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KERRY AND IRAQ

Kansas City, KS

Like Robert Scheer, I also thought John Kerry blew it when he said he would still have authorized the President to go to war knowing what we know today (i.e., no WMD). The more I thought about it, however, the more the "curveball" question turned into a double-edged sword for the Kerry strategists.

Kerry said "Yes" and has been ridiculed as a result. No surprises there. But had Kerry said "No" he would not have given his authorization, not only would he have been raked over the coals again for being a flippety-flopper, he would have also been crucified for advocating a policy that would allow the evil, brutal, mass-murdering etc. dictator Saddam Hussein to still be in power today threatening America and the world.

It was a Karl Rove wet dream either way Kerry answered the question.

MARK ELLISON



BUSH'S MILITARY PAST

Cypress, TX

These articles about Bush's Air National Guard service always get me steamed. It seems to me that the reporters always stop asking questions before they should. As an ex-Air Force, ex-ANG member and an ex-full-time technician with the ANG, I can't seem to understand how the records got lost in the first place unless someone removed them intentionally. The biggest question though--one that all America should know--is how much it cost us to train him to be a pilot and how much it cost us because he did not fulfill his obligation in the ANG. How come these figures are never published?

GARRY CAMPBELL


Edinburg, TX

Debate over whether Bush deserted the Texas Air National Guard (TANG) can be settled by reading the Texas Military Code:

§ 432.130. Desertion: A member of the state military forces is guilty of desertion if the member:

(a) without authority goes or remains absent from his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to remain away permanently;

(b) A commissioned officer of the state military forces who, after tender of his resignation and before notice of its acceptance, quits his post or proper duties without leave and with intent to remain away permanently is guilty of desertion.

If, as evidence seems to indicate, Bush pulled no duty between May 1972 and his October 1, 1973, discharge, under the Texas Military Code, he is a deserter. Assume Bush pulled duty in Alabama and made up missed drills in Texas before May 1973, though his TANG annual evaluations say he was not observed from May 1972 through April 1973. Where was he from May 1973 until his discharge? On September 5, 1973, Bush requested a discharge and apparently then left for graduate school. When his separation papers came through, he did not sign them, as evidenced by block 33 of his Report of Separation form, which should contain his signature, but instead reads "not available for signature."

Under the Texas Military Code, as quoted above, this constitutes desertion. There is no record of orders granting Bush leave from May to October 1, 1973. There is no question. There are no grounds for debate. Bush deserted.

SAMUEL FREEMAN


Hooksett, NH

I don't understand the fixation with the President's National Guard service while there is no attention spent on the atrocities Senator Kerry admitted to having committed in Vietnam. If he admitted to some misconduct there is probably more, and I'd like to see additional coverage of the issue.

M.S. SMITH



SHARP TONGUES FOR SHARPTON

Lancaster, PA

I wanted to thank the editors for K.W. Crenshaw's excellent essay on Al Sharpton's Democratic convention speech. She described very accurately the feelings of the longtime Democrats--all "Old South" white people--sitting in my living room watching it: "Go Al." The unscripted, heartfelt and all-too-true sentiments he shared were applauded by all. I did not hear Obama's speech, but none I did hear equaled Rev. Sharpton's in any way. I was amazed and uplifted by his powerful style, his remembrance of history and his take-no-prisoners reply to G.W. Bush's recommendation that African-Americans reconsider their voting allegiance.

Thank you for your balanced reporting! I hope to see more from Crenshaw in the future!

KIM McCOLLUM-CLARK


Oakland, CA

The very idea that Sharpton has been excessively tongue-lashed is absurd. Is the author's memory so short that she has forgotten that Sharpton's campaign was financed largely through Roger Stone and his fellow Republican dirty tricksters? It's a break that, thanks to Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich, this demagogue never got enough delegates to be taken seriously. His role at the debate was entertainment.

It's OK for the party to buy his services for short-term political gain. (Is there any doubt he was promised financial help?) But never forget that he is a perjurer, an extortionist, an FBI informant and a political prostitute whose days are mercifully numbered by the rise of the real thing: the very Obama the author denigrates in the opening paragraph of this silly screed.

BILL COLE


Urbanna, VA

Red "Sharp Tongues for Sharpton," we couldn't agree more. The most discouraging component of any discussion of the convention was the utter stupidity of network and cable news coverage--period!

This event happens once every four years; yet the networks broadcast only a smattering of the speeches, and the only context provided was the blather of the talking heads.

CNN coverage was horrible; who needs tired pundits serving up analyses of hairstyles, marriage and voter preferences while Rev. Sharpton is giving a great address? That's what the average viewer saw and heard.

If viewers weren't tuned to C-SPAN for the gavel-to-gavel coverage, then they missed the excitement and the energy and the brilliant remarks by Senator Biden, Governor Mark Warner and the Democratic women senators.

And maybe that's one reason for the alleged smaller "bounce." Even an inaugural speech or a funeral eulogy loses relevance when taken out of context.

We can only hope for fairness when the GOP convenes in New York.

S. LOWE


Wilkes Barre, PA

As a white, female Democrat, I thought Reverend Sharpton's speech at the DNC Convention was the very best! It was moving, accurate, and inspiring.

Of course, I watched the convention on C-SPAN, as I plan to do when the RNC Convention is held. I want only the speakers, not someone who "interprets" them for me!

MARILYN GRUENICH

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