IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH
Re: George Neumayr's What the Counterculture has Joined Together
After 200 years of trying, American Utopians can look to California as their best effort. The worry is that the current experiment in perfect living will collapse and the perfect state will become the State of Dystopia where dreamers become the victims of reality. Hope is on the way as Sam Adams Brewery has begun marketing Utopias Beer which has 25 percent alcohol content or 50 proof and is guaranteed to enhance euphoria in the imbiber.
-- Howard Lohmuller
George Neumayr quotes Roger Cardinal Mahony as follows "Some benefits currently sought by same-sex partners can already be obtained without regard to marital status....Other desired benefits such as sharing in a partner's health insurance could be made available without the drastic step of a cultural or legal redefinition of marriage".
In other words, the argument over establishing an absolute equivalence for homosexual behavior versus heterosexual behavior has been reduced to the Alamo of the word "marriage". Everything of substance, in every respect, has been rendered equivalent. Filing joint tax returns, adopting children, etc., the same. But are Crockett, Bowie and Travis expected to sacrifice themselves for the word and not the substance? This is madness. We live in a real world, not a theoretical one. Words do have consequences. But consequences pre-empt words. You can stick a fork into consequences, but not into words.
If Californians and Americans do not wish substantive differences between civil unions and "traditional" marriages, then it's time to recognize that the word has been rendered meaningless.
-- Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey
How about doing an article on how the leftists will square this with their Islamists buddies?
Bet they haven't thought about that. But I'm sure they are fully confident that they'll talk the Islamists into accepting it.
-- David Constans
Re: Quin Hillyer's The Lowdown on the Slowdown:
Wait! I thought Arlen Specter was already doing this. Didn't Specter, a few weeks back, say that he was fed up, and really, really, mad, and by God, was going to take Harry Reid and Patrick Leahy to task on the judicial slowdown? Oh yeah, that's right, Arlen doesn't really take on Democrats. Just like McCain, he only gets tough with conservatives and fellow Republicans. My bad.
-- A. DiPentima
Mr. Hillyer, your little essay would make a nice, creative submission in an advanced English Composition class. But why, pray tell, do you address the readership of this magazine with this issue? Were you simply a little short on ideas for a column this week? Do you enjoy preaching to the choir, instead of the whole congregation, or at least that part of it responsible for the shortcoming being addressed? Why don't you address your concerns regarding abuse of Senatorial privilege in the confirmation of judicial nominees to the offending parties, or at least the ones that could do something about it but chose not to do so?
Yes, you can blame Sen. Leahy. You could just as well blame Sen. Kennedy, or Sen. Schumer, or Sen. Biden, or a couple of dozen other Democrats. But why? Why not address your concerns to the GOP Senators that ensured that the complained of practice would continue in perpetuity? Why not address your concerns to Sen. McCain, who was the moving force behind the Gang of 14? Or you could address your concerns to his puppy dog, Sen. Lindsey Graham, who do doubt will be the Atty. Gen. in a McCain administration until an opening occurs on the SCOTUS. Or perhaps you might address your concerns toward that Major Domo of the Shenandoah, Virginia country club set, and ex-spouse number 3, or 4, or whichever, of Eliz. Taylor, Sen. Warner. You remember him, don't you? He was the GOP Senator that personally took it upon himself to see that Ollie North would lose to Dem. Sen. Chuck Robb for a Senate seat from Virginia. Why blame the opposition party, when the GOP clearly had the whip in hand and could not succeed in controlling its own members?
Tell me, Mr. Hillyer, when one of your children misbehaves, are you in the habit of speaking harshly to, and punishing another of the children, instead of the miscreant?
-- Ken Shreve
Quin Hillyer replies:
Mr. Shreve is one of my favorite readers, and a careful one at that, which is why I am surprised that he accuses me of failing to address the Republican miscreants on this issue. His major point is right, which is that our current mess stemmed from GOP weakness almost as much as from Democratic perfidy. But I have repeatedly written as much, times almost too numerous to mention, at this site and others. For just a few out of many, many examples, consider this column, and this one, and this one. I thank Mr. Shreve for writing, but his justifiable complaint is aimed in the wrong direction.
Re: Ryan L. Cole's Clintonian Obama:
Ryan L. Cole is apparently surprised by two things: Barack Obama is "hazy" on history and the mainstream media is "reluctant" to point it out. Cole's surprise is based on an erroneous assumption: facts matter. They don't, unless they accrue to Sen. Obama's benefit.
Everything else is a "personal attack," or "undignified campaigning."
-- Arnold Ahlert
Boca Raton, Florida
WHO NEEDS RETIREMENT?
Re: Peter Ferrara's Obama von Bismarck:
I am always amazed at you geniuses when you talk about Social Security reform. I do not want reform, nor does anyone I talk to.
If people want to invest they can, there are all kinds of ways for them to invest in their future right now. Why are all of you geniuses talking like this is new? What do you think 401K and IRA's are?
I have paid into social security my whole life and look forward to collecting my share back. That is, if you geniuses don't bankrupt it first. That is why you are so "for" this "new deal"??.
You all know you have stolen the money or know who has.
What a crock!
-- Sue Baker
Re: Philip Klein's The Post-Post 9/11 Candidate:
Good luck with that post-post BS.
The reason Barack Obama isn't hammering on terrorism is because he has a message for the American people to rally around, not cower behind. Repubs have been running on a noun, a verb and 9/11 for so long, even your 9/11 candidate, Ruby Giuliana, lost. Badly.
Why don't you guys try coming up with something besides tax cuts once in a while?
-- Wingnut McGuffin
Perhaps Obama doesn't mention terrorism as every other word in his speeches like the Republicans do because he is not a fear monger. The Bible says, "You will hear of wars and reports of wars. Do not be terrified." Matthew Chapter 24.
Pro Zionists are more than happy to have American men and women die to fight Arabs on their behalf.
-- Adrian S. Roberts
Mr. Klein makes some very good points about the dangers of Obama's possible presidency and the treatment of terrorism as a simple law-enforcement problem, rather than as a national security issue. However, he does make one incorrect point. The threat of "terrorism" is way overblown. The mass-murder of 9/11 was tragic, horrible, and demonstrated both the inherent weaknesses and strengths of our ideological enemy. The victims of that day, and their families, deserve our sympathies and I do not want anything I'm about to say to be taken as a slight to them.
First, the murder of 3,000 people is insignificant to our society as a whole. If you want a good comparison, realize that in Los Angeles there are 4,000 gang-related murders every six months. The death-toll of American troops in Iraq has only, after 6 years, managed to reach that high. Perhaps it is due to the suddenness of the 9/11 attacks that they matter so much more. But this rings hollow. We were surprised then, there is no reason to be surprised again.
The threat of nuclear, radiological ("dirty"), or chemical terrorism is more significant, but not by much. Only with a mass distribution of these weapons all across the country, or a particularly lucky attack in a massive city such as New York, could the death toll even reach a single percentage of the American population. The major impact of these would be psychological, and I think Osama and his friends know well enough that after our morning period, this country would unite and become a nation of terrible vengeance. Biological terrorism is more of a threat due to its self-replicating nature and the fact that the victims of such an attack would carry it across the country. But we can handle a plague, even though it would be horrible.
But our response to 9/11 showed our own weaknesses and strengths. Our military in Afghanistan and Iraq were quick, deceive, and victorious in short order. A poor plan for post-invasion in Iraq created problems, but those were turned around so swiftly most haven't even realized it yet. This is due to our major strength, a well-equipped, honorable, and intelligent military force.
But even as bombs fell on the Taliban and American special forces were leading Afghans to their freedom, our leaders were going to mosques and calling the funders and ideological cousins of the "terrorists" for advice and to assure them that we believed Islam to be a religion of "peace." I am no position to state definitively if Islam is a peaceful religion or not, I can only exam data and decide what it suggests. Since the end of the Vietnam war, every major military action has involved Islam. Not every military action, Grenada, the FARC in Columbia, and others did not involve Islam. But the list of actions involving Islam dwarfs those that do not. What does this tell you? I know what it tells me, but I would not want to change your mind.
But the simple fact is that response to 9/11, to assure the "Muslim" world that we didn't blame them for the atrocities, demonstrates our major weakness: Multi-culturism, and the complete lack of foreign cultures that accompanies it. And the complete lack of will that we have to defend our own culture and all the wonderful things that it has brought the world. And I'm not talking about McDonalds and Hollywood and Rap Music here. I'm talking about equality, tolerance, independence, and liberty.
The real threat, the threat that only a few in the media and Washington want to talk about, is the fact that we, as a nation, have accepted the terrorist's main argument. They argue we are the aggressor, we are the imperial one, we are the unclean.
And how do we respond? Guards at Gitmo wear gloves to give the detainees their required Koran. Why? The guards are the infidels, they are unclean. We are imperials? Why do we not ask for more Federalist Republics, then? We are, after all, the only Federalist Republic in the world. If we're so "imperial" why aren't there more? Both Afghanistan and Iraq wrote their own constitutions, neither of which include strong defense for freedom of religion. If we are so "imperial," why didn't we insist? We are aggressors? Other than Iraq, can you name a single American war that was not in defense of ourselves or someone else? And even Iraq is debatable.
Terrorism is a threat, but it is a minor one. The loss of American values, American ideals, and most importantly, American will to defend these. That is the threat.
And my vote will go to any man who will do his best to stop that threat.
-- Charles Campbell
I see that the same old contrasting world views exist with regard to worldwide terrorism. One side views worldwide terrorism as simply another type of organized crime, while the other views it as armed attacks upon a country, or countries, which are sponsored, and in some cases controlled, by nation-states. Let's take a moment to investigate the differences.
Organized criminal enterprises have, as their goal, the acquisition of wealth. They exist to make money, just as legitimate business does. Where they differ from legitimate business is in their willingness to use violence to acquire and maintain wealth. The second manner in which they differ from terrorists is that they do not seek to change the society or culture in which they live and operate. They simply view their endeavors as another form of commercial enterprise; albeit one that has a higher risk factor than legitimate enterprises.
Worldwide terrorism, on the other hand, has no interest in the acquisition of wealth, except as a means to fund its on-going activities. The aim of political terrorists is to destroy or change a society, culture or government. They do this through the application of violence.
Now that we have these definitions out of the way, lets investigate other aspects of the criminal enterprise v. war debate.
One point that is continually put forth by those seeking to make the case for worldwide terrorist activities being viewed as criminal enterprises is that wars occur between two of more nation-states and that the combatants on both sides wear readily recognizable uniforms and are directly controlled by the leadership of the nation-state that they represent. As terrorists do not dress in distinctive uniforms bearing the name and flag of a recognized nation-state, they are, therefore, an independent criminal enterprise. We know, however, that most international terrorist groups and all fundamentalist Islamic terrorist groups are directly funded and directed by one, or more, nation-states. Historically, this would remove them from the classification of criminal enterprise and place them squarely in the classification of irregular military forces. And historically, captured irregular military forces fall under the authority of the military command of the opposing nation-state and have only those rights and privileges that are enumerated in various treaties governing the conduct of war among nations.
Based upon these definitions, it appears that very little credibility can be assigned to the notion that worldwide terrorism is a criminal enterprise. It does, in fact, meet the definition for irregular military forces. Therefore, I would propose that the struggle to oppose worldwide terrorist forces is a war, not a police action, and should be waged as such.
I would just like to add one observation to this discussion. The quibbling over the definition of terrorism being warfare or simple criminal behavior is not the heart of the problem. There exists, in the minds of many people in the United States, the failure to view anything as being a personal threat. They refuse to view reality as it is. Why? Because to do so would mean that they would have to acknowledge the fact that they have little personal control of the happenings on this planet. We are, individually, of little importance on a global scale and being unimportant scares some people more than the threat of death. So, if we can only identify terrorists as cowardly little criminals who skulk in the shadows, we are important and they are not. Unfortunately, political terrorists are the same. They wish to be important, too. Unfortunately, they are usually highly motivated, intelligent and dedicated individuals who will ruthlessly strive to achieve their aims. Those aims are simply to change the world through the destruction of our society at any cost. How would you combat them?
-- Michael Tobias
Re: Matt Ahren's letter (under "Too Soon?") in Reader Mail's Defenses Down:
This in reference to Mr. Ahren's observation that "...the correlation between when the Bush administration suffered political damage and when they chose to raise the terrorism threat levels over the past 7 years...", and "Pastor" Dan's overall opinion that "There is no War on Terror." Several thoughts come to mind:
The line ascribed to the Marines that "America is not at war. The Marine Corps is at war. America is at the mall..." lives in the hearts and minds of Democrats.
How revealing that Mr. Ahrens actually considers "political damage" as valid rationale to not create a public terrorism threat matrix. How effective such a matrix actually is may be debatable, but using "the finger in the wind" to determine policy is so...Clintonian.
The use of statistics to determine degree of danger is fraught. The odds of the lightning strike vis-a-vis a terrorist strike may tilt in favor of the lightning, but the assumptions inherent in this analysis are childish. Note that lightning does not change its tactics in response to mitigation efforts. Perhaps the "odds" would better favor the war model if there had been successful follow-ups to the 9/11 attacks. That there haven't been successful successive attacks is likely Bush's fault.
The Civil War is our best model of dealing with violent internal threats. The most common oath that government officials take is "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic..." That we may face an internal challenge to the Constitution is acknowledged every time the oath is administered. The Democrats of the Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt eras used the coercive power of the state when no such threat was manifest. As the firing on Fort Sumter was in 1861, I maintain that 9/11 demonstrates that such a threat is manifest today. Look in the mirror Democrats; you are as one with your Copperhead forebears.
-- Craig A. Zimmerman
WAR ON DEFINITIONS
Re: "Pastor" Don's letter (under "TOO SOON?") in Reader Mail's Defenses Down:
So another of your increasing band of liberals who pens enlightening letters to TAS proclaims that "there is no war on terror," but instead there is a "struggle to stop terrorism." I guess this is another of those nuances we conservatives are famously unable to grasp. Thus I say, let us all come together as Americans to win the struggle to stop terrorism. Catchy, no?
Oh, and since "Pastor" Don is willing to "take my chances with the terrorists," perhaps he could provide his address in case the terrorists are willing to take their chances with him.
-- Glen Hoffing
Shamong, New Jersey
I wish "Pastor" Don indicated which denomination he belonged to. If he was a Lutheran pastor in my own E.L.C.A. Church, it would explain a lot. Our good pastor believes our current war of terror definitionally cannot be a war because "wars are waged [only] between governments" and, besides, terrorists don't have those nifty uniforms. This is as fine example of textual criticism and exegesis as you will find among E.L.C.A. theologians and seminaries! The distinction, however, would probably be lost on our soldiers and Marines walking the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan.
So, fighting terrorists is really a police matter? I wasn't aware the NYPD served warrants and performed house searches in hostile distant lands. I know we are the most powerful nation on earth; but even I must have underestimated the ability of our criminal justice system to topple foreign governments who supply and harbor these "alleged" offenders.
Liberals are always crying in their beer about their far greater fear of compromising fundamental liberties than any fear of a couple of miscreants from foreign lands who wear beards and talk funny. Imagine my astonishment to learn that the so called "war of terror" is really about... them. This is all a Bush diabolical plot against his enemies. George and Dick are using this "war" to grease the "slippery slope where such things as habeas corpus, freedom of speech and so on become provisional" so that naughty liberals can be roped in.
In spite of their phantasmal horrors, the "war on terror" isn't a war against the loyal opposition. It isn't even about the tin-foil hat crowd. Conservatives are just plain mystified why liberals are hiding under the bed for fear that the men from the black helicopters will seize them and throw them into the dungeon never to be seen again. Liberals also seem to be afraid that Karl Rove will be listening in to their telephone pillow talk with their girlfriends. I am all too sure the Republican Party is all too eager to tell your spouses you've been exchanging cookie recipes with your mistresses.
Another thing that is completely lost on Conservatives is why liberals want to extend due process rights to soldiers captured on the battlefield. Those who wish to make these subject to the civilian criminal justice system miss the fact that our system of justice is not made to handle military issues from the battlefield. Take a look at how long and how much money it took to obtain a conviction against the original WTC bombers. Deal with the prospect of extending habeas corpus rights and the presumption of innocence even to Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda would love tying up our criminal courts with dozens if not hundreds of cases. You haven't thought this through. You aren't prepared for what will happen.
As far as Ben Franklin saying "He who sacrifices liberty in the name of security eventually loses both", we all know that in a limited sense he has a point. But in the larger sense, it is one of the dumbest things he ever said. Without security, there can be no liberty. It is not an either/or issue. It is a both/and. We believe in ordered liberty. Of order and liberty, only a schoolboy believes the two contradict each other. The question our civilization has debated over the centuries is how we will order our lives together to both support and protect our freedoms -- both as individuals and as a nation.
-- Mike Dooley
P.S. As far as saying you are more likely to be killed in an automobile accident than by a terrorist: This is true. You are also more likely to be killed falling in your own bathroom than by an intruder in your home. That doesn't mean it's not worth your time to lock your doors.
On "Pastor" Don's notion that there can't be a "war on terror" without a nation involved, among the thirty-seven million "war on" hits a simple web search came up with, I found a war on poverty, a war on drugs, a war on cancer, a war on photographers, a war on journalists, a war on bedbugs...even a war on war. (And that was just in the first fifty or so.)
None of these wars are between nations, either.
-- Robert Nowall
Cape Coral, Florida
GLUTTON FOR PUNISHMENT
Re: Mike Roush's letter (under "HOLIER THAN THOU") in Reader Mail's Defenses Down:
Mike Roush is equating the savaging of non-political wives and daughters with a parody song involving a presidential candidate. What is more interesting is that Mike is apparently defending Senator Obama when actually the parody is savaging people like Mike. Somehow I think Mike knows this. The left has fallen in love with a very inexperienced and ineffective Senator for what appears to be no other reason than he is African-American. When attention is called to this, the left gets angry and strikes out even at Democrats like the unfortunate Geraldine Ferraro. Senator Obama's membership in a racist church demonstrates that he is not the man to be leading discussions on racial healing. His conventional leftism and allegiance to left wing partisanship during his short tenure in the Senate illustrate he is not capable of bridging any differences in our society. His naivety with regard to using law enforcement to fight a war or sitting down willy-nilly with evil men demonstrate that our country will be at peril with him as President. All that is left is a middle class kid who attended expensive private schools and eventually went to expensive universities. Admittedly the first half of his life was made very exciting by his irresponsible mother but his "typical white person" grandmother gave him much stability and many opportunities (apparently not enough to keep from being thrown under the bus). After that he spent many years giving poor people poor advice on how to improve their condition. He has no experience running anything ever. Why can't someone draw attention to this lack of accomplishment and the weird psychological attachment of the far left?
-- Clifton Briner
Glass houses? Yeah, I'll comment on that. Why is it that Mr. Roush can "decry the lack of decency from Rush Limbaugh (remember Barack the Magic Negro)" when the columnist who first wrote those words gets a pass? Rush was simply letting people who might not have the inestimable benefits of a subscription to the LA Times know what liberals were saying about Obama.
Sounds like a double standard to me.
-- Tricia Carr
Laguna Niguel, California
"...the lack of decency from Rush Limbaugh (remember Barack the Magic Negro)..."
Yes, Mr. Roush, I do. It was the title of an article in the March 19, 2007 edition of the L.A. Times -- written by your fellow liberal, David Ehrenstein. He questioned Sen. Obama's racial authenticity. Subsequently, Mr. Limbaugh aired the clever song parody which poked fun at race-baiter Al Sharpton. I thought the ditty quite decent -- but then, unlike liberals, I have a sense of humor.
-- David Gonzalez
Uh, for the umpteenth time, "Barack the Magic Negro" was a very humorous satire based upon an extremely Liberal L.A. Times columnist's piece. Suggest Mike try some homework before future comments.
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