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Indecent Appeasement

Peace in our rhyme. Bowman, James Bowman. Kennedy's missile crisis. Plus more.

5.28.08

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HEART-RENDING
Re: Jeffrey Lord's Seeing Evil: The Arms of John McCain:

In the fourth to last paragraph of Mr. Lord's superlative and at times heart-rending piece, he uses the word "tortuous." Wouldn't "torturous" be more appropriate?
-- Jens Andersen
Vancouver, Washington

Kudos to Mr Lord and his timely article on John McCain's trouble with his arms, and where that trouble originated. It is something else to remember on or near Memorial Day that some survivors should also be remembered, and not just the dead.

As for Obama, he can't even remember what he's speaking about on Memorial Day -- or maybe he really does see the dead.
-- Gary Stevenson

So the correct answer for Matthews' guest Kevin James was not, as Matthews himself supplied it, that what Chamberlain did wrong was give Hitler Czechoslovakia.

No, what Chamberlain did wrong was far worse. He never understood he was seeing evil. But Chamberlain did, in the end. In his eventual declaration of war, Chamberlain essentially apologized to the British people for having been unable to see evil in time!

Churchill's eulogy made it clear that he thought Chamberlain was a good man, but his inability to see evil in time to act effectively against it was his failing, not that he never understood seeing it at all.

I suspect that had to be the hardest part for Chamberlain to face while he was slowly dying as the war raged. It must have hurt him a lot as he read about it. No, I doubt if he could have prevented the war entirely...but he could have saved his own nation a great deal of the blood, sweat and tears they later shed. And that, after all, had been his primary responsibility.

The biggest regrets I have in my own life are over the times I have failed to live up to my responsibilities. All too often, I'm afraid, which is why I'm trying harder now. Still, some were not done in time and now never can be.

If I had only one bit of advice to give to Obama, it would be that: don't let it happen to you.
-- Gregg Calkins

Winston Churchill is the source of many witty quotes, but one in particular sums up Neville Chamberlain's naive view of Hitler and his fellow travelers. Chamberlain had made his name in British politics as the reforming mayor of the city of Birmingham, and Churchill drew heavily on this when he remarked that Chamberlain saw foreign policy through the wrong end of a municipal sewerage pipe. I wish there was a single Republican who had the nerve and the wit to make that comment about the Democrats.
-- Christopher Holland
Canberra, Australia

What a wonderful exposition by Mr. Lord. An excellent recitation of Mr. Chamberlain's cowardly folly, which today is heralded as "courage" by Democrats.

Democrats find no appeasement in their various surrenders to evil dictatorships. I have long wondered how they could proclaim they are not appeasers with a straight face. Is it that we, the people are so stupid? Is it because the media refuses to do any critical analysis of what Democrats say and do? Has the world actually turned upside down and what once was heroic is now cowardly and vice versa?

Thanks to Mr. Lord's piece I now do understand, in a flash of brilliant clarity why Democrats are incapable of appeasement. The word is defined as making concessions often in derogation of one's own principles.

As anyone who observes the Democrats knows, they do not have principles. Thank you, Mr. Lord, for the insight.
-- Jay W. Molyneaux
North Carolina

This is an extraordinary essay that sheds much light on both Senator McCain and on Chris Matthews. The problem is that most left leaning people who read it will quickly dismiss John McCain as one who earned our respect for his valiant behavior as a prisoner of war during the Viet Nam conflict, but who is woefully inadequate to become president of the U.S. Few, however, will come to the obvious conclusion that Chris Matthews is a commentator not only to be disbelieved, but also to be ridiculed.

If this man, Chris Matthews, purports himself to be a student of History, yet believes that Neville Chamberlain's only fault, or even greatest fault, was the surrendering of Czechoslovakia to the Nazis, he is as much a student of History as is Mr. Bean, the famous British intellectual. For anyone who has taken even the most cursory look at the History of the period between world wars, it is obvious that Chamberlain's willful ignorance of what Adolph Hitler had planned for Europe and the rest of the world, and what was supported by copious evidence, was the sin of this chief of the appeasers. In fact, Chamberlain, Baldwin, and the others who participated in this disgraceful showcase of "diplomacy" either deliberately ignored or foolishly discounted statements from Hitler that clearly revealed his impending gambit. Steel puddlers and door to door salesmen were able to accurately predict the coming war. The signs, so obvious in retrospect, were just as obvious at the time.

Today, virtually hourly, in the newspapers and on television, we listen to and see people like Obama, McDermott, Pelosi, Reid, and the other mini-Chamberlains repeating the past in their mad rush toward appeasement and surrender. The scariest part of this is that half the nation seems to comfortably believe these lunatics who apparently accept the idea that Islam is, in reality, the religion of peace, and that those millions of murderously red-eyed fanatics are just funnin' with us and will, when push comes to shove, be controlled by the vast majority of friendly Muslims who want only to live in peace and harmony with the rest of the world. You know, like they are trying so hard to do in the Middle East, with Israel

Was it Rush Limbaugh who first stated that liberalism was a mental disease? I used to think that that belief was over the top. Now, I'm not so sure. What does one say about someone who looks down the barrel of a loaded gun, listens to the holder explain how he is going to pull the trigger, and blithely says, "Don't worry, he doesn't really mean it"?
-- Joseph Baum
Garrettsville, Ohio

First, let me admit to not being a history buff concerning World War II, so I do have a question about the subject of Mr. Lord's article.

I saw the same "Hardball" show in which I heard Matthews repeatedly ask the question of his guest, and when the guest couldn't answer, Matthews' finally answered his own question by saying, "Chamberlain gave half of Poland to the Nazis, and that is why he [Chamberlain] is called an appeaser." All commentary I've seen on that particular show refers to Czechoslovakia, not Poland. Did Matthews' misspeak or was he wrong about his history? Or did I not correctly hear Matthews.

It is amazing to me that that was first time I can recall when a liberal actually argued the facts of something with a Republican or conservative, and it made big news. When the conservatives make the liberals look foolish on their facts or history, it is not big deal. The Republicans are going to have a hard time winning this November with the media so blatantly on the side of Democrats.
-- David Tomaselli

Jeffrey Lord replies: If Matthews had said "Poland" I would clearly think he simply misspoke. Poland was invaded outright, a year after the negotiations between Chamberlain and Hitler turned Czechoslovakia over to the Nazis. It was the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, that officially kicked off World War II.

ROSIE SCENARIO
Re: Paul Chesser's More Biofuellishness:

The states headlong rush into the "Climate Change" arena is something akin to the movie, The African Queen, where Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn are hacking widely in every direction with a machete through the steaming dense jungle undergrowth making little or no headway and with no specific direction that will free them from the tangled morass.

This is the Climate Change philosophy that North Carolina is getting ready to adopt. NC State Legislatures are lining up behind each other and handing Governor Easley the ceremonial golden machete to start hacking into the Climate Change jungle with no specific attainable goal and tangle North Carolinians with higher fees and taxes that will provide little or no climate benefit for years to come.

Below are excerpts from an article written by a leading economist Dr. Roy Cordato of the John Locke Foundation a policy think tank in Raleigh, N.C.

"The climate change commission in North Carolina is considering 56 policy proposals developed by the Climate Action Plan Advisory Group. At the request of the John Locke Foundation, Beacon Hill Institute, the research arm of the economics department at Boston's Suffolk University, researchers tested eight of the proposed policies. Those tested include a cap-and-trade program for CO2 emissions, a surcharge for high-emission vehicles, a California-style vehicle emission standard, and mandates for utility companies to spend money on energy-efficiency and demand-management programs. "The Beacon Hill Institute details what it calls 'serious methodological flaws' in the documents used to justify these new tax hikes, artificial price increases, and increased restrictions of consumer freedom."

It doesn't matter what state or the level of government that enacts "Green legislation," with falling revenues that flow into government treasuries, states legislatures are eager to grasp any type of revenue generating vehicle that will balance their budgets for the short term. So when a politician with a sardonic grin proselytizes that their state is going green, be sure to ask them specifically what green they are going after, the environment or your wallet because the Climate Change vehicle that NC Legislatures are jumping into definitely falls under North Carolina's Lemon Law?
-- Melvin Leppla
Jacksonville, North Carolina

Our family lives in rural northern Iowa -- home to ethanol plants and biodiesel plants. I have a number of "reservations" about the ethanol plants, one of which is, so I am told, that for every gallon of ethanol produce, 3 gallons of water is required. In time, I fear that I will have to drill a deeper well as water tables are lowered. Funny, you never, ever hear talk of this fact when a new plant is on the drawing boards. You may also note that a nearly new biodiesel plant in southern Minnesota and a new biodiesel plant in Algona, Iowa are not in operation. Why? According to my farmer-sources, the price of soybeans is too high for these plants to economically produce biodiesel. I wonder if that factor was firmly entrenched in their business plans?

Enjoyed your article.
-- Terry Hagen

Spending money on a program that does not work has never bothered a liberal. This is possibly because they always see someone else paying the price of the failure. When I hear liberals talking about cutting class size or curbing the cost of government to stop global warming or conserve energy, I will then take serious notice of their carping and moaning. So far I have seen no government energy program, except maybe nuclear, that would surpass the economic benefits of the government making sure everyone got a lucky rabbit's foot. At least you can eat the by product and the fur makes very nice mittens.
-- Danny L. Newton
Cookeville, Tennessee

Once again another biofuels discussion with water simply left out of the equation. Hello? It has taken millions of years to fill the huge aquifers that crops now sit over and consume, yet are being pumped with more and more wells. People and animals also need water from time to time and cities don't necessarily have a river or lake nearby constantly supplied by rainwater or snowmelt. Doesn't anyone remember the Dust Bowl? Before wells and pumps existed, the 'breadbasket' was plowed under and the settlers simply hoped rain would water the crops. Here in the west, a water war has gone on for a century and a severe drought has intensified it. Once the water is gone, fuel will be the least of our worries.
-- Russell Ready

BOYS WILL BE BOYS
Re: Lawrence Henry's How Little Boys Eat:

Trouble with Joe's breakfast? Go to Trader Joe's -- frozen food aisle, breakfast section. Get Frozen steel cut (already cooked) oatmeal, two servings to a box Microwave for 3 minutes. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a scatter of blueberries. Have one, yourself, Larry. That scoop of ice cream gives hot cereal a summery touch. It also cools the cereal down and nobody is late to school.

Steel cut is yummy and crunchy -- not gooey and gluey. My six year old grandson approves.
-- D. Smith

The sony "Roly Poly" was recorded in 1946 by Bob Wills and the Texas Playboy.
-- Stan Bennett
Sugar Land, Texas

Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys did this song a long time before Willie Nelson ever learned to play the guitar. You might pass this along to Mr. Henry. Other than this historical gaffe, the essay was pretty good, particularly in its implicit criticism of the obsessive nannyism our kids, particularly boys, face today.
-- Stu Dempsey

I'm sure you'll hear from other pedants but I knew it wasn't Willie. If it was Willie, he'd have been 13 years old when he wrote it. He was born in 1933. Just an old country music fan...
-- Jeff Upton

Lawrence Henry replies: Thank you. I should have remembered that. Pitfalls of Google. I did find the song attributed to Willie Nelson as author -- and he's pretty old.

BREAD AND PRAGMATISM
Re: Hugh Thomson's letter (under "Pragmatism") in Reader Mail's More Fumbles:

Mr. Hugh Thomson asks, "Why should Gov. Pawlenty 'save' Minnesotans from the consequences of their decision...to put Democrats into office? Put another way, why should the adults save the children from the consequences of their choices?"

This is a rather juvenile approach to politics. Put bluntly, the governor -- indeed, any elected official -- is not a rubber stamp who merely validates the choices of the people. Ours is a representative, not a direct democracy, and an elected official owes his constituents his best judgment in order to provide good governance. And that is what Governor Pawlenty is doing -- providing Minnesotans with good governance, whether they deserve it or not.

The notion that a Republican governor should simply allow the citizens of his state to stew in their own juices because he does not support the positions of the majority party in the state legislature endorses what is, in effect, a dereliction of duty. As governor, Pawlenty's mandate is to leave his state in better condition than he found it. Thomson would have him wreck the state by his passive acceptance of Democratic spending initiatives, just to get even with the citizens of Minnesota -- whose interests Pawlenty has sworn to protect -- for electing Democrats to public office. This is petty-minded tom-foolery. Imagine, for a moment, if Franklin Roosevelt had taken Mr. Thomson's path with regard to rearmament and support for Great Britain prior to Pearl Harbor, and decided to do nothing, to punish the people of America for electing isolationists to Congress. Other than Pat Buchanan, who else thinks the world would be better off today?

Mr. Thomson seems to wish that we lived under a parliamentary system, in which the will of the legislative majority is law. Perhaps he likes the notion of clear-cut political decisions unmuddied by compromise. Maybe he needs to live in such a system for a while, where (as one parliamentarian once told me), "Fifty percent plus one means we can do whatever we want." The founders, who lived under such a system, rejected it as legislative tyranny, instead promoting divided government and a system of checks and balances that allow majority rule while protecting minority rights, because legislation can only be passed through consensus and compromise. This is guaranteed to drive partisan ideologues insane with frustration. That's the general idea, Mr. Thomson. Get used to it. It protects you when you are in the minority, just as it frustrates your ambitions when you are in the majority. Everyone must settle for half a loaf, or for no bread at all. This requirement for a broad-based consensus is what provides the stability that has allowed the U.S. to be governed under one Constitution, amended but largely unchanged, since 1789.

If you think this is a bad system, look at some of the others that have been tried elsewhere.
-- Stuart Koehl
Falls Church, Virginia

NOT READY FOR C-SPAN
Re: Robert Stacy McCain's Dogfight in Denver:

Those two appalling socialistic choices offered by the demented Democrats might be laughable, if they were not so damned tragic. And McCain is hardly cut from the Goldwater mold; by his actions, he's a Democrat Wannabe.

Which left the Libertarians, who did the dumbest thing -- they nominated a conservative Republican who is anything but a Libertarian.

Alan Keyes? Pathetic.

In past years, rather than settle for those lousy choices nominated, I wrote in Dick Lamm one year, Jeane Kirkpatrick another, and even names like Scoop Jackson, Paul Tsongas and Daniel Patrick Moynihan -- sharp, principled people who just happened to be Democrats.

This year, I'll definitely write in my wife's name. She's far sharper than any of the alternatives, that's for sure -- and she did it the hard way. If anyone wishes to join me, give me a shout and I'll fill in the details.
-- Geoff Brandt

Seriously, folks, can anyone take the Libertarian Party seriously after having watched even five minutes of their National Convention?

I can't, and I watched about six minutes of it.

The only people who could possibly take that convention seriously might be their near-counterpart in the U.K. -- the Official Monster Raving Looney Party (there is such a party, and they regularly run candidates for election -- with much the same impact as the Libertarians and better costumes).

Why the media covered it is beyond me. Unless the media have a better sense of humor than I have hitherto given them credit for.
-- A. C. Santore

POTTED PLANTS
Re: The Prowler's Sedona Soundings:

Nancy Pelosi would make a loose cannon -- a loaded loose cannon, at that -- looks like a potted geranium glued to the window seat.

She is the more dangerous because she apparently thinks she IS a potted geranium glued to the window seat.
-- A. C. Santore

Here's a thought for the veepstakes: John McCain could put a simple question to all of them. "Who would you like to see as vice president?"

If one name kept coming up, maybe we could get somewhere on it...
-- Robert Nowall
Cape Coral, Florida

BOWMAN, JAMES BOWMAN
Re: James Bowman's Numskulls:

James Bowman puts far too much guilt for the state of our culture on poor Indiana Jones' head. To start with, the James Bond films of the Seventies took place in a fantasy world that was far more insidious and silly than the Indiana Jones films, did they not? Secondly, Indiana Jones was a response to the "gritty realism" of the movies of the Seventies, which took the adult aesthetic and moral ambiguity of the great John Ford films and sent them off the cliff into nihilism. I'd take a closer look at the work of the filmmakers who tried to follow in John Ford's footsteps, and why they lost their audience, before condemning Indy and his fans too harshly.
-- Thomas J. Marier

Great article on the new Raiders movie. I for one can't go see it -- too many fond memories of watching the original with our four children. In 1981 and again in 1984 and 89 we grew up watching Indiana Jones.. Although it wasn't The Searchers of our day it was great entertainment, the new Indy would just leave a bad taste in my mind's eye.

Had three boys and one girl, two boys are in the USMC, one is doing combat patrols west of Baghdad. The other did three yours of duty in Iraq.

Too bad they won't be able to come home to great movies about their exploits. No Longest Day, Sands of Iwo Jima, Great Raid, Action in the North Atlantic, Pork Chop Hill, Eight Iron Men, Men in War, Casablanca, Desert Rats, Never So Few, Merrill's Marauders, and Run Silent, Run Deep -- just to name a few...

Those movies were about courage and sacrifice and those virtues that make this a great country, now Hollywood puts out everything but the truth. It' really a shame. We'll recover, though...
-- Bob
Ohio

KENNEDY'S MISSILE CRISIS
Re: Rick James's letter (under "Concession Stand") in Reader Mail's More Fumbles:

Please inform letter writer Rick James that his hero JFK was actually duped by Khrushchev. The Ruskies gave Kennedy a head-fake and he went for it. Kennedy took our installed missiles out of Turkey in exchange for a promise from the USSR not to install missiles in Cuba. Many insiders are convinced that Khrushchev never intended to install missiles in Cuba -- he just wanted our missiles out of Turkey. An additional bonus for Khrushchev and Castro was that Kennedy promised that the US would never invade Cuba... and the media has conned just about everyone into thinking that Kennedy (and the U.S.) won. Huh?
-- Jack Hughes
Chicago, Illinois

I suppose it is a mark of progress that "non-conservative" Rick James addresses Conservatives as Neanderthals rather than as minions of the Prince of Darkness.

I will pass over Mr. James' history lesson about Iran except to say that the history concerning America and Iran is significantly more complicated than he would have it. Also more complicated was Mr. James' diplomatic success story of John F. Kennedy, Cuba and those pesky nuclear weapons in the early 1960's. What Mr. James leaves out was that America and the Soviet Union had to run up to the brink of nuclear war in order to get to that crackerjack piece of diplomacy. Not exactly a model for dealing with Iran Mr. James thought he was recommending.

Contrary to Mr. James' caricature, Conservatives very much believe in quiet talks between nations (not these dog and pony shows performed for the cameras of the world). Our main criticism of much of past and current American diplomatic efforts is that the American national interest is not advanced in any discernable way. A continuing pattern involves the State Department making concrete concessions to other nation states who have an abundant history of not keeping up their end of the deal.

Liberals have an abiding belief in diplomacy as some sort of a magic wand that can defuse any knotty situation. It is a superstitious belief rooted in the cynicism that one's opponent/enemy can be bought. But the reality is some nations cannot be "bought" because we don't have anything they want. Diplomacy works when both parties share mutual primary interests and objectives such as the avoidance of war and the promotion of the welfare of their respective peoples. That is, their aims are symmetrical. But when aims are asymmetrical, talks are predictably fruitless.

In the case of Iran, peace and the wellbeing of its people take a distinct backseat to the attainment of geopolitical advantage. Nuclear weapons capability (there is no other reason to enrich uranium) is simply a means to the end. It is in no one's interest for Iran neither to gain dominance in that part of the world nor to be able to issue thermonuclear threats. And nothing should have more contempt than the childish notion that since America, the United Kingdom, and the rest have nuclear weapons Iran has the right to have them too. There is no such "right" nor should one be contrived.

Is saying "Iran has no right to nuclear weapons" arrogant self-righteousness"? I don't think so; but even if it were, I make no apologies.
-- Mike Dooley

Mr. James's letter concerning the history of the U.S. with respect to Iran is accurate, as far as it went. It is true that the U.S. supported the sitting Shah in dissolving an elected constitutional government. It is true that the U.S. supported the Shah and that the Shah was by Western standards a despot; arguably not more so than the current ruling government, however. It is also true that the Shah was deposed by an alliance of conservative religious groups. Here, though he diverges from history. By occupying the U.S. embassy in 1979, holding US diplomats and State Department employees as hostages and declaring war upon the U.S., the new Iranian government forfeited any claim to peaceful neutrality. The arming of Saddam Hussein, by the U.S., for his war against Iran was a surrogate war against a country that had declared war upon the United States. Whether any of this a good or noble course of action is up for debate.

This part of history is of little import to the world at this time, however. What is important is the fact that Iran, like Iraq, has been actively pursuing nuclear armaments for the last twenty years. The current Iranian government has consistently shown a willingness to agree to almost any diplomatically negotiated conditions limiting their nuclear development, only to disregard those agreements as they wished. Based upon the track record of the Islamic Republic of Iran, it is foolish to expect them to react favorably to diplomatic negotiations. Iraq was attacked for several reasons, including the fact that Saddam Hussein had repeatedly violated the terms of the cease fire that ended hostilities in the First Gulf War.

Now, I hate to be the one to point this out, but JFK did not negotiate an end to the Cuban Missile Crisis empty handed. It was only resolved after JFK loaded nukes aboard tactical bombers in Europe, raised the Def-con to only one step below a pre-emptive missile strike on the USSR, mobilized US forces for both tactical air strikes and an invasion of Cuba and interdicted surface shipping to Cuba. In this case negotiations were instigated by the USSR through back channels, largely because the U.S. had a five to one advantage over the USSR in nuclear weapons and a significantly superior delivery system. In other words, the USSR and Cuba capitulated to the U.S. because they would have lost any nuclear exchange and it appeared that JFK would launch such an exchange if they called his bluff.

The point here is simple. You must always negotiate from a position of strength. Otherwise, no one will listen to you. As Teddy Roosevelt so aptly put it, speak softly and carry a big stick.
-- Michael Tobias
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Umm, Rick at the risk of negating the rest of your nut case rant, the "deal" Kennedy "did" with the Soviets over Cuba was at the point of a gun, the U.S. Military gun to be precise and at the risk of all out global nuclear war!

Patton and Caesar might have recognized this as "negotiation" but you have your wires shorted out if you think the Soviets buckled to anything but the reality of over whelming armed force. And force, like it or not still is the THE governing principle of global politics and is unlikely to be replaced by any moonbat naval viewing we are the world narcosis in the foreseeable future. Except in the UN.
-- Craig Sarver
Seattle, Washington

MY TWO LEFT FEET
Re: Joseph Johnston's letter (under "Life of Johnston") in Reader Mail's Having it Both Ways:

Mr. Baum seems a little confused by Mr. Johnston's use of the term "chicken-hawk." The term chicken-hawk in Liberal-speak refers to all those who don't think the Iraq war is the most egregious violation of human rights in the history of the world. Service in the military is irrelevant. If it were, Senator McCain would be the final authority both by dint of his service as well as having a son (soon to be 2 sons) in harm's way in Iraq. No, following are the Liberal rules for who may speak with authority about military action:

1.You must be against the Iraq War
2.You must hate George W. Bush
3.You must have served in the military, but only if the following conditions are met:
a.See 1 and 2.
b.You must have seen combat
c.In combat, you must have seen an atrocity committed by a U.S. soldier
d.The combat had to have been in Iraq.
e.Conditions 3b, 3c and 3d are not required if Condition 3a is met
f.You will not get credit for death, loss of limb, permanent disability, or heart-warming story unless 3a is met.
g.In case of your death, your relatives may speak for you if you do not leave behind any note contradicting requirements 1 or 2 and if they meet requirements 1 and 2

Are we clear?
-- Andrew J. Macfadyen, M.D.
Former USNR
Chicken-Hawk
Omaha, Nebraska

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