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I would be 100 times more willing to back a "social work" kind of military intervention than to support one that is a "just in case they have weapons of mass destruction and by the way let's get their oil" kind. We Americans should value the lives of our foreign brothers and sisters as much as we value our own. It is easy to see that we started the war with Iraq at a time when there was no ongoing civil war, no uprising, no massacres. The situation was quite different in Bosnia and Kosovo; our troops ended years of bloodshed and prevented many more people from being killed, even though the conflict was not a direct threat to American interests.
Palo Alto, Calif.

Longing for Those Lazy Days

Nancy Gibbs' musings on summer vacations, "Free the Children," hit the nail on the head [ESSAY, July 14]. Part of a well-rounded education is a summer of bare feet and lemonade stands, of sandlot baseball games and hide-and-seek until dark. Since when did a little free time hurt anyone? Boredom is a gift that can lead to vast creativity. Except for retirement, when will we ever get the opportunity to learn so much from nobody but ourselves?
Newark, Calif.

It might be nice to free our children of summer schedules and allow them to play hooky from their overplanned lives, but popular culture is too toxic to allow large, unsupervised doses of free time. Television, movies, pop music and the Internet put children at risk of distorted views of sex, violence and body image. Better to keep them busy with sports, camps and other scheduled activities.
St. Louis, Mo.

Right-Wing Rhetoric

Conservative pundit Ann Coulter's acerbic tirades are nothing new [10 QUESTIONS, July 14]. Right-wing ideologues have always wrapped themselves in the flag, labeling those who disagree with them as traitorous and unpatriotic. This is fascism, not patriotism. Coulter says "the Democratic Party has got to go away." Maybe she didn't notice, but the Democrats have won the popular vote in the past three presidential elections. With so many "traitors" among us, how does this country endure?
Pasadena, Calif.

We must all remind Coulter that she does not enjoy a monopoly on the truth. Our nation's diversity allows us to have a host of viewpoints, all of which take us toward democratic solutions to problems. It is against the spirit of our country and patriotically shameful to hate or ridicule another American for merely holding an opposing opinion.
Wilmington, N.C.

Total Recall: The Sequel?

The campaign to recall democratic California Governor Gray Davis may be mischief making by the Republican right wing [NATION, July 14], but I'm guessing that its popularity is due to independent voters like myself. We see the state's budget woes as caused by the tech-bubble collapse and some shady dealings in the power industry, as you reported, but we also deplore the Governor's continued fiscal mismanagement. I'm tempted to vote to recall him, but I probably won't. Sadly, when it comes to a choice between him and Terminator film star Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, Davis is the lesser of two evils.
Watsonville, Calif.

Californians have a short attention span. Show me one Governor in the country whose state is not suffering from severe budget problems. To the detriment of the nation, billions of federal dollars that might have been used to help the states are subsidizing the rich and funding a war that should never have happened. We have lost the ideals of the New Deal and the Great Society, which were put in place to help all Americans, and we have lost the respect and admiration of the world. Schwarzenegger wouldn't save California; he would terminate it.
Daytona Beach Shores, Fla.

Britney All Grown Up

When I Saw the ghastly fashion photo of Britney Spears in her bosom-baring outfit [PEOPLE, July 14], you could have knocked me over with a water balloon. From the very first moment of her success, I said, "I hope fame doesn't ruin this beautiful young girl." That she has let the world dictate how she looks, how she acts and what she wears is a crime.
Wildomar, Calif.

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