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Shatner Shattered

Violating the Prime Directive. Out of Afghanistan. No Hall of Fame for Favre? Plus more.

8.4.08

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BEAM ME UP, McCAIN
Re: Larry Thornberry's Three Hotheads:

"[T]he Prime Directive, Starfleet's General Order #1, is the most prominent guiding principle of the United Federation of Planets. The Prime Directive dictates that there can be no interference with the internal affairs of other civilizations, consistent with the historical real world concept of Westphalian sovereignty." -- Wikipedia

The Prime Directive is the logical extension of the "Leave Us Alone" philosophical position stated by our Founding Fathers in the Constitution. These ideas were taken up by such conservative/libertarian luminaries as Ayn Rand, William F. Buckley, Grover Norquist, and many contributors to The America Spectator. That Captain Kirk (Mr. Shatner) himself doesn't see his position on the "2% Solution Campaign" as directly violating of the Prime Directive is a sad irony for any Trekkie to bear.
-- Ira M. Kessel
Rochester, New York

As concerned Americans, we should be dialing back our energy consumption. I think our government offices should lead in this effort. First, we should encourage IE: DEMAND that our Federal representatives dial back their own air-conditioning use between the months of April and September...to zero. Yes, the halls of Congress and other federal entities would be uncomfortable, possibly stifling enough for those officeholders to seek relief elsewhere...outside of Washington. This would in turn provide some relief to the American taxpayer in the form of less legislation and perhaps preserve liberty for a few moments longer.

As we watch the energy saving pile up from these efforts, and we know they will. This effort can be refocused and used locally to further save the taxpayer much needed money and possibly further preserve liberty on the local level as well.

I am all for this -- how about you?
-- P. Aaron Jones

The essential hypocrisy of the most ardent environmentalists is this: not one of these nitwits struggles to make ends meet, and no economic setback caused by their zealotry, no matter how severe, would ever affect them directly.

That's all you need to know about such "noble" and "self-sacrificing" creatures as Al Gore, William Shatner, Nancy Pelosi, and John McCain.
-- Arnold Ahlert
Boca Raton, Florida

TRANSFORMER
Re: Philip Klein's The Obama Uncertainty Principle:

Since Mr. Klein brought up Werner Heisenberg, it should be pointed out that the Uncertainty Principle connotes a whole variety of interesting phenomena (Bose-Einstein condensates, quantum entanglement or Bell's theorem, and many others). One of them is called quantum "tunneling." In this phenomenon, since the position of a particle, like an electron, is distributed over a wave-length (wave-particle duality, the basis of the Uncertainty Principle, which is expressed mathematically as h=lambda/p, where h is Planck's constant, lambda is the wave-length of the particle, and p is the momentum of the particle, e.g., the greater the momentum, the smaller the wave-length, and the smaller the momentum the larger the wavelength), the particle has a statistical probability of being anywhere within that wave length, sort of like a probability distribution. If an electron is close (within the distance reflected by its wave-length) to a barrier that does not allow the electron to cross it, the electron nevertheless can with a statistical probability be found on the opposite side of that barrier, even though it did not cross the barrier. Just one of the mysterious little quirks of quantum theory, well established to be a fact. One might say that Barack Obama, by applying the idea of the Uncertainty principle to him as Mr. Klein is wont to do, can be understood to be found on the completely opposite side of political barriers or issues that it is not possible for him to cross and be consistent, with quantum tunneling.

The bright side is that the more political issues he shows up on the opposite side of, one day to the next, the longer his wave-length is bound to be, which means that his momentum would have to decrease to allow for the longer wave-length. That might explain his static position in the polls. It just a question of applying simple quantum theory calculations...
-- Kent Lyon
College Station, Texas

According to Philip Klein, Barack Obama will eventually conclude that "humility offensive" is his key to the White House. Don't bet on it, Mr. Klein. A "hubris narrative" can become a "phony narrative" just as quickly as Mr. Obama "morphs" from one persona to the next.
-- Arnold Ahlert
Boca Raton, Florida

OUT OF AFGHANISTAN
Re: George H. Wittman's The Endless War:

I do not always agree with Mr. Wittman in his analysis of current situations in which the United States finds itself embroiled militarily, but in this instance, he is correct. Afghanistan has already been an American victory. We have accomplished what we initially set out to do there. That was simply to destroy the Al Qaeda presence in-country and to punish the Taliban government which allowed it to exist there. As I said, those goals were achieved. If Osama Bin Laden had been captured or killed during the initial pacification of the country, then there is a good chance that NATO forces would no longer be there. Because, for good or ill, there is simply nothing in Afghanistan that the West wants or needs.

Afghanistan, as Mr. Wittman mentioned, has no national identity, as such. Virtually all of the centralized governments, that have existed there, have been either installed by foreign powers or maintained by foreign powers. The history of Afghanistan is one of a succession of Imperial governance including several Persian dynasties, a couple of Greek empires, not a few Indian regencies and most recently British and Russian hegemony. Add to this the natural topography of the country, plains to the south, southeast and north which are separated by large area of rather inhospitable mountains in the central and northeastern sections of the country, that limit easy travel between parts of the country. Because of this, there is no common heritage among the inhabitants. Small self identifying groups, tribes if you will, are the basis for the society that exists there.

Now we come to unstated point of Mr. Wittman's article. Which is that there is very little of U.S. interest to be found in Afghanistan. Our only remaining interest in that area, Osama Bin Laden, is safely ensconced within the sovereign nation of Pakistan. We have developed no resources within Afghanistan to support any significant military action against Iran, should it become necessary. Access to the country is dependent upon the good will of Pakistan; something that may change at almost any time. And, foreign forces are doing little good in the country. The central government is going to have to support itself using indigenous troops and police. It has now reached the point where foreign forces need to be withdrawn. Slowly and carefully, but drawn down none the less. A significant draw down of troops in Iraq is not in the interests of the U.S., but it is very much in our interests to do so in Afghanistan. As in so many other parts of the world, the United States can only set an example for other people. We can not remake the world in our image. It has become time to allow the citizens of Afghanistan to find their own image, if they can.
-- Michael Tobias

One of the first rules of negotiation is understanding self-interests, your own and the other parties involved. The central problem in dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan is outsiders, be it the "Macedonian, Mogul, Persian, Russian, British and Soviet" or American, either don't understand what the Afghans and Pakistanis' self-interest are or that, due to tribal loyalties, the interests of all groups cannot be met simultaneously. Western nations and alliances can pressure Pakistan's government, but until Afghanistan becomes a coherent and collective state, more than a nation in name only, America and her allies will find dealing with Afghan tribes to as frustrating as herding kittens.
-- Ira M. Kessel
Rochester, New York

HOP IMPROVEMENT
Re: Mark Gauvreau Judge's The Rap on Hip-Hop:

Hip-hop will never improve lives for one simple reason: it is the antithesis of improvement. Never-ending hopelessness, misogyny, irresponsible sex, "gangsta-ism" and entrenched racism are the essence of the form.

Take that away and there's nothing left but a sparse music track -- and
zero attitude.
-- Arnold Ahlert
Boca Raton, Florida

GUNN SIGHT
Re: Bev Gunn's letter (under "The Soul of a Conservative") in Reader Mail's Packer Problems:

How beautifully said! I truly love reading what the regular letter writers contribute.
-- Rhonda
Newport News, Virginia

Kudos, Mrs. Gunn. That is one of the finest pieces of writing that I have read in The American Spectator. Keep on contributing to the "Letters" section, as I can not remember any submission by you that I disagreed with in any particular. You have it right, and you express it in a way that I often wish that I could.
-- Ken Shreve

NO HALL OF FAME?
Re: Ryan Young's Decisions, Decisions:

First, I have been a huge fan of Brett Favre, even though not necessarily of the Green Bay Packers. I must say, however, that he has forfeited every bit of respect that I had for him. Quite simply, he is behaving like a petulant three year old, throwing a tantrum in a restaurant, and disturbing every diner therein. He needs to be taken out to the car and given a good butt beating. As for his wife urging him on to return to football, I can understand her being desirous of that. I seriously doubt if I would want him moping around the house stirring up trouble either. He has gone, in my mind, from being a first ballot Hall of Fame candidate to someone that I could not vote to enshrine, ever.
-- Ken Shreve

TRANS FAT CITY
Re: Jay D. Homnick's Fault Lines of Freedom:

Mr. Homnick is completely correct, but the crazy train has already picked up speed. Another law to ban trans-fats from all restaurants by 2010 was recently signed by California's governor. Such a surprise...

As H. L. Mencken noted: "The kind of man who wants the government to adopt and enforce his ideas is always the kind of man whose ideas are idiotic." That quip ought to replace "Eureka" as California's state motto.

Not that it matters now. For as he also noted, "The urge to save humanity is usually only a false-face for the urge to rule it"; and it is more than clear that the boot of an unreflective righteousness is once more settling on all our necks.

Nevertheless we can take comfort in the fact that these silly laws will probably solve one of America's most vexing problems. I speak of illegal immigration. No one will want to come to a country that has been turned into a PC gulag, jobs or no jobs.

By the same token, however, those of use who believe in liberty must stop agitating for a border fence.

In the years to come. WE may be the ones who need lots of open escape routes.
-- Martin Owens
Sacramento, California

TALKING SHOP
Re: Robert Stacy McCain's reply (under "Methodology") in Reader Mail's Packer Problems:

Okay, I'll admit that I've never had any education on the theory and methods of polling.

However, I have sufficient education in both mathematics and hard science disciplines. This includes a great deal in statistical and quantitative analysis.

Again, I contend that a sample size of less than 0.1 per million where results yield error often between seven and twelve percent cannot be considered accurate. If my readings in chemistry didn't fall into a range of less than five percent, they could not be considered accurate. A populate determination in biology cannot tolerate an error greater than five percent. The same is true in physics. Now, I understand that polling isn't a hard science, and for that reason the term "accurate" might be considered a little differently, but why can't pollsters agree that their polls may not be truly accurate reflections of the population they serve?

Consider that in Britain, they use sample sizes as much as three times greater than we do in the US and with a much smaller population. Why is that? Again, I'll admit that there may be an ignorance of the theory behind polling methods of which I am not aware. But rather than simply asserting that the data can be considered accurate, can you share the theory that supports your claim as well? Really, if I am wrong in not trusting polls because I do not trust the methodology, I would like to know why I'm wrong so I can reevaluate.
-- Charles Campbell
Austin, Texas

SAVED FROM ROUSH
Re: Reader letters (under "Not Taken Lightly") in Reader Mail's Packer Problems:

I thank those fine folks that rose to defend my choice of words that was attacked by our resident liberal troll. Thank you for having my back, but it is nothing more than I would expect from him. Actually, by him attacking me, I now know that I was probably right. I shall wear his attack as a badge of honor. Oh, and lest there be any doubt, the day that Thomas Sowell announces a run for POTUS, I shall immediately write a check to his campaign fund and sign up as a volunteer to work for his election. The idea that the Obamasiah would be the first black President is, or should be, a total embarrassment to the entire population of black Americans. It totally demeans the entire race to think that this is the best that they have to offer. I know better. Oh, and I say that as a white citizen that graduated high school the first year after Brown v. Board integrated the schools in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. That was 1956 for those of you out there that are counting. The Obamasiah is such a danger to the America that I know and love, that I am even considering voting for McCain in Nov., and that is something that I NEVER thought I would say. I had previously determined to opt out of the POTUS line on the ballot.

Damn, I love the "Letters" section of this publication. It is both a joy to read, and a place to become better educated on the issues addressed. Frankly, the best part of the emag.
-- Ken Shreve

BROKEN AWAY
Re: Ryan L. Cole & Elijah Steele's Bloomington Art Is Overrated:

I was born and raised in Bloomington. I didn't have a chance to place my two cents on that board. What a croc! The real question here is, "what is art?" This was just a display of stupidity, not art. You should be attacking the artist, not the inhabitants of the town. Yes, art can be controversial, but I notice that the artist didn't make a public announcement as to where the displays would be located. By the sound of it they were next to Peoples Park on Kirkwood and near campus, one of the most unethical places you can go in Bloomington, a place where drugs and alcohol flow freely (I must add that every town has places like that).

Democracy is FREEDOM. Freedom to think, freedom to love, freedom to work, freedom to worship God, freedom to walk the streets, freedom to do what I please, freedom to be me. Quote that!!!!!!!!! I love being a woman in America. I would rather be here than anywhere else in the world.
-- Heather O. Goddard

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