Editor’s Note: Readers had comments about Scott McClellan’s memoir, the way the U.S. news parrots the Bush administration’s lies, the continued abuse of intelligence, Oklahoma’s harsh policies on immigrants, the mistreatment of veterans, and the risks ahead in Election 2008:

With respect to all the fury over McClellan ascribing the Iraq travesty to bush's misguided effort to "democratize" the Middle East, I am left to marvel at the spectacular success of what is in reality a very, very, limited "hang-out".

We're talking about a White House where none other than Karl Rove had a policy position, not merely an advisory one!

Didn't John Diulio remark when he quit as head of the Office of Faith Based initiatives that the Bush White House had zero interest in Policy and that the Political Wing ran the administration.

So...Given that Rove was in an official policy position (on the Public payroll !), it should be obvious that the real reason for the Iraq debacle was in reality, sheer POLITICS.

They DID believe it would be over in three weeks, and they DID think the troops would be marching down Broadway ala General Pershing by Christmas '03, setting the stage for an historic landslide for Bush in the 2004 campaign.

This is after all a country where 20% of our citizens are of the belief that the Sun revolves around the Earth.

And at the time of the attack on Iraq, a full 72% of our citizenry had been bulldozed into thinking Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11!

Rumsfeld, Rove...all of 'em were convinced (with the possible exception of Powell...and they didn't care what he thought) it would be easy and that it would result in a huge landslide for the "Avenger of 9/11", thereby expunging the memory of Florida 2000 and legitimizing Bush's presidency.

The only next step was to be Mount Rushmore.

They did it for crass political reasons, and as such they are beyond contempt.

They are criminals.

Jay K. Diamond

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It's beyond preposterous that no-one can remember in March 2003 Bush pulling out UN inspectors to start the invasion.

At that time Blix was begging for just a few more weeks to complete the job. Folks like Pelley must have had their heads stuck in some part of their body. Unbelievable!

Sam Seymour

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Among many other activities, I believe the outing of Valerie Plame has great potential to take down Bush, Cheney, Rove, Libby, and any number of the other thugs in this administration, ostensibly representing my (and every other American citizen's) interests.  This group does not begin to fulfill their responsibilities, in any sense of the word.

It is only this administrations' propaganda machine, media fear of the administration (and media bosses in Bush's pocket), our obsession with "American Idol" as well as an assortment of other rehearsed TV reality shows keeping many of us "brain dead", that has kept us from experiencing a full and total revolution in this country.

I believe that our congress and whatever new administration takes office in January is duty bound and must begin a full and wide ranging investigation into the Bush administrations' activities over its full eight years in office.  Only in this way will our citizens begin to regain confidence in our elected officials.  Only then can we begin to rebuild America.

I, for one (and I believe 80% of our voting population), will be sorely disappointed if all legal avenues are not pursued, by our new administrations' Justice Department, to accomplish this goal.  I believe the future of our country, our democracy, our republic, demands it. 

David M Childress Sr

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Government or Mafia?

From the reaction of present and former members of the Bush regime, it is clear they believe people in government should unconditionally serve the interests of whichever clique is in power. “Disloyal, sickening, despicable, turncoat, sell-out, betrayal”—-these are the epithets being thrown at Scott McClellan for having the audacity to come clean and expose Bush and his cabal. From my recollection such denunciations are usually associated with former Mafioso who are
disloyal to the Don. Alas, it should be clear by now that a neo-liberal Mafia has, in fact, taken control in Washington, and they are milking the system for themselves and their cronies. For these opportunists, the government is not an institution to serve the interests of the people, and the Constitution is nothing more than a nuisance that must be circumvented. For them the government is merely a massive instrument of power to be wielded for the benefit of those who control it and the interests of their corporate benefactors. It is time to wake up and smell the coffee—-we are now living in a plutocracy: government of, by and for the wealthy.

ckaften

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Why the hullabaloo over McClellan’s book?  There’s nothing surprising in it. The president lied, the president spied, the president nursed a war as if it were a favorite pet, and he wanted the media to report minimal casualties and maximum gains.

The reason why we rally around McClellan’s assertions is the cover they offer us. Why were we were silent back in 2002, silent the face of a brewing war that we knew was flawed from the start? McClellan describes a President dedicated to wartime propaganda, determined to say anything to the public that would allow him to do as he wanted.  Faced with such a persistent smokescreen, we tell ourselves, there’s no way we could have discovered the truth.

But the truth was there.  In 2002, when Collin Powell urgently waved that paper in our faces at a U.N. conference, the report that supposedly proved the existence of a chemical weapons mill in Iraq, but was actually a decade-old term paper written by an Israeli graduate student, we knew the truth the following day. We weren’t held in the dark until a tell-all book filled us in. The day following Powell’s fish tale, the media busted him. But we didn’t really care. When Bush won against Kerry in 2004, he didn’t have to promise us anything. He didn’t pledge to bring the troops home soon, he didn’t claim to have a new victory plan up his sleeve, or acknowledge past errors or come clean about the bungling. No, he merely said that the war was the right thing to do, and we nodded wearily. We were like good soldiers who feel a bit queasy about what the Sergeant was planning, but aren’t about to break an order.

Like McClellan’s book, John McCain offers good cover for our complicity. We don’t really have to come clean and admit that, back in 2002, we should have done whatever was necessary to stop Bush’s war plans. Rather, McCain believes that the invasion itself, however bungled, was the right thing to do, the noble thing to do. We can sift through the deceptions and pinpoint a few good options: perhaps we shouldn’t have kicked out all the Bathists, or invaded with a stronger force. Perhaps we should have guarded the museums and homes, not just the Oil and Finance Ministry buildings. McCain is willing to take his lumps for a bungled strategy, but holds his head high that the war itself was honorable.

But there is no honorable way to invade a nation that has never done you a lick of harm. When you bomb a small nation that has never so much as fired a bullet in your direction, you’re not honorable. You’re a bully. None of John McCain’s sincerity, nor his humble admission of past failures, can justify his support for the war in Iraq, or ours.
 Egale33
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may I suggest that the White House Iraq Group had not only been formally or informally established much earlier than August 2002, but had also enjoyed help in prefabrication of propaganda talking points by a drawn-over neocon figurehead early after Bush's conjuring up the "axis of evil". It is outlined for everybody as plain reading of the speech McCain gave in München in February 2002:

From Crisis to Opportunity: American Internationalism and the New Atlantic Order

Not only will it be hard and impossible for the Republican candidate to erect a firewall between the president and campaign McCain, in re war against Iraq he is the original, not the "third-term Bush" as Obama alleges.

 Peter G. Spengler

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As much as I've enjoyed Ray McGovern's informed commentary on all the issues he's written on, today's essay reveals a startling gap in his assessment of the real nature of the threat.

His article fairly drips with frustration over the fact that Bush & his enablers don't respond appropriately to the facts as they are known.

It seems as though, to me anyway, it's long been evident that the unnamed White House aide quoted by Ron Suskind as saying:

"...that guys like me [Suskind] were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' " The aide told Mr. Suskind, "That's not the way the world really works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act we create our own reality."
I fear that rational people tend to read this passage as either hyperbole or youthful exuberance.

It's not. 

It's exactly how these people can believe the Earth is only 6,000 years old (Carbon-14 dating, geostratification, and astrophysics be damned), that a physical heaven & hell exist as actual places because a book written 1,500 years ago says so, that they're going to be raptured bodily from the seats of their Hummer H-1s because a re-reading of that book in the 18th century says so, that they can drive as much as they want because 'god is in control' and will provide all the gas they need (not to mention food, clean air, etc.), and that the science behind global warming is 'shakey'.

Bush & his codependents believe they must attack Iran because... they do.  It's entirely irrational and begging or pleading with them to pay attention to the facts is not going to accomplish a thing.  Similarly, begging & pleading for the American People to behave similarly is likewise futile because, even if it were possible to convince a majority of people to pay attention and consider doing something, Bush & Cheney don't care... Cheney's response of "So?" is apropos.  That's the real underlying tragedy of Congress' failure to impeach him.  Removing Bush & Cheney from office is the only means of preventing them from doing what they intend to do.

That being the case (or at least, what I believe to be the case), the real question is not what is the next Op-Ed going to say, but what can we do to concretely insure that Bush & his followers do not lead us all into a future that's more horrific than we can possibly imagine?

Rael Nidess, M.D.
Marshall, TX

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I would like to commend you for your article on our Veterans care.  The way our men and women are being treated is totally wrong, and these type of stories need to be told.

But, I am sending you a picture of my late husband, a Vietnam Era Veteran, who died as a result of (in VA's words) ''inappropriate care with lack of follow up''.  He was a patient at a VA hospital for 2 yrs, going from 228 Lbs to 70 Lbs, and VA telling us nothing was wrong.  He refused to go to another hospital as he said ''I am a Veteran, and was promised care''.  But a week before his death I had to have him taken to a local hospital, and within 3 days, they told us he was a total mass of cancer, he died 3 days later.  After his death, I got ahold of a letter, written by a VA employee, which the VA had not wanted to release to me, which read ''we believe Mr Soles symptoms are all psychosomatic''.  So this shows they never believed he was sick, nor did
anything to really find the problem.
 
My point in all of this is, sad as it is, the care our Veterans are receiving has not just started with this war...it has been going on, and no doubt will continue to go on, our politicians do not want to hear about the ''negative'' part of the VA system, and the email concerning the suicides, that VA did not want to get out, well this type of thing goes on within the VA system all the time.  It is just.they got caught.

The VA has been getting away with making their own rules, laws and doing what is best to benefit themselves, not our Veterans.  Our government officials are aware of this but choose to sit back and ignore it.  This cannot continue for our men and women who are going to need the system
when they come home.

Again, thank you for this article....as I said, these need to be told for the public to see.  I know I plan to continue speaking out and telling how I have been treated by the VA after what they did to my husband......

Denise Soles

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Now that the primary seems to be coming to a close and the suggested opponents will be Obama and McCain, the issues are becoming more heated.

McCain`s speech yesterday, only confirms my own view, that from the very beginning, even in Texas, before Bush ran for president, the real agenda all along has been Iran, via his famous advisors. How to get to this juncture has been a series of contrived events, even when you take into account the 2000 election itself, along with the lies and deceit over the threat from Iraq, and then the jump to war in Afghanistan, via, 9/11, then onto Iraq, which they knew would be a push over, when you consider Saddam`s, army was obliterated in the 1991 war, even after Saddam`s pleading that he got rid of his WMD`s, which is the subject of much discussion yet, even the risks they, in my view, knew were there, with the ethnic unrest, that would become a problem, but undaunted they pressed on in any way, no matter what it took, even to the blood that was spent by the sons and daughters of American citizens.

They knew that the only stepping stone to Iran was through Iraq. They still have their boy, in McCain, so to speak, even when Bush departs, to carry on. The only problem seems to be Obama, in the mix now, to the point where, McCains campaign surrogates are smearing him, over his proposals to talk to our enemies, even when the polls, show the large majority of American`s approve, which is incendiary to these surrogates, while at the same time promoting this lie that Iran is supplying weapons to the Iraqi`s, which they still haven`t proven, to which the Iraqi government is still investigating.

Now, McCain is goading Obama to travel to Iraq, during this volatile run up to the GE, while trusting an administration that want`s to beat him badly, to be entrusted with his safety. After Hillary, "a", remark, which was followed up with an apology, it still remains, that, that word is never spoken when you consider the previous events in our history, by anything, or anyone connected with all elected officials. Has anyone else thought of this.

There are still many unanswered question around the world, in this regard. That said, it is on to the GE, where the people, in this cycle, will have to choose between "bread on the table, or more war", in and atmosphere of a financial catastrophe, still lurking, in the banking industries of Wall Street, where the feds hands are tied now at 2%. Some experts say, there is still another one to come. And McCain, still wants to promote and make a hero of Phil Graham, who some say was in part responsible for the whole melt down in the first place. This guy needs to be jumped on consistently, through the GE, and be blamed, even more so, to the people of "Appalachia", who, will be struggling more with McCain, in office.

Sen. Webb, explained how Karl Rove targeted "Appalachia", for the 2004 election which Bush won handily, and the democrats were out in left field on this one. Hillary, brought out one thing about all of them, in Appalachia, that It`s the economy stupid. The democrats this time should spend a lot of time asking them if they want "more war, or bread on the table". So, on we go to the finish, of the democratic primaries, which, the push for Hillary, to win what, is still up in the air.

The VP, spot, in my view, would produce more problems for Obama, than benefits.  My hope for America, is that the choice in November will be for bread, unless the hatreds that persist in the Middle East, before Jan. 20th, prompt them to act in desperation, and choose war.

Bill

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Somehow Oklahoma's extreme response to illegal immigration does not surprise me greatly. They are not alone in the sentiment behind the new laws, but Oklahoma has always had its own flavor--a unique mix of old South and cowboy country, heavily seasoned with the long-term prominance of the oil industry. For all the nice people living there, there have been other times when a sense of pressure from unwanted social changes has evoked a harsh, very reactionary response.

Back in around 1949-50, my father (and thus my family) found himself amidst a nasty bit of work by town powers-that-be that became downright scary before it was done. After he spoke at a town meeting one evening (just telling a little parable), the reaction was so angry that a friend hustled him out a back way and down a fire escape, after which he ran home and started looking for a gun to defend himself and his family. Mom will certainly never forget the night that he and she snuck out of town (with car headlights off) to cross the state line and call the FBI. (Tampering with the U.S. mail interests them.) It got to where even old friends were afraid to be seen visiting with us, and even the administrative committee of the mainline church my parents decided to join gave them a hard time before allowing them in. (The minister was on their side privately but was afraid of splitting the church apart if he stuck up for them.)

Dad's crime? He'd joined with a few others to stick up for the town librarian (and her right to "due process") when, though she'd served the city very well for 30 years, she was being railroaded out of her job--even being set up as a Communist sympathizer, though her basic "wrong" seems to have been befriending blacks in town and having an interest in their rights. (Of course, to right-wing voices of the time, like Gerald L. K. Smith, there was no difference; to press for any undoing of the Jim Crow situation was to be pursuing "the Sovietization of America.") This all included as well trying to force a purge of everything in the library that expressed any ideas unacceptable to the reactionaries.

In the end, Dad was forced by the company to leave his job (and town). It was that or recant his position and apologize.

It was sadly amusing recently to catch on TV a ceremony at the town library commemorating this librarian and unveiling a little statue in her honor. Funny thing: I heard a nice speech about how she'd created that library and her outstanding service, but nothing about why or how she'd left the library back when. I wondered how many people there remembered, if any, or if one could find anything in the library about that darker bit of history.

Janice E. Manuel.

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We have, among our 300 million people, kooks, racists, and fanatics.  For that reason, I would urge Obama to pick as his running mate Kathleen Sebelius of Nebraska.  It might deter the ruffians we know we have among us, if they realized that knocking off Obama would make a liberal woman the President.

No use hiding our heads in the sand from the danger that Obama, and his wife, are running daily.

Alan McConnell

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