Skokie, Ill.

With the shooting over and the oilwells rescued from a despotic regime, it’s time to consider what posterity will think. An illegitimate President wages an illegal war, hijacks the Bill of Rights and raids the Treasury on behalf of those who already have too much–and a strange silence emanates from the organs of democracy. No debate in Congress, not even token opposition from the “opposition party” and shamefully little real reporting from our “embedded,” echo-chamber media. As the Administration executes its program of aggression abroad and repression at home, sheepish acquiescence is the order of the day. What label will historians give this not-so-brave world of ours? May I suggest The Gelded Age?



Washington, DC

Tom Goldstein, in “The Firing of Peter Arnett” [April 28]–and most media outlets– overlooked a critical factor in the firing of veteran journalist Arnett: the relationship between GE/NBC, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. and the Bush Administration. Arnett had been in Baghdad covering the war for both NBC and the National Geographic Explorer cable channel (the latter controlled by Rupert Murdoch and also partly owned by GE).

As Nation readers know, NBC and News Corp. are aggressively leading an effort to scuttle longstanding FCC rules that limit how many stations a company may own and whether they may acquire or merge with another network. The Bush FCC appears to support such changes, which could happen as early as June. Bob Wright, vice chair of GE and chairman and CEO of NBC, personally lobbied FCC chairman Michael Powell the week of Arnett’s dismissal.

The last thing NBC wants to do–with untold billions at stake–is alienate the Bush Administration. In addition, GE undoubtedly stands to gain from future defense and Iraq “reconstruction” contracts. Given the state of cable TV concentration, companies like National Geographic were forced to turn over control of their Explorer channel to Murdoch in order to secure distribution. It was Murdoch’s Fox News channel that helped build the criticism of Arnett, not coincidentally.

TV coverage of the war has been ultimately impacted by the political goals of the media industry, with its hands out for a forthcoming Bush Administration multibillion-dollar give-away. The axing of Peter Arnett should be seen through that lens.

Center for Digital Democracy


Charlottesville, Va.

The human face of so-called partial-birth abortion is more diverse than Katha Pollitt portrays [“Subject to Debate,” April 21]. It includes the faces of many thousands of pregnant women who discover, after routine prenatal testing, that the fetus they are carrying has a severe anomaly. This past February, it became my face. My story is not atypical.

My husband and I had been trying to have a baby for more than two years. In November 2002, we were thrilled to find ourselves pregnant. My doctor performed ultrasounds every week and a half over the first few months to make sure that the embryo was developing normally. It was such a treat to see our child growing. I kept the pictures and my thoughts in a pregnancy journal.

At thirteen weeks, however, everything changed when we discovered our child had a condition most commonly associated with Trisomy 13. Most fetuses with Trisomy 13 die in utero; of those who make it to birth, almost half do not survive past the first month; roughly three-quarters die within six months. Neither life nor death come easily for these children. Theirs is a painful existence marked by periods of breathing cessation and seizures. Further tests confirmed that our baby had Trisomy 13.

Not wanting our child to suffer, we decided to terminate the pregnancy. I had an abortion on the first day of my sixteenth week of pregnancy. The procedure I required, a D&E, is prohibited by the pending federal legislation. If this ban becomes law, many women who tragically find themselves in a situation similar to mine will have few options available. How many human faces will it take for lawmakers to understand the devastating costs of prohibiting safe abortion procedures?



Los Angeles

Jay Rosner in “On White Preferences” [April 14], surprisingly omits one of the most important factors that account for differences in performance between whites and blacks on the SAT. Despite claims made by the Educational Testing Service, the test is eminently coachable. As a result, poor and minority students whose parents lack the means to prepare their children for the test through guided practice are placed at a distinct disadvantage. When coupled with the documented test construction methods used by ETS, it’s apparent that the SAT is a poor indicator of anything except a student’s ability to take the SAT.



Bath, NY

Randall Balmer’s “Bush and God” [April 14] is right on! I have heard this President subvert the gospel from the evening I first heard him as a presidential contender. Jesus, along with 99 percent of the Roman Empire, was up against a system very much like the reconfigured US government Bush has created with the amazing acquiescence of Congress and to the not-so-amazing applause of the religious right. And Jesus opposed that system (Mark 1:14-15 et passim) and said that God opposed it, effectively speaking out (Mark 5:1-20) and speaking up every waking day (Luke 13:32), equally effectively refusing to speak upon occasion (Mark 15:5), demonstrating (Mark 11:1-11), being civilly disobedient at every turn (Mark 11:15-19), organizing (Mark 1:14-20; 2:13-17; 6:6-13) and agitating in season and out (Mark 2:23-28). He kept talking about (Mark 4:1-34; 13:3-37) and creating examples of how his alternative vision for the world would look (Mark 6:30-44) and feel (Mark 1:21-28). Jesus’ tactics got him into trouble, of course (Mark 2:6). The perpetrators of the system got him in the end (Mark 14:32-15:47) and intimidated the men around him (Mark 14:50), although not the women, it would seem (Mark 16:1-2). And it was the women who taught us to sing “Don’t mourn, organize” (John 20:18) and who probably kept the movement going.

Rector, St. Thomas’ Church

Buffalo, NY

As a progressive Christian, I was happy to read Randall Balmer’s, dare I say, prophetic commentary. I wish to take issue, however, with Balmer’s characterization of Bush’s God as the God of the Hebrew Prophets and the Book of Revelation (and Jimmy Carter’s God as the God of the New Testament). If Bush’s God were the God of the Hebrew Prophets, he would share their concern for social justice and their emphasis upon not needlessly shedding blood. Bush would heed the words of Ezekiel, who called upon the princes of Israel to “Put away violence and oppression, and do what is just and right.”

While the Prophets’ language and imagery are often jarring, they are a source of inspiration for many progressive Jews, Christians and Muslims. One ought not to forget that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. quoted the Prophet Amos when he called for justice to “roll down like waters.” No, Bush’s God is not the God of the Hebrew Scriptures at all, and neither is his the God that Christians believe is revealed in Jesus Christ. For otherwise he would be, in the words of the Prophet Micah, working to “beat swords into plowshares, and…spears into pruning hooks.”


Rome, Pa.

Did George W. Bush speak in code to those who believe in “final days” theology? Compare the following quotes:

“I became thoroughly familiar with the principles of a just war, and it is clear that a…unilateral attack on Iraq does not meet these standards. This is an almost universal conviction of religious leaders, with the most notable exception of a few spokesmen of the Southern Baptist Convention who are greatly influenced by their commitment to Israel based on eschatological, or final days, theology.” —Jimmy Carter, March 9

“My fellow citizens, events in Iraq have now reached the final days of decision.” —George W. Bush, March 17


Brooklyn, NY

Whence this convention of distinguishing the Bushes by the number of their presidency, Daddy B. as “Bush 41” and Junior B., the runt of the litter, as “Bush 43”? Makes it sound like a Bible chapter. This is a creepy little trend, and the Nation style guide should nip it in the bud. Much better is Bush I and Bush II, for the pluto-aristocratic pretensions of this nasty plague of a family and the recognition that American democracy is on death row.


West Chester, Pa.

I must question Randall Balmer’s statistic that evangelical Christians make up approximately 46 percent of the US population. According to the 2000 CIA World Fact Book, the US population is about 275 million, 56 percent of whom are Protestants. Doing the math, that means there are four-plus evangelical Protestants for every nonevangelical Protestant. Can that be true?



New York City

The 46 percent figure occurs fairly consistently in survey data; some polls put the number even higher. It depends, of course, on how you ask the question, especially given the fact that many evangelicals wouldn’t recognize themselves by that name. My own criteria for identifying evangelicals are: (1) a belief in the centrality of a conversion (or “born again”) experience as the requirement for entering the kingdom of heaven; (2) a disposition to take the Bible seriously, to the point (most of them) of literal interpretation; (3) an impulse to evangelize (or proselytize), to bring others into the fold. Using that definition, I have little doubt that 46 percent of the population are evangelicals. Curiously, in my travels throughout North America, lecturing to various groups, the only people who have trouble believing that figure are in the Northeast!



Jerome, Ariz.

Re Russ Baker’s April 7 “The Big Lie”: It was shortly before the first Gulf War that Newsweek, in one small item of its “Periscope” section, ran the story of a Soviet satellite photo of no Iraqi troops by the Saudi border when Bush I was claiming a big buildup. Often “Periscope” is where Newsweek seems to put the really big scoops and has for some time.



Longwood, Fla.

From what I read down here in the peninsular outpost of the Lower 48, Rummy is not only Defense Secretary de jure but also de facto Secretary of State and President. Rummy publicly defines what kind of government Iraq shall have. Dubya doesn’t seem to care that he is being pre-empted, but I wonder how Colin Powell abides this invasion of his bailiwick. Your April 21 editorial says, “Rumsfeld Should Go.” I would ask, How can Powell stay?


Astoria, Ore.

Someone should tell Mr. Rumsfeld that “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,” in the immortal words of Janis Joplin, as penned by Kris Kristofferson.