New York City

Patricia J. Williams’s column regarding my comments on the Dixie Chicks during a CNN interview only told half the story [“Diary of a Mad Law Professor,” May 26 and June 9]. In that same interview I pointed out–and you can check the tape–that the Chicks’ last single, “Landslide,” was an obscene “glorification of a natural disaster that kills millions, some say up to a billion every year.” (And we wonder why the terror alert was recently raised.) Until the Chicks are stopped I can’t afford not to speak out. As Tobias Keith once wrote, “Oh, Justice will be served and the battle will rage. This big dog will fight when you rattle his cage… ‘Cuz we’ll put a boot in your ass. It’s the American Way.”

MO ROCCA, activist/comedian


New York City

Oh well then. I defer to the American Way.



Novato, Calif.

Jim Farrell’s editorial criticizing Howard Dean has a fundamental flaw [“Dean’s No Wellstone,” May 26]. Dean’s supporters do not think he’s another Paul Wellstone; they think he’s a candidate who can beat George W. Bush. Gephardt’s record in Congress is certainly admirable, but his wooden oratory is worse than Al Gore’s. Gore himself had progressive credentials, but lacked charisma and conviction. Dean has the aura of a natural leader, a reasonable record, the appeal of an outsider and an evident intelligence and flexibility people can trust. Betting on Dean gives us the possibility of having a Democrat and a progressive at once; betting on the rest guarantees we’ll have Bush for another four years.


Arundel, Me.

I agree that Howard Dean is not Paul Wellstone. Those of us fortunate enough to witness Wellstone’s first run for the Senate were treated to a brand of local, progressive politics that no one had seen before. The Democratic Party must come up with a candidate that we all can support. I don’t want to feel great about defeating Bush et al. and then find myself in the same sinking bateau on that proverbial creek. We the people need a living wage–now!, affordable single-payer healthcare–now!, Patriot Acts I and II repealed–NOW! So find us a candidate we can support and feel good about at the same time.


Arlington, Va.

If Jim Farrell is looking for a candidate from the Wellstone wing of the Democratic Party, I suggest Representative Dennis Kucinich, who is closest to Wellstone both in principles and passion. The first candidate to oppose the Iraq war. The leader who organized 126 House Democrats to vote against the war. The sponsor of the Department of Peace and Nonviolence bill. The only candidate who marched in Seattle with the blue/green coalition of “Teamsters and turtles.” The only one who will cancel NAFTA as his first act as President, because it rips off working families in Mexico, Canada and the United States, just to benefit multinationals. The only one willing to take the insurance companies out of healthcare, by supporting Canadian-style single-payer. The one who says the Iraq war was wrong despite the military victory, because it was an act of aggression unworthy of a great nation. The one who will cut the military budget and work to abolish the death penalty.

Just like Paul Wellstone, Dennis Kucinich is an unapologetic progressive with a hopeful spirit–a legislator who is also an organizer. Maybe that’s why Wellstone was comfortable being the only senator in the Progressive Caucus, which Dennis Kucinich (and Barbara Lee) led.



Aspen, Colo.

Bruce Cumings is right [“Bush’s Bomb,” May 19]. Bush has to turn his back on the missile deal with North Korea that Bill Clinton successfully negotiated before leaving office, because to the Bush Administration all diplomatic solutions are inherently suspect. This suspicion is part of a much deeper problem that is turning out to have devastating consequences both for the nation and for the world.

It does not take a speech pathologist to recognize that when left unscripted, this President is clearly at a disadvantage in the communications realm. It has been frequently observed by professionals treating this particular handicap that those so disadvantaged have a much shorter fuse and are therefore more prone to violence than the general population. Nowhere has this been more evident than in Bush’s decision to short-circuit the diplomatic process in his jump to war against Iraq. It was almost as if he were merely going through the motions of diplomacy at the UN to assuage the multilateralist concerns of his father, Tony Blair and Colin Powell. After he had gotten the diplomatic phase behind him once and for all, he was transparently relieved to finally settle down to what he regarded as his “real” business–namely, war as the preferential option of someone who inevitably feels threatened and at an inherent disadvantage when it comes to negotiating solutions in the communications/diplomatic realm.

It is particularly troubling that this same pattern may be replicating itself in his dealings with North Korea.




Joel Brence is right about the endlessly short-circuited diplomacy of the Bush Administration, which should have caused Colin Powell to resign long ago. Instead he and his under secretaries go on one failed mission after another, as if Rumsfeld were scripting their pratfalls. But Brence is wrong about the cause, in my view. It isn’t that Bush can’t talk–his syntax being no worse than Ike’s, and rather like his father’s–it’s that he has to speak with a forked tongue because of the huge internal splits in the Administration on just about every important issue. I’ve been drumming on this incoherence in The Nation for the past two years, but it’s amazing how we get one news article after another documenting these splits, yet very little awareness on the editorial level of the chaos of Bush’s foreign policy. Maybe when Rummy and Bush talk tough, people gain an impression of coherence. But Bush’s failure as a President is his inability to get on top of this constant wrangling and derive a coherent foreign policy–or maybe the only “coherence” comes when he listens to Rumsfeld and Cheney, and then tramples on yet another principle of sound international relations.



Jamesville, NY

Chris Hedges’s “The Press and the Myths of War” [April 21] is powerful and disturbing. The seductive lures of the myth are spread by the media under the guise of glory, honor and patriotism, and act to obscure the underlying obscenity of war. They serve less to inform than to entertain. This perpetuates the very “evil” used as the justification for massive destruction and disdain for life itself.


Cleveland Heights, Ohio

Thank you to Chris Hedges for his magnificent meditation on the myths of war. The brilliant ploy of placing the press in bed with soldiers played out exactly as we knew it would. A painfully illuminating proof of Hedges’s observations is to imagine what news would be like if reporters were embedded in the peace movement. So many of the feelings of camaraderie and group identification he describes have a mirror in what resistance to war felt like in the 1960s and ’70s. Our hunger for belonging to an agency of righteous change did not keep us free from dishonesty, disassociation or self-delusion. And now both the military and the peace movement have evolved–the military more consciously devoted to and dependent on ignorance, distance and cynicism; the peace movement more devoted to and dependent on information, self-awareness and connection.


Sarasota, Fla.

Chris Hedges expresses with excruciating eloquence what I have long known to be essential truth. I simply sat out the war, refusing to watch TV coverage or even to read detailed accounts. Children are lured into military service with promises of vocational training, bright futures, eternal benefits, being all that they can be, without a hint that they are being recruited as hit men (and women). If “all that they can be” turns out to be “dead,” well, then, the American Legion will be there on every holiday to extol them for having died “in defense of their country.” So far as I am aware, the last American to die in what might be truthfully called defense of his country did so in 1945. Those who have perished since have done so in defense of the agendas of lying politicians. My local newspaper recently carried a huge piece on the new war toys being cooked up by Hasbro et al. for the Christmas season (their collections never seem to feature little paraplegic GI Joes in wheelchairs). Lest anyone had a doubt, we are going to keep teaching our children that war is fun.



Silver Spring, Md.

Did anyone notice the similarity between George W. Bush’s carefully staged photo-op landing on the aircraft carrier and Leni Riefenstahl’s 1935 film Triumph of the Will? In the film we see a Junkers 52 trimotor emerge from the clouds into the sunlight and land gracefully at Nuremberg airport. Out steps a man with a small mustache in a snappy uniform. He motorcades through a staged cheering throng and arrives at a grand outdoor stadium. Thousands of soldiers in steel helmets stand at attention facing a stage adorned with great banners bearing the Hakenkreuz (hooked cross), the swastika.


South Bend, Ind.

In the spirit of your classic cover “Worry,” I suggest a rendering of George W. landing on the Lincoln decked out in full flight suit. Caption: “Top Goon!” I’d certainly buy the T-shirt.