Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

Cindy has been one of the few people who have the ability to reach many people with one voice and not back down from the pressure to conform that voice to a status quo. Cindy is not perfect and never tried to pretend to be, which is why she will make a great representative. It is time for politics as usual to end.

Overall I have a huge critique of what Katrina vanden Heuvel said: "In the Nation community, we have no disagreements about whether this war should end. We do have disagreements about the best political strategies we should adopt in order to end it. I believe that your letter serves as a reminder that people who disagree about tactics do not necessarily disagree about principles or long-term goals."

If you are not calling for all funding to stop and all troops, contractors, advisors, bases and guns to be brought home now, then you are not in fact sharing the "principles or long-term goals" of wanting to end the war. Anything other than ending the war now is in fact continuing the war.

As a veteran who served on 9/11 and left the military over Iraq we disagree about principles and long-term goals. Saying you want to end the war is not the same as wanting the war to end, no matter how much one believes that they do want it to. It is essential to have an understanding of what war does to the people involved, both the troops and civilians, and knowing that it rarely, if ever, benefits either of them. Politics will blind a person to the human cost of war, because politicians are too often the only people who will benefit from it.

Ending the war is not a political strategy. Ending the war is a command given by a general.

The lives of our troops and the lives of the Iraqis are not pawns to be strategized with.

Jennifer Hogg

New York, NY

Sep 9 2007 - 3:47pm

Web Letter

What a bunch of whiny-ass white liberals. Cindy Sheehan has the courage and strength to stand up to the POTUS, risks life and health to fight against the war, gives her all to the struggle for peace--and you punk-ass liberals dog her for it. She isn't politically correct enough for you people who think Harry Reid is a bad-ass. How dare she challenge one of your icons like Pelosi, who never met an AIPAC contribution she didn't like. May God bless her, and to hell with you fools who are cheap-shotting her now that she has offended your precious democratic party. Go back to your lattes and make stupid witty comments about Cindy's political naivete or her big ego like a lot of your asshole bloggers are writing. Order another latte and reminisce about the great days when Clinton was president. Then look in a mirror. That's the same stupid face the rest of the world visualizes when they think of what the US does to the world.

Joseph Osorio

East LA, CA

Sep 4 2007 - 9:59pm

Web Letter

Ms. vanden Heuvel suggests to Ms. Sheehan that she "re-read Katha's blog. Her criticism is framed by real respect for your 'crucial role in our politics: as an activist.' " But who is Katha Pollitt to define Sheehan's role in our politics "as an activist"? I'm sure Cindy can define her role just fine, thank you. To question her venture into politics as not serious or valid because she is an antiwar activist is absurd. The very nature of our country should allow any one of us to step into the ring. Most, unfortunately, do it for power. Hell, Tom DeLay was a disgruntled pest exterminator. Give me a break.

To go back to Pollitt's original post, she questions whether impeachment should "really be a litmus test," goes on to say "sure, it would be emotionally satisfying" and "fun." The expressed lack of understanding why people like Cindy Sheehan are working for accountability and justice through impeachment is an enormous problem. It has never been and never will be about paybacks. It is about the foundation of our country and balance of power in the government. On that issue, Sheehan far surpasses the other mentioned writers, except possibly John Nichols. Perhaps that is where the reference to "Jeffersonian democrat" arose.

Gary Younge argues that "Pelosi is not the enemy." Not sure I would use that term either, but on some matters such as the Constitution, she can hardly be described as "friend." Question, really is why the quick jump to decry someone's run for office before it even gets off the ground? What are you afraid of?

Cheryl Biren-Wright

Pennsauken, NJ

Aug 31 2007 - 8:00pm

Web Letter

I admire Cindy Sheehan as a woman, a mother and above all an indefatigable antiwar heroine. What concerns me, however, was her reporting of the "Hamad" story in her piece "Inshallah," the one that completely fooled her into taking sides in the Iraqi quagmire.

She recently wrote: "We have spent a lot of time with an Iraqi parliamentarian whose 10 cousins were slaughtered after 'Hamad' had exposed a secret Shi'a prison that imprisoned, tortured, and killed Sunni." How come they spared "Hamad"? Did he have parliamentary immunity? Are the Shi'a really that cruel against the valiant Sunni who formed the backbone (as well as arms, legs and muscles] of Saddam Hussein's barbaric regime for all those years? What happened to balanced reporting, Cindy? Cindy Sheehan seems to have achieved single-handedly, what the neocons, White House, GOP, US Military, CIA, MI6, FOX, CNN, BBC, TIME, AP, The Guardian... have thus far failed to do: Put the blame for the Iraqi carnage squarely on the Shi'a "death squads."

I have no way of knowing for certain whether Cindy's trip to Jordan was arranged and paid for by the Saudi Royal Family, but given the Saudi moneybags are Sunnis, it wouldn't at all be surprising. Why else would anyone accuse only one side in a conflict that involves many players, especially the CIA death squads, Mossad assassination packs and British Dirty Ops?

Did the Saudis also promise to bankroll Cindy's campaign for Congress? I hope so! Anyone is better than the old Mafiosi occupying the corridors of power.

As someone else in another forum said (or words to that effect), "Suddenly, Sheehan is looking at the Iraqi plight through an entirely different lens (telescope): the Establishment-Israeli-neocon-White House-GOP-Saudi Royal Family's jaundiced eyes. That's a dangerous route to take."

What next, Cindy? Bomb the Shi'a Iran to stop the Iraqi atrocities?

I hope The Nation has the courage to honor my freedom of speech by publishing this letter.

Mavis Sanchez

San Diego, CA

Aug 30 2007 - 10:07pm

Web Letter

The beauty of a run for Nancy Pelosi's seat by Cindy Sheehan is that it sharply focuses the entirely appropriate wrath of the well-informed electorate like a laser beam on the most appropriate and potentially fruitful target. Ms. Pelosi's constituency is among the most progressive in the nation, yet she has operated as if she were representing Mississippi or Montgomery. She has essentially served as the primary gatekeeper of the Democratic message, and in that role she has thus far failed miserably.

It should be remembered that the galvanizing moment--May 24 of this year--that ultimately led to Ms. Sheehan's decision to run for Ms. Pelosi's seat was the monumentally cynical calculation on the part of the Democratic leadership to split the Iraq War funding bill into two parts, and essentially rubber stamp the funding while posturing against the war. It was that precise moment, more than any other, which symbolized the completely craven nature of the Washington political scene, and pounded a stake through the heart of those who had formerly hung their hopes with the resurgent Democratic Party.

The Nation magazine has yet, in my opinion, to take the appropriately oppositional stance to the disastrous cave-in that has left our entire political system buried in corruption and disarray.

It is instructive and fascinating to compare the early years of the magazine's founding to the situation today. In the cause of the abolition of slavery it was somewhat rare to find those who both opposed slavery, and honestly believed that freed Negroes were not only entitled to equal rights but were in every meaningful measure the equal of whites. Today it's not uncommon to find that principled and accurate view.

What will future generations think of us today who cannot find the spine to impeach an executive branch gone wild? That is assuming we will have those future generations.

William Kool

Hudsonville, MI

Aug 30 2007 - 3:59pm

Web Letter

It is unusual that such a staunch Liberal would be pilloried by you guys. If Cindy is really your choice for anything, then you Liberals have sunken further than any of us thought possible!!! By even supporting Cindy, you have revealed yourselves to the rest of the country your complete disconnect with reality. If we come home from Iraq now, you will be fighting them in Los Angeles, Houston and Atlanta! But then, that is what most of us REAL Americans think you want. We think that the Liberals want this country to fall apart and be defeated, and you are doing that by supporting people like Cindy..

Bill Nigh

Riverside, CA

Aug 30 2007 - 12:26pm

Web Letter

Does Cindy Sheehan remember when the editors of The Nation implored Ralph Nader not to run in 2004? Why in the world did they do that?

Two reasons present themselves: either (1) they are ignorant and benighted, and really believe despite all the evidence to the contrary that John Kerry and the Democrats really do offer a political alternative to the Republicans; or (2) it is not in their own personal and material interests to support someone outside the system.

Option #1 doesn't seem possible. The editors have been around the block a long time; indeed, they are in the seventh inning of their life.

This leaves us with Option #2. Could Katrina vanden Heuvel and her colleagues appear on cable news shows if they were ardent Nader supporters? Could The Nation even exist as a viable magazine if it were to the left of the Democratic Party? Who would write the checks and pay the bills?

And yet, it should be clear to everyone that the Democratic Party opposes single-payer healthcare, supports half-trillion-dollar military budgets, believes Israel has the right to "ethnically cleanse" the Palestinians, and thinks the United States has a divine right to rule the world.

If the system cannot be contested in the electoral arena, then where (realistically) can it be contested?

William James

San Diego, CA

Aug 30 2007 - 1:19am

Web Letter

Cindy Sheehan transformed her own life, after the death of her son Casey, in order to challenge President Bush on his own ground and thereby transform the debate on the war. She succeeded brilliantly, perhaps even beyond her own expectations. Now, she wants to run for office against the highly polished, perfectly dressed, heavily scripted establishment Speaker of the House, who happens to be a woman, and who purportedly wants to end this malignant war... at least that's what she's said for more than two years. At this point, does anyone actually believe her? Cindy Sheehan obviously does not.

Regardless of what anyone at The Nation thinks pro or con on Sheehan's candidacy, the fact that she wants to run and has the support to run is all that should matter. We've had enough micro-management of the electoral process these past seven years, from the disgusting gerrymandering orchestrated by Tom DeLay and his minions to the numerous proven instances of electoral fraud or abuse, to the boneheaded reliance around the country on Diebold machines, with no papertrail and explicit vulnerability to hackers, to the hyper-partisan and often racist regulatory restrictions by the likes of the Ohio Secretary of State in the last presidential election. These are but a few examples of the persistent underbelly of current national elections, which is to the ideal voting process what George Bush is to Jed Bartlet on The West Wing.

Let the voters choose their representative from Calfornia's 8th District. If they're as fed up with Pelosi's tap dancing on the war as I am, as I'm certain many thousands of progressives are, if they're "put off" by her luxe Armani suits, her perfect and perfectly gleaming white teeth, her professional makeup job, her animatronic, I'm-from-wealth-and-privilege interview style, her premature public decision to take impeachment "off the table", while virtually every pernicious policy of this president cries out for Congressional investigation, let alone impeachment, and of course her incremental, counter-productive games of "Twister" with the White House over the war, which just keeps on goin' on--four more young Americans cut down this week--then I hope the voters in the eighth will look on Sheehan as a truer representative of their feelings and politics, their desire to actually transform the status quo, and get rid of Ms. Pelosi, a "Democrat" for the Horsey Set.

Let the pundits at The Nation and everywhere else just shut up. I'm not crazy about Cindy Sheehan's morally superior style, her veiled and controversial anti-Israel (some say anti-Semitic) comments, her expanding ego, her public shrillness and so forth, but she went out there and walked the walk, she paid the price of vilification, multiple arrests, curt dismissal as a "traitor" by arrogant right-wing disemblers whose mission is to crush any dissent regardless of the war's devolution into an historic human catastrophe.

She did so through deep personal conviction, and withstood the slings and arrows. She lost her son for a cause that seems increasingly manufactured, distorted by the week, and utterly pointless; I have two grown sons, and I can relate..."there but for the grace..." If she wants to run for Congress, who the hell are a handful of self-absorbed pundits, no matter their progressive "creds," to try and block her way? They should be signing up to knock on doors, including you, Katrina. Save the condescension for the ones who deserve it, like Tucker Carlson. Go get 'em, Cindy.

Stewart Braunstein

Port Washington , NY

Aug 29 2007 - 11:08pm

Web Letter

In her response to Cindy Sheehan, Katrina vanden Heuvel characterizes The Nation's role as "a forum for a debate and conversation among the left."

It is precisely its role as the moderator of this debate which Sheehan's words and deeds call into question.

As the introduction to the exchange states, of The Nation's columnists who have weighed in, only one, John Nichols, has been supportive of Sheehan's political reorientation and that only mildly. More crucially Nichols's piece pointedly fails to mention Sheehan's clearly articulated reasons for abandoning the Democratic Party thus leaving the impression that the candidacy is quixotic, emotional and arbitrary. A second, Gary Younge, is dubious about electoral politics as a progressive strategy. The third, Katha Pollitt is actively hostile to it, albeit expressing respect for Sheehan.

Counterpoised to this spectrum is the overwhelming majority of Nation readers who, according to its own on line poll, support Sheehan's challenge to Pelosi. Furthermore, the online comment sections at The Nation, Commondreams, Alternet and other sites overflow with passionate, well-reasoned pleas for the development of a foundation for an independent, third party as an alternative to the hopelessly sclerotic unipolar, albeit nominally bipartisan, political system.

In the view of many, The Nation, much like the Democratic Party itself, takes for granted the great majority of its readers, recognizing that it has nowhere else to turn. Alas, it is correct; In These Times, The Progressive, The American Prospect, even Zmag join The Nation in rejecting third-party alternatives and almost never discussing them.

Cindy Sheehan's campaign, we believe, may provide the spark which ignites independent progressive politics. Whether or not it succeeds will depend on whether a national progressive is informed about its goals and needs.

The Nation should be functioning as a voice for this constituency, not as an obstacle in its way.

John Halle

Red Hook, NY

Aug 29 2007 - 8:11pm

Web Letter

Washington is largely controlled by special interests and the lobbies that represent them. The American people are not represented. As Ms. Sheehan and others have remarked, Democrats were elected in 2008 to end the Iraq War. The only way they could have done it was by not funding the war. Since they have not paid attention to the voter on Iraq, and voters' wishes are ignored to please special interests, they should expect to be challenged in the Democratic primaries. The only way the American people can get their point across is to hand them their heads at the ballot box. Ms. Sheehan is showing the way. If she does make it to Congress, she might also take a look at the military/industrial complex and the effects of privatization on that war.

Pervis J. Casey

Riverside, CA

Aug 29 2007 - 5:41pm