, Fox News talking points. The cynicism of Republican "news" organizations is matched by the immoral opportunism of people like David Koch.—J.C.

It is very apparent form your recent columns that you are indeed in the tank for a single payor system. The Canadian chap who was enthralling the crowd with his stories of the government mandated magic is only giving one side of the story. Let's start with the fact that here are only 22 million Canadians rather than 300 million Americans. Being in the Healthcare industry, the rationing of such procedures as simple and accessible in the United States as shoulder, knee and hip replacements are in very short supply in Canada. For a population of 22million this is indeed an embarrassment for the Canadian Health System. Such things as easily scheduled as an open MRI is totally unheard of in Canada let alone a closed MRI.

American medicine needs reformed not socialized. You can say what you want with the Pelosi semantics, but the fact is the radicals in the White House, and they are radicals unseen in this country with their talk of re-distribution which is the most important function of their economic policy, want and will over time get a single payor system.

The sad fact is that the one thing that will spur competition and drive down premiums are health saving accounts. The administration won't hear of this because their core constituency does not work and cannot understand how to keep track of their medical usage. Also the simple fact that insurance companies are so hamstrung by state insurance boards, there is no cross state competition like car insurance.

I'm sorry Richard, I just think that the United states needs to stay on course with what has proven to work, capitalism. Yes the government must intervene for the greater good; but the governments job should be to support businesses and organizations to succeed, not be the organization that delivers.—C.R.

Thanks for your article on the Canadian Healthcare Plan; it's right on target w/ my experience over the last 2 years! I started planning opening a business in BC w/ a Canadian friend 2 years ago and I've been amazed how easy a small business can start-up primarily because you don't have to include healthcare costs and related issues in your business plan. Within weeks we were able to find qualified, experienced employees who were willing to change employer for a better situation. So within weeks we were up-and-running. This year we opened a second location w/ the same ease as the first location..

I've never heard my business partner, his family and friends, or our employees complain about the Canadian Plan in BC. Yes, the Providences (as can our States) supplement the national plan depending on what the people want and pay for through taxation. They do say that you have to be your own strong advocate when you need a procedure/surgery to avoid an excessive wait. And, by the way, comparing what I pay in federal, state, and local taxes on my salary, our business and personal taxes are only slightly higher.—S.H.

Concerning Medicare, "Within weeks, it was also law, and few elderly Americans would argue that is bad law."

The Medicare Trustees current report (and these Trustees were ALL appointed by President Obama) states: "$38 trillion (260% of current GDP) would have been needed at year-end 2008 to fund over the next 75 years projected shortfalls for Medicare hospital coverage and to meet the federal government's statutory obligation to pay its share of other Medicare benefits, including prescription drug coverage."—E.H.

Your stated, "Perhaps our new Peace Prize winner can use his many rhetorical skills to end all the war-war here at home."

He can't even end them in his home city of Chicago, let alone anywhere else. Guaranteed, you'll be eating your words before his term is over.—D.D.

A fan of yours for years, I am delighted with your take on the Obama Peace Prize. (and glad that you cleared up, however slightly, the fact that the Nobel is Swedish, not Norwegian as some TV 'mouthy' experts have declared )

Here in Hawaii, we are of course proud of our native son-- and last week we had a Saint and a Winner-- ! Having just returned from a month in Holland, always a stalwart friend of the USA, it was great to see the difference, and relief, of our selection of President., having wondered if were ready and able, to elect him. These previous 8 years saw a distinct disbelief and disappointment with the US, especially when we re-elected Bush, as to what had happened to our basic principles.

I wish that your column could be reprinted in the International Herald Tribune, for it answers the questions, which even the Dutch have had. as to whether it wasn't 'too soon'. I'm sending off copies to my friends there, and thank you for your always cogent articles.—K.R.

I read you regularly, and I enjoy your international view. Sunday's column was particularly good--about a subject that many don't consider. (The media, including my fav. NPR, kept reporting the deaths of contractors; and for the longest time i thought they were talking about poor electricians who were just on their way to help restore the elec. system!!) The reason we don't know/care/see what is going on is precisely because we don't have family there. We don't have a draft. (I am 59 and my draft number was 33). If we had to daily face a person involved and a tax bill, we would be out of there before your next column.

Keep up the good work; all those with the power (including the voters) need to be on the hot seat daily.—P.D.

The easiest way for our 535 member political class to establish unassailable credibility on the matter of health-care change is for them---all of them---to go first.

Whatever they devise, they and their families should be subject to it's benefits and shortcomings first. One can only imagine the advertisements they could create. Smiling politicians extolling the virtues of a system to correct our current shortcomings. It would be irresistable.

The fact that this group has apparently excluded themselves from that which they will subject the rest of us to is all we and, we suspect, millions like us need to hear.

For shame, their arrogance is stunning---but somehow not surprising.—C.L.

Mr.Reid was featured on C-Span this past Sunday. During an interview conducted by Brian Lamb, he praised the French system. Coincidentally, a day or so after the AP reported that the France now has to raise taxes because their health care system is running a steep deficit and is in danger of going belly-up. No sane person can possibly argue that the private sector has managed health care efficiently. They most assuredly have not, but if Medicare is an indication of anything, there is no reason to believe that the public sector would do any better. Indeed, they would probably even do worse.And we only have to point to France as an example. Under a public health care system i.e. single payer system, the sheer numbers of people who would have to be insured --some 300+ MILLION--are daunting to say the least! And then there's the issue of how this is to be financed. A general tax? At at time when the economy is hovering upon a depression? Not likely? And then, of course, who would pay and how much? Does a wealthy person who contributes more tax revenue then become entitled to more care than a low income person? Or does everyone get the same care, regardless of how much they contribute--if indeed they contribute at all? How about malpractice tort reform, which adds hundreds of millions of dollars to cost of health care delivery? The last time I checked, the Democratic Party remains in thrall to the Trial Lawyers Association

Though I am by instinct a free market libertarian, I have concluded , albeit reluctantly, that the likelihood is that in five to ten years America will be left with no choice but to institute some kind of public health care, even if only in a rudimentary form. Why? According to the stats, by far the most amount of money is expended in health care during the last five years of one's life. That point in time is starting to stare the 70 million or so members of the Boomer Generation (of whom I am a member), and as the saying goes " if you think it's expensive NOW...' etc. In the absence of either some kind of public health care or, alternatively, some reformation in the way we finance health care on the private sector , watch the hospices begin proliferate country-wide as health care facilities simply discharge patients, effectively throwing up their hands in despair at the lack of funds.

During the aforementioned interview, Mr.Reid said that health care reform is a moral/ethical issue, not an economic issue. This is debateable--the operative phrase nowadays, particularly favored by young people and uttered with no small degree of cynicism, is "it's all about money"!--but, given that reality, he raises a profound issue which he correctly points out is the one argument that the Obama Administration has not harped upon enough. Perhaps the choice should be put as follows: If you believe that a society has the moral and ethical obligation to provide medical care to its citizens regardless of income or social status,then you are in favor of public health care. If the answer is no, then you pretty much believe in the status quo.

In my view, either choice is fraught with perils and pitfalls, so it behooves both sides to lay out their arguments side by side, free of cant and propaganda, so that the public, in making their decision, is aware of the one truism in life allegedly attributed to an Italian laborer---"There's no free lunch".—H.B.

I read this article and I agree with part of your premise. Medical care in the U.S. is too expensive. It is also not very accessible and not well coordinated. The fact is, medical care in the U.S. has been this way for at least the 50 years that I have been involved as a G. P. then a Family Physician. I'm a retired guy now, but I keep track of what is happening.

What you and most writers fail to do is look behind the cost issue to explore these issues of accessibility and coordination as they relate to the costs. Briefly, most of the lower cost systems in other countries (Canada, England, Germany, etc), systems which you and others tout, are based on a strong primary care physician base as the place where most people get most of their care. The primary care physician is their personal physician who is readily accessible, accepts the responsibility for their total care, and coordinates their care when they need to see referral physicians. In the U.S. we have an upside-down care system with only a few primary care physicians and lots of specialists. This is what is responsible for the poor accessibility, high cost and lack of coordinated care.

Primary care groups, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Society of Internal Medicine (ASIM) have studied this problem for years and have a proven system of addressing these problems. It is called The Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH). The PCMH begins with accessibility. The primary physician, let's say a Family Physician, s ets aside several appointments each morning and each afternoon. That provides access to patients who have an acute problem. The patients also know they can contact their health care team by e-mail, cell-phone, or even conventional phone, if they have one. The physician heads the health team which takes responsibility for all the health needs of the patient-preventive, primary care and specialty care. In the case of specialty referral, the primary care team maintains contact and bears responsibility for coordinating that care with any other care the patient is receiving. This system saves money for many reasons, not the least of which is preventing duplication of services, especially expensive tests.

You should take a longer look at PCMH. It is getting lots of attention from business and industry. Check out the web site. This is the Patient Centered Primary Care Collaborative, which recently met in Washington, DC. For a more comprehensive look at the PCMH concept, log on to .

That web site might be accessible only to AAFP members, but I'm sure you can get some information by going on to the AAFP web site. If you care to, please e-mail me and I will be glad to provide you with more comprehensive information about the Patient Centered Medical Home.

The Congress and the President are pushing hard to provide a health care payment system for the country. Without the kind of reforms that the PCMH embodies, any payment system is doomed to failure. Finally, speaking of payments, adopting a PCMH system would cost very little compared to the incredibly expensive plans that are currently on the table.—R.S.

Everyone I know wants quality healthcare for all Americans and most everyone I know is one of those evil, stingy, prejudiced, religious fanatical, ignorant conservatives. What these folks don't want is healthcare for all Americans that includes a govt. option. Government regulation in the area of healthcare may be needed to fix the current situation, but, please, don't ask red blooded Americans to trust government sponsored healthcare initiated by this bunch of communists (by the way - wasn't it sad about comrade Van Jones). A question I keep asking myself is why are liberals insisting on government sponsored healthcare without trying free market fixes first. My conclusion is that the ignorant liberals are used to Mammy govt. providing for them and don't care or even understand the negative implications and the elite liberals (to whom liberalism is a religion) have an agenda to be advanced by way of govt. run healthcare. Anyway Sir, keep watching FOX NEWS NETWORK (until the FCC Czar gets it banned) and I hope to see you at the "Tea Parties." Sorry about the sarcasm, but, dealing with liberalism all my life is starting to wear very, very thin on me.—S.K.

I am self employed and have what is called "Catastrophic" health insurance. Anything before 5000 bucks, I pay with a credit card. Recently I went in to see an ENT about an ear infection. A $400.00 bill was reduced 30% when Io told the office person that I was paying cash.

My wife, who has really good coverage through her work, was sent a bill for several thousand dollars after some medical care. The letter said that they would reduce the bill 80% if she had no insurance and was... poor.

Adding a government run health insurance company to the mix will only make things worse. Laws in many states make it illegal for doctors to create their own private insurance relationships with their patients. This should be available to all citizens.

Clearly doctors want to avoid the hassle of insurance companies as much as possible.

These two anecdotes (maybe antidotes?) and a little faith in the market tell me that we should do all we can to narrow the relationship between patient and doctor.—B.S.

I really enjoy your analysis and usually agree with your political positions. The only time I ever admired Teddy was when he took on Carter--a sitting president of his own party! He did this knowing he would be attacked for his sins. He was given his status as a senator because of his family connections and nothing else. He became powerful and influential by virtue of experience and senate seniority rules. He "Borked" the most intelligent judge nominated to the Supreme Court in living memory. I didn't agree with Robert Bork's extreme conservatism--but his reasoning would have surely have sharpened liberal and moderate thinking in that once principled institution!—R.C.

Not a word about Chappaquiddick in your current essay.

"Kennedys went into politics and then grew up." - He was a U.S. Senator when he drove off the bridge, spent 10 hours consulting with his political and legal advisors, and THEN reported the "incident" to police, while Ms. Kopechne was still submerged. You call this growing up. —L.R.

Richard: Give me hospice and follow my "living will". I know that day will come--and I wish I had the choice to end my life if it seems the best option given my condition and age at the time.

Unfortunately, we cannot afford health care reform. Our congress gave into a $700 billion extortion demand by a Wall Street broker on temporary duty as Secretary of the Treasury. Even more debt was taken on when AIG was used as a conduit for billions more to Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street conspirators. Our congress delegated its war making power to Bush and we have two and one half wars.

I voted for Obama, but he is no leader. He has turned over the Treasury to a RICO gang and war-making to the generals. Let's see if we can get Mayor Bloomberg to take over whatever is left of our Beloved America in 2012. Thanks for your common sense analysis. I do appreciate it! —R.C.

I just want to tell you how much I appreciate your editorials whenever I am teaching a unit on persuasive rhetoric. Whenever I need examples of name-calling, straw-man, begging-the-question, etc. There
you are!!! Please Keep it up. What would I do without you. —Anon.

Amen to your take on this one! I'm beyond the geezer threshhold, and I can tell you I have received useful and courteous assistance from real people at Medicare. Strangely (surprisingly?) I have received equally good personal service at every level of Social Security. Who'dathunkit???

One of the worst? AARP. The favorite word of their "suppliers" is No. That's why I'm with Humana now. For less than I paid AARP, I get good service . . . and a free membership to a neighborhood YMCA. As a recovering heart attack/sudden cardiac arrest victim, that's a real blessing. —J.B.

Your latest column on health care was on target in advocating a public program in competition with private insurers, but in doing so you are permitting the private insurers to frame the debate on their terms.

Instead we should be debating the merits of exactly the opposite: a government run program (aka Medicare for all) with a private insurance option for those who wish luxurious coverage (no drug formulary, access to non-generic drugs, etc.) or simply want no part of anything the government offers (except their other government benefits, of course!).

If we presented the argument that way, we'd be more likely to have all the Seniors supporting it. —L.B.

Equitable access to affordable medical care is a worthy goal, but will be impossible to attain unless & until sweeping reform to tort law is made; almost nowhere is this crucial subject addressed in the current Congressional programs. It stands to reason that because tort lawyers are heavy Obama supporters, it will not be addressed, therefore no real progress is possible. —T.D.

As I have mentioned before, I have been working with Physicians since 1981. To a person, many physicians who have either worked overseas or went to do research in Europe are amazed at how inefficient or rudimentary the health is in Europe especially England. The Socialists Neurosurgeon may have saved your wife, and probably did a fine job. But he did not have the training or the tools available to him supplied by the free market that make these tools available to American doctors. The idea of medicine being a right in the developed world is something that I just cannot get head around. Yes the insurance companies are a pain in the ass, and YES there must be reform i.e. portability, pre-existing conditions ect, but with health saving accounts and reform of the marketplace, we will not lose the level of sophisticated medicine that is available to us. The pain of dealing with an insurance company is nothing compared to the pain of waiting in line for hours to get treatment, rationing of care to those that have a medical condition that are in need, trying to get a test for a spreading condition that takes months to schedule, physicians not working 3 months out of the year as in Canada because they have reached their income limit for the year!

No medicine is not a right! A government should support the institutions and businesses to broaden the base of employment, the betterment of the marketplace will make it possible to provide the medical insurance for those employed and their families. As it is now the underemployed, infirm and the elderly already have a policy, Medicare and Medicaid. Nobody does not receive treatment.

Why do we have to completely reorder our lives and the way of doing business, because a President was elected that thinks this the right way, against the will of the people? I for one am tired of competing with the Government. —C.R.

You are a columnist I very much like to read now and then.

Politics aside:

You spin the whole health care "controversy" - for the lack of a better word, in a very touching way. You skirt the issue on the financial angle completely. And your apparent gloating over the socialist French doctor/surgeon is so totally overt while downplaying the American version of healthcare allowing for folks to jump to different conclusions depending maybe on how deep their pockets are.

You are also vague and non-committal on the "how-to" problem of administering this into society.

Your article is well written and well communicated but leads me only to think that maybe each of us would enjoy living in Utopia and you play that card well.

Do you have a point - some leadership influence you are attempting to exert, or are you just writing elegantly?

How about a follow-up on your article on a practical means of reigning in this out-of-control industry? Are you up to the challenge?

Otherwise, thanks for the entertainment. —G.P.

Unfortunately, you have the advantage of wisdom that comes with age. The uninsured young do not. They buy auto insurance because it is mandated by the states, and so they can get their car fixed if it is damaged in a crash. They do not consider that their bodies may have to be repaired by doctors in a hospital if damaged in that same crash. Old age may be the most lethal of human conditions, but young people die of accidents, of all sorts, more than any other group. Young people are also most frequently the victims of violent crimes.

At the very least, health insurance should be mandatory for all. That would not be "socialized medicine" any more than car insurance or homeowner's insurance are communist plots.

The best of all possible worlds would, in fact, be a public health service such as they have in Britain, France or Canada. Let the uber-rich buy more and better health care if they like on the free market (whatever they care afford--brain transplants if needed), but guarantee essential health services to every citizen without all the nonsense of differential premiums, deductibles, co-pays, drug formularies, yearly and lifetime caps, and all the other nonsense associated with the parasitism that is private health insurance. Raise the money to run the program through taxation. Whatever is lost to businesses and individuals in taxes will be more than made up for in not having to pay insurance premiums, a very fat percentage of which does to pay the parasitic middlemen called insurance plans and not for health care.

Isn't it idiotic to pay not only the doctors and hospitals for needed medical care but nearly an equivalent amount of money to bean counters, paper shufflers, investors, administrators and deniers of care? Isn't the purpose of the health care system to make us well, not to make capitalists peripheral to the delivery of health care wealthy? The only thing being defended by the Republicans and Blue Dogs in blocking a public health care plan is the right of these pigs to continue feeding at the trough. How can that logic be so opaque to so many? —M.O.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. wrote a poem I think of fondly these days. I'm your age and have medical issues. The poem was in my junior high school English book and meant nothing to me then. It starts out: The wonderful one horse shay, it lasted 100 years to the day. The poem continues about how well every part was made, and all of them wore out at the same time. Of course, I get it now! If only my own body worked that way! —R.C.

McNamara was definitely a man of numbers as you point out (body count). I served in a staff job in the early 60's when we all had to make Cost Reduction Reports (CRP). A lot of effort went into those reports--if not so much into actually reducing costs. Later, I had a flying assignment where we defoliated much of South Viet Nam. Our Agent Orange (also Blue and White) reports had to show large quantities sprayed, so we had "sponges" where a load could be placed on a "secondary target" if the primary did not work out (War Zone D and the Rungsat). The bomber escorts had to be released from supporting us if they did not "expend". The FAC would then direct them to targets in "Free Fire Zones". As nearly as I can tell, a lot of the madness from that ill-fated and ill-conceived war has been revived in the Mideast today. Thanks for your stories! We who remember are becoming a minority. —R.C.

Secretary McNamara:

Great piece! History, contemporary events and poetry!

I am confused a bit regarding your stand on Afghanistan. I recall lauding you before the election for your advice to the new president: call Afghanistan hopelessly futile and get out. Then after President Obama decided to increase troop levels and you wrote a piece in support of this, I was taken aback. Now you seem to be returning to your first position. Maybe your readers would like some clarification.

Each week, my wife and watch "Sunday with George Stephanopolis . We always make a point of waiting for the KIA's. After years of numbers averaging in the 30's per week, we began to feel some comfort when, by the time President Bush left office, they had lowered to single digits. Now they're rising, and for Afghanistan. I just don't understand how these fine young boys have to die for Afghanistan. I don't see the pay off.

Regarding Congressman Waxman:

The problem with Mr. Waxman is that he is so good at what he does, legislate. There is not a single human activity that Mr. Waxman does not want to control, tax and/or ban. He's the ultimate faceless, fascistic bureaucrat. He's like a zombie from a bad monster movie: he just keeps coming. —B.S.

I hope you're right.

I think you are. Some backup data: We belong to We've had folks from all over the world stay for a night or two on our living room couches.

We recently shared a meal with two college aged women from Europe. I asked about their impressions of California (was it what you expected?) and Americans in general. After some joking remarks about Californians not being as obese as the rest of the country the Swede got a little serious and she said "The difference I notice about Americans is your confidence. We've been all over and it's just not like that elsewhere". Her Austrian friend nodded emphatically. —T.M.

How can people disagree with President Obama's policies yet have confidence with him?

There were major depressions in 1921, 1929, 1961 (not as big), and 1981. In 1921, the depression may have been worse than the Great Depression but it lasted only a year because Harding and Coolidge cut taxes, let banks and businesses fail, cut domestic spending, and let our industry do its thing.

In 1929, Hoover tried spending our way out, which FDR did much more of, and it made the Great Depression worse than it needed to be and last longer than it needed to last. WWII got us out of the Depression.

In 1962, John F. Kennedy cut taxes and let industry do its thing. We recovered.

In 1982, Reagan cut taxes and let industry do its thing. Even while outspending the Soviets, we rebounded.

Now, with no industry to rebound, Obama is handicapped; but massive spending -- with a projected deficit of more than $1 trillion a year -- and printing our own money while borrowing the rest, how can we come out of this?

We're sinking, like the Titanic. Those who maintain faith in Obama are either clueless, partisan bigots, or worshipers. —H.Z.

I find your commentary extremely naive because of the following:

Not all POW's were treated well in WWII. My father, who served under Gen. Patton, personally captured two German soldiers in North Africa. He took them to a POW camp operated by the Navy. When he arrived, my Dad tried to turn them over to the Office in Charge who said that there was not room for any more prisoners. Dad could not keep them any longer as he was simply a private who had no authority to do otherwise. As he turned to walk away, he heard two "pops". Turning back, he saw that the officer had shot both of the Germans in the head. Point being that there were bad things that happened then.

During WWII, there were Geneva Convention rules that maintained that soldiers had to wear uniforms to identify themselves. Caught behind enemy lines and out of uniform, they would be considered spies and would be summarily executed.

By the time that Viet Nam came along, the rules were tossed out. One of my best friends was killed by a bomb that had been attached to a little child whom my friend was trying to help.

Today, we have an enemy who does not confine his agression to military targets, does not wear a uniform for indentification purposes, and observes no rules of conduct nor morality. He would just as easily kill your grandchildren as he would our soldiers.

I would think that 911 would be enough evidence of what I just said. To me, anything that we can do to prevent more of the same is justifiable.

On the issue of the world's opinion of us, who cares? When they are oppressed, it will be us that they run to, just as it has been for the past 100 years. —R.W.

As a California resident of 40 years, I along with most of my neighbors will be driven from our homes and the state of California if and when Prop 13 is repealed. As I young home owner back in 1979, Prop 13 enabled us to live in Marin County. Your disdain for that measure does not sit well in this household, although you are correct in that California is proposition-happy, clueless about paying for ballot measures.

You fail to mention that Californians pay billions in schooling and caring for illegal aliens. Anyone who lives in the real world in this state sees services being offered gratis when taxpayers are not eligible for the very same. Long lines tie up our post offices daily, as Mexicans buy money orders to send home. The school systems have been dragged down by catering to the lowest common denominator. Hospitals offer English as a second language and are too busy with freebees to notice anyone else.

When the schools are asked for fiscal and teacher accountability, the books and teacher records are not available for public review. The first thing the current governor did after his election was to put two measures on the ballot asking for school accountability. Why such measures would be necessary, is a mystery to many of us. We believed that such information belongs to the taxpayers. Nevertheless, the teachers unions came up with $millions to defeat those measures using a battalion of misinterpretations to side track the voters. No one in the media or general public ever asks where the unions get the wherewithal to fund ballot measures for every election and issue non-stop rebuttals in the major media of anything that asks for accountability.

Accountability is the key failure here, for individuals, the state mad the nation.

The late, great state of California, indeed! —W.M.

Of course, you don't realise what you have when you are young. You can't imagine that, amidst all of your insecurities, you will never be as inspired or full of great expectations ever again. Moreover, you have your health, your energy and your good looks, and are not yet plagued by all of the aches and pains that begin to encroach in middle age. For a brief springtime in life, all you have to worry about is yourself and your own goals. It is only over time that many of those same goals morph into the major responsibilities of family and career. There is no staying forever young, no matter how you attempt to cultivate a winning attitude, and all any of us can ultimately do is take a bittersweet look back at our own youth.

As a former fellow professor who has now retired, I can tell you that profession is in the process or drastic redefinition and retrenchment, just like your other field of mass communication, as universities are being run more and more like corporations with fewer tenured positions and more disposable parts in the form of poorly-paid temporary adjuncts. The future I see in higher education is one in which the classroom experience is largely replaced by flat screen monitors and keyboards, and a small cadre of teaching superstars from a few elite institutions replace most lecturers on campuses across the country. Students will keep their own hours, live where they choose and view lectures on DVD's or internet downloads. The human interaction between teacher and student, which we like to think will save our jobs, will be carried out on line, via e-mail or chat rooms. Tests and assignments will be completed via the internet as well. I'm not saying the technology offers a superior experience for the students, I'm saying that economics will drive the change, which I already see happening, just as newspapers are succumbing to the internet and reporters are being eclipsed by bloggers. American society twenty years from now was not imaginable twenty years ago. (And, don't get me started on the transformations in my own fields of molecular biology and biotechnology.)

I think that, within your lifetime, the University of Southern California will be more like the University of Phoenix than you or I care to realise. For what it's worth, your current column makes for a very nice commencement address over the internet, the kind we'll be seeing a lot more of twenty years from now. —M.O.

Hello, I enjoyed your presentation in this mornings' advocate...on the various views on Obama...particularly the review of Charles Krauthammer's rather pathetic presentation of about a week ago. Our newspaper has its share of writers that are often on Fox News...and one always wonders if there is a genomic difference between the polical right and the left? Anyway, Your columns are always well done. —E.W.

Mr. Reeves: What! You're whining about criticism of Obama? My God. As I recall, our former president, George Bush literally could not put his foot out of the shower stall in the morning without being criticized for getting up in the morning -for eight years. You were one of the ones doing it. I don't recall anything but distaste and disdain from your columns concerning anything to do with Bush or anything having to do with conservative thinking; but the two aren't necessarily compatible.

By the way, Obama is still blaming Bush for everything and will continue to do so as long as it works and the idiots of this country who don't pay attention to anything believe it. —Anon.

Like you, I hope Obama will change his disastrous war and Wall Street bailout policies. Our predator attacks in Pakistan are having the same effect as our Viet Nam war raids on Cambodia. Using our growing debt to pay off CDS contracts is insane. —R.C.

An informative but incomplete piece.

Why ignore the root cause of this mess? Decades of imaginary wealth was created by giving home loans to people whose (potential) wealth couldn't match the real value of what they owned. —B.S.

It matters not to you that the United States has the finest health care in the world? The European model and Canadian model is for the most part not that good. We don't ration our medicine, and with the health problems that your family is having, you can't afford to have an operation or procedure put off.

I work in the medical field as a owner of a medical Staffing company that specializes in Physicians, I have been dealing with the American Health System for almost 30 years.

The best testimonial I ever got in regards to our system is from a Surgeon in the 80's you said quote "the genius of the American Health system is that you can have a general surgeon in rural West Virginia, and because he is in business as well as the hospital being in business, he needs to keep up with the latest techniques in surgery and has access to the latest technology provided by a 50 bed hospital in which he refers patients. You cannot find that anywhere else in the world. "

Richard, since the 80's I have credentialed literally thousands of physicians in the whole of the United States from rural facilities to University Medical Centers. And for the last 15 years the quality assurance programs in place by the hospitals themselves has created a group of Physicians quality wise unrivaled in history. Every aspect of their past and present medical practice is scrutinized for quality a nd it is already recorded locally and nationally. Don't believe all the malpractice crap, yes there are glaring medical mistakes, and the patients are due just compensation, but the laws in many States have set up summary judgment boards and have limited the liability on malpractice policies and awards and judgments thereby chasing away the nuisance suits that plagued our healthcare system.

Richard, the most likely solution to the healthcare mess, and I do agree that the insurance premiums are much too high to be affordable, are the Health saving accounts. This reduces premiums in half for a young person or a young healthy family. It also allows everybody that is employed to have a portable policy. It will create the competition needed to bring the prices of health care down naturally through the market. It is working in many places now, but since it is not a popular option, it is totally under used.

I hope you read my responses, I do love your columns and hope you hear my side! —C.R.

Hi: For the very first time in years I was excited about issues you raised about the need for some form of universal health care for all. My son, John, has worked for years as a bartender without health care, and just as you wrote he pays at the very highest rates when he has to visit a physician or healthcare facility, when compared to my Medicare charges enforced by the agency. I should add that I am married to a German, and I am somewhat familiar with the good and efficient care for all citizens and guest workers there. The healthcare lobby here seems to convince almost everyone that their social net does not allow any choices, is very slow, and worse yet, is not good medicine. So write some more please.

Incidently, you must be from Jersey. I checked your home page and saw connections with Hoboken and Phillipsburg. I grew up in Lyndhurst, and after working as a printer in NYC for seven years, and with the help of the GI Bill, I eventually became a professor of geography-climatology at Syracuse, Berkeley, Rutgers, and LSU. An American story at its best. —R.M.

We need something better, no doubt. HOWEVER, I am 60 years old & in thankfully good health :: 6 ft. tall, 170 lbs., never smoked, very light on alcohol, on no medication, never in the hospital, still run 25-30 miles per week & go to the gym.

Why should I pay the same for health insurance as someone who is 60 lbs. overweight, smokes 1-2 packs of cigs per day, drinks a case of beer every week and is glued to his couch? And may already be on some medication because of previous poor behavior. He MADE those choices HIMSELF. Do not penalize me for it. I have not burdened the health care system for more than a few nickels my entire life. —S.A.

I recall watching, in a crowed theater, the great movie "As Good As It Gets", staring Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt. With a sick child, little money and dealing with a bureaucracy gone insane, Hunt's character turns to her mother and says, "God dam HMO's!'. The theater audience cheered. Now the president, congress and you want to turn the entire healthcare system into one, gigantic HMO. Why? —B.S.

I really get weary of these throwaway quotes that pundits like to use to make their points.

"When over the past 60 years did the American economy grow the fastest? The 1950s and 1960s when the top marginal tax rate was a now-unthinkable 90 percent. And when over the past generation did the economy grow fastest? The 1990s when President Bill Clinton briefly took taxes to 20 percent of the Gross Domestic Product."

You know very well that the 50s and 60s prospered the way they did because of a huge pent up demand for goods and services not available during the War and all those men coming back to the work force during that time when the manufacture of consumer goods including automobiles boomed. You are also fully aware that no one paid that 90% rate. The rich were too busy sheltering their money in essentially useless tax shelters, and investing in tax exempt bonds.

And remember that President Clinton himself said that he should not have raised taxes as high as he did. I firmly believe that it was his administration's brilliant management of the country's debt that had a lot to do with the success of the economy and then of course we had the boom until it became the dot.bomb bust. —E.C.

Thank you for continuing to do your work so well. I hope you never retire. I can't say that I have been a life-long fan as I only discovered you in 2000/2001 when I was desperate to find ANY opinions in the media that weren't tainted by the oncoming tsunami of neo-conservatism. How could so many Americans have been mislead? I still shake my head in wonder sometimes. I've followed your articles over the years and can't recall a single time that I mostly disagreed with your opinions. It's hard to counter facts and you obviously do your homework before writing for the public. Anyways (sorry, Jersonics...), I know you probably will not even read this as you most likely have people to do that for you but in case you do here's one proud and loyal and (slightly) liberal American who thinks you are doing a great job. —R.B.

I agree 100% with you, even though I voted Republican most of my life. It just seems to me that in the last 20 years, the so-called religious right has hijacked that party. Admittedly, I wasn't paying very much attention politically, but now I am. I think the public must constantly be reminded of the horrible deficit President Obama inherited from Bush.

I also think the press, particularly the TV press, if the term isn't an oxymoron, is almost as much a part of our problems as the banks and Walmart. They are creating a downward spiral of despair. Unemployment figures are compared to the 80's, not the Great Depression. Many of the stock20market figures are compared to the 90's, so it would seem to me that if there should be less concentration on reporting everything bad, and not balancing it. The same seems to be true of crime. TV loves the gory and dramatic, but they don't balance it very often with a story that shows the goodness that's out there.

At any rate. I enjoyed reading your column - keep them coming!!! —A.K.

Coward! —L.W.

This, I believe, is your finest and most important commentary in some time. I'm reminded of play write Arthur Miller, when he said, "The world owes a great deal to his lies", referring to President Roosevelt's deception of the American people prior to WWII and his intentions to join with England to defeat Hitler's Germany. In this case, the opposite must happen. The President must not escalate the war.

Any who think we should win in Afghanistan should first read George Crile's, Charlie Wilson's War. No foreigners are ever going to change these people. Also of interest is Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos by Robert D. Kaplan. Kaplan gives us plenty of examples of why a president must, at times, be able to lie. Recall President Clinton's assurances that we would be in Kosovo for less than a year. Mr. Clinton knew fully that to end the blood shed would require much more time. I believe we're still there.

Next in reading order I would recommend any of Dr. George Freidman's analyses' of global politics: America's Secret War and most recently The Next Hundred Years.

I didn't support President Obama, but if he does as you suggest, I will be the first to applaud. —B.S.

Your column on Afghanistan was sensible and wise. It seemed our initial mission in Afghanistan was to get Bin Laden and his associates, nothing more. Unfortunately, Rumsfeld et al failed at Tora Bora.

I hope President Obama reads this column. —T.F.

When responding to your commentary, it is important to me as a person, as well read as I may fancy myself; must always remember that you have courageously been to these areas of conflict, be it Afghanistan or Washington. —C.R.

I really do not disagree with our assessment of Bush except in this -- America in 2001 was already on the road to where it is now. NAFTA and the trade deal with Red China had already sent most of our manufacturing and industry overseas, with perhaps another four million at least to depart under Bush. Clinton had already surrendered our national sovereignty over to the international corporations, as Bush would surrender ours on the oceans to the United Nations. Harding, Coolidge, Kennedy and Reagan had an industry to depend on, and FDR had our industry to rescue him, from Depressions, but now, thanks to Clinton and Bush, that industry is gone, and all President Obama CAN do is spend money to get us out of this Depression (which didn't work the first time) because there is no industry left to galvanize to our rescue.

Our political leaders for decades have been selling this country out in the name of free trade and globalism. Give Bush his share of the blame, but do not lay it all on him. He was only the latest in line, and I do not see President Obama doing anything to change our downward slide. —H.Z.

Bush said, only half jokingly, that we "misunderestimated" him. He's right! No one I know underestimated him to anywhere near the degree of his disgraceful and disastrous presidency. Worse, he joins history's mass murderers Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Olmert. —R.C.

Respectfully. Are you serious... "devastating climate change"? You're watching too many bad sci-fi films and listening to the global warming (oops, climate change) industry at the exclusion of the growing number of researchers who realize that what we're going through is a natural rhythm.

Comparing a potential war (a very real possibility) with a devastating climate change (pop culture silliness) makes you, one of our best political observer's, sound hysterical. —B.S.

I will give it to you, that Barack is showing great competence in the transition. But in order to achieve the permanent majority, he will need to override the excruciating Democratic structure that includes such factious luminaries like Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and especially the man with hoof and mouth Barney Frank.

This level of Reprisal politics will turn off the electorate and they will swing back to a much more rational and grounded Republican Party. I do agree with Mort Kondracke, the party must move away from entertainers who are not that entertaining anymore Rush Limbaugh and Shaun Hannity; Anne Coulter is entertaining in the way Al Franken is, but God forbid she runs for office. This too will hurt the Democrats as it should. —C.R.

Two quick responses from your column on the Obama transition...

1. I'm not defending George Bush, but I still don't understand how or why the last eight years was the Worst Eight Years of Human History as everyone contends, and I wonder if this is a case of hindsight being 20/30? The lives of most people I know improved drastically over the last eight years, whether they realize it or not. How or why people prosper has little to do with the presidency. America *is* the mechanism for growth and achievement, not the government. I'm just confused as to why we have to sweep all of the great things that happened in the last eight years under the rug.

2. We don't know anything about Obama. We might get "better leadership" or we might just get more liberalism. Liberalism continues to prosper no matter who is president. It prospered under Bush, too. I live in a rural area so I don't see great changes occurring, but I have seen a gradual move to the left throughout my life. Are we more liberal than we were in 1990? Yes. Are we more liberal than we were in 2000? Again, yes. So, in other words, we can't simply trash the last eight years and yet say the next eight are going to be fabulous. To me we'll just be an even more liberal nation after Obama, and the scariest thing I've ever seen in my life-time didn't come out of the Bush administration, but maybe it was a result of it, and that is that I have now seen America throw open its arms to socialism as well as embrace the most inexperienced and completely unknown person to seek the presidency in our history--and make him President. Thank you, yellow journalism. America, Home of the Whiny. We may not have a president during this transition because one is immobilized and one has no constitutional powers yet, but run for the hills after Jan. 20 if you're an individualist, a conservative, or if you hate the nanny state, because here comes the nanny! Who knows if the individual or the private sector will have any power eight years from now at all. I'm pretty much shaking in my boots about the next eight years, and suddenly I wish I could go back and live the last eight again, because they were pretty good to me. —M.I.

I'm curious about this Les guy. Does his Bible (if he has one) have the words to Exodus 20:16 crossed out?

My dad told me that you had said that Obama was the Antichrist, and that he read it in your column, Richard.

I don't think he took the time to notice that you were quoting someone whose lies you were vilifying. I had to set the record straight for him, but I worry that millions of others like my Dad are looking at that column and thinking the same thing. It's embarrassing that the father of two teachers cannot pay any better attention to what he's reading than that. It worries me to think that he's not the only one.

For McCain's own sake, I hope he does not win the election. He'll have to spend the rest of his life knowing that he won on the basis of lies and hatred. He'll know that he won because the very people who destroyed him in South Carolina in 2000 are now attempting to destroy Obama. He'll know that those people own him. He'll owe those liars and hate-mongers=2 0his presidency. Just like GW has owed them for resorting to lies to get elected and re-elected (or is that appointed and elected?).

Thanks for the column. One thing: I'm glad my Dad brought your words to my attention. It's a shame he convinced himself that you said Obama is the Antichrist. —S.P.

It's a mistake to equate, even rhetorically, the Obama campaign's calling McCain 'erratic' with the McCain campaign's more sinister stuff. Yes, you do say that what McCain's is doing is worse - as if admitting something obvious was a real insight. But you put the two things in the same category, which is simply wrong. Calling McCain 'erratic' may be blunt, and may also be good politics for Obama, but it happens to be true. McCain has been remarkably erratic during this campaign, changing his mind 180 degrees more than once, often in very short order - sometimes in the same sentence! His choice of Palin was incredibly irresponsible and risky; I'd call that 'erratic'. Calling McCain what he (unfortunately) *is* simply is not categorically the same as calling Obama what he is not, eg unpatriotic, a terrorist, etc.

You press guys have been utterly snowed by McCain all these years. I gather than McCain can be charming and funny in person, and those of you who know him personally, at least somewhat, understandably have a hard time being objective. But if you look at his record without bias, this - the current public man, rather than the honorable version of himself you - and he - like to talk about - *is* the 'real' McCain.

I like some of your work, Mr Reeves, and I don't mean to be rude. But so many of us out here are slowly being driven crazy by this sort of myopia - this rigid, effectively aggressive, insistance on seeing every political question as 'balanced', as reflecting a DC consensus - a consensus which has been utterly extinct for many years - no matter the situation. No, we aren't all 'speaking in code'. McCain IS erratic. —J.B.

It is sad to hear about people struggling to make ends meet; it is nothing new in our history, but my heart goes out to anyone in a financial bind, especially people who live in areas with very cold winters, like the northeast USA. My concern is with your column is the last paragraph, which seems to (again) ask the politicians in Washington DC to "help us". As President Reagan said, "government is not the solution; government is the problem". Just looking at the fuel-price situation alone, we can place much of the blame on the politicians in Washington DC, including the following:

(1) no new oil refineries in this country since the 1970's; (2) offshore drilling banned by the politicians; (3) the ANWR is off-limits to drilling; (4) millions of acres of land with vast coal and natural gas reserves have become unavailable by the left-wing politicians' turning them into "national parks"; (5) the use of ethanol which costs more to produce and is more polluting than refining petroleum; (6) the cost of corn has gone way up due to the politicians' love affair with ethanol.

I could go on, but you get the point. Let's get the politicians off our backs, reduce government spending, waste, and unnecessary programs. We need an effective term-limits policy too. The longer a politician is in Washington DC, the more he or she compromises their principles, lines their own pockets, and makes pay-offs to the special-interest groups that keep funding their re-election campaigns. God save us from such people! —R.R.

To the "newly poor" in America,

Where did all your money go? How about this for starters, over 60 cents of every dollar spent by your government in the last years has gone to the military for new F22 jets, new ships and new bombs to blow up. Hope you enjoyed the show and feel you got your money's worth.

Now what about the other 40 cents? —L.B.

I don't completely buy into your McCain-Kennedy comparison because the description of Kennedy's actions vis-a-vis Cuba is not complete.

Kennedy supported the Bay of Pigs invasion four months into his term and then walked away while insurgents he supported where fighting on the beach. The Bay of Pigs invasion helped bring on the Cuban Missile Crisis 18 months later. Was it Kennedy's gut or thoughtfulness that provoked the Bay of Pigs? As to the Cuban Missile Crisis, it was a game of nuclear Chicken and Khrushchev blinked first. Did Kennedy's thoughtfulness or gut initiate the game? —J.S.

I too am an American and spent the 4th of July in Paris as I do every year since I live here. I too spent some time on the 4th reading de Tocqueville and oddly enough came upon this same passage in his book which you quoted in your column- I even underlined it- so I was very surprised.

Here is another quote from him about a 100 pages further on in the same book:

"For fifty years the inhabitants so the United States have been repeatedly and constantly told that they are the only religious, enlightened, and free people. They see that democratic institutions flourish among them, whereas they come to grief in the rest of the world; consequently they have an immensely high opinion of themselves and are not far from believing that they form a species apart from the rest of the human race."

Watching the upcoming presidential election campaign I am always surprised to hear that at the end of almost every political speech the politician ends with some like "God bless America, the greatest country on earth."

Le plus ça change.... —L.B.

Thank you. Thank you. This needed saying and you did. This should be on billboards on every highway in the U.S.A. It should be proclaimed from every forum. —A.L.

I read today's column and was appalled by how a man of your age could be so nave. Also, your bashing of President Bush is not really relevant to your point, and belies your true motives.

As to the subject of your column, you are clearly wrong about a draft. You should not even use the draft to make a point. Using the under-trained National Guard was bad enough. Modern wars require highly trained and skilled professionals who want to be there. Whether the war is "just" or not, we want our professionals doing the fighting. The fact is, retaining our trained veterans is a balancing act with supplying post-service benefits. The GI bill was not effective until AFTER the war. I would let the Generals tell us what is needed, not the politicians and certainly not the press.

Your column does not mention the substantial re-enlistment bonuses being offered and accepted by our soldiers.

I don't know how much time you have actually spent with our military. I assume, not a lot. I firmly believe that anyone that has spent any time at all with our officers and soldiers would write such words.

Prior to a year ago, I had never set foot on a military base or even talked to anyone serving in the military. I was 4F for the Vietnam draft. Even so, I have always respected the sacrifices of made in past wars and battles.

In the last year, while volunteering to fly wounded soldiers and their families, I have had the honor of spending many days on Army bases, with active duty officers and enlisted men, meeting wives and families and helping the severely wounded. Last Thursday I watched President Bush spend virtually all day reviewing the troops and individually consoling the families of fallen heroes for well over an hour. There is no finer group of dedicated Americans than our Military. Everyone I have met is dedicated, highly-trained, well-mannered and wants to be there.

I was most impressed with the management of the battle units. Only the politicians and the press can keep us from winning. I had no idea what any of this was like until now.

I encourage you to find time and a way to investigate this for yourself. If you want, I will contact you when I am again working with the wounded and the officers and solders that I greatly respect. I will come and get you and take you with us. —C.T.

Whether one opposes this War or not, only a damn fool or a leftist provocateur would casually dismiss the impact that an offer of a 4 year college "ticket", upon completion of a 3 year military enlistment, would have on both overall force strength, and on the retention of skilled non-coms. And I'll begin to take your particular concerns for the troops and their mission seriously, as soon as most of them start agreeing with you, and as soon as the media "5th Column" begins honestly reporting on the undeniable progress that is being made in Iraq.

Right now most Americans and the vast majority of these valiant men and women are convinced that the Left media is once again, where it is usually to be found; that is on the wrong side of this conflict. This includes the thoroughly scurrilous NY Times, which in its latest, utterly duplicitous editorial attack on Bush [over the same GI Bill], failed to even mention that both the President and John McCain were pushing alternative, more-flexible legislation, which incidentally was endorsed by the top military echelon. The Propaganda Times and the noxious Keith Olberman now pass for "honest" opinionating within the confines of the Left.

Goebbels would be so proud. —J.M.

Very good column.

You left out the most sickening of all. You dealt with the young people who come home healthy.

1. Our culture is not preparing young people for the reality of violence - they have been fed twenty years of movies and computer games, and most of them are from the suburbs and have never been in a real fight. So, they come home with PTSD.

2. Our culture is not preparing young people for the depravity of the economic hit men mentality, and for the way others see America. So, they come home with PTSD and missing limbs and brain damage.

3. Our government is refusing to diagnose PTSD, let alone treat it. Medical care for other problems is disgraceful and often withheld, or offered if the young soldiers can pay for them.

It is a measure of the sheer stupidity of this administration that it follows a militaristic policy and then sh-ts on the veterans. It parallels their energy policy.

I am generally a supporter of George Bush, however, I must say you are so Right On in terms of what our men and women in the service deserve from our country and all of us.

If what they deserve requires a little SACRIFICE (and I mean little) from us all as a whole and even trickling down to a little financial pain individually, Right On.

Guess what; I bet the overwhelming majority of Americans would consider it a privilege to do their part in seeing to it that veterans have first class uncompromising medical attention and GENEROUS educational opportunities for the veterans individually and even extending, as appropriate, to their families.

If this will interfere with retention then so be it. The retention problem should be a separate unrelated matter. In fact it should be obvious the answer to retention beyond the short term is treating our military with respect, with pride and gratitude and giving them their practical due!

Of course we must be conscious of economic necessities and constraints designing a program for our military but that's where our sacrifice comes in.

Well said, thank you. —M.S.

The fear that by giving the veterans a much fairer GI Bill will adversely affect retention in our forces is true. A similar fear was heard when the Czar released the serfs in Russia. Another was when Lincoln created legislation that made the settlement of our west would be detrimental to the owners of the mills in New England fearing they would lose labor which would result in higher wages for those remaining. Of course Bush's War is not one in which there is full citizenship participation. Our forces consist of the nation's economic under-class, our blacks, Hispanics and what I read one commenter call them "White trailer park trash." I served as an enlisted person and experienced the disdain and contempt directed at me every time I chose to wear a uniform when away from my base. I also served for about eighteen months as a recruiter in Brooklyn. We who did this work knew where to find potential enlistees and what areas to avoid- the affluent areas.

I was once asked by a civilian if I was serving because I was wanted by the police? (At the time the services did not accept felons.) It was because of this experience that I was upset reading the services desperate for new blood are accepting enlistees having a criminal record knowing all those serving would be tarred with the same brush despite never having had a criminal record. Military conscription was fairly well used during World War 2 in putting all economic groups in our forces. Shortly thereafter there became successful efforts by some who chose to avoid serving or serving in combat. The Air Force and the Coast Guard were such hiding places. The latter had previously served such a role though it was put in the Department of the Navy and thus many of those who had hoped to avoid combat actually ended up as coxswains on invading boats such as actors Cesar Romero and Victor Mature. No service amassed the casualty rate during WW2 as did those who flew over Europe with the Army Air Corps- one in eight died. But those stationed in bases far from the combat zone had an easy war as seen in England where the only combat experienced was the race riots in town by soldiers fighting over local girls. This lesson was not lost by the time of the Korean War when draftees chose options other than the Army. The other services took advantage of this by signing these recruits to a four year enlistment compared to the two years required by the Army. And all this soon descended downhill by the time LBJ started the Vietnam War and a potential draftee could hide in college or the non-deployed National Guard.

Ironically many of those who played a major role in starting the latest fiasco in Iraq had such a resume by loving the war provided others do the fighting. I need not give names here as they are well known. But the most ironic of all positions is this group leads in opposition to the reinstitution of the draft knowing if this did indeed happen we would soon see a revisitation of the demonstrations of the 60s. Nixon knew there was very little opposition to conscription until LBJ attempted to tap into the large pool of those hiding in college which resulted in the colleges erupting into violent opposition. He ended the draft but by then it was too late as anti-war sentiment had taken hold in the nation's mind. In summing up my life as an enlisted man I can truthfully say 'there are few other jobs or professions which suffers the contempt and disdain as does those serving in our enlisted ranks." And all the gung ho, exuberant, bellicose, patriotic statements by Reagan's admirers or the Boeing TV ads changes my opinion. —S.B.

Presidential Judgment: It is critical! We have seen what the lack of it can do to our country these past years. Hillary, though far superior to Bush, is weak on judgment. You know the examples of that better than I do. After years in Viet Nam, I went to law school in Florida and took the bar exam here about the same time Hillary took it in DC. She failed! How could this smart Yale graduate fail a bar exam? She no doubt knew what topics would be tested. But there is one key difference between law school exams and bar exams. In law school you only spot and discuss "issues", where the bar exam requires you to state and explain probable resolution of the situation presented. In other words it's a test of both knowledge and judgment.

I was assigned to Clark Air Base, Philippines in 1962. It soon became apparent to me that my mobile unit would be deployed to Viet Nam on ostensibly "temporary duty". JFK tried to pretend we were not fully engaged in the Viet Nam struggle--that we were somehow just "advisors". Apparently, this fiction is still widely believed today, with LBJ given "credit" for that misbegotten war. It's true, he dropped all pretenses and escalated our role, but we were already fully committed. —R.C.

Obama teaches constitutional law at a top law school. Hillary took the DC bar around the time I took the Florida bar and assume they are similar. I'm sure she knew all the legal principles that would be tested. We all memorized them. But the bar exam differs from a law school exam in that it requires judgement. The applicant has to state the principles of law involved in the situation presented then do something not previously required: explain which party would be likely to prevail and why. About 80% of applicants pass. She, a Yale graduate yet, failed. She has shown poor judgment with an asinine health care plan in the Clinton administration, again in voting to give Bush the power to decide on invasion of Iraq (a legal no-no as Congress by constitutional law cannot delegate its power to declare war) and recently by threatening to wipe our Iran. I pray to God our Beloved Country does not get this incompetent as its president. —R.C.

Regarding "It's Race, Stupid!"

Kudos for calling out the "electability" code-word.

If anything, I'd be more blunt--you said it's about race, but didn't use the word racist. What those casting doubt about Obama's electability are really saying is "I'm not a racist, but there are enough racists out there that we should override the primary results to accommodate them." You have to be suspicious of any statement that starts with "I'm not a racist but..." —F.B.

Really excellent column. Most concise explanation of the Democrat nominating process I have seen.

Something to think about:

Economic scholars have a strong consensus on what caused the great depression and why it lasted much longer in the US than in other developed countries.

  1. A large increase in the marginal tax rates (Hoover signed the repeal of the Coolidge tax cuts) at the start of a serious recession.
  2. A trade war (Smoot-Hartley tarriff signed in 1930 by Hoover).
  3. US money supply contracted during a serious recession.
  4. Increased business regulation & changing the rules of the business game again and again (Roosevelt) helped prolong the great depression.

We have the start of a recession coupled with serious inflation. The Federal Reserve is literally shoving money out the door. But the democrats are all promising (and have voted in their budget plans and floor votes to):

  1. Have a massive increase in marginal tax rates at the start of a serious recession
  2. Have started a trade war by ignoring US law in "fast track" consideration of trade deals submitted by the President. The 2 democrat candidates have also pledged to "renegotiate" existing trade deals.
  3. Congress & the 2 Democrats have pledged to bring about massive new regulation
  4. All three of the presidential candidates have pledged to impose a massive new tax on economic activity (carbon taxes).

If you talk to economists or read the business press carefully these topics are being discussed. But almost nothing is covered in the general press and certainly not in the headlines & TV news.

This witches brew of economic news has not been seen in the US at least since the late 1970s and probably not since the 1930s. —A.A.

Honest and accurate reporting / writing with a touch of Hollywood as a comedian?

"from the world's richest superpower to a poor laughing stock?"

You did learn better then this? Let it go let it go ... the hate will end up killing you ... not the USA sir. —D.B.

Wow, Richard; you sound like you may just become a superdelegate for the Republican party!

I agree with most of your accessment, Mc Cain is a sane alternative to what us Republicans have been subjected to for the last 7 years. I do not agree that America is a poor weak power with no international stature. Just not true. And by my soul and those I associate with, it never will be. —C.R.

McCain is either lying about Al Qaeda & Iran, or very mixed up, possibly because of listening to the people around him. He's getting scarier, not better. The presence of Norman Podhoretz is especially troubling. He also used some sanded-off Jonah Goldberg rhetoric Let's hope he meant what he said about war. Almost everyone around him hasn't learned any lessons from Iraq, and are gung-ho for war with Iran. I'll keep reading your columns, even though the McCain, and "The media are doing a good job" columns make me cringe. —M.W.

Your recent paean to McCain was impressive in terms of style and conviction, but misguided. The things that you say about him are, for most part, factually true. But the overriding, and by far the most important fact is stated near the end of of your article, namely: "McCain's votes in the Senate are often appalling". It stands to reason that anyone whose votes in the Senate are often appalling would make an appalling president. Moreover, even in the unlikely event that his position on issues will be transformed to become less appalling, he will still be beholden to the party that created our present appalling mess, with all its machinery still in place. The only way to undo this appalling record is in disbanding that machinery. The Democratic candidates may not be ideal - nobody is. But that's no excuse to settle for the truly appalling. —A.Z.

One of the reasons Barak Obama understands the racial issue so well is that he was raised here in Hawaii, where everyone belongs to a minority group. That does wonders for your perspective. —J.L.

Well written-from your heart and your head. And that is something we need integrated so that we have thinking hearts and feeling minds about the issues that really count. —B.C.

P.S. I still reread an essay you wrote in 1978 for my inspiration--"The Last Angry Men". And I received a response from one of the men you wrote about then, the Washington Post reporter who lost his job because of his beliefs-for unions.

I appreciated your views on Senator Obama's speech and it's relationship to our nation's historical racial situation.

It was a hopeful, open speech. I had some thoughts I wanted to share with you as I read your final sentences:

"This is not a sectional issue ... nor is it a partisan issue. This is not even a legal or legislative issue alone. ... We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the Scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution. If an American, because his skin is dark, cannot eat lunch in a restaurant open to the public, if he cannot send his children to the best public schools available, if he cannot vote for the public officials who represent him ... then who among us would be content to have the color of his skin changed? Who among us would then be content with the counsels of patience and delay?"

I was proud to be a young American when I listened to that all those years ago. I am proud of the progress we have made since then. I was proud as an old American to hear a black man, a politician, match them last Tuesday.

Last month, I had the privilege, as a white man, to give the opening welcoming remarks at the Sunday service of Hoskins Chapel in Big Sandy, Texas, one of four black churches in this small East Texas town. Hoskins Chapel will celebrate it's 122nd year as a congregation this month. The context of the service was the church's observance of Black History Month. The keynote speaker, a leading member of a large, historic black church in nearby Winona, Texas, astounded me with his presentation. The members and visitors to Hoskins Chapel that morning were equally astounded and moved by his presentation as well. Their reaction added to my feeling as well. He first reminded us of the many contributions that black people have made to our society and our world, mentioning many of the names that have now become familiar. But then, he launched into a series of statistics that showed how disappointed he was in current black society in America. Crime, unemployment, dropout rates, childbirth out of wedlock, etc., he went on and on! The congregation responded to these hard statements with fervor and agreement, with the typical lively interaction you see between speakers and their congregations in black churches. He did not blame white America or bemoan the lack of programs and funding, but rather, challenged his audience to take the responsibility to lead their families to turn these around and not wait for government to rescue them. He hammered on the breakdown of black families, pointing out that 5 out of 6 black families in the days after WW2 had both parents present, and that now, with government checks substituting for fathers, that that figure now stood at 2 out of 6. He pointed out that very few black children were in church anymore, even pointing out their dearth in our midst that day. He challenged the men to lead their families and show them the way. He was well aware of the advance in political and societal progress, and he was proud of that progress, as you related in your own statements above, but he also saw an increased poverty of spirit that cried out for change. And he didn't appeal to a party or a politician, but to a people. All in all, quite an astounding message and an astounding response by the congregation.

I share this all as a reminder that acceptance, toleration, integration, equality, political opportunity and representation are not the only benchmarks that need barometers. At least that was the message I got that day at Hoskins Chapel. —

Your column calls attention to the underlying reason for the broadest problem in the miserable current status of our governance and political discourse; namely, the lack of honest, principled leadership. In surveying the recent writings of Jim Hoagland, Albert Hunt, James Grant, Andrew Sullivan, David Brooks and many others, a large theme emerges: Despite enormous problems - Iraq, financial crisis, health care, nuclear proliferation, and so many others - Bush is "goofily happy" (per Maureen Dowd) and dreaming of the brown, brown grass of Texas. At least Cheney is smart enough to stay out of sight. The Democrats control both houses of Congress but are content to let the clock run out on the Bush crowd. The candidates routinely twist, distort and exaggerate every minute comment from any of the opponent's "surrogates" (don't you have to love that word?) while issuing the blandest and most meaningless statements on the big issues. Are they willing to say and do almost anything to further their election prospects? That goes without saying. Let's not debate Iran, North Korea, gun control, deficits - might lose votes there - instead let's joyously attack the rantings of "religious leaders" who have little or no connection to the candidates. Hell, let's throw the kitchen sink at them! We're entitled to win this thing because, well, we're entitled, dammit. Just install us in office and we'll tell you what's good for you then. I think it was LBJ who said some men want to get elected to do something and some want to be somebody. In the final scene in "The Candidate" Robert Redford, who has just won a long, nasty campaign for Senator, says to his handler "What do we do now?"

As James Grant says in the WaPo today, there's got to be a better way. —A.S.

"Mihi ignosce," or excuse me in Latin. Allow me to wade in with my own female perspective in this matter. I have to agree with Mr. Reeves that Spitzer's crime is "not victimless" because there exists an aggrieved wife with three young daughters. The prostitute is the least 'victimized' person here. She did her job and got paid very well for it. Predictably, she will make appearances, record some songs, write a book, and with luck, marry Zsa Zsa Gabor's demented husband. Or someone of that ilk.

But Spitzer's wife now has to get checked for sexual disease, his quiet daughters now will be stalked ad infinitum (just thought I'd throw in another trite Latin phrase), the family finances now a bit dented from 'miscellaneous' expenses, his own future murky as the fund transfers he executed many a time. All this for a short, spectacular romp (one has to assume by that price!) with a stranger.

There is no excuse for his behavior. The proverbial 'call of the wild' is not a call married men should act upon. Men who use prostitutes may get the much-needed ego boost or power trip with a busty hireling, but they also seriously endanger their spouse's health, their marriage, their profession, their reputation and most of all, they stand to lose their children's love and respect. Is it worth it?

As the great Einstein once remarked, "Only two things are infinite: the great universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the former." —M.T.

The crime the governor committed is not "victimless," as many liberals would have it. Here we go again with this "liberal" crap as though everything conservatives do is okay-like a senator soliciting sex in a men's room? The obvious victims of his behavior are his family. Using a prostitute's service is not a crime and the most obvious victim here is the prostitute. Don't forget, Spitzer and his wife are multi-millionaires.

And if there are obvious lessons to this mess, they are these:

  • Never stop wondering and asking why people want power and what they are likely to do with it. You may think the press is too tough on political figures. I would say we are not tough enough. Using this philosophy, eventually we would have no leaders and no one aspiring to be a leader.
  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.Isn't this old axiom convenient. Would YOU want your private sexual encounters made public? Every man, every woman has weaknesses and frustrations, some almost unbearable. But whatever the way of the world, there are real advantages to being decent, being nice to other people. What has this to do with the tale you're telling? This doesn't make any sense. Does being nice to other people preclude using a prostitute?

Perhaps it's a small thing in the larger scheme, but Eliot Spitzer was not a nice guy. Then, why did you all vote him Governor??? There were a lot of people waiting to be the second to kick him on the way down. Now they have their chance, and now he will learn how the other half lives. I thought you said, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you? I guess you didn't mean it. —C.W

Why do men do it? It's the 'call of the wild.' It is part of our genetic makeup. It is an irresistible urge that has helped primitive man thrive and become the dominant mammal on earth. There was an absolute need to bond with any and all available attractive females even if it meant eliminating other competing males to do it. It resulted in the survival of only the fittest males to evolve and rule our world. As society and religion took hold, there was a need to control these urges. But they are still in our genes. In fact, the more effective and successful the man, the more powerful the drive.

Eliot Spitzer is a very strong and successful man. The urge was overwhelming. To his credit, he tried to be discreet; to protect his family and his career. So he chose a means of getting a periodic release by obtaining the services of an organization that promised secrecy and anonymity. I am sure he still loves his wife. Had he had an affair with another woman, that would have been more dangerous.

Why do girls do it? The 'Oldest Profession' evolved as a result of genes as well. Early women had to learn to 'love' and accept each succeeding man who agreed to protect her and her children whenever she lost her last man because of abandonment, combat or the hunt for food. She needed security in a world dominated by men.

Why do the wives stand by their man? Security and status. See above.

When exposed, what should these people do?

a) The Man: Don't be intimidated. No speeches about 'Mea Culpa.' Like the French premier said in response to his love life, "This is a personal matter and I will not discuss it." He should explain to his wife and family the genetic needs and let them know they are still loved.

b) The Girl: Make the most of the notoriety. Make public appearances. Write a book. Get your 15 minutes any way you can. Help explain the above.

c) The Wife: Stand by your man. He's a winner. Help him get rid of his guilt and attacks from the public and from his hypocritical political enemies who themselves harbor the same urges. Women make a serious mistake if they automatically assume that the occasional 'release' equates to a loss of love and a need to dissolve the union. Even if the husband loves steak every night, he occasionally wants a hamburger. Try to learn as much as you can about erotic behavior and 'loosen up.'

d) Our Society: We have lost the services of some of the most effective men in our world by failing to recognize and accept the above and make accommodations for primitive urges. Other countries laugh at our obsession with these matters. —B.L.

You have put into words something I have felt about leadership and have not been able to express. What wonderful insight you have provided. —B.S.

You hit the nail on the head. I don't know how many times I hear how he or she is on the issues. We never know what the big issues will be.

Neither Bush nor Gore said a word about terrorism. No one expected Katrina (the worst national disaster in our history). We rearranged our government to combat terrorism and left us vulnerable to a hurricane by gutting the FEMA command structure.

I always pick a president by asking myself if I want to hear him in my living room for the next four years. That's why for the first time in my life I'm considering voting for a democrat; although I'm not sold yet. —M.S.

I just read your comparison of Hillary versus Barack. I don't typically seek out a writer to give my opinion. On a long drive this weekend, I was mulling in my head what you seemed to be able to put into words. I think you hit this nail right on the head. Wish I would have read your column on Friday, it would have saved me three hours of thinking about it in the car. Good article. —C.N.

Perhaps I am overly concerned - but I just don't get how the guy selling us that all-meaning thing called "hope" is going to be good for the country. His plans are truly not workable, too expensive especially for a nation that is outspending itself tremendously, he offers "inspiration and hope" as if they were tangible things when in reality all he's offering is nothing - it means something different to each of us - to the guy losing his home it means help is on the way, the mom wanting her son home from Iraq it means Obama's going to get him home as soon as he's in office...

We are a country teetering on the edge of so many issues - fiscally, financially, security-wise, diplomatically, politically ... and all I get from Obama is that he's offering "HOPE (FILL IN WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU)".

Talking, acting and dressing "presidential" doesn't mean he or she is the right one for the job. To be perfectly honest, I don't like any of the remaining candidates from either party - but Obama is the one I trust the least -- I can't trust someone who's selling me "hope" as if it were snakeoil/cureall.

I think as a nation we deserve better — I know we need better even if we don't deserve better! —K.C.

Excellent column on the eloquence of the candidates. Pure poetry! I'm a John McCain fan, have meet him twice, but I sure do like Obama just for the reasons you have described. —J.N.

In what is playing out as one of the biggest scams in Democratic party politics, the Republican party is covertly supporting presidential candidate Barack Obama. They know that the American people are not ready for an African-American president so they are using a different tactic to guarantee eight more years of Republican greed. Take a look at the constituencies that are supporting Obama and ask yourself how he could seriously be considered as representing the Democratic party. Political manipulations and machinations allowed Nader to let Bush steal the election in 2000 and now here we go again!!! —J.B.

I agree with a lot of what you say in this latest column. Especially because I'm a poet, adore words.

However, what a person does at the time is also important: Bush hiding behind a picture book on 9/11. Bush waiting to go to New Orleans.

Actions speak louder than words is the cliche. In terms of good leadership, both are needed, words to inspire, actions to imitate. —E.M.

This letter is in response to Senator Edward Kennedy's endorsement of Senator Barack Obama.

Until today, I was a strong admirer of the Kennedy family. However, this latest act by Edward Kennedy has completely changed my mind. It really amazes me that these two limousine liberals can put ego above party at the expense of bringing back the "rising tide to float all boats". Harry Truman once questioned John Kennedy's youth and inexperience but yet it was far more than what Obama brings to the table today. The late senator Lloyd Bensten is probably turning in his grave with the comparisons between Obama and JFK. Talk about hypocrisy; you never see any African Americans in those Kennedy home movies on Hyannis Port. Perhaps its because the closest they were allowed to come was to pick up the trash at the end of the driveway. —J.B.

Our mainstream news media share most of the blame for impotently standing by when the Bush administration started this latest mis-adventure in the distant sands of Mesopotamia. With that in mind, let us hope they do not repeat this by not putting McCain's feet to the fire of questioning his exuberant support for this war. When he tells us "I will never accept defeat" the question that he should be asked is "What defines defeat?" When he and his supporters tell us "we will never accept defeat" perhaps this does contain some Churchillian defiance but the British leader when he said that knew his enemies were legitimate, functioning nations with which a truce or surrender could happen. Such options do not exist when fighting this globally dispersed gang of religious zealots. Who will represent them when they surrender? Where would such an event occur? Can one leader, such as bin Laden, actually control all those now opposed Washington in what has become a US.S. war against Islam's billion plus adherents?

We should have learned something in our dealings with another global gang, The Mafia. It started in Europe 150 years ago; over 100 years here and it still exists despite losses to its leadership which are easily replenished by others because of its lucrative activities. —S.B.

I would think that when Edwards spoke of "two candidates who thought their money made them inevitable," he was referring to Romney, not to Obama. —C.M.

A quick point: I watched the Edwards speech and it was obvious to me that the two big-money losers he was referring to, although not by name, were Hillary and Romney. Always love your columns, have read most of your books. —P.M.

Excellent and very accurate. You are so right on this subject. The tragedy is that you had to write this column at all.

As an aside, I have a good friend in India and he believes that this was ordered up by the current president Musharraf. I don't know if he is right but he has warned me about "Mush" (his nickname) for years and I didn't believe it. I now have my doubts. Thank you, —R.W.

I am surprised to read your article. It shows that you understand the ground reality. Unfortunately your sympathy and interest lies only in America. We Pakistani-Americans are torn apart, when we see that American interest is not Pakistan's interest. Can we allow Pakistan to have even equal Power that we have given to any American state, and don't interfere. If we as an American can manage to behave and not impose people all over the world would love America. —K.S.

Here are some problems with your article:

We remember historically that a guy named Joseph Smith was talking to angels and found golden plates from God - which no one else ever saw -

By doing just a little bit of research (something I would expect of a true journalist, not just one trying to take a few jabs at Romney and his church) you will find that there were not one, not two, but eleven separate witnesses, people who personally viewed the golden plates and gave their signed testimony of them.

... that ordered the creation of a new religion.

Wrong again. The translation of the plates, known as the book of Mormon, did not "order" the creation of a new religion. Joseph Smith stated he received an angelic visitation from God the Father and Jesus Christ. They told him not to join any church. 10 years later in 1830 Joseph Smith stated he received revelation from God to found a new church.

Brigham Young ... was indicted for murder in a massacre of innocent farmers heading west on the Oregon Trail.

I mean, really, did you even do any research at all? Or did you just take your points from one of the many Anti-Mormon websites? Brigham Young was never charged (let alone convicted) with anything as far as Mountain Meadon Massacre was concerned.

As for us, we live in interesting times. I, for one, am thrilled by the diversity of the candidates in both parties. But I am appalled by the rise of public religiosity that I began looking into after my airplane encounter with a fellow "born again." It is people like him, and their evangelical fundamentalism, who have been determined to turn American democracy into a struggle between religions, values and cultures.

Romney has been forced to discuss his religion again and again and again by the media because the media wants to put his church on trial (including you IF you want to call yourself a journalist. This is the only article of yours I have read. I am not too impressed with the quality) . Of all of the candidates, including many on the liberal side, he has brought up religion and faith the very least and has instead focused on family values.

they have been a driving force in turning American foreign policy into a cultural-religious war with Islam, a horrific, deadly confrontation that will do neither side any good

Hmmm ... who wants to annihilate who in the name of God and their religion?

You are a very, very poor journalist. Your articles really does very little at all to shed any kind of information or commentary on the Romney speech. Instead, it is full of half-truths and lies about Romney's faith. I would consider a new profession if all you can do is crap out this garbage. —Anon.

Really enjoyed your article about Mitt Romney's speech. I am Mormon and, although I may not have enjoyed the thought of some of the less believable (but true! - you could write about some of the more strange things about most every religion) aspects being thrown on out on the floor, I appreciate that you caught the gist of Romney's speech. Most other journalists are trying to turn Romney's speech into a failed speech about Mormonism, which wasn't at all Romney's aim. Just as JFK's speech wasn't about Catholicism, neither was Romney's speech about Mormonism.

I do need to correct you on one thing: You present as fact that no one other than Joseph Smith saw the Book of Mormon's golden plates. That's just plain false. There is written testimony found in the front of every Book of Mormon that three others in addition to Smith saw the plates. Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris all saw the plates and wrote testimony accordingly. And although it's true that one of these three eventually left the Mormon church, he never denied seeing the plates.

Please check the facts of your story before you present it as fact. I think an update to your story is appropriate.

Otherwise, great article. —B.R.

I am saddened that a well-known author and journalist like you would add this kind of anti-mormon venom to the public discourse. Your article didn't have anything to do with the candidate, but rather the oddities of mormonism. Last time I checked, that is called religious bigotry. (For the record, not all of your 'facts' are correct either. Several witnesses wrote a document testifying that they saw and touched the gold plates that Joseph Smith translated. Look it up in that 'written record' that you had so much fun with.)

I want you to know, if you haven't already deleted this, that I agree with you that religious right is making this campaign into a contest of religion. I also agree with you that it is both annoying and frustrating to share an airplane with a preacher. But when you lump every person with a religious faith into the "religious nut-job" category, you're making a mistake.

I would classify your tone in the article as a sort of sneering arrogance. While I have enjoyed some of your boldness in the past, I am disappointed in you. I appreciated the sentiment and ideas behind some of your words. For example, you seem to value a separation of religion and politics. I couldn't agree more. Why then, in an article that must be classified as "political opinion" or something like that, do you feel justified in vilifying a certain faith, without mentioning a candidate's stance on policy? It kinda seems like you're chasing your own tail. —J.A.

PS, my dad is a mormon and a journalist and you're not half the man that he is.

I wanted to start off by saying I respect your opinion of the tenets of "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints". Your freedom as a writer to be able to freely state your opinion is one of the reasons that this country is so great and I respect that.

What concerns me about this column is your assertion below regarding Joseph Smith and his "gold plates" which the Book of Mormon was translated from:

"we remember historically that a guy named Joseph Smith was talking to angels and found golden plates from God - which no one else ever saw"

I understand why some people say statements like this because of bigotry or just plain ignorance. But, Mr. Reeves, knowing how well read you must be, to make incorrect statements such as this is irresponsible and frankly I am surprised that you would write that in your column. I am not asking you to believe these eleven men who testified they saw the very plates "no one else ever saw". But I am asking you to get your facts right. Every copy of "The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ" (120 Million to date in 106 languages) has this written on the third page:


Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken. And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true. And it is marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.
Oliver Cowdery
David Whitmer
Martin Harris


Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That Joseph Smith, Jun., the translator of this work, has shown unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship. And this we bear record with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shown unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken. And we give our names unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen. And we lie not, God bearing witness of it.
Christian Whitmer
Jacob Whitmer
Peter Whitmer, Jun
John Whitmer
Hiram Page
Joseph Smith, Sen
Hyrum Smith
Samuel H. Smith

I would appreciate hearing from you and asking you do more research before you write articles like this in such a widely read column, such as yours, and that so many people take as the truth. I am assuming this was an oversight and that you would correct this somehow. —J.M.

First off, I love your column and tend to agree with you on most subjects. I just read your column RELIGIOUS FREEDOM - THEN, NOW AND ROMNEY and I had a tip for you. Next time somebody approaches you and asks "Have you found Jesus?", just bug out your eyes and say: "Why, I AM Jesus". That should ward them off nicely. A good croupy-sounding cough works well too! —S.S.

Just read your article, "Religious Freedom — Then, Now and Romney". I liked it. I support Romney, however. —L.V.

I wrote to you about a year ago and told you I thought Rudy would get the nomination.You emailed back no not likely.

I realized that the terror issue would trump all else in voters minds for the security of their children's future.

You hit the nail on the head with the Republican candidates.If you remove Rudy we are left with a group of southern twangs and quiet frankly I hope not to hear a twang in the Presidency again for many years. As for McCain I will say what the media will not. McCain is too old .This is not the era Reagan inherited at McCains age.

The Democrats are no better. The Biden Dodd duo in my opinion propped themselves up as actors.

Obama is fine but he seems to be afraid to take on Hillary. If he cannot take on an opponent in the most important race in our country I fear he will not have the stuff to go head to head with a foreign leader.

Edwards is too slick and turns most off. Plus he has a twang. Hillary is the past. I envision Carville twanging all over the cable news programs. Plus she brings with her the all time twanger Bill Elvis Clinton himself.

I think Rudy and Obama have to get the nominations. Two polar opposites and no twangs! —Anon.

I bought your book "President Reagan", and I am almost finished reading it. I have a point to communicate to you regarding your writing:

Page 245. "... Mikhail Gorbachev ..., the first Soviet leader with college education."

I spoke with my father, Igor, and here is our opinion based on my dad's knowledge.

Vladimir Lenin - Lenin studied in Kazan University. He was kicked out from the Kazan University, as he was a brother to Alexandr Ulianov. Lenin's older brother, Alexandr Ulianov, attempted to assassinate czar. Lenin completed his studies at St. Petersburg University and became a lawyer well before the Red October. It is also noted that his marks/grades were exceptional.

Joseph Stalin - Stalin studied in a religious seminar - highest religious education establishment at that time. My father thinks that he was expelled due to his activities to fund the revolution.

Leonid Breznev - He studied in Denpropetrovsk(side by side city with Dneprpodzergzinsk - two cities separated by Dnepr river). We don't know, if he finished his education. However, my father believes that there is very little doubt that that soviet leader was denied his graduation.

The part that made me look into your statement is that it is generally believed that the soviet/red movement of Lenin and pre-Lenin time was born and hatched in the education circles. Many of the Soviet early leaders came from the universities. —Anon.

Read your recent article on Hilary Clinton "Her first ladyship and those bad boys". Excellent article and really enjoyed and agreed with your assessment. —K.H.

What a sad chapter in our history.

If we really want to end this stupid, wasteful war, let's just add a 10% surcharge to every American's federal income tax bill. Then we could watch all those macho blustering hawks turn into doves overnight.

But, please ... keep on keepin' on. —J.L.

Just read your recent Editorial.

Did you know there is a previous book about Korea called "The Coldest War" by James Brady. a memoir of that terrible time.

I also think that every American citizen, regardless of his politics should read "Fiasco" by Tom Ricks. The arrogance and ineptitude he describes is breathtaking.

I live in Bangkok and here, travelers also ask "Why?" Most Americans are shocked and sad. I did meet one Bush supporter in April and he was firm in his convictions. Lately he has softened his position.

I have another friend in NJ who loved Bush. (He also said that "Clarence Thomas is a brilliant jurist.") I got an email from that friend recently. He said, "Jan, you are right. Bush is an idiot." Too late for how many thousands? —J.P.

The fact that McCain seems to have forgiven Bush for that dirty Carolina campaign puzzles me too.

But I thought that by far the worst thing Bush did was to circulate rumors about McClain's black love child, who was of course the Tamil child he adopted. (Bush's denials of culpability are meaningless) Personal attacks are one thing, but an attack on one's family goes beyond the pale! How could this man of fortitude have bent over and taken it up the...(pardon the San Francisco expression) from someone of low character like W?

Perhaps Senator McCain is just another famous and powerful person who is also deeply strange. —T.B.

I always enjoy your columns. I have thought for a long time that the situation in Iraq is a total mess but there is no good way out. So, if the Democrats were to end the war by withdrawing funding, the Republicans would blame them for the total chaos and destruction that ensues in Iraq and perhaps throughout the region as well. As it is, this is all the Republicans fault. The Republicans are dying for the Democrats to share the blame. Not very courageous on the Democrats part but it is understandable. —T.B.

You say both "parties" think U.S. citizens are "uninformed morons." I'd suggest you're too chicken to say you believe they actually are uninformed morons.

The sad truth is people in this country are both uninformed and moronic. They, generally speaking, do not know how to think. And if they were able to think, they'd have to find some way to get the information necessary to make informed decisions. They won't get it from television, and they're surely not going to put together the amalgam of international sources needed to get any kind of realistic image of fact.

And the moronic is obvious when most people in the country care more about what happens in professional sports than they do about the death, destruction and wholesale human tragedy being created by their own government.

As I keep saying, the people of this country have the government they deserve — and they're going to keep having the government they deserve. —B.T.

You are such a lying democrat, with your snobby nose stuck in the air, that you have lied about Republicans for so long, you can't see the truth. Democrats in D.C. and New York cannot and will not see how you are so despised by the rest of the country. Democrats worship the dirty Clintons and all the trashy baggage they carry. They are so evil, wicked, and trashy, so guess thats what democrats love most. —D.M.

As for your point about science and the Bush administration's tendency to warp the facts to fit their ideology, I question whether the Democrats are any better, at least to the degree that it would make any material difference. If you believe virtually all the climate-change scientists, we have to cut our carbon output globally by 80 percent in the next 7 1/2 to 9 1/2 years or we are doomed.

So far, neither the Democratic Congress nor the Dem presidential candidates have proposed anything like the kind of cuts that are necessary. Sure, they're proposing lesser actions, but these are (again, if you believe the scientists) are actually worse than doing nothing, since they would waste resources but fall short of the absolute minimum 80 percent reductions in human CO2 output needed to prevent the triggering of several tipping points that will cause the planet itself to release catastrophic amounts of CO2 and methane into the atmosphere. At that point—in the near future—there is nothing mankind can do to save itself. There is no half-a-loaf solution here. It is truly all or nothing. Right now, it looks as if we'll get the nothing. And then none of the Dems' health-care proposals or education reforms or anything else will matter at all. On the whole, I think we may be better off with obvious scientific fakers in office than ones who are a little more enlightened but still not serious. —G.B.

"In other words, like Machiavelli, Cheney's great strength, his mastery of process, is also his great weakness. He does not know or care much about democracy."

And the fact that all his work and mastery of detail is for nought. His legacy is the death of thousands, the destruction of the Constitution, the diminution of American power and the possible demise of the GOP. He is a dark force that history will not view kindly. —S.C.

When I consider Cheney, I come face to face with pure evil. —R.C.

This country doesn't need a woman president, or a black president or a Jewish or a Mormon president. This country needs a GREAT president. —D.C.

The seldom voiced greatest fear in America today (at least for me) is the cancer of deficit spending and the already huge, unpayable, national debt. We are correctly considered a rogue nation by many non-americans. —R.C.

Oh come now if we quit acting like King Kong to the rest of the world how will we make democrats out of all of the nations that we are in financial hock to? Who will take over the military industrial gravy train. Without our constant finance outpour, our Nation might be able to start taking care of our own national finances and infrastructure problems which are going downhill at a rapid pace. —E.R.

Sir, I read your article on the Iraq War on "". Thank you for sharing it with us. I hope you won't be offended if I pointed out a couple of fundamental errors in the interest of helping improve future columns.

1. While it resides in North Carolina, Duke is not a southeastern school. By talking about it being in that "flag waving part of the country", you appear to assert that it reflects southeastern sensibilities. Duke is no measurement whatsoever of what the southeast part of the country thinks. I was talking to a brother journalist of yours from North Carolina last week and he explained how people in North Carolina see UNC-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State as their schools, and detest Duke, which they see as catering to elitist carpetbaggers. You can't construe anything at Duke as representing the Southeast.

I served in the Army for nine years, and didn't know of a single graduate of Duke in the military. In fact, I knew of almost no officers from any of the Ivies or faux Ivies. Eastern establishment types don't go for the Army, and haven't for decades; they think they're too good for it. It's a sad commentary that few rich people (especially liberal rich people) see this country as worth fighting and dying for — the officer corps has been heavily middle-class Republican since the Carter/Reagan years. This fact fits in with your excellent "Arrogance of the Entitled" column a few weeks ago.

2. The war isn't "lost" by the Americans, despite Senator Reid's decree. In fact, "winning" and "losing" at this point isn't very accurate. People who've spent any significant time in Iraq (as I have, albeit as a civilian, know that simplistic language for this complicated situation is inaccurate. The question is whether the Iraqi military and police can stand up, and whether their can be some political accommodation that preserves the peace. It's extremely difficult to get the political accommodation unless the military and police are strong, and more or less pluralistic and neutral. It's an open question whether/when that can happen. Nobody, least of all so-called experts who haven't been there, knows if it will be a success, but I've seen from pockets of success there that failure is not foreordained.

I suggest you get a hold of President Bush's speech and question & answer session in Grand Rapids, Michigan a few weeks ago. The President [very belatedly] gave a really good explanation of the war's progress and challenges. Of course, it went virtually unreported, because it didn't fit the media caricature of the President as a bumbling idiot. And arrogance, false emotion, entertainment and ratings — not truth — appear to be the coin of the realm in the mainstream television media today.

But you can be better than the television people who skew the truth so badly. You're obviously a brilliant man, and a skilled writer. Please use that tremendous ability responsibly. Thank you. —J.M.

Gee, and I thought our enemies had a say in the matter. We can try to quit all we want but it's not over until our enemies have had their way. If I was in al Qaeda, I'd love to "fight" against losers like you. But hey, tell me how what I just wrote is wrong. —J.T.

That Democrats would need substantial Republican votes (at least in the Senate) to force an end to this ruinous war was clear even before their victory in November was realised. Sadly, Republicans are notoriously intransigent when it comes to breaking ranks with their party or their president. Except for Chuck Hagel and Ron Paul, who among them has had the courage to vote with the Democrats? Hope springs eternal that the "moderate" Republicans like Collins, Snowe, Grassley, Lugar, Smith or Spector will come into the light, but they never do. It is always stone cold solidarity with Bush's neoconservatism, even though they may strongly disagree those policies and giving them support may be against their best political interests. Why do you think that is? Why do you think we see the same unwavering support from the voting "base" though, once again, it more often than not means hard-pressed working individuals voting against their own best economic interests? Democrats are not like that. (In my opinion, Democrats abandoned their party all too often to be sucked in by disingenuous nostrums from Reagan and unceasing alarmism by Bush & Son.) Republicanism seems as much, or more, like religion than politics, extreme fundamentalist religion, the kind that leads to profuse hatred and bloodshed. Care to analyse the psychology of these a column if not in a few words of response?

Like John Edwards, I look at America and see two countries, but not just differentiated on the basis of wealth. I see a schizophrenic America, half mad and half sane. I see the thoughtful educated Dr. Jeckylls on the left and the angry lunatic Mr. Hydes on the right. I've seen this divergence all too long, since the Reagan administration decided to wage secret illegal wars and direct Central American death squads from the White House basement, since it was decided that truth telling was for wimps like Jimmy Carter and big lies could be made palatable by sweetening them with that old time religion. I don't think even Nixon was so despicable as to represent his policies (refreshingly rational and even "liberal" in the mists of nearly 40 years gone by) as divine revelation straight from the heart of Jesus Christ, his lord and saviour. Perhaps he had simply not thought of it or didn't believe the American people could be so gullible. It was enough for him to build a Republican base on racial animosity with his "Southern Strategy." John Dean is right: the Bush dynasty has trumped Nixon in every vile way possible and they built on the Gipper's total lack of respect for truth and humanity. The used lies, fear, religion and the occasional war to gain and hold political power. Over the years, the Republican party has transmogrified Reagan into a demigod, an American Vicar of Christ in the flesh, sort of like a pope. If you don't believe that analogy, consider the rhetoric tossed around in the last two Republican presidential debates: they are looking to choose the next Reagan after the current Reagan finishes his term. It all seems very twisted to me, but then I'm a Democrat who has no illusions that our party should hope to elect the next Roosevelt. —M.O.

A few of the statements in your piece about the death of David Halbertstam really rang true for me, really made me brought me out of the stupor of surfing the web and sit up and think. You said that once black people "challenged the government and changed the country"; that Mr. Halbertstam "made Americans confront the reality of what our government was doing there."; that "Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, showed that the leaders of the U.S. government were literally mounting a coup against country and Constitution."

I ask myself, where are these people now who would change the country, its actions and direction? My mind replies that we are here, but our numbers are insubstantial. I agree that your profession has "lost its way", yet, so have we all. I care, read, challenge ideas, and scream out from the mountaintops. Yet, it seems like I am yelling into a sea of apathy and vapidity. Our nation has lost its way, and maybe we are finally waking up to that sad fact.

A few months ago, I attended a weekend anti-war rally in Seattle. Our march was peaceful, and we were passionate and diverse in age and race. We were also very few, numbering perhaps several thousand. I've participated in bigger fun runs. How is it that people in one of the most educated, progressive and thoughtful cities in the country would not turn out on a rare and piercingly beautiful sunny spring day, to march against an illegal, immoral, destructive war?

I think to myself in my darkest moments, that this has all been orchestrated, that the education system, journalism and citizenry have become so degraded, the entertainment industry become so addicting, so that it no longer matters and "we the people" no longer care. Our government is today mounting another coup against country and Constitution; our government is committing atrocities in our name, and nobody cares. I talk about these things, but nobody cares. We are running gulags, for Gods sake, and nobody cares!

And yet, these things, what we care about, what we rail about, this nation, our people, our impact on the world, these things are important. This year we have lost some great voices. As a Texas ex patriot, I especially miss Molly Ivins. Were I a journalist, I would aspire to step into their places in the shield wall. Some will, hopefully before while some still believe that America is better than what America was doing, what America is right now.

Now there is a thought of my own that I like. I, as a concerned and active citizen, can take my unheralded and unromantic place in the shield wall with those others who still care, and stumble forward against all of this.

Nice piece, and I read your work regularly. After this, I will delve into Halbertstam's and Talese's as well. —C.R.

I enjoy your article but thought perhaps you are missing the point on the pricey haircuts. It is a brilliant campaign move to befriend a pricey stylist. Edwards sits and chats with his barber/stylist and the stylist sees an awful lot of very wealthy people over the course of a week - and Edwards gives him something to talk to those people about and in the process make some important connections. I think it is wise of Edwards to go for the expensive salon - although certainly it is not the most politically correct thing to do when all eyes are watching; but it is a smart move. He makes a lot of good connections using a powerful ally - the high priced hairdresser. Edwards is no fool and he is not arrogant - it is a shame he is getting razzed about it because it is probably one of the better ways of spending campaign funds because the potential for further connections and support are significant - particularly if you compound the number of stylists in the salon by the number of wealthy, influential people they see in any given week. Hairstylists usually get more intimate and have more influence than therapists - smart move really on Edwards part. —T.C.

You are speaking the truth! This is how Americans are starting to feel in all parts of the strata. Upper, middle and lower. There still is the "well to do" in America, which as a hard working middle aged entrepreneur I feel I belong; but then there is the upper stratosphere which is so up there we can't see them anymore. And you know, they flaunt it, and just don't care what we peons think.

Mr. Reeves, you cause me to remember the class of Liberalism in the tradition of the Kennedy's and those that understood the meaning of "The Common Good", before the Clinton's totally soiled this notion. It is gone and you have in this article captured the times and the growing frustration in this country. We need to go back to a time before the Clinton's and the Bushes and get back to a country that cares and a foreign policy that counts. —C.R.

Your latest column "The Arrogance of the Entitled" was by orders of magnitude the most pointless and stupid that I have ever read by you. Who cares? This is exactly the type of chickensh-t the Republicans used to bury Clinton. I'm appalled that a columnist I've read and respected since your worked for Esquire in the 70s would meet a deadline (if that is why you wrote it) by filing a pointless, self-satisfied piece that names Corzine and Edwards as if they were no different from Wolfowitz. Where is your sense of proportion?

Are you doing "fair and balanced" reporting - is that it? At a time when the country has been put it the worst shape it has been in since before Franklin Roosevelt was elected, Edwards is the only candidate with a southern accent. If you don't think that's important, check out the last 3 Democrats who became president. Get real. The Republicans don't need any help discrediting opponents and the next election is far too important to be nickel and diming candidates who have the potential (at least) to lead us in a different and hopefully better direction. Rush Limbaugh does not need any help from you.

A very disappointed regular reader of your columns —G.P.

How the hell did you get inside my head to articulate my own thoughts so accurately? Great work. —T.A.

A standard but true prefatory remark - I've enjoyed your columnizing (columny?...tempting) for years. So, what's biting you? If I had the energy, I wouldn't spend it condemning either Edwards or Corzine at this point - there's plenty of real moral outrages available for comment. Edwards may at the entrance to the road to hell, but I'm sure it barely looks like a gentle slope at this point. You will be aware that he is surrounded by PR people, advisors, etc., who would be expected to tell him incessantly that image is all - it's a small universe for him or any other significant candidate. This kind of flak is to be expected - I just thought you had better things to do.

Governor Corzine is another matter - neither you nor I know enough details (facts) regarding the incident to assign a level of responsibility to the governor in this case. For all we know, he may have demanded that the trooper drive as recklessly as possible, doubtful, but everything is possible. Or, the trooper - who to my knowledge was the one driving - may have made all relevant decisions in the matter in such a short period of time that it would have been impossible for Governor Corzine to have influenced the situation significantly. Perhaps at some time you have criticized people for reaching conclusions without adequate information - possibly in regard to Iraq, for instance.

I am not a particular admirer of either man, nor am I a partisan. I don't dislike people because they have access to money and spend it; I dislike people who are irresponsible, cruel, or callously greedy. Maybe Wolfowitz would fit at least the first adjective, but we've got at least one "jury" out at this time, so I'll hang on for a bit. This is burr-under-the-saddle writing, and you can do much better. I've seen it. —R.P.

The pay or income differences between CEOs and line workers doesn't began to show the real American disparities in wealth. The wealthy own property vastly more valuable than that owned by typical "working class" (obsolete term?) individuals. Also, note the great stock market increase merely reflects the rapidly declining value of our currency. —R.C.

A-freakin'-men, Sir!

The whole institution is absurd. I'm so glad somebody said it, and said it so bluntly. But Hillary Clinton's husband was still Governor of Arkansas in 1991.

I'm a big fan of your columns, and glad you post on the web. —J.M.

I am a country editor in Virginia and just read your John Edwards column. I am a native Tar Heel, but I would support John Edwards if I came from some other state.

Thank you for you column. You are my favorite national columnist. You have a depth and appreciation of history that I, at 62, sense is lacking in too many people in our crazy business.

I hope your column helps Mr. Edwards, although I know you did not write it to help anyone. That is not your approach.

Anyway, thank you for being there and doing what you do. I and many others appreciate your skill. —R.G.

True, the Democrats may seem fun for '08— but only for those in the media. For the rest working, underemployed, and unemployed America, this is simply another exercise in disappointment and frustration.

Hillary Clinton will be the blue nominee. She will detonate all other candidates with her campaign spending. And while fundraising through the web—gleaning greenbacks from those grass roots— may earn comment once again, it's corporate donations that will determine the candidates and more importantly, all issues presented for the '08 campaign.

And Hillary IS Big Business. Multinational business. Murdoch-in-China business. The corporatist think tanks have already crafted her "philosophy": the working class is doing better than reported (translation: no substantive help, and the job outsourcing will continue). We'll get more of the "retrain to compete" rhetoric (translation: US jobs are leaving anyway, and in four years, the same canard can be said again).

Ask ANY candidate this time about protective tariffs, about job retention, about job creation in this country. You will get blather at best. The corporate boards, speaking through our contestants, have already spoken FOR them.

Health care? Worker safety? Lower interest rates on credit cards? The candidates may "fight" for us, but no legislation will come from it, no policy will be executed to improve life for the vast majority of Americans.

Instead, we'll get more of the "spirit of bipartisanship." This means the major parties will move from their traditional positions to pass legislation. Translation: Democrats will compromise and agree to cut benefits; Republicans will compromise and agree to raise workers' taxes.

To see all this as "win-win" must take tremendous imaginative power—or be a form of blindness. —R.F.

You know Richard, from one nice New York boy to another, you could be just a little less shameless in your Clinton sycophancy. Even at this early stage the polls I've seen show Rudy blowing Hillary away, so I don't know what you're smoking when you assert, without any evidence whatsoever, that it will be an easy Dem win in 2008.

Doesn't it occur to you that Rudy's urban background, ethnic heritage and candor will put a whole bunch of northeastern states in play? Doesn't it occur to you that perhaps the public has had enough of the Clintons, and that there's still a lot more dirt left to be uncovered?

And really, are you so stupid that it takes you that long to learn how to pronounce our state's name? When I first arrived here in 1999 I learned the first week not only to say "Nev-ADD-a", but also to refer to those other than Clark and Washoe as "rural Nev-ADD-a" and not "cow counties". And are you so stupid as not to recall that not all state capitols have domes (New York's among them)?

I work right across the street from the community center where the presidential forum took place. I'm glad Carson City had its fifteen minutes of blue fame, after which we will return to our red state ways.
—Howard Hirsch, Chairman
Lyon County Republican Central Committee
Dayton, Nevada

You don't even mention Richardson! I love you're writing, but, you're dead wrong on the 2008 race. Neither Hillary or Obama can - or will win. You're just another emotional liberal who does not have "winning" as the chief priority. Richardson CAN win, and he is more qualified than Obama, Clinton, or Pretty Boy Floyd.—Anon.

No investigation of the press's performance is complete without a thorough airing of the Project for a New American Century, the way the administration was subsequently peopled by those who supported the Project, and that its role is still largely ignored by the press.

It has always amazed me that the PNAC has remained relatively unknown, despite the fact that its core principle of U.S. supremacy and removing Saddam Hussein from power was adopted as official government policy under Bush well before 9/11. Nor was it ever keep secret. The official statement of this policy was exhibited on the government web site.

Cheney and Rumsfeld were among the founders of the PNAC in 1997. Other PNAC members who signed letters to President Clinton as far back as 1998 advocating Saddam's removal were able to see their goal of Saddam's removal realized: Scooter Libby, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, advocate of Ahmed Chalibi. Others, all well rewarded with high government positions, were Richard Armitrage, John Bolton, Elliott Abrams (Nat'l Security Counsel), Zalmay Khalilzad (Ambassador to Iraq), Robert Zoellick (Deputy Secy of State), Peter Rodman (Ass't Secy of Defense), Paula Dobrinsky (Under Secy of State), and Seth Cropsey (Director of the Voice of America). Importantly, William Kristol and Rich Lowry, editors of the Weekly Standard and National Review, were signatories who could keep promoting the continuous advocacy for war. The key to all that developed was that in 2000, Cheney, asked by Bush to find a Vice President, picked himself. It was a Cheney operation thereafter.

I wrote to you a few years ago suggesting that when the scrutiny of this period crystallizes, it will be Cheney who gets the most ink. You wrote back that Cheney was the most dangerous man in the world. Sadly this treasure trove for historians may take years, perhaps decades, to get sorted out.

Perhaps you are the one to undertake it.—M.E.

As someone who spent 23 years in the news business myself, mostly with newspapers, I must say I have learned something about the news media from the Iraq War that I didn't realize before: The press may not "love" war, but it certainly supports American wars. I had never looked at it that way until Norman Solomon pointed it out in a column and his book about the press and war.

The only war I had any part of as a journalist was the Gulf War, which was short and relatively straightforward as wars go. I certainly never felt that I was pushing that war as I helped direct my paper's news coverage, and I can't even remember how newspapers editorialized on the war. (I personally opposed that war, for what it's worth.) My focus professionally was to make sure our readers had the information they needed to stay abreast of the war and to make intelligent decisions about something that was so important.

During the Vietnam War, I was in college and in the Air Force, so I didn't see that war's news coverage as a journalist would have. However, in the past year or so I have learned things about news coverage of the Vietnam War that I didn't know. For example, I have read that by some point in 1968 not one of the 200 or so largest newspapers in the United States had editorialized against the Vietnam War. As in Iraq, it was the public who turned against the war in Vietnam before the media did and before many politicians did.

And I was also shocked to learn about how controversial David Halberstam's Vietnam reporting was inside the New York Times — with editors going so far, I have read, of twinning pro-war Washington-based stories on the front page to try to weaken the impact of his stories from the field that put the lie to what was being said in Washington. Being the ninny that I am, I always thought the Times was heroic in having Halberstam report what he did report. And in a way I guess they were. They could have just canned the stories — or buried them on page A19 as has been the case with much of the critical Iraq War coverage in some major newspapers. But I never knew that top people at the paper were very uncomfortable with what he was reporting; they apparently just didn't believe what he was writing. (If I am correct, you were at the Times in the late '60s, so you may have particularly good insight about its Vietnam coverage.)

Now I have to say the Iraq War coverage comes with its own special set of problems. Clearly the media was culpable in pushing the lies that got us into the war. But it must also be said that I don't think we've ever had an administration that lies the way the Bush administration does. The news media's inability in finding a way to deal with repeated lies from the White House stands as a black mark on the Beltway press corps and raises questions about whether the traditional way to cover and report news has failed. This can be argued all day long, I admit. But one thing is crystal clear: The fact that so many Americans believed (and many still do) that Saddam helped plan 9/11 or that Iraqis were on the planes that crashed into the Twin Towers proves that the news media failed America at a time when it was needed most.

We shall see how the media comport themselves with regard the next looming crisis — Iran. —P.H.

We think alike. You however are able to articulate your thoughts in a manner that demands attention and respect. Now that you have opened up the idea that the press shares a huge amount of responsibility for Iraq you can move forward to the fact that the press should learn from its mistakes and hopefully learn quickly. I know you see that Iraq is only the tip of this iceberg concerning this administration.

Have other presidents made mistakes? Of course they have. But as a casual observer of the last four or five presidents of both parties I always felt that most if not all their decisions were made from the heart with the good of the country in mind. If given the national stage, even a novice such as myself could tear this administration apart on so many issues. Greed and self profit motives wreak from the white house.

A book could be written, and I hope you write it, on what keeps a known alcoholic sober in light of the death and carnage both human and economic he has created. Can money be that corrupting? Can Jerry Fallwell be that convincing? What is holding this house of cards that is George Bush together? I would love to have your talent and the time to write the book on the last 8 years. —K.C.

It was just so obvious that the WMD stuff was pure BS. Hans Blix and Scott Ritter were UN Inspectors who were or had been in Iraq and told us there was no threat. Saddam couldn't even shoot down one of our planes overflying Baghdad for 15 years! If I hear our invasion was a "noble" effort one more time I'll be sick. Mort Zuckerman used it this week and every Neocon includes it in his talking points. What was noble about it, anyway? —R.C.

The Baghdad Museum is mostly empty these days (stuff happens) and would make an excellent presidential library for GW Bush. The wall could be decorated with the "Mission Accomplished" banner and several of the sovereignty transfer documents. Plenty of Abu Ghraib artifacts must be available (waterboards, peaked hoods, dog leashes and more). Think of the drama of some actual suicide vehicles and kicked in doors. —R.C.

I simply did some basic history research on the middle east and on urban warfare in general and even I could see the writing on the wall. I still believe in the end, if one only follows the money trail it will lead to the obvious conclusion that the so called highly educated and wise men elected to run this country had to have huge financial reasons to start the war.

I am not the least bit terrorized by Osama but I am truly terrorized by what the power of the media can do to this great nation when seized upon by the likes of Bush and co. I hope Americans as a whole realize how close we have come to the largest "long con" ever conducted, and I don't just mean Iraq. —K.C.

I am eighty years of age, I have read, heard and been a very small part of it since 1938. In the last thirty years I have seen the media's gradual change from reporting the news to the point of almost making it. Yous are a great example of this.

I take my hat off to the most educated and elite organization of our times but cringe to the lack of common sense held by most of it. It is now as dangerous an organization as perhaps the Federal Government of which you write.

An old friend of the family long since passed; formerly editor of the Abilene Reporter News is no doubt twisting in his grave from the antics of fellow journalist he passed the torch to. He reported the news, passionately and without bias. Please give me an example of yours?

You demean, you are disrespectful and at times outright wrong. You complain about Bush pulling the wool over the eyes of those of you who know better. You are admitting that an average, partially uneducated (the press's words) man out of Texas could pull off a scheme, right under your press, that would only rival Hudini. In all due respects Mr. Reeves, it is one thing to be thought a fool but entirely another to stand up and confirm it.

No, Mr. Reeves, if we lose in Iraq it will be because of; the Media and The Federal Government (Democrats and Republicans alike.) You and your comrades of the media are the Judas's of the modern time, professing loyalty to our military, however, when they come home you will accept your thirty pieces of silver and let them down.

I am aware of your strategy here. If the war in Iraq happens to fail you will blame the President and further you and your media will, in all their devious ways, attempt to get the people to punish conservatives. —H.D.

Many Americans were upset when the then newest member of congress, Rep. Jeanne Schmidt, R-Oh., called Rep. Murtha "a cut-and-run coward" despite Murtha having served for 39 years in our armed forces including having been awarded citations for bravery when he served in Vietnam. But far more upsetting to me is the sad fact that she was re-elected in the recent election. President Bush has followed the advice of the Neocons who have risen to the top ranks of American power surrounding him. Seymour Hersh puts their numbers at about two dozen which surely qualifies them as having been the smallest group to start a major war in world history.

The Neocons played a major role in starting the first U.S. war against Iraq and continued this success by exploiting the ineptness of our most incompetent president in history. Three days ago one of its members, Fred Kagan, appeared on C-SPAN's Washington Journal advocating the surge proving Bush has not learned a lesson and is still following their agenda. Kagan told a caller the new troops would seek permission to enter Iraqi homes to seek weapons but if that request was rejected "our troops will batter down the doors anyway."

The few of us who served in World War 2 must surely be aghast when Bush last night actually told us he was dispatching two naval battle groups to interdict any aid Iran is sending to the insurgents fighting us in Iraq. Few Americans are aware of our past history with Iran going back to the CIA, at the behest of British Petroleum, overthrew one of the first Islamic governments in the area attempting to follow a legally elected government. The U.S. had brandished its nuclear arsenal over two dozen times threatening to nuke nations not having the capability to retaliate in kind.

Is it any wonder that Iran, or any nation would not wish to no longer be intimidated in this manner and embarking on what they believe is the only solution to thwart this by creating its own nuclear arsenal. Bush has entangled us into a perpetual, unwinnable war and our progeny will curse us in our graves for having allowed it to have happened. —S.B.

I was a young editorial writer in North Carolina during Watergate and at the time President Ford pardoned Richard Nixon. I roundly criticized the decision. I voted for Jimmy Carter in 1976, although I, along with other Tar Heel editors, had been given an audience with President Ford in the White House Roosevelt Room prior to my state's presidential primary. Looking back on him, I think he was a very, very good president and really a great man, not just a great American.

I cannot remember the death of a public figure in recent years who was lauded for his or her decency as President Ford has been remembered.

Maybe you have to be devious to be president. Maybe you can't be an Eagle Scout (Ford was an Eagle Scout). But he was mighty fine in some tough times. He was not as well appreciated then as he is in death. Americans can be mighty cruel, but in the end, they often are like President Ford — decent to a fault. —R.G.

I was almost ready to not read your column on Jerry Ford but my wife thought it was interesting enough to prod me on.

Having voted Republican for over 30 years except for the past two unelections, I'm going to say not that you are wrong but I sure don't agree. At the time of Ford's pardon of Nixon I totally supported the President.

After six years of Bush I now think Nixon should have been tried in court, no matter what the cost. These guys keep getting away with breaking the laws of America and are never held accountable. Nixon set a precedent and his derelictions were small compared to what we are living with today. —C.C.

I have enjoyed your work in print and on the tube for roughly a decade or more, but I admit I was unfamiliar with the information you recounted in your column on Jerry Ford's passing. I'm pleased that you shared this bit of your past with your latter-day readers. I didn't know you could ever have been so young that you could have had any doubt about the merits of Ford's pardon of Nixon!

It now seems to me that almost every major author of every serious work about Nixon was, at one time or another, what Stephen Ambrose described himself as being: a Nixon-hater*. In my opinion, Ford was, very simply, the right man at the right time. The credit for choosing him, both in the country's, and in Nixon's own best interests, goes of course, to Richard Nixon.

I disagree with only one thing you said in your most recent column: I don't think that any candidate for the U.S. presidency could survive the gaffe Ford made in a debate with Carter, during which Ford vehemently declared, in opposition to Carter's claim to the contrary, that he (Ford) did not think the people of Eastern Europe considered themselves to be under Soviet domination!

My wife, an Estonian-born American citizen, changed her vote on the spot when she heard that remark, as I think at least 5% of the viewing and listening audience did. It makes one wonder if Ford really understood the significance of his signing of the Helsinki Agreement. This may be the one (only?) time when Henry's contribution to U.S. foreign policy deserves to be struck and marked.

In my opinion, the 'free eastern Europe' remark, which Ford was very loath to retract, rather than his pardon of Nixon — which even John Osborne, Eric Sevaried and Abe Fortas explicitly approved — sank his political fortunes. I think there was also a political reason why the GOP needed a pardon. Party professionals and press analogues**, not rank-and-file GOP members, totally deserted Nixon.

Even on the day he resigned, slightly more than 1 in 4 Americans approved of Nixon's presidency, and contrary to popular thinking, the fate of the Republicans in the midterms might well have been even worse than the 48 seats they lost if that 1 in 4 voters (all Republicans) had been disaffected by the continued harrassment (and not unlikely, the death) of Richard Nixon before the midterms.

* Even Aitken, his friendliest biographer, admits at the outset of his book, that he had to be brought up short by Alec Douglas-Home from his preconceived contempt for Nixon.

** George Will still says, in the 21st century, that Nixon should have been im peached over the opening to China, and Buckley Jr. likely agrees. True conservatives, but ... —B.L.

I just read your recent column about President Ford as well as your 1996 piece found on the American Heritage website. While I've enjoyed your presidential biographies, I'd been unaware of the latter column. Your willingness to state a public mea culpa, and not just around the time of your subject's death, says a lot about you.

As you, I was no Jerry Ford fan in the '70s. Having moved from the east coast to his hometown nearly 10 years after his brief tenure in office, I've now met many who knew him while a congressman. My wife, with long family roots in Grand Rapids, recalls him as a guest speaker in her high school civics class. Not a fan either, she was shocked to learn while overseas during her college years that he had become president.

In my 20+ years in west Michigan, I've also come to appreciate him, and not just from the times I've been to his rather simple presidential museum where he'll be laid to rest next week. His reputation as a plain and decent man, though certainly with flaws, I believe is quite accurate. Notably, unlike the current occupant of the White House, he was a humble man. In my view, I believe it was that quality - humility, an underrated aspect of presidential character - that enabled the sound 'judge-ament' you spoke of. —M.P.

First off I would like to say that I enjoyed your article concerning Iraq, but on the other hand I have to strongly disagree with the assertion of not understanding the enemy. These extremist want us dead at all cost and understanding them will not change that. We had better find a way and the resolve to defeat these radical Islamic groups or what you are seeing in Iraq today will be one step closer to happening in our own streets.

At the end of your article you stated that we need to understand these groups. Are you saying that as soon as we "understand" these groups they will stop committing the killings amongst each other, stop the attacks on the US and others, won't fly planes into buildings, will suddenly stop strapping explosives on their bodies and walking into restaurants and weddings and will change their inherent religious belief that the infidel must be destroyed and that Israel needs to be wiped off the map? Its your right to believe that sudden bliss will come from out understanding them, but using common sense I would call that foolish.

Yes there has been mistakes made in Iraq, but guess what...there has never been a war anyplace or anytime that went flawlessly. If the same mindset and people we have today were living in the 30s and 40s I would be willing to bet the farm that we would be speaking German or Japanese today. That is because we have a misinformed population that thinks that President Bush is the enemy and he is the one leading the attacks against us. People need to remember who the real enemy is and also remember that want you dead at all cost, and all of the understanding in the world will not change that. If we all convert to Islam then maybe they will leave us alone, but if you look at the Middle East for just the past 30 years, they cant even live with each other. —J.S.

In a recent letter to my brother, (who survived the attack on Pearl Harbor and later was one of small numbers who survived when his ship, The USS Johnston, was sunk in what Evan Thomas cites as the greatest naval battle of the war in his recent book "Sea of Thunder.") I mentioned my opposition to this war despite his support for it. He has the opinion that the best prevention to avoid war is a strong defense and determination to support policies to prevent such attacks in the future. However, my belief is that our foreign policies have given us unneeded enemies.

One little discussed aspect in the aftermath of "The Day in Infamy" is that we have never effectively disarmed and have pursued foreign policies which guarantee hostility towards us. George W. Bush and the Neocon advisors who lured him into this war have blamed everyone for the tragic results we now see on others rather than they themselves. It is also sad to realize our mainstream news media played a major role in this calamity by not more fully investigating the lies used by those who started this mess. Does anyone with average intelligence believe that Bush or Blair would have dared attack Saddam if they truly thought he actually possessed a nuclear retaliatory capability? Their policies towards nuclear-armed North Korea proved that the best defense against nukes is to have your own nuclear weapons arsenal to ensure you will not be threatened or intimidated by those that have these weapons. Can any reasonable person believe that the Iranians would not be upset by past American aggression against them such as the CIA success in 1953 in overthrowing their democratically elected government at the behest of British Petroleum after they lost their lucrative monopoly on Iran's petrol industry? Can the citizens of any nation feel comfortable when hearing threats to harm them with nukes?

The U.S. has threatened to use these weapons over two dozen times since first dropping them in August 1945 always on nations lacking the ability to respond in kind. Truman threatened the Soviets to accelerate their departure from northern Iran after World War 2; Eisenhower threatened Red China to end the war in Korea. Both nations did not possess nukes at the time but have never been threatened since.

There are many aspects of the present Bush War in Iraq which will be written about by future historians- 1.) Most of those who played a major role in starting it had successfully avoided combat in the past. 2.) Several had ties to foreign lobbys. 3.) The emergence of a strong Christian Right presence eagerly awaiting Armageddon and supporting policies in the hopes that such delusions would finally be fulfilled. 4.) An inept, incurious, unread leader sitting in the Oval Office who apparently suffers from Messianic, Napoleonic delusions. 5.) The failure to effectively disarm since the end of World War 2 due to an addiction to the lucrative profits made by being over-armed. (Ironically, it was a career military leader, Ike, who had warned us against the Military Industrial Complex.)

The greatest difference I have noticed since this fiasco first started is the diminished presence in our TV media by those who did so much to start it- Richard Perle, James Woollsey, Paul Wolffowitz, Frank Gaffney and others. However, the War Hawks at Fox News have not changed course and though we often see the tears of Bush 41 when daring to speak to those wounded or their family members in the unnecessary war he started I detect few tears from Krauthammer, Fred Barnes, Kondrake and others. Many years ago I managed to get a call into C-SPAN and spoke to Lee Hamilton telling him my opposition to the wars we keep getting into. His reply, "We are the leaders of the Free World and we must lead." He along with the man who played a key role in the first intrusion into Iraq, James Baker, are now giving us advice on how to extinguish the fire they started. —S.B.

I did combat duty in Viet Nam and was a registered republican till the atrocity called "shock & awe". What unbelievable stupidity, arrogance and utter disregard of law! I reregistered democrat, but a lot of those craven cowards went with the war against Saddam (who did not threaten us). Hillary was all for going into Iraq and has never backed down. Obama saw it as a mistake and voted against giving Bush power to invade Iraq. Guess who I would vote for if these two show up on the primary. —R.C.

Thanks for stressing the financial disaster we are racing toward. It is almost ignored in the news of Iraq death and destruction—which seem to be just inconveniences. After all, "Freedom isn't free". Or, "If we don't fight them over there, we'll have to fight them here". Even if these were true statements, America is in a financial death spiral—and we must scream at our so called leaders to stop it! —R.C.

Just got through reading your column that appeared in today's Palestine, Texas Herald-Press. I always catch your opinions although I don't always or even often agree with you. But you make some good points and I'm glad they run your column. In fact I even phoned the editor of the newspaper to compliment them on their daily editorials and your opinion pieces.

I once caught you on "Hardball" and was struck at how considered you were in your views. I wish you were on more so we could get your views on world affairs. I get so tired of the "screaming faces" who are ranting and raving about whatever strikes their fancy.

If I might make one suggestion, it would be that I would like to see more of your own views regarding terrorism in the world and where all of this is leading regardless of whether or not Bush as botched the war. Somehow I believe this will outlive his presidency. I do believe that this is the single most important threat facing humanity today. And it distresses me that so many believe it will somehow just go away. I do not believe that. —R.W.

I agree with you that the economy and its alarming bifurcation will be much bigger issues in 2008. But I'm not so sure Iraq will fade away, or that it should. Look at The New York Times' and Washington Post's stories on the Baker study group's likely recommendations, published the same day as your column. They lay out pretty much what we've been led to believe: They'll recommend some kind of mushily timed drawdown of US troops and diplomatic openings to Iran and Syria. But mentioned almost in passing in the NYT count and buried near the end of the Post's story is this: The Baker group will also recommend that we keep 70,000 troops in Iraq indefinitely. That element in itself I find rather astonishing. What adds to my amazement is that these two august journalistic organs each missed the obvious lede. What!? 70,000 troops in Iraq PERMANENTLY!? It's almost as if they're trying to slip it past us, like an embarrassing fact we're not supposed to notice or as if it were an obvious conclusion that only extremely unobservant or naive readers wouldn't already have surmised.

In my humble opinion, it's of a piece with all this media talk we're getting now about civil war in Iraq—coming only AFTER the elections and AFTER the Democrats took control of Congress. Such courage! (It's like all the big lobbying groups in Washington scrambling to hire Democrats and shovel money in their direction. This is one of the ways the media get on the right side of the new people in power. No wonder the public despises journalists.)

Anyway, to get back to my point. I believe we're finally finding out why we went into Iraq: to set up permanent bases after Osama drove us out of Saudi Arabia. We don't give a rat's hat about democracy (now or ever—read Stephen Kinzer's book, "Overthrow") and never made and never intended to make a serious effort in that direction. What's more, the media are still playing along because the public, as Jack Nicholson once said, can't handle the truth. And the media, of course, still needs to maintain its "access" to the, sadly, still Republican White House—so they can get all those "scoops" from "anonymous sources" that are really nothing but self-serving garbage for both the pols and the journos. —G.B.

As a navy vet of World War 2 it pains me to finally admit that the most admired people in our society today are not war heroes but men who avoided serving in combat. I think most people would believe Dick Cheney did the right thing by avoiding the war which killed a reported 26 men from his home town. Senator Max Cleland, a triple-amputee wounded in Vietnam, was defeated in his bid for re-election by a man who received a deferment for a high school football injury. ( The victor, Senator Saxby Chambliss, is a leading hawk supporting this war.) Columnist Anne Coulter trivialized Cleland's loss of his limbs as "being caused by him accidentally picking up a live grenade" never mentioning this happened in Nam and not in Crawford, Texas and Cleland was the recipient of numerous citations for valor. Compare this to a World War 2 veteran, Harold Russell, who lost two arms while conducting a state-side training course in the use of grenades and was given a leading role in the post-war movie, "The Best Years Of Our Lives." Ironically, those most opposed to Rep. Rangell's bill to restore conscription are mostly draft dodgers who never served and fear if this happened we would soon see the antenna flags unfurled and the bellicose bumper stickers replaced by slogans authored by Quakers.

I am looking forward to Evan Thomas' new book which covers the greatest naval battle of WW2 and the loss of the USS Johnston in which my brother lost part of his shoulder, was badly burned in the ocean and survived shark attacks. I do not know if he is mentioned in this latest book on that battle but he was not only mentioned but had a mug shot in another book covering this "The Last Stand of The Tin Can Sailors." —Anon.

I can't believe anyone would print this bullsh-t. —Anon.

The age old question for supporters of the draft is: who will be deferred? If everyone is to serve, still who will serve in the military? The military needs only 10-20% of those who become 18 every year. The rest will get the modern equivalent of a deferment. We will still have an essentially volunteer military, won't we?

The voluntary military was a passion for Milton Friedman and a major campaign issue in 1968—Nixon was for it and won. Don't expect Republicans to suddenly discover the value of having a large pool of conscripts. I'm sure Charlie Rangel would agree. But I see his own constituents interviewed and unanimously ridiculing the draft.

I can remember the old Southern conservative senators being the main supporters of the draft. What company to keep. Shortly after having a letter published in the Atlanta Journal in 1968 criticizing the draft and Richard Russell for supporting it, I got called up for the draft. I concluded that the draft system is very corruptible. So I pulled my own strings and got into an Army Reserve unit. The Air Force said I was partially color blind so I couldn't fly, and I had no intention of being a point man in LBJ's army to win a tie ballgame in Nam. My dad worked at the post office with an NCO in a local Reserve unit which was ready to recruit a couple of dozen new volunteers; it was kind of similar to the new proposals for national service. I had a choice.

P.S.: Conservatives have been reading your columns for a long time because you write very well and you a fair and honest columnist despite being predictably liberal. I have been reading your work since college. You may want to keep this fact away from your editors. —J.B.

I read your column about the draft and I agree with everything you wrote. I originally believed Bush and Powell but now of course we all woke up to reality. We had no business going over there and removing Hussein. It took a strong man to keep those warring factions in check. I hope the next President realizes a few things about war. First unless we are fighting for our lives there is never going to be a soldier going to a foreign country going to fight harder then the people who live in the country. It is not our country. I think American soldiers would fight to the death for America but not for another country. Democracy at the point of a gun failed. Fighting for Israel is dead. I never thought it was about oil. I saw it as securing Israel. Neocons are finished.

Every time I hear a retired General on television say the Iraqis have to start fighting for their government I always think they did not ask us to go there.They were heading to work one day and the next thing we were in their country destroying it for them and we think they should be fighting for their country? The generals need a reality check too.

Time for America to get out of foreign lands and time for US presidents to govern this country. They were never elected the President of the world although they have had this delusion since the end of WW2. —Anon.

Mr. Reeves, Today I read your November 23rd article titled "Too Bad Your Kids (and Mine) are not in Iraq". You bring up some interesting points in your article. However, I am sorely disappointed at your commentary on the heroism of the American military. You posit the flawed theory that heroism exhibited by our military members in Iraq "serves no real purpose at this point." Maybe, in your opinion and in the context of this war, that heroism doesn't serve a real purpose. Having served in Iraq, as well as other wonderful garden spots, I can tell you without exception that you are wrong.

America has a checkered history of involvement in conflicts with ambiguous or contentious objectives (Indian wars in the 1800s, Vietnam, the Banana Wars, Operation Iraqi Freedom, to name a few). Conflicts of this nature require the same level of sacrifice from the military as noble wars such as World War II when our country and its military wholly supported the task at hand. Soldiers are far away from their loved ones, living in austere conditions while enduring imminent danger from determined enemy forces. Sailors are required to sail into hostile waters. Marines have to kick down doors regardless of who sent them or the nature of the bad guy behind the door. Airmen fly into skies knowing they could meet their end crashing onto foreign soil where the citizens may curse them or praise them. The purpose of heroism exhibited by my father in Vietnam when he was awarded the Bronze Star in that unpopular war is no more or less purposeful than the heroism exhibited by my grandfather flying in a Navy PBY in the Aleutian Islands in 1943 or that of his fellow brave Sailor whom you saw at the airport. American service members have a purpose to their service, and that is SERVICE, pure and simple. Service to their country, service to their branch of the military, service to their unit; more than anything they serve the purpose of protecting the lives of the man or woman walking shoulder to shoulder with them into harm's way. There is purpose in that if we are to remain a noble nation, especially in the midst of questionable circumstances. I would argue that there is more heroism in doing your duty under questionable circumstances like those our nation faces in Iraq, as opposed to a clear-cut scenario of good versus evil like my grandfather faced in World War II.

You also make the statement that "Volunteers go out there to knock people around and be knocked around themselves. The rest of us watch if we feel like it — and most of us don't feel like it anymore." This may be true for a small minority of adrenaline junkies and hard-cases looking to kick butt, yet the overwhelming majority of people who join the military aren't joining for those reasons. Our men and women serving in uniform volunteer for any number of purposes, some to pay for college, some (like me) because they believe in our country and will go wherever they are sent. I think you are being disingenuous by making statements like this one, and only add to the lousy, inaccurate stigma of a military full of have-nots. Anyone making these kinds of statements does a disservice to our Iraq veterans when you question the purpose of their service,

I am very disheartened as a veteran when notable journalist and author like you make statements like those in your article. My father faced a nation that didn't appreciate his service, a nation that didn't appreciate the fact that his heroic actions served the purpose of allowing several young Americans to return safely to their families. Do you see the purpose and the benefit in that, Mr. Reeves? I would hope our nation's journalists might focus on the purposes or motivations of national policy by addressing those policies or maybe even the public servants who make those policies, not the purposeful American heroes who bravely go where their nation tells them to go. —B.F.

"...their heroism serves no real purpose at this point"

Good line. Keep saying it, please.—D.B.

Terrific column on the draft. I agree wholeheartedly with you and Rep. Rangel. I'd suggest one small modification of your proposal for universal service: Make sure that if there's a war, all able-bodied young people-regardless of their type of service at the moment war breaks out—would be equally at hazard for doing tours of duty on the front lines. Otherwise, we'd likely end up with a lot of little George W's "serving" in champagne Guard units by joyriding over mid-America in multimillion-dollar jets. I do hope you get a big, favorable response on this. Please consider doing a column to tell us what you hear. Thanks. —G.W.

We cannot win wars any longer. That is a fact. WW2 was the last war we won and that was only because we bombed Dresden to rubble and dropped the atomic bomb on Japan. We could have won in Iraq with WW2 tatics but thankfully those days are over for America.

I think we should pull the soldiers out of Germany and South Korea and all the other bases around the world.Let every country deal with their own problems. America is not weakened at all. What it is we are forbidden to fight to win which means great loss of life on both sides. Bush and his neocons forgot. This is not 1942. Whoever the next President may be, better realize it does not matter how many weapons we have we are not allowed to use them.The press will not allow it so I say isolationism is the way to go and the countries of the world better defend themselves. —Anon.

While searching your splendid archives I attempted, without success, to find a column you wrote discussing the attack upon the USS Cole. If I remember correctly you may have been one of very few to call attention to the fact that this vessel was a weapon of war. Many, if not most, Americans never consider our actions or policies against others as warfare. Most believe this confrontation with Islam started with the 9-11 attacks when actually the U.S. and a few other nations have been engaged in an undeclared war with them for decades. Americans generally have never accepted the reality that their government's policies can result in unintended consequences such as the attacks on 9-11.

Why do we have such an attitude? Perhaps it is because of engaging in foreign wars, such as Vietnam, where we killed an estimated three million people but the victims never retaliated against us on our home turf. Osama's group finally did. Ironically, unlike our other victims such our Latin neighbors to our south, Nam and others Al Qaida is not a nation but rather a small band of globally dispersed religious zealos Those of us who served in World War 2 and other foreign wars knew our enemies were legitimate, functioning nations with which we could negotiate a truce if we so desired or else their surrender which they later did.

Last night the History Channel aired the Nuremberg Trial in which several Nazi leaders were executed. The hope then was best expressed by our representative, Chief Justice Robert Jackson, that this trial would serve as an example to prevent any such future crimes from happening again. The leading Republican at the time, Senator Robert Taft, criticized the trial fearing they set a pecedent in which American leaders could also be tried before an International Court. But Mr. Taft can rest comforably in his grave because no American leader has stood in dock to be held accountable for their actions.

I was amused recently to hear a caller suggest Saddam should be held accountable and charrged with a war crime for having armed the Iraqis who are now killing our kids over there. Perhaps Bush 43 has this issue backwards because they may prefer to fight us OVER THERE rather than OVER HERE. The logistics favor them as they are on their own turf and as you often say "will always be there when we leave." —Anon.

I know one thing about Iraq.The different religious factions are never going to set aside differences and make a united country.Bush talks about the new government over there and yes perhaps the educated Iraqis will set aside differences but the average Iraqi will not because their hatred of each other is too deep.

All over the world countries complain about America.Yet the American citizen is funding most of the world.I want to know where that was written into our laws that American moneys should be sent around the world yearly when we have our own poor and needy.

I think we should get the soldiers out of Germany and other countries let them defend themselves.I find it funny when most reporters say Europe hates us now.Guess what ?they should know most of us cant stand them.Most Americans are about this country.The end.

Bush said the other day if we had not gone to Iraq years from now people would wonder why we had stopped spreading liberty to the world.Again where is this written in our laws?Bringing liberty to the world is not any countries job including Americas.I am tired of American young men losing their lives on foreign soil for other countries when they are not appreciated.

Bush is in a utopian dream.We are going to spread freedom around the world if the people want it or not.Most people in those countries have never known freedom and would crumble in the fear of it all.Taking care of themselves,making decisions when they never had to instead of a following the leader?

As for as Israel I know our bases in the Arab world are there for Israel's protection.I do not care what spin the White house puts on it.That is why we are in the Arab world.I agree with Richard Cohen.I wonder what kind of world we would have had without all the meddling in the Arab world.I am convinced a little better than what we have now. —Anon.

realize it is nearly impossiblee to list all the dirty tricks used in American elections. I was surprised in those you listed that the Willy Horton ad was not mentioned. This ad was racist. The race issued served scurrilous charlatans in the past from Bilbo to Lee Atwater. I served with many southerners during World War 2 and never knew one who was a Republican. Of course, even then race played a role since Democrats had the South locked up so securely that there was hardly a viable Republican Party functioning there. While overseas, serving with many African-Americans, it now seems unbelievable remembering Senator Bilbo, from Mississippi, actually put forth a resolution to send our black citizens "back" to Africa. The election in Tennessee may show we as a nation have overcome this hate if Rep. Ford wins or makes a good showing.

In the defeat of war heroes, Max Cleland and John Kerry, the so-called "Swift Boaters For Truth" played a major role in their defeat, especially Kerry's. The mainstream news media aided and abetted in this by not mentioning the fact that John O'Neill was this group's leader. O'Neill had been recruited by Charles Colson in an effort to bolster support for Richard Nixon. (Nixon's astute political prescience still amazes me thinking that he saw Kerry as a man with political ambitions.) A "debate" was held between Kerry and O'Neill on the old Dick Cavett Show. I now wonder why our media failed to display a photo of O'Neill taken with Nixon which may have shown the voters just where the leader of the Swift Boaters political ties were. Of what TV shows I saw at the time only Chris Matthews when he interviewed O'Neill, who did serve in Vietnam, cited the irony that many of this group opposed to Kerry were men who had avoided Nam and combat in the past. In fact, I am still amazed that our media does not more fully inform our citizens of the irony of the small group of draft dodgers who started this war in Iraq sending FEMALES into combat. —Anon.

Good comments. I did combat duty in Viet Nam, supported the pursuit of Osama and was a registered republican for 30+ years. But I was greatly distressed by the removal of Special Forces from Afghanistan, and their redeployment to Iraq--and particularlly by our so-called "shock and awe" campaign. I reregistered as a democrat and have been protesting this illegal war since 2002 (when it became obvious). Never give anyone a pass on this Mr Reeves, including my once-hero Colin Powell. Scott Ritter and Hans Blix told us there was no threat from Iraq. This disgraceful action has bankrupted our Beloved America, both financially and morally. We will be remembered as the Nazis of our time. —R.C.

Thank you. This column makes infinite sense and should be required reading for every American. —Anon.

Another great article, with a very wise revelation as its central point. While your article is a courageous, genuine contribution to the national discussion, it is, in my judgment, short of the full truth, which is that we have long facilitated egregious crimes against humanity in our blind support of Israel.

9/11 was a rogue criminal act (on which many unanswered questions remain but are classified or slienced on the proximity of Israeli sympathizers or agents). In distant history, I doubt that we will be spared of the criminal label ourselves. No one can speak truth to power in this adminsitration or in mainstream media. Too much is fraudulent in that tandum of the core power for our country.

However, your recognition of the problems with WOT and a rogue enemy is a major contribution.—B.H.

I loved your recent column on the mistakes made in the "war on terror". You said much of what I've been trying to tell people that Iraq is a mess no matter how long we are there. The mistake was not in confronting Hussein but how.

I'll bet though if the "mission" in Iraq fails conservatives will blame anyone who didn't stand behind Bush 100%. I will never acknowledge invading Iraq, at least the way Bush did it, was a mistake. I won't be surprised if 30 years from now it plays out all over again with someone saying we could have won if it hadn't been for those who didn't support us.

Meanwhile what happens when we have a real threat such as North Korea or Iran? Who's going to believe us when we say they have WMD, we must invade now? —T.G.

I've recently discovered your column (thru the Drudge Report) and will continue checking in. I've read your fine book on JFK and , as an old American government major in college (Cornell) I still scour the internet for facts, ideas and theories as to how we've gotten so far off the beam. LBJ went wrong, and stayed wrong, but at least he had the sense, or the humility, to recognize it and withdraw from office. Bush, viscerally, can't face up to it - it's getting too big. Some political cultures allow for the honorable resignations of failed leaders. We face over 2 more years of this congealed group; Cheney, Rumsfeld, Chertoff, Rove. I live in California, where we have recalled a failed governor, and where the pathetic mayor of San Diego resigned one step ahead of the sheriff. It's been said that in a democracy, things have to get really bad before effective action is possible. I fervently hope that we are at that point. —A.S.

We probably were lucky--although goodness knows the 50's didn't feel lucky to me ("if you keep thinking like that, people will believe you're a communist" or something like that--an English teacher said to me well after McCarthy was disgraced). But the $10 bucks a credit hour that the University of Hawaii was charging everybody back in 1960 was wonderful. It was also a bargain even then.

And you're especially right about the "formal education is everything" syndrome. A neocon semi-friend voted for a candidate for county mayor only because "the man has had an education." As if there weren't lots of dopey undergraduates who probably didn't grow up the minute they got the diploma. —Anon.

Thank you for this column. I am a lifelong Republican who has felt the same way about our invasion of Iraq since the President first mentioned the idea. I know many people, both Republican and Democrat, who think likewise. Even George Bush's own father thinks it was a mistake. I do not read all of your columns, so you may have mentioned this, but it would be interesting to publicize the fact that there are many Republicans who have disagreed with the President on his Iraq adventure all along.

I am a regular poster on the Yahoo discussion boards (which are unfortunately filled with all-too-many crazies) and often mention that I am a conservative Republican, evangelical Christian against the war, who also dislikes George Bush for a number of other reasons. I frequently get replies from other Republicans or Christians, saying they feel the same way. I have suggested that I am tempted to start a Republicans against the Iraq War group, and receive replies from Republicans saying they will join if I do.

I don't think one has to be a member of one party or another to see that the war was a huge mistake, or to be blind to that fact (Hillary, Joe). There are others who whiningly use the "Boo hoo, I was deceived" defense, but as Michael Moore put it recently, "I realize that there are those like Kerry and Edwards who have now changed their position and are strongly anti-war. Perhaps that switch will be enough for some to support them. For others, like me -- while I'm glad they've seen the light -- their massive error in judgment is, sadly, proof that they are not fit for the job."

If those in power realize that there are many out there, of all political persuasions, who want us out of Iraq ASAP, maybe they will finally listen. There needs to be no place for them to run and hide. —A.K.

I agree with everything you wrote in this column.Iraq is lost.I do not agree with one thing you wrote however and it is the notion Hitler and his party were on the right.They were on the left but somehow the media has been able to change this notion for 70 yrs now. This is a quote from Hitler:

"We are socialists, we are enemies of today's capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are all determined to destroy this system under all conditions." --Adolf Hitler (Speech of May 1, 1927)


Mr. can rant and rave all you want BUT, I will listen to your ranting only when you come up with some constructive criticism of the war in Iraq!

I read recently that it is the general feeling that we "need another 9-11" to wake you people up to the terrorist threat! Iraq was/is a breeding ground for terrorists and when the head honcho (Saddam) got his WMD act together, he would have gleefully shared it with OBL and others. Why should we have waited like sitting ducks for the next attack?

The claim of "no evidence" is stupid! Before 9-11, we had no evidence that OBL had plans or was was plotting a terrorist attack. Your hero, Bill Clinton even refused to take him out or have him arrested when they offered him to the US. Why? Because there was "no evidence"... If there is another 9-11 I hope you and your liberals friends are the target! —F.J.

Thank you for putting so clearly what I have been thinking. I can't imagine the damage that can be done by this administration in the next four years. I've never worried through previous administrations, always believing that the country could survive any nonsense put out by the President. This one has me worried. —M.M.

Mr. Reeves: It was totally Bush II (who supposedly did not then know there were Sunnis and Shias in Iraq) and his neocon coterie.

The invasion of Iraq has devolved into a Pandora's box, from which all the solutions proliferate new "killer bee" hives (i.e., expanding the war throughout the Arabian Gulf states, where the newly emboldened Shias of Eastern Arabia could create havoc).

To get a better picture of Bush, review Disney's Fantasia: Mickey as the Sorcerer's Apprentice.

But still praying for peace in the region. —R.L.

I believe Bush 41 after bribing and threatening other nations to go along with his war against Iraq in 1990-1991 finally came to the realization that by completely occupying Iraq an insurgency would be the result. Since Bush 43 seems to never have read too much history he may not have realized the quicksand an occupation of that country would result in. History has shown that most countries have opposed an occupying force from our days as a colonial part of the British empire or our experiences in conquering the Phillipines. As a World War 2 vet, I have come to the painful conclusion that perhaps it is because of the insurgency the long term results may be our leaders will be far more cautious who they attack anyone in the future and thus American lives may actually be saved. —Anon.

I did combat duty in Viet Nam and thought even then it was a mistake. But I remained a registered republican till the atrocity called "Shock and Awe". Bush has given America nothing but death, destruction, disgrace and debt. I want my Beloved Country back! It may take some help from our former friends in Europe to expel these parasites called "neoconservatives" from control. Nixon was a genius compared to this truly ignorant, but arrogant and dangerous, current president. —R.T.

Thank you for introducing some sanity into the Middle East crisis. I wish you were president of at least the Secretary of State. I believe that this is a situation that unless the Congress changes in November we will never extricate ourselves and our country will be in increasing peril every day Bush is in office. —M.B.

Only the left of this country has the power to stop allowing most of the terrorism in the Middle East. Why doesn't the left go to France, and the rest of the E.U. and talk to them to place much pressure on the terrorists? Most of the left is against Israel and pro terrorists. No matter what Israel does, it's wrong. And no matter what the terrorists do, they're right. You know, day is night, and right is wrong. Get on the right path, soon. —D.M.

Great column on Bush and Israel. You write that sooner or later Bush will have to make the tough calls. I hope you're right for all our sakes. But after nearly six years of these guys, I'm not willing to bet Bush/Cheney will do the right thing. Invading Iraq may prove to be the most monumental foreign policy disaster in the history of this country. And it's manifestly apparent with what's going on now in Lebanon. I just hope we're not being sucked into something that no one can keep from spiraling out of control. I've put off reading Barbara Tuchman's "The Guns of August" for all these years. I think now may be a good time to read it. —P.H.

Re your column "Only Bush has the Power to Stop the Killing" (July 21, 2006):

A line of Fulke Greville's seems especially pertinent these days: "Silence augmenteth grief, writing increaseth rage..."

What journalist, ex-journalist, would-be journalist or designated pundit has NOT weighed in on Lebanon in particular and West Asia in vague generalities lately? Perhaps one or two who have died of grief, or of overexposure to rage from all our stateside chroniclers of Zion. And typically, the US—or in your prescription, its current titular President—is presented as the focus and the solution of current MidEast affairs. Checked Iraq or Afghanistan lately? W handles nothin' there, silver-spooned, Connecticut pseudocowboy that he is. No one's in charge in these matters, except those who fix oil and gasoline prices—and their interests in the region are self-servingly limited. Israel's long-planned Lebanon invasion, its replay of Sabra and Shatila-style slaughter of innocents, and the bombing of Beirut from a quarter-century ago, show how desperate the self-chosen people truly is, trying to survive time and demographics by demolishing the infrastructural and economic developments of any of its neighbors.

Nothing positive will happen as long as US politicians are beholden to AIPAC, as long as New York's and Florida's electoral votes determine our political future (which, of course, the next likely Pres, Hillary Clinton, has covered with recent pro-Zionist cant). You DO have a point if you assume that W, as sitting Pres into his last two-plus years, has little to lose and everything to gain by attempting a MidEast solution. That other W—W.J. Clinton—tried the same thing in his waning term.

But this presupposes non-Israelis are human beings with social and economic and therefore political agendas and not at all the stereotypes we conveniently fabricate. And honest dealing doesn't play well after years of duplicity. It doesn't sell to a range of American fanatics—Jewish neocons or rapture-headed Baptists. It lacks appeal for purveyors oil and weapons who profit from disaster. What on earth would make you think the unfocused and unprincipled W Bush is capable of such leaps of—intellect and virtue?

American presidents do fascinate, and certainly each—even W—is complicated enough to attract hagiographers, and promise book sales. But international problems, whether social or environmental or economic—are increasingly beyond the expertise and narrow interests of our Pretenders in Chief. It may be too late for this panet, but the best prescription might be for our "leaders" to retreat from their own hubris, and leave policy-making to the sane. —R.F.

You poor excuse of an "informed" writer... You can "Kiss my Gentile A**" in Macy's window... if you so desire... and you can print that in the New York Times!

Wait a minute... Israel owns THAT newspaper too!

Thank Almighty God for Liberals... without them there would be NO laughter in this world! —Anon.

No, the bogus 'open mike' gaff doesn't show Bush is learning anything at all. It was, I would say obviously staged to get that "straight talker in the men's room" effect you fell for.

If staged it was part of the heinous, wantonly depraved indifference to human life and property shown by Israel's agenda to destabilize the region starting with the phony kidnapping of Gilad Shalit. I say "phony" because N. Chomsky is saying on youtube that Israel had in fact abducted two civilians from Gaza June 24. —S.T.

Excellent article and a perceptive analysis of the situation in the Middle East. Israel has been sandbagging the PLO for years in their refusal to negotiate with the democratically elected PLO leadership. They have ignored Abbas, probably the most reasonable leader in the region. It will take a strong push from the US get Israel to the bargaining table. I hope you continue to promote a more even-handed approach from Bush and Rice in our dealings with Israel and the PLO. —H.K.

I was amazed that someone with your understanding of the world could refer to what is now happening in the Middle East as "the endless insanity of peoples destined and determined to destroy EACH OTHER in the name of God the merciful."

What could possibly prompt you to say that the Israelis want to destroy the Arabs? Granted, the Israeli settlement policy can be criticized ( I personally oppose it), but the Arabs wish to destroy the entire state of Israel, do not identify it on their maps, do not refer to it by name (call it instead "The Zionist Entity), refer to Jews as subhumans, etc. When do the Israelis ever refer to Arabs that way?

The Israelis teach their children that somehow they must make peace with the Arabs, while the Arabs teach their children that they must kill the Jews. And as to doing it in the name of God, the Muslims consider infidels (that includes you and me) as people who must be converted or killed, whereas Jews don't care how you worship your God. —L.B.

The rest of us can only hope someone gives him a history book to read.

Zephaniah 2:4 Gaza shall be forsaken
Oslo Accords

Zechariah 12:3 And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.

Ezekiel 38:16 And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes.

Jer 50:3 For out of the north there cometh up a nation against her, which shall make her land desolate

Russia will eventually lead an attack on Israel...and not Bush or anyone else will have the power to stop it.

The history book has already been inked. Nobody bothers to read it. —Anon.

Your Arab friends can stop the violence any time they choose. All they must do is stop their fifty-eight year campaign to slaughter Jews and peace will be at hand.

The United Nations you so warmly embrace is the same group that allowed Hizbollah to mass and arm in Southern Lebanon. Kofi Annan went so far as to cover up the Hizbollah kidnapping of Israeli soldiers several years ago. Currently, the UN is allowing Hizbollah to set up missile launchers adjacent to UN outposts.

But Bush is to blame? The Dow may be falling, but Leftist Derangement Syndrome is hitting new all-time highs. Why don't you toddle on over to DailyKos and join the chorus of liberal Jew haters advocating the nuking of Tel Aviv? —Anon.

All very good—until the last paragraph... There is something we could have done.

We could have denied Israel the military fuel shipment we recently sent them. And if, as I've heard, it is against US law to use US weapons against civilians, we could enforce the law and deny further weapons.

A military operation of this size was surely not improvised. Indeed, a retired Israeli general told NPR that the list of targets in Lebanon had been around some time, awaiting a pretext (my word). And the United States is complicit in the destruction and the attempted unilateralism. —W.S.

An important fact, which is all but forgotten regarding the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, is that, at least initially, the Lebanese Shia in Southern Lebanon welcomed the Israeli "liberators". They wanted the Palestinians out of the area and the Israelis were doing the task. It was only with their extended stay and some incredibly stupid actions (by the Israelis) that the Shia then turned their guns and bombers on their former liberators.

I am also convinced that this (the post invasion stay) was the catalyst for the birth of Hezbelloh in Lebanon, and the reign of terror on Americans (kidnappings, suicide bombings and hijackings), and other westerners from the mid 80's to the early 90's.

Another interesting item is the role the Israelis played in the late 70's, for a few years, in the birthing and financing of Hamas on the West Bank and Gaza. The Israelis thought that Hamas would be easier to deal with than the PLO.

So, in essence, the two neighboring enemies of Israel were "midwifed" by Israel. —R.L.

To go by your writing, are you under some impression that the ATTACKS of 9-11 were NOT attacks upon the USA? Are you perhaps of the same mindset as the fool who claimed that the Holocaust never happened? Agreeg, torture, rape, pillage, the killing of civilians, all of these are not acceptable by the standards and laws we live by. Yet from what is reported, each and every case of abuse either has been or is currently being investigated. And those found guilty are being punished according to the law. Or perhaps are you still chanting the same old tired line (mantra? Prayer?) of the Liberals that 'Bush Lied' about Iraq, about WMD's, about Social Security, heck, about the price of Tea in China? Despite repeated, DOCUMENTED, VERIFIED, proof and evidence to the contrary of those accusations...

Yes, our troops face a difficult task over there. The simple facts are that they have never been trained for such a style of warfare. And those they fight, for some unknown reason, appear to refuse to follow the rules of civilized warfare as well. Yet, under the circumstances, they are doing amazigly well when all is considered. Taking into account persons apparently like yourself who seem to think that the less then 1% of the Military who are breaking the rules and treating 'Them' the same way that 'They' treat any and all of our people they capture, are representative of 100% of our military. As such, there is never any mention of anything our troops just might have done right. Only repeated yammering of what has been done wrong. Many have compared Iraq with Vietnam, only being of a drier climate. Take a look, when are YOU planning to join in with the marches while chanting as how they are ALL Baby Killers?

And it's the exact same problem they face as in 'Nam. They are not trained for the type of warfare that they are engaged in, and they face an enemy who refuses to follow the rules of 'Civilized' warfare. They are trained to simply go into an area and effectively 'Clean House'. If it moves, it's an enemy that needs killing. This is the way our military is trained.

While you are swaggering over that list of failures that you seem so proud of, try comparing it to even an abridged list of successes. No wait, according to You and those like yourself, there have been NO successes... —G.E.

"The semantics (or realities) of the differences between 'war' and 'occupation' has become a common theme of letters in recent weeks. Here is a sample." ...Richard Reeves

  • Killing the Enemy — Rehabilitating the enemy
  • Attacking Targets — Protecting targets
  • Destroying the infrastructure — Rebuilding the infrastructure
  • Bombing bridges & roads — Building bridges & roads
  • Annihilating the government — Setting up a government
  • Ongoing military operations — Major military operations are over
  • Political opposition in exile — Political opposition returning
  • Victory in the future — Mission accomplished

The exact date of the American switch from WAR to OCCUPATION can be verified by checking the published news account for the following conflicts:

WW II Germany, May 1945
WW II Japan, August 1945
Korea, July, 1953
Gulf War, March 1991
Iraq, April 2003

Conclusion: The distinction between WAR and OCCUPATION is not a matter of semantics; it is a matter of verifiable facts. —M.O.

You have fallen into the Rove/Cheney trap of using their frame to discuss the issue. This is 2006. So talk about the Occupation of Iraq that is now 3 years old. The War in Iraq was over in a few weeks. Then the Occupation of Iraq started. Tom Harman, progressive radio host, has hammered this point over and over that the Dems have a winning position when the discussion gets framed as an Occupation. —M.O.

Hillary Rodham-Clinton is an excellent bet for 2008, but the bet itself is a disppointment: it's a hedge by global corporatists, who may need a kindler, gentler shill after the testosterone-driven fiascos of the W years. The skin and bones La Rodham will toss us over her "center"-right shoulder will be the last, largely cosmetic scraps of the New Deal's legacy; but the Rupert Murdochs, the Citicorps, the Chinese leaders in politics and finance will benefit exponentially more. Hillary's Presidential candidacy will not be the lesser of two evils for US voters who deserve better—she is the same evil as her predecessor, with the same financial backers and their same economic agenda. —R.F.

I have gotten to enjoy reading your columns every Friday, and I find myself in agreement with them more often than not; but I'm betting you're wrong on the possible future of Sen. Clinton. Every single person I've met who has expressed any opinion at all on her purported presidential aspirations, has expressed a negative one. America might be ready for a woman president, but I'd bet against any one of the candidates currently floated. The problem, as I see it, is that politics overall are so sexist—and in saying this perhaps I too am being sexist—that no woman is able to achieve high office without being a veritable snake.

And Hillary is frigid. By comparison, Bush I seems downright suave. Her plastic smile makes one pine for "wooden" Al Gore. I don't think her husband will count against her as much as her lack of charm. And as far as the public has witnessed, her convictions are indistinguishable from the great bulk of milquetoast Democrats. I'm half inclined to think the Dems would have a better chance with Obama—a man in need of more exposure. People may think him too young, but I'd lay my money on Obama being a better candidate than Dubya for any post except lumberjack.

Truthfully, I'll vote for McCain over Clinton. He strikes me as more honest, if not wiser. Even ironfisted Rudy stands a decent chance, but if it's between him and Hillary I might vote for Nader or any other doomed optimist out there.

The die is hardly cast though; everything could change if either party puts Big Money into a lesser known candidate. I'd like to hear you predict the candidates (or lack thereof), as unwise as that may be so early in the game. —T.A.

Your commentary, The Perils of Washington Totalitarianism, on the failure of the Democrats to vigorously challenge many of the actions of the Bush Regime which threaten our democracy; is a voice crying in the wilderness. Unfortunately your warning has been diluted, in particular by my local paper, The Oregonian, (5/13/06), which ran your column under the heading "A whiff of totalitarianism." Of all you said in the piece, this phrase is, in my opinion, the only error. What we are experiencing is far, far more than just a whiff of totalitarianism — Gulags and all.

The press must also share a large measure of the blame for failure to expose crimes against the American people by the Bush/Cheney juggernaut. Most recently we've been told that the data-mining of phone records only includes phone numbers and not names and addresses. This is utterly preposterous, yet pundit after pundit repeats this ridiculous claim, as if it is not mere child's play to google any phone number and instantly learn the name and address of the person called.

Indeed, this very email message is stored in a data base somewhere and, depending on who you and I turn out to be, and who our friends and correspondents turn out to be, may be used in some future search, by this or some future government, for a targeted "terrorist." —C.R.

Beautifully put! I wrote an editorial four years ago, nearly a year before the war started, in the Superior (Wis.) Catholic Herald. I referred to war advocates as "armchair Rambos and think-tank Clausewitzes" (you quoted a few of them), then quoted Richard Russell's warning to Lyndon Johnson about Vietnam.

"There's no way we'll ever know what prompted Russell's prophetic warning," I wrote. "But we suspect one reason might be that he and (Robert) Byrd knew who dies when this country goes to war. The deaths are much more likely to hit home in places like Valdosta, Ga.; Clarksburg, W. Va.; and Ashland or Superior, Wis., than in the Washington neighborhoods where you'll find presidential advisors and op-ed columnists."

(Yes, I told you so too!)

I also chastised the Democrats for shirking their duty, and that hasn't changed either. I remember when the junior senator from New York was a Democrat with the courage to speak out against a futile, costly war- and I know you do too. (In retrospect even Vietnam made more sense than this lunacy.) As I wrote then, where have you gone, George McGovern? And as for retrospect I agree that Reagan looks better now. This administration combines the worst of Reagan (ideologically cocksure entourage) and Nixon (anything to win, go for broke ethics), without the better side of either (Reagan's personal decency and good heart, Nixon's occasional willingness to do the right thing when he thought it was popular). —B.K.

Well, that's a new wrinkle (the remittances as providing safety/security). That makes sense and gives me something else to think about in this seemingly intractable problem. —S.T.

During WW II, I was a pilot flying B-25 strafers [345th Bomb Group] in the South Pacific in 1945. I have just read your column appearing in the Aberdeen Daily World for April 18, 2006 entitled "Are we really thinking of nuking them to keep them from getting nukes?"

Two or three days after the Nagasaki incident, our group flew some news reporters (one per plane) to look at Hiroshima with the weather option of diverting to Nagasaki. Our radio operators received a weather message that Hiroshima was obscured by weather conditions and we were diverted to Nagasaki. Arriving just above the hilltops of Nagasaki, I had to notice the absolute stillness in what was left standing. As a seaport, Nagasaki was built on hills leading to its waterfront. The hillsides facing the atomic blast were devastated, while each reverse side was relatively undamaged. I remember seeing electrical transmission towers running northerly away from the city for quite a few miles, which had collapsed from the heat.

While circling over the city, I said to myself an atomic bomb will never be used in a situation where the user has to fear retaliation. This conclusion was arrived at by one who had no thought anything more powerful would be constructed. After less than a half hour over Nagasaki, I looked at the reporter sitting behind the copilot and asked whether he had seen enough. The answer given was yes, he had. I don't recall whether we flew back to Ie Shima, where we were based, singly or with others. There would have been at least six of us from my squadron and probably 6 from another squadron. As you may know, a group is composed of 4 squadrons. Therefore, as many as 24 B-25s may have been involved, since the war was not yet over, in what was credited as a combat mission.

I never discussed my conclusion that no nation fearing retaliation would ever use an atomic weapon against anyone and, while I was in the bomb group, I never heard anyone discuss the issue. We never did talk very much about such things, although whenever there was a loss of one of our planes, this fact was circulated.

In September, I was transferred to a military police company, which was going to Japan, for the purpose of getting some administrative experience for service in the post war military. This decision was not mine and the company, which was functioning quite well, did not need me. I had lots of time to myself and used my Jeep to go to Tokyo, which was badly damaged by the fire bombing, whenever I desired. An exception to the damage, was the Imperial palace and its surrounding grounds. This omission could not have been accidental.

After comparing my ground observations in Tokyo with my low level view of Nagasaki, which we circled at a modest cruising speed without any theatrics, I concluded the firebombing did its job against the Japanese civilians about as effectively as the atomic bomb. The atomic bomb won the contest though because it was so much faster.

With these thoughts, I further conclude based on what I have read since those days after the appearance of the hydrogen bomb that any country [Iran] with only one bomb would never use its bomb against an opponent with hundreds of bombs [Israel] or thousands of bombs [United States]. It seems to me that only a fool would reach any other conclusion. I think the propaganda dispensed by our Democratic and Republican administrations, in recent decades, is based on the presumption that most Americans are fools and that an American sucker is born every minute of every day.

My personal conclusion is the current administration has subjected the American people to post 9/11/01 propaganda making Hitler's propaganda machine look like absolute amateurs. I close by saying you do not seem to be one of those fooled by the Bush administration. —S.T.

In 3/03,I strongly argued with my MBA brother and 3 MBA cousins that while I wanted to believe that our arguments for War were correct and based on sound intel that none of us had access to, within a day of each argument made by the Bush administration, it fell apart based on logic, history, and how we and other nations should conduct themselves in order for civilization to function. I also opined that this war would mark the beginning of our decline in terms of world power and influence. I am an optimist; this assessment was atypical for me. I am not happy that the last 3 years have vindicated my analysis. I voted for Bush in 2000 because I thought Gore was strange. My disdain for Bush's lack of intellect and understanding of history pale in comparison to my sadness of what he has done to this nation .Sadly, I was right 3 years ago. —K.W.

What a letter. What an experience. I thank you for sharing it with me.....Richard Reeves

Nice column. Compelling points all. But please take a look at the two columns Paul Krugman wrote on immigration and, more particularly, the Borjas-Katz study he cites that documents how illegal immigration cuts incomes at the lower end of the economic scale by 8 percent (which is devastating when you're making only $20,000 or so a year). The rest of us benefit to the tune of about a 1 percent increase in income (or buying power). Not much.

But if you insist on particulars, consider the very toughest jobs that illegals perform, picking fruits and vegetables. Another study finds that if every picker were paid a living wage of $13 an hour (which would make these jobs very attractive to Americans), the supermarket bill for the average American family would rise by only $10 a year.

We had never granted any kind of amnesty to illegal immigrants in the United States before 1986. Beginning then and since we've had 7 altogether, not all of them applied to Latin Americans. In most of these cases the amnesty (or whatever label was stuck to it at the time) was sold to the American people as a one-time thing that would pretty much solve our immigration problem. We were also promised greatly increased border enforcement that somehow never got funded and never materialized. The result, a steadily rising tide of illegal immigrants.

As I said, you make good points in your column. But there are better points. I believe you and many others make the mistake of yielding to the liberal tendency to see the most visible problem and address that, thinking there just can't be another side worth considering as long as compassion flows.

More particularly, it's easy when you live on the coasts not to see the devastation wrought in middle, working America when large, diffuse industries like meat packing and construction—industries that used to provide middle-class incomes for many of the vast majority of Americans who don't get college degrees—ruined for our workers by the easy availability of illegals. Even the jobs that I used to consider America's answer to Europe's social safety net—the ag jobs, cleanup jobs, maintenance and hotel work, etc., the kinds of jobs that you could always grab and survive on between better things, the jobs that the drifting Dr. Kimball did every week on "The Fugitive"—are no longer available to Americans.

It's fine to go to a town or city with a large concentration of Hispanics and witness their wonderful energy and determination and say that there lies the future. I don't deny for a moment the appeal and virtue of this. But I would bet that for every town and inner-city neighborhood that has been re-energized by Hispanics, there are several once-thriving Midwest and Plains towns that have been hollowed out not by Wal-Mart but by the loss of decent jobs and decent wages due to the presence of abundant and desperately cheap illegal labor.

If we were to make them citizens, it would (as it always has in the past) prove to be a magnet for more illegals, which would lower U.S. wages even more. If walls aren't the answer and amnesty (or "regularization" or "earned legalization" or making them "gastarbeiter") is, then we're unavoidably stuck with this cycle and an ever-widening income gap that in turn will make this country more and more an oligarchy than it already is.

You cannot have it both ways. You cannot honestly say that border enforcement is ineffective and then say that, somehow, legalizing the immigrants here just one more time will stem the flow and, by extension, improve our labor market. That improvement will never happen because the flow will never stop. We have a history on this, and it doesn't work and cannot be made to work. Just ask yourself: Who makes these laws? Who sees to it whether the laws are enforced? The answer is cheap-labor corporate America working through its two functionaries, the Democratic and Republican parties.

Illegals aren't the only problem. Outsourcing, offshoring and even technological improvements in industry are all exerting small but significant pressures on our labor market (the ultimate inelastic market, where small variances produce outsized effects), cramming Americans down into deeper and deeper dread over the security of their diminishing jobs and their children's future. Just look at the jobs of the tomorrow laid out by the Labor Department. They're mostly menial—janitorial services, nursing assistants, etc.

If you don't believe me, please make an effort to look at the entire picture. The Borjas-Katz study is a good place to start. —G.B.

Thank your for your thoughtful letter about a problem that certainly need a lot of thought, as opposed to Congressional debate — such as that is in modern times. Perhaps I have not thought enough about it myself. When I began writing about this in the 1970s, I never saw it as a liberal-conservative issue. When I first moved to California, the illegal immigrants in the East were mostly Canadian and Irish — and certainly no one cared about them — I reached two conclusions:

1. Californians WANTED illegal immigration for obvious reasons and it could be argued then they were a net plus because they were afraid to seek public services;

2. There was no effective way to stop determined aliens.

My thought at the time, and it has not radically changed, was that the best system was one that made it difficult to get here without becoming a police state. That way we would have a better chance of getting the best and the brightest, as we did from many other societies. In other words, I believe we have to live with this and should make real efforts to maintain control of it, knowing that we could not stop it because of the far greater economic gap between Mexicans and us than between rich and poor Americans....RR

I just finished your President Reagan book, and I had to write you for two reasons. First, as a conservative, I admired your declaration in the forward of your book of your political leanings (which surprised me, since I could not tell which side you leaned after reading President Kennedy and President Nixon). Secondly, I cannot remember a book in recent memory which has informed and changed my opinions like your book did for me.

To me, there is not better way to write a history book then in the style you have adopted, the "what he knew and when he knew it, what he actually saw and did." It puts the reader in the drivers seat to compare what he/she would do if put in a similar situation, and it is the best. I see other writers now copying this style, to your compliment. I know this may be the end of a trilogy, but I hope another President is on the way. —G.B.

The purpose of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty is to ensure no small nation gets even on nuke which could inspire them to stand up to Washington's bullying foreign policies. The U.S. has threatened to use nukes over two dozen times but always against nations lacking the capability to launch a retaliatory response. If Bush and Blair really believed Saddam had WMDs they would never have dared to attack him. This view proven by the hands-off policies towards nuclear-armed North Korea.

What a wonderful column! Although your philosophy has always been diametrically opposed to Reagan conservatism, you are nonetheless a fair, accurate reporter, and this op ed proves it. Thank you very much for a fine piece. —L.B.

I noted in your recent interview with Charlie Rose that you hesitated when he asked you which of Ronald Reagan or Richard Nixon you would prefer as U.S. president. You replied Reagan. What surprised me most, in view of your surprising suggestion that "Ronald Reagan won the Cold War" — and your very-much-less-enthusiastic comments about Richard Nixon in earlier interviews, and in your Nixon biography — was that you hesitated at all.

This recollection is germane to your latest column and that is why I write to you at this time. I'll not go into a lengthy polemic (yet again) about why I agree with Gore Vidal's reflective conclusion, in 1983 — that Nixon was the only great U.S. president of the last half of the 20th century — by quoting what Vidal also said at that time: "Nixon was the first U.S. president who acted on the not-exactly-arcane notion that the United States is just one country among many countries..."

As the late Stephen Ambrose said, with concise eloquence, in the final line of his 3rd volume of Nixon biography: "When Nixon resigned the country lost more than it gained." I would, myself, say "very much more." Instead of Nixon's dream of forging a new constituency that consisted of the 'centre' from the two existing major parties, the U.S. got an extreme party that is largely dominated by Jingoists who have created a mess that may prove worse than the Cold War!

Whoever won the Cold War pales in relation to the fact there are now many more Communists in the world than there were when the Cold War ended — and most are in China. What Nixon did, between February and May of 1972, in Beijing and Moscow, was far more important. He ended The Age Of Anxiety About The Bomb, something that was palpable at the time and was reflected in his obtaining the largest vote plurality of one major party over the other in U.S. history.

The GOP has, ever since, dedicated itself to erasing all of the gains that Nixon brought us, but in this, they have been greatly helped by those who, unlike Vidal in 1983, were unwilling to concede, a decade after Watergate, that it was high time to celebrate "an infamous man who did great deeds for his country [and the world]." Sanctimoniousness about Nixon was far easier and, it increasingly appears, a luxury that the U.S. [and the world] could ill afford. —B.L.

Iran has been working on a nuclear bomb for 18 years. North Korea built its first bomb in the mid-nineties. Maybe the Iranians threw a note to the Hidden Imman asking to know the future. But, I doubt they would have shared the inside dope with the infidels on the Korean peninsula. Bush has made many mistakes. However, calling North Korea and Iran "evil" is not one of them. —S.S.

While I don't subscribe to continued 'bashing', I must admit that President Bush is well qualified to receive the recognition. Descriptive words, e.g., incompetent, arrogant and secretive, have been repeatedly demonstrated within this administration. How elso would one explain the development of a preemption policy (war under perceived threat conditions), the poor quality of legislation (medicare prescription drug benefit) or the 'trashing' of the US Constitution (direct violation of the fourth amendment is clear and unequivacal).

Article [IV.] The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The more appropriate question: How long will it continue? —K.P.

I just read your column (What would Reagan do?). I feel your column is the most definitive writing defining the deference between those of us in the Reagan revolution and these neo-cons running the Republican Party today. I then went to your web site and read your column "The New American Police State". Another great column. Thank you for your inspiring writings. —F.O.

I agree with you about the Dubai ports deal and that it should probably have gone forward. I think that the extraordinary incompetent handling of this by the administration is the reason for its demise. The administration is so arrogant that it thinks everything can be done in secret and that they do not have to answer to anyone. The 9/11 scare tactics every time the polls are down and then saying that the country and Congress should not question the UAE owning the company administering our ports is an approach that reeks of a lack of reality. If this had been handled properly in the first place there would have been no brouhaha about it. Now a shell company will be formed, ownership will probably be still foreign and Congress will go off the deep end and legislate something that will hinder our economy. Is there anyone out there that can run on either ticket that is intelligent, aware of what is going on around him/her and has some statesmanship. It really is quite depressing to see the lack of candidates that I think can handle the job effectively. —M.B.

War on Islam? Really! I suppose that would be in reference to all the Arab planes Americans have hijacked, the Arab embassies Americans have blown up, the Arab athletes Americans have kidnapped and killed, the Arab hostages Americans have beheaded on TV, the religious extremism that Americans have imported into peaceful Muslim countries. Not to mention the rioting Americans who have burned property, terrorized Jews, bombed synagogues and plotted against tolerant and peace-loving Muslim states. Our "war on Islam" indeed. You should cringe with shame. —R.C.

I agree with you that Reagan wouldn't have been so stupid as to go to war in Iraq. I am no fan of Reagan's, but neither Reagan nor his advisers would ever have put this country in such a dire situation. It's also my understanding that Reagan was terrified of getting Americans killed in battle on his watch. If that's true, it may help explain why we could go through eight years of Reagan without any Vietnams or Iraqs... Compared with Bush-Cheney and today's moribund Democratic Party, I long for the days of Reagan.

Also, I'd think that most true Reaganites would NOT be at all happy with the wingnuts comparing Bush with Reagan. Rather, I'd think they'd be running the other way — trying to put as much distance as possible between the Reagan presidency and the current one. My sense is that 50 years from now, even diehard Republicans of that time will be doing everything they can to disassociate themselves from the Bush-Cheney era. —P.H.

You say that "we" advocated globalization but now that other countries are playing along — as in the port deal — "we" don't like it. Those are two different "we's." Most Americans have never been on board with globalization. "We" don't care for the outsourcing, the offshoring, the cramming down and the tide of illegal immigration. We didn't want NAFTA, but we got it and it has been a miserable failure. We don't want the WTO, but it has been imposed on us and the awful results grow more obvious every day.

Here's a flash for you: Globalization is nothing new. It's cyclical. It comes, it wreaks its havoc, and then it goes. The sooner we dispense with this latest rotten infestation, the better. —G.B.

As an ordinary citizen of this country I view with great alarm how the current administration, which acts more as a regime, has undermined the basic values of this country. As much as I am alarmed by the Bush administration, I am more concerned about how we as citizens have enabled these people to subvert the principles and actions of this country. I think the main cause of our collective failure as citizens has been our adoption of self-centered attitudes about our world and our choice of intellectual laziness which leads to very dangerous ignorance of how the world really works. I think the Bush administration is truly a reflection of our current society and only we as informed citizens can truly change it. —J.M.

I very much enjoyed your column about Paul Craig Roberts and his conversion from the Dark Side. A few months ago, I renewed my acquaintance with his work when he wrote a widely circulated op-ed piece ripping the Bush Administration for what has been happening. I was so shocked by what he wrote that I had to check to make sure that this was the SAME Paul Craig Roberts I knew from the supply-side lunacy of the Reagan years. Thank you for calling attention to his latest piece, which I hadn't seen. —P.H.

Nice vignette on Betty Friedan. We often don't see icons like her as regular folks. My wife and I are 57, and my wife came of age as Ms. Friedan and others were breaking new ground. Unfortunately, for people of my wife's age and slightly older, the real benefits didn't accrue until the next generation. People who didn't live through that time look back on the early days of the feminist movement with the same disconcertment, bordering on disbelief, that they do the times before women could vote or attend Ivy League schools. The Republicans today are trying to turn back the clock, and sadly, it seems that many young women today — themselves receiving the benefits of Ms. Friedan's efforts — just don't understand what all the furor was about. — P.H.

Very true and nice article . Our loss of morals and integrity have dealt a harsh blow to our country. I hope we can gain it back some day. —B.L.

Enjoyed your Iraqi war cost column. Of course, this is a moot point because the Republicans don't pay for their wars. They send the bills to the next generation. Apparently, no one will have to pay the cost! —D.G.

I just recalled a 60 Minutes segment which used film clips of Ronald Reagan describing vivid descriptions of battles of WWII-which were fiction and only happened in the movies. Reagan`s confusing fact with fiction means he either was delusional or lying- either of which is serious. Reagan contributed to the dumming down of society -which implied that it is not necessary for a president to be well informed. This led the way for the ignoramus that is George W. Bush who spent most of his life in a drunken stupor and is president only because he is the Son a Bush and who was according to brother Marvin the family buffoon. —R.S.

Your assessment of Bush and his presidency were right on the money, and I commend you for having the gumption to publish it as you did. The so-called "conservative" propaganda machine will probably turn on you, but you should consider that a badge of honor, Sir. This president has in my opinion already proven that he IS the worst president in modern American history, and a strong contender for the "Worst President Ever Award". —R.G.

I accept your points about the scary technology coming into use in the UK, but I have to say that culturally I find Britain a far freer place than America post 9/11. I'm an American now living in Britain. On a flight (on a US airline) to visit relatives in the States a flight attendant questioned me as to why I was counting passengers when I returned to my seat when disposing of an orange peel in a waste basket in a galley. This because I was seen to be observing people as I returned to my seat. To the crime of being mildly curious about my fellow passengers I plead guilty. While in America I was stopped while browsing in a shop and told (rather brusquely) to hand over a plastic shopping bag from another store in exchange for a ticket. While in the airport waiting for my return flight to the UK I was astounded to find the large atrium room where I was sitting suddenly erupt with loud applause and a standing ovation simply because a troop of soldiers walked by. I applauded too, mainly because I didn't want to be seen to be the only person in the room who didn't. Don't get me wrong. My heart goes out to the poor soldiers sent to fight this war based upon lies, but that action seemed more in keeping with a country like Mussolini's Italy than the America I used to live in. I never experience anything like these incidents, or the feelings of unease they aroused in me, in my life in London. And they all took place in just the space of a week! But I'm not surprised because America has a president proudly explaining why he has the right to set aside any law or civil liberty to invade anyone's right to privacy in his 'war' on terrorism.. —A.A.

You were entirely unfair to James Buchanan. I am not saying that Buchanan was a great leader, but he has been condemned by a century of historians (including, now, you) for failing to force South Carolina to either remain in the Union or return to it, and thus avoid a Civil War that he handed over to Abraham Lincoln. There is nothing in the Constitution requiring states to remain in the Union, and there is no authority in the Constitution for a President to force them back in. With a few minor exceptions — i.e., including the Louisiana Purchase — the first 15 presidents remained within Constitutional limitations in the conduct of their duties. The last Republican President to do that may have been Rutherford Hayes, or possibly Chester Arthur, and the last Democrat President to do that was Grover Cleveland. Since then, presidents, like the Congress and everybody else, appear to have gradually ignored more and more of the Constitution's limitations. The first President to sidestep the Constitution to a great degree was Lincoln, and the next after him was FDR. Now, we ignore it far more often than we adhere to it, or rather, we adhere to it when it's politically feasible. But Buchanan knew all too well that he had no Constitutional authority to do more than what he did, and so he remained loyal to it. And, for that, he has been consigned to the basement of presidential rankings ever since. —H.Z.

As someone who was born and raised in Jersey City, I know about Frank Hague. The difference between him and George W. Bush is that Hague was competent. George W. is the most incompetent of them all. —A.L.

I was hoping your article was written tongue in cheek. It wasn't. I would say he is doing right, these are special times since 9/11 and I'm in favor of PC incorrect such as checking all muslims at airports etc. If it walks like a duck, etc. Until this WORLDWIDE epidemic of Muslim terrorism is squashed, lets GET'R DONE!! —B.C.

I believe that we have made exactly the same mistake in Iraq that we made in Vietnam. In both cases we are trying to prop up governments among hostile populations that do not want us there. It has been shown many times that no government, not even the most brutal, can successfully rule without considerable popular support. We didn't have any in Vietnam, and we don't have any in Iraq. What confuses many people who insist that Iraq is not Vietnam is the belief that our problems in Vietnam were caused by the jungle terrain. Supposedly we would have won in Vietnam if only the enemy didn't have a jungle to hide in. But the problem wasn't the terrain, it was the lack of popular support. —C.C.

I have lots of respect for your opinion in the article "This Plan for Victory", published in Albuquerque Journal Dec.12.05. I was against the war and all the reasons that I based on my opinion are now historical facts. I was born and finished my education (masters level) in Europe. The knowledge of the history helped me to see the consequences of the inappropriate decisions that were made before the war by the current administration. It was the ignorance of the historical facts and naive thinking that democracy can be establish fast in the society that is historically so different from ours. Please keep on writing. American public must realize that mistakes were made. American people deserve honesty from this administration. —A.C.

I am 55. I can't remember a president who has done more to undermine the basic principles upon which America is supposed to stand. Growing up in the 50s and 60s, we knew that America was never a bully; that Amerca liberated torture camps, it didn't run them; that America respected the "inalienable" rights of all men, including the right to due process; that government existed at least in part to help the little guy help himself; and that we kept our religion and our politics separate. With Bush, it's backward, backward, backward, all in the name of patriotism, to a country which may be militarily strong and rich but which is sacrificing its unique ideals. It is enough to make you weep. —R.C.

"My column on George Bush's standing as President drew thousands of replies, mostly (but not all) abusive and here, censored for language, is the voice of the people in debate"...Richard Reeves

Keep your liberal comments to your self, I will be pulling all my alumni funds from USC from this point on. History will remember President Bush as a great liberator! and no one will remember your sorry comments. —A.P.

[The war in Iraq] is only "unwinnable" because the ACLU and the democrats have tied the hands of our military. The ACLU whines every time we capture, detain or kill the enemy and the democrats tell everyone how the war is wrong. —C.H.

I appreciate your articles on this unfortunate state of affairs and pray that the resonate with the general public. I pray that a grass-roots movement will get this great country back on track. —D.N.

I believe history, when unburdened by today's bias and hatred, will prove W. Bush to have been as great, if not better, than Lincoln. —K.G.

I think your column of Bush was unfair and it would have been better written if you had accurate facts and not unproven opinions listed as facts. —R.

You must subscribe to the notion if you repeat lies enough, they become truth. —J.F.

If you think George W. Bush will be remembered as the worst president in history, you are just an idiot. It's disgusting that you call yourself an intellectual when you write the kind of horse s—- in that column. Thanks for your time. —K.

President Bush is a Christian who actually acts on his deeply held beliefs. I find that refreshing and a welcome relief to a previous occupant. [...] I see President Bush as saying what he sincerely believes to be the truth. If he is mistaken on a fact, as you or I can do, it is an error, NOT a lie. We may have gotten callous to some Presidents lying to our faces, but that has not been President Bush's style. He is not the most polished public speaker, but he is one President who will tell you what he thinks and act as he sees best to act, despite what the polls or what the critics say. In this regard, he has one of the classiest Presidencies I have seen. —S.C.

As much I personally disliked Nixon and thought Reagan was far overrated as president, those two were towering presidents compared with Bush. I think Carter may have actually been the worst of the post-war presidents in terms of not being able to figure out how to be president. And I actually thought the first George Bush wasn't a bad president (even though I didn't vote for him). Clinton, perhaps the most intellectual president in our history, was disappointing because he had the opportunity to do so much but punted. Clinton spent his presidency trying to out-conservative the conservatives and what did we get for it? Eight years of George W. Bush and a moribund Democratic Party. (I agree with the Republicans that the progress on the economy was largely the luck of good timing.) But as much as I might have been unhappy with many of the presidents of my lifetime, I will take any of them over Bush. And while I have disliked numerous presidents of my lifetime for any number of reasons, I've never put any of them at the bottom of the list — let alone saying one of them was the worst in history. But with Bush, it's easy to say that. The Bush Administration is dismantling many of the progressive accomplishments of the past 100 years and has made life more difficult for most Americans. Not only has his presidency accomplished nothing positive for most Americans, he has done real damage both domestically and internationally in every major area. I can't think of one positive accomplish of his presidency. Well, maybe one. The new Fed chairman seems OK and looks to be a big improvement over the too-political Greenspan. The next president, Republican or Democrat, will face disasters at every turn. —P.H.

Until this article on Bush appeared on one of my favorite web sites, I had never heard of you before, and , believe me, it is my favorite hobby to keep up with the news and what commentators have to say. You are sick, sick, sick, your mind is twisted, your thinking is distorted, You are one guy I will stay away from in the future. — A.K.

I was concerned about the way in which you weaved in the speculation about President Buchanan's sexual orientation. That would have been a valid inclusion in and of itself as a bit of background. [...] The way the sexual orientation information is included, the reader could be led to believe that his alleged homosexuality was somehow responsible for the major failures in his administration. —L.G.

You're right. Bad wording....RR

You must be joking. You have no sense of history, scale, or appreciation of the truth. Your skewed viewpoint is only exceeded by your bias. I would make a cohesive argument why you are wrong, but I feel it would fall on deaf ears and therefore not worth my time. I'll spend my time in more productive manner, discussing facts with open minded, clear thinking individuals. This is the first time I have been prompted to look up a "journalist" and respond to a column, for that motivation, I thank you. For the content of your column, I feel you are doing a great disservice to your own intelligence. —M.B.

Thanks for your sobering analysis of Bush. I'm a Viet Nam combat vet and was a 30 year registered, if moderate, republican, who voted for Bush in 2000. Once it became obvious (in 2002) he intended to invade Iraq, I started doing what I could to oppose him. The congress persons (especially democrats) who cowardly turned over their constitutional war making authority to this arrogant, incompetent man must now step aside. Rudy Guiliani or Wesley Clark are the only ones I can see out there who are fit to lead our Beloved but damaged Country. —R.C.

After reading you column, "Is George Bush the Worst President- EVER?" I've come to the conclusion that you are whats wrong with America. I happen to like George Bush but I don't agree with everything he has done. However, I find myself constantly defending him like an ardent supporter because he is so maliciously attacked in the media and, in turn, by many of my peers, the impressionable young people who get most of their opinions from the mainstream liberal media. [...] You have made it much clearer to me how the media becomes so liberal. It is because they are taught but super-liberal academics such as yourself, who are "morons", to use a kind word. —T.C.

I agree President George W Bush is presidency failed, primarily because he is incompetent to handle this big of a job. I'm very concerned for this country. It is on a downward spiral in the world and there seems to be nothing that can stop it. There are no provisions for a "no confidence" vote, or a re-call, all the while it is becoming quite obvious he does not know how to be a U.S. President. —C.

To you liberals no war is winnable because you do not have the spine to see it through. If it were up to you, Europe would be speaking German and we would be speaking Japanese. —M.M.

You are so right... it will take time to judge the results of the Bush presidency. The biggest failure of this Whitehouse is their inability to buck the tide of media bias. Gee, how about all of the Democrats who voted for the war before they voted against it? Many Democratic leaders believed that Sadaam had WMD before Bush even came to office. Who lied to them? —J.R.

*Could* George W be the worst president? Sure. But there also *could* be Martians on another planet. In both cases, there's no solid evidence. —N.O.

History will prove you wrong about the president, particularly with regards to Iraq. It may be less kind on his expansion of Medicare and non-use of the veto to control spending. — M.H.

No one in Buchanan's day would have said he was the "worst ever"... at least not publicly. —K.S.

I invite you to resign from the University of Southern California and to stop producing your liberal gibberish. You are a traitor who has given aid and comfort to the enemy during a war and are undermining the ability of the government to conduct the war on terror. —R.T.

President Bush will be judged by historians fairly in the future, but how can anyone tell if he left this country better than he found it after only five years? It is silly and unprofessional to label Bush the worst president ever unless [one] can see into the future. It does not really matter what people think of his actions today, the only thing that matters is what kind of future those actions become. I don't think president Lincoln was proclaimed as the best president ever by John Kennedy until about a century after his presidency was over. Give Bush the same courtesy. —J.F.

Well said. With the proper leadership we might even be at the point of realizing "war no more", but I doubt it. Keep up the good work, Mr, Reeves. Keep up the good work. —E.S.

so the toppling of a despot, a constitutional democracy and free elections is nothing? for so keen an intellect, how have you gotten it so wrong? —R.A.

Toppling despots is good and nice, but there are probably too many of them for us to topple right now. I hope you are right about democracy and free elections that produce peaceful transfers of power, but if you are wrong, we made a mistake. And I think we did, as I wrote before we did it. The real rap on this group of war-makers is that they did not understand what they were doing. A lot of young Americans are paying a terrible price for that. I hope you and I are both willing to reward them by helping them build or rebuild damaged lives with education, health care, back pay and the other things that have so often been denied veterans of undeclared wars....RR

Dear Mr Reeves,
I enjoyed your recent column on the comparisons of the Bush and Reagan presidencies. I think history will continue to be a friend to President Reagan primarily because he was more pragmatic than most political commentators give him credit for. I do hope your new book covers that key aspect of his character. As you write, the lack of pragmatism and the primacy of ideology ( some might say stubbornness ) is proving the death knell of the current President. I have appreciated the objectivity of your writing as you have always given credit to successful politicians regardless of their political stripe. That quality is seriously lacking in contemporary political discourse and scholarship. I am looking forward to your Reagan biography. —M.M.

Mr. Reeves-
I am a big fan of your writing and I read your columns whenever I can. I would like to ask you a question about your most recent article. You go out of your way to introduce readers to the educational pedigrees of influential conservatives, while at the same time lamenting the lack of such a cadre on the democratic side. You even criticize Al Franken, Harvard degree and all, for being merely a "comedian." But even a cursory search would surely reveal many well-educated, well-thought, well-written progressive thinkers. In the five minutes between reading your column and writing this note I was able to confirm my suspicions that both Frank Rich (Harvard) and Molly Ivins (Smith College, Columbia Journalism) seem to fit the description. Why would you ignore this side of the argument? Thank you for your time. —A.H., Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Franken reference was meant to contrast different kinds of power: a politically-conscious "personality" versus the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The point I may not have made well was this: Al, Molly Ivins, me for that matter, and "liberal" judges grew and rose sort of organically, making personal decisions and getting lucky to end up where they wanted to be. The conservatives I talked about were, essentially, recruited, subsidized — the Olin Foundation is one gateway to understanding — and trained for the positions they now occupy. I always find it instructive to re-read the last chapter of William Simon's "A Time for Truth", which lays out the process, in journalism,at least....RR

Hello Mr. Reeves,
First a blandishment, but a true blandishment.....I have always admired your wisdom and your prose. It is just that I disagree with your conclusions re: the "intellectual" Right. What you refer to as the intellectual triumph of the Right is at its essence a lot of self-consious pseudo-intellectual posing....Navel gazing, self-indulgent, corporate sponsored, ruminations on the "virtues" of Darwinian/Ayn Rand economic libertarianism in opposition to flaccid Democracy.

No, Mr. Reeves, the ascendance of the Right has not been as a consequence of any intellectual ferment; it has instead been a direct result of the Power of coarsely Low-Brow Talk Radio. The combination of ignorant talk radio and psychotic religious fanaticism is what has wrought bush et al. and our national disgrace.

It is the Triumph of Low-Brow Jingoism and Crass Propaganda, not any "Intellectual Triumph" that has brought us to where we are. I think you know I'm correct. —J.D.

Actually I don't think you're correct, although your points are certainly a significant factor. But important events, and arguments, surfaced before talk radio, beginning at least with the civil rights movement and local school board elections in the 1970s. I appreciated the thoughts....RR

Richard Reeves stopped writing his syndicated column at the end of 2014 after 35 years in more than 160 newspapers and websites.

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