Messy freedom Your cover headline is "What a mess" (May 15). True enough. Yet, this picture is one of victory for the cause of freedom. The man in your picture thinks he is celebrating victory while he is really enjoying freedom-freedom provided by our troops who may have died in this humvee and other American soldiers who likely were near and did not, despite losing equipment and possibly friends, make the celebrator an easy target. I'm humbly grateful to our soldiers and mourn with the friends and family who may look at this picture with heavy, empty hearts. -Pete Van Drunen; Hague, N.D. I believe Mindy Belz's criticism of the Coalition Provisional Authority is a bit off the mark. While CPA officials have made some poor decisions (easy to see with 20/20 hindsight), they cannot side with only one faction of a society. Mr. Bremer cannot throw all his weight with the Kurds or any one bloc. Civil war is already the rumor on the streets of Baghdad. How the CPA extricates itself from the mess will be dependent on mollifying the concerns of all parties and creating the necessary balances that stabilize a democratic government. Can this be done in Iraq? Maybe, but I'm not holding my breath. -David Johnston, CPT; U.S. Army; Baghdad, Iraq I am a loyal WORLD reader but am disappointed with the May 15 cover. I expect honest critiques and reporting concerning Iraq and believe that that is what we have received, but to portray it all as a mess is a disservice to our servicemen who have sacrificed to reconstruct Iraq. -Roger Larson; Bismarck, N.D. I sent a subscription of WORLD to a cousin stationed in Baghdad. He has enjoyed passing it around to fellow soldiers, and I'm sure he's not the only one receiving WORLD. The last thing I think our soldiers need to see from a conservative magazine is the cover implying that even conservatives think it's a disaster. -Lisa Meek; Bothell, Wash. The Iraqi prisoner scandal shows just how highly respected the U.S. military is. When Iraqis shamed and mutilated Americans, there was no such public outcry; one expects such behavior from Muslim terrorists. The scandal of American officers performing such despicable acts has shocked the world. I hope we can punish those responsible and show the world that they have good reason to be outraged. -Trevin K. Wax; Murfreesboro, Ky. Cal Thomas's "A little context, please" (May 15) is far and away the best thing he has ever written. What the troops did was wrong, but I am not ready, and I pray that our government is not ready, to go crawling to the rest of the world and beg forgiveness. I am very proud of our troops and I am still proud to be an American. -Howard Peek; Lake Zurich, Ill. Change agent I was encouraged to read about the women profiled in "Change a diaper, change the world, repeat" (May 15). I was carrying our third child and working part-time as a legislative staffer when Oregon Right to Life's executive director asked me to direct their Political Action Committee. I said, "I'm pregnant. Can I bring my baby to work?" She said, "Of course." Now, four years later with another baby peeking over my shoulder, I help pro-life candidates all over Oregon. -Lois Anderson; Keizer, Ore. Dragon slayer We've been subscribers for years but we were taken aback by your Buy and Keep rating on Dr. Ernest Drake's Dragonology ("Reading for bedtime," May 15). It sounds like a delightful fantasy book on dragons until you read the last line: "It even includes notes on spells and charms." Do we really want our children learning how to do that? -Phyllis Sather; St. Paul, Minn. Risky assumption Mr. Veith's thesis that the cultural stakes in the next presidential election overshadow economic and even national security issues ("Right and wrong," May 15) contrasts sharply with the official voice of the president's own party. In a recent GOP publication, I was surprised to read the Bush-Cheney campaign manager waxing about the importance of the latter while barely mentioning the former. It would appear that the party leadership either doesn't agree with Mr. Veith or assumes that support from its culturally conservative base is a given and doesn't need to "waste" its message there. -Thadd Buzan; Springfield, Va. Although I have had serious reservations about the Iraq intervention and WORLD's strong support of it, what really tripped my trigger was Mr. Veith's column. Economic issues are not mere "problems in the here and now" when these policies further erode constitutional government. To raise the prospect of pro-life Supreme Court justices again, after the president actively campaigned for Arlen Specter, stretches this publication's credibility to its very limits. -John Robillard; Coon Rapids, Minn. More jobs Regarding "Shedding jobs" (May 15) which contained examples of corporations continuing to cut jobs: This just regurgitates mainstream media biases. April saw an addition of 288,000 jobs, in addition to the 337,000 from the revised March numbers. This gain more than covers the few examples cited and paints a more factual picture of the growing economy and job market. -Brandon Monahan; Show Low, Ariz. Uglified I remember when, if a child's life was endangered, the mother would put the child behind her, saying, "Spare the child! Take me instead!" Now, thanks to NOW and other groups, the reverse has become the rule of the day. Your cover photo well demonstrates how hatred uglifies a woman ("All the rage,"?May 8). -Donald McKay; Saint Francis, Minn. Uncivil Cybill I was embarrassed for actress Cybill Shepard and revolted by the implications of her sign that she held at the recent pro-abortion rally: "Too bad John Ashcroft's mother didn't believe in abortion" ("More sermons, fewer celebrities," May 8). Her sign demonstrates her full understanding of the murderous implications of abortion. Despite the clear display of her ignorance, people will see her hate and bigotry and feel it is acceptable to persecute those who hold Mr. Ashcroft's beliefs. As we pray for Mr. Ashcroft to stand firm in the face of staunch persecution, let us not forget to pray for the Cybill Shepards out there. -C. Scott Russell; Colorado Springs, Colo. Pirate repentance You are absolutely right ("Christian pirates," May 8). Although I am a huge music fan, I have never bought a single CD. I?never really thought much about it. I find pirating to be rampant among us 16-year-olds who have alternate music devices, like MP3 players, because music stores only sell CDs and tapes. You have changed my perspective. You can now find me digging through dumpsters for winning iTunes bottle caps. -Jared R. Lettau;North Bend, Wash. Twenty years ago I was a teenager living with my parents on the mission field. My friends and I had limited access to Christian music, so when one of us received a new album we would circulate it to the others to make copies. This gave me access to countless pieces of music that would make a significant difference in my life, and we frequently shared this music with unbelievers. I eventually purchased much of the music, but to this day I am proud of what we did. -Nathan P. Shive; Allentown, Pa. Corrections In the final episode of Frasier, the title character accepts a job in San Francisco but then follows his girlfriend to Chicago ("Smart comedy," May 29, p. 14). Janie B. Cheaney was the author of "Mighty man of valor" (May 22, p. 47).