Reader Mail

The Good, the Bad, and the Not So Pretty

Preparing for Iraq. Republican meadowlands. A Toobinesque Thomas basher. Plus McCain's comeback. Kinsley appreciated. Roush self-defended. And more.

11.8.07

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THANKFULNESS ABOUNDS
Re: Jeff Emanuel's The Longest Morning:

As a near-college graduate who has continuously studied military history and current engagements, and as a girl preparing to enter the military, this article was probably the most moving account I have read yet about the current Iraq conflict. The determination and professionalism with which these brave men reacted to each new adversary they faced was absolutely brilliant and truly telling of the sheer competence of our armed forces. I'm thankful that your publication took the time, and the pages to tell the entire story -- as the "traditional" media loves skimming over true undaunted heroism, only highlighting the harsh realities of war. My heart goes out to the fallen soldiers, and their families, as well as the surviving men. God bless these guys for doing what so many will not, and God bless you for telling their amazing story.
-- Jessie Freeman

STRANGER THINGS HAVE HAPPENED
Re: Jacob Laksin's Weird New Jersey:

Two points, if I might. First the Dems have had a very long run as the de facto power in New Jersey. Even when there has been a GOP Governor, it has been someone like Christie Todd Whitman, who is virtually indistinguishable from the standard New England elite Democrat. That is who country club, Rockefeller Republicans from New England are.

The voters themselves have brought this fiscal mess on themselves. They are the ones who have elected these big government, big spending Dems and Repubs. The mass of the electorate wanted a nanny to take care of them, to feed them, and bathe them, give them their allowance, and change their nappy for them. Well that is what they got, and now they are shocked, shocked I say, to find that the state wishes to continue with the very same profligate ways that got then elected in the first place.

Sorry, but to me, the New Jersey voters are demonstrating the same degree of understanding and logic as your average two year old, and for the same reason -- gimme, gimme, gimme. They have gotten the kind of government that they have wanted, demanded, and deserve, just like I said about Pennsylvania in my last letter to you folks.

The second point is that it is rarely a good thing to have one party rule in government. It has not proven to be a good thing the few times that the GOP has had it, and it certainly has not been a good thing in spades when the Dems have had it. It invariably leads to government by and for the elite.

One need only look to the virtual explosion of spending and ear marking that occurred during the period when Bush was in the Oval Office, and the GOP controlled both the House and Senate, and not a single veto of a spending bill (or any other bill) occurred until just before the 2006 elections. Of course the two prime examples of the evils of one party rule are still probably the periods when FDR and LBJ were in the Oval Office. Although I find that I must say that FDR was the best war President since at least Lincoln. I surely wish that Bush showed the same understanding, determination, and effectiveness in our current conflict. FDR did not allow the kind of what we now call PC attitudes to creep into the waging of the war.

But back to the point, one party rule has been shown to be impossible to have without the creeping corruption, waste, and fraud that we always see as time goes on. Over time, it has brought down every system of governance going back into antiquity. The citizenry decides that they want to be given everything, instead of earning it, so they elect the party's candidates that promise them the most. That party keeps promising the most out of their own self-interest, and they keep getting re-elected, and keep controlling the levers of power. It has ever been thus, and probably ever will be, despite a hard core kernel of agents of change such as those of us that loyally read The American Spectator. We keep crying "fire," but the mass of the electorate refuses to interrupt their ongoing party.
-- Ken Shreve

Two minor quibbles with Mr. Laksin's article. First, voters rejected two, not three budget-related ballot questions. As usual, my fellow Garden Staters said OK to the annual "open space" bond issue, ensuring that municipal poobahs will have enough lucre for the next twelve months to preserve our natural environment by building tennis courts and the parking lots and lights to support them. No matter that these 'open spaces' produce no revenue to pay the debt back; we merrily vote ourselves a future tax burden every year because environmentalists cry wolf (or, more to the point, that sprawl is driving the wolf to distraction).

Also, though it pains me to say it, the blame for our fiscal calamity cannot be laid solely at the feet of our current Democratic legislature. We were set on the road to perdition by former Governor Christine Todd Whitman (nominally an R, but just a heartbeat away from donkeydom) and her compliant fellow travelers in the Legislature.
-- Peter J. Lyden, III
Rumson, New Jersey

The voters of states like New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Illinois and Maryland who have surrendered their fates to incompetent and egocentric Democrat Governors and/or legislatures are getting exactly what they deserve. I shed no tears for them, but only pray they will stay where they are and limit the damage.

Unfortunately, these mindless automatons know how to drive and are infesting other states. Northern Virginia is now a safe haven for the hateful carpetbagger and anti-Semite Congressman Jim Moran. Had it not been for these ignoramuses the racist misogynist Jim Webb would be the lone personnel failure of the Reagan administration and George Allen would be a Senator and serious contender for the White House.

Hopefully, conservatives after two years of the corrupt and incompetent Reid/Pelosi Congress will realize that New Jersey is a harbinger of the country's future if Democrats are allowed to consolidate their hold on Congress and seize the White House in 2008. Winning in 2008 is critical not only for the GWOT, but the future of our republic.
-- Michael Tomlinson
Jacksonville, North Carolina

"According to another school of thought, the state Republican Party, battered so many times in recent years, has grown too timid."

It is not just in NJ that Republicans are turning belly up, it seems to be in the genes of Republicans. We want everyone to "LOVE" us so don't fight back. Wake up, Democrats are NEVER going to love you, but your voters will sure like you better if you show just a little backbone.
-- Elaine Kyle

BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN
Re: Jennifer Rubin's The Comeback Kid:

I am a Vietnam veteran and a conservative and I wouldn't vote for John McCain if you paid me. He is an absolute disgrace, our country is being invaded and he takes the side of the invaders (Comprehensive Immigration Reform). Let me just point something out to you geniuses in Washington. We out here in fly-over country have had it with illegal immigration and uncontrolled legal immigration, including the influx of "refugees" sponsored by such luminaries as Catholic Social Services, Lutheran Social Services and The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. These organizations are reaping windfall profits by placing "refugees" in the United States. As soon as these "refugees" arrive here they are dumped on the local social service agencies so the taxpayer can begin picking up the tab. We are not talking about refugees from countries like Poland or Ukraine. We are talking about countries like Somalia where the written language is only 30 years old and most of the population is illiterate and Muslim. These are people who have little if any chance of assimilation. But then, isn't that the point? What better way to destroy a country then make it a teeming cesspool of polyglot races and ethnicities.

Newsflash, the war in Iraq will not be the major issue in the 2008 Election; it will be immigration, both illegal and legal. If you doubt my prediction, take a look at what is happening to Eliot Spitzer in New York.
-- Paul Martell

It is puzzling and disheartening to read articles such as "The Comeback Kid" and "Weird New Jersey" at this late date in the campaign. With utter disregard for all of the negative feedback that the Republican punditry and Republican Party "professionals" have received concerning the political baggage of the Rudy McRomney candidates, the process of foisting these charlatans on the conservative base continues unabated. Excepting perhaps voting for Thompson or Hunter, I am beginning to believe that this will be the first election I will sit out altogether. There is simply no way I will vote for another Republican sellout like Bush. If the majority of the people in this country, Democrat and Republican alike, are hell-bent on national suicide, then they will have to embark on that course without my vote. The way I see it, as one of only 300 million people, that way I cannot be blamed for the disaster that will surely follow.
-- Harry Hill

Wow, I don't like John McCain, although I do believe he is an honorable and decent man. I also won't vote for him, but calling him "The Comeback Kid"? I doubt the Senator will take offense, but I would since that moniker will now forever be associated with Bill Clinton and John McCain is no Bill Clinton. (Thankfully.)
-- Roger Ross

TOOBIN CLONED
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s A Good Man:

Clarence Thomas's life does fit the mold of a Horatio Alger story, which is bound to make it a hit among many Americans. However, in singing his hallelujahs, Mr. Tyrrell is conveniently overlooking some of Clarence Thomas's conspicuous shortcomings. While Thomas's work ethic is to be commended, his position against affirmative action could be described, condescendingly or not, as profound ingratitude for all the benefits that he has reaped in his life. There is nothing wrong with having an attitude against elites, but the fact is that Thomas would have had virtually no chance of becoming a Supreme Court Justice without affirmative action. If he is in denial of this fact, he is out of touch with reality, to say the least. And, as has been pointed out in the New Yorker review of his book, Thomas never showed any qualms about aligning himself with power elites like Ronald Reagan when he thought it would advance his career. Thomas's honesty must also be questioned with regard to his behavior towards Anita Hill and others during his early years as a so-called alcoholic. Bill Clinton's "I didn't inhale" looks tame in comparison.

In my opinion, this country would be better off with one less narrow-minded, self-righteous hypocrite on the Supreme Court.
-- Paul Dorell
Evanston, Illinois

NO ALTERNATIVE?
Re: J.T. Young's Raising Taxes by Alternative Means:

With all the good arguments available to use against our current federal tax system, I really hate constantly seeing the argument that it is Too Complicated. Case in point is J. T. Young's statement that calculating the Alternative Minimum Tax requires you to "fill out a 12-line worksheet, read 8 pages of instructions, and complete a 55-line form." Well, yeah, or you can have TurboTax or TaxCut do it for you in about a half-second. Without even asking.

Ironically, the "what-if" capabilities of tax software make it easy to see what is the real outrage in the AMT, which is that it is the only tax I have ever seen that goes away if you make more money. Don't believe it? If your tax software shows you owe an AMT, simply add in a mythical $50,000 in extra income to your return. Your basic tax liability obviously goes up, but, poof, the AMT is gone. This is because, like many government initiatives, the AMT has morphed into something never intended. Originally an attempt to reign in rich tax-dodgers, the AMT is now nature's way of telling you that you simply don't earn enough to justify all your tax deductions. Try harder next year.

Perhaps if conservatives spent more time explaining how perverse the AMT is, and less time complaining how complicated it is to calculate, we could get rid of the damn thing.
-- Glen Hoffing

The one thing you didn't say, Mr. Young, is that by comparison to most political hacks supporting the AMT, Michael Kinsley is a virtual angel, a sociopathic angel, but still an angel. We reached the point long ago, since about the time of Al Capone, when the income tax, and all of its continuing iterations, became a way for politicians to control and/or criminalize the behavior of those in the body politic they don't like. They call it, fairness. Raising revenue is merely a sideshow. Mr. Kinsley is of that school, only now it's middle income Americans who are the criminals. For socialists, like Mr. Kinsley, there is never enough progressivity in the tax code. He won't be happy until we're all abject slaves, and even that may not be enough.

We constantly hear complaints about the income tax in this country, from all quarters, if it's not the inequitable code itself, it's the insufferable enforcement, or its dubious basis in law. So, why then, with all the apparent failings of its imputed purpose, the equitable distribution of income, do we continue to embrace it? Because of people like Michael Kinsley, and sleazy politicians, who continue to bluster about "giving their fair share" to a gullible population. If these people really wanted tax fairness, revenue to fund the government, and the freedom for which far more worthy Americans bled and died, they would embrace a true alternative minimum tax, the Fair Tax (another LTE for another time).

But, that's life, and though it's hard to keep a sense of humor about it all, I'll try. Bill Buckley once said, "Back in the thirties we were told we must collectivize the nation because the people were so poor. Now, we are told, we must collectivize the nation because the people are so rich." That about says it!
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

NO LAUGHING MATTER
Re: Greg Barnard's letter (under "Why Bother") in Reader Mail's Ode to Al:

Let us set aside the ad hominem attacks in Mr. Barnard's letter and look at the issues he raises:

1. Afghanistan: Look at the work of Council of Foreign Relations, a non-partisan group, and similar groups that can be easily found on the web. They report on the resurgent Taliban, the growing drug trade, the weakness of the Karzai government outside of Kabul and on al-Qaeda activity along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. This has been going on since 2006.

2. The surge: The goal of the surge was to enable the government of Iraq to meet the benchmarks created by the Bush administration. Last summer, General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker reported that the Iraqi government had made progress on only a handful of the benchmarks, ones considered by many to be the least important. The latest news about a decline in casualties is good news, however, this should not be confused with achieving the goal of the surge, nor is it necessarily a sign that the benchmarks are being met. Please share any evidence to the contrary.

3. Turks and Kurds: If a functioning government existed in Iraq and the benchmarks had been met this would not even be a problem.

4. The Middle East Process: Read conservative columnist David Brooks's analysis of the current situation in the Middle East (New York Times, November 6, 2007). Please don't get caught up in any nonsense about the source, look at the article.

5. Energy independence: Please, if you can, demonstrate to me how the war in Iraq and its consequences for the wider Middle East region has ensured the flow of cheap oil from the Middle East upon which our country depends. Seen the price of a barrel of oil recently? Connected the dots between oil prices and turmoil in the markets? It's not only about the housing bubble.

Finally, Mr. Barnard writes: "I wonder what it is like to go through life, as Mr. Roush obviously does, with everyone pointing at you and laughing." I wasn't aware that EVERYONE is laughing. That Mr. Barnard and people like him are laughing bothers me not in the least.

Have a good day Mr. Barnard. Oh, and I hope your portfolio is fairing better than mine.
-- Mike Roush
North Carolina

A CHRISTMAS STORY
Re: Hal G.P. Colebatch's Britain's Escalating War on Christianity:

The response to the Institute for Public Policy Research report advocating "downgrading" Christmas should be a resounding BAH! HUMBUG!
-- Gretchen L. Chellson
Alexandria, Virginia

The more I read about Britain's downward spiral under its socialist governments, sorry rabble, the more depressing it gets. Hal Colebatch's "Britain's Escalating War on Christianity" describes the latest development in a history of the lunacy of the left. I wonder how long before it will truly all end in tears. What springs to mind is Luke 21:5-38. (Sorry but I don't know of any equivalent multicultural message -- but then I don't care. This is personal!)
-- G. Constable
Sydney, Australia

Pardon me, Mr. Colebatch, but isn't this insanity, at least partly, due to Britain (or more accurately, I suppose, England) having a state church? I mean, unless the essential governance of the Church of England by the Archbishop of Canterbury et al. is outside British law, can't the state simply impose these ridiculous utopian ideals on British Christians with complete impunity? What does the good Archbishop have to say about this? Is there no constitution in Britain guaranteeing religious freedom? Oh, silly me, there isn't, is there, well not exactly, but isn't there sort of, OK not really, but I thought, etc., etc. So, our British friends are left only to the whims of Parliamentary statute, and their most gracious Judges who are without power to declare a law, you know, unconstitutional.

Give me the ACLU fighting us in the courts over here any day. We may have been a little slow on the uptake over the last few decades, but God help us, at least we're not British.
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

Could it be time for a new Oliver Cromwell in England, William Wallace in Scotland, Owen Glydwr in Wales and Cuchulainn in Ulster?
-- Michael Tomlinson
Jacksonville, North Carolina

IT WASN'T DE GAULLE?
Re: Quin Hillyer's Political Psych Job:

Great article, but it wasn't Napoleon who said,"L'etat, c'est moi," but supposedly Louis XIV.
-- Ken Fasig
Kalaheo, Hawaii

Quin Hillyer replies:
I am embarrassed, but Mr. Fasig is absolutely right, and I thank him for his correction. What a mental hiccup. I KNEW that! It just goes to show the dangers of not double-checking trivia pulled from the back of one's mind before publishing it. Le goofball, c'est moi! Thanks again to Mr. Fasig.

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