Reader Mail

Freddie and the Dreamers

Is it past time for Fred to announce? Also: An Antioch product. Bipartisan death wishes. Who trains al Qaeda? Electric expertise. Internet charities that work. Plus more.

7.20.07

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FRED RECKONING
Re: James G. Poulos's The Clock Strikes Fred:

I agree that the time for Fred Thompson to declare or step aside has passed, but for different reasons. Rather than look at the issue in the context of what is good for Fred Thompson, he should look at it in the context of what is good for his party, and his country.

Leaders do not sit in the wings waiting to see how things are going to break. They get out in front and lead. It requires them to assume great risks for the sake of those that follow. If Fred Thompson believes he is the best person to serve us as our candidate and our president, then it is his duty to step forward, right now. If he is ultimately the Republican candidate, I will lend him my vigorous support; but so far he is not scoring any points with this member of the Republican base.

Part of his failure to get in the ring may be due to his background as a legislator and an actor. Legislators do not actually do things. Rather, they make laws that require other people to do things. Actors pretend to be other people that are doing. I take his word as a gentleman that he truly believes that he has what it takes to lead us, but he must follow that word by showing us what he can do, not just say.

In contrast, both Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani have spent their lives taking on and accomplishing huge, complex, difficult, and important missions; today they are out there working very hard for the sake of our country. Anyone that takes the time to look at the brilliant achievements of Mitt Romney has to be astonished. Rudy Giuliani's great achievements are widely known. Unfortunately, both these candidates are raising far less money than their Democrat counterparts. One reason for that is, without knowing who is in or out of the race, people are reluctant to make commitments.

Fred Thompson would serve us well if he would lead, follow, or get out of the way.
-- Tom Dykers
Goochland, Virginia

James G. Poulos writes as if he is an attorney and doctoral candidate in Government. Fred Thompson is not running for President of the Washington Beltway, where Mr. Poulos's arguments would make sense. Out here in the real world, the President is not such a pariah as he describes nor is anyone that interested in who is running for President in the middle of summer. The fish are biting, the grass needs cutting and the Tigers are in a pennant race. Old Fred seems to know the game pretty well. He'll get in to the race in plenty of time.
-- Pat Bruen

It seems to me, and probably to most conservatives as well, when Mr. Thompson finally does declare, he will immediately face a fork in the road. Mr Poulos does an admirable job describing and condensing the two main choices along that road: either to stick with pure ideology or to further conservative principles (not the same as Republican principles, as we witnessed the disintegration of such in Nov 06).

However, I must depart from the separation analysis of the good author. It is not the separation from President Bush that the good former Senator must consider. It is separation from the Republican status quo which must be executed, of which Presidential separation is only a subset.

This is the moment to re-establish that wonderful 1994 era of true conservative thought. Fred must convince the life-long victims of liberal rhetoric of, and become the leading figure for, low taxes, individual freedom, limited Government, and self reliance, and then carry that WFB, Jr.-inspired mantra all the way to Nov 08. It can be done, why? Because more than just conservatives are yearning for it. Don't believe what the MSM tells you; you only need to believe what you see. Do you see it yet? I do, and hopefully, so does Fred.
-- Owen H. Carneal, Jr.
Yorktown, Virginia

Disclaimer; I am a committed supporter of the campaign of Fred Thompson for President. It is my supreme hope to see him inaugurated and assume command in the Oval Office on Jan. 20, 2009.

I believe that Fred has pursued a brilliant strategy to this point. Anyone paying attention knows that there were some real life contractual obligations that precluded Fred from announcing anything until recently. That said, I truly believe that we are at the point of seriously diminishing returns, and may, in fact, be about to tip over into negative consequences, if the same strategy is continued. There is an old, but wise, expression that someone needs to do a bodily function or get off the pot -- to clean up the expression a bit. In my humble opinion, it is that time for Fred.

It is time for Fred to announce, one way or the other. Get in or get out. Without Fred the Republican field is an utter catastrophe, in my view. Nevertheless, it is obvious that Fred is no longer avoiding any of the slings and arrows from the other GOP candidates or from the donkey party candidates either.

C'mon, Fred, do it, announce that you are running. I double dog dare you.
-- Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

ALUMNUS OF THE YEAR
Re: Katharine Boswell's Antioch Agonistes:

Katharine Boswell's misinformed shadenfreude over the apparent death of Antioch College bears such a shocking resemblance to George Will's missive on the topic that the gentlemen could certainly sue for plagiarism. Or would that be hero worship? The conservative response to Antioch has always been the same formula: self-designed majors lack standards; sexual offense should be an expectation of the college experience; self defining clubs on campus are liberal hypocrisy.

If Ms. Boswell had taken any time to research the college instead of just repeating what her betters have already said in wider circulation, she might have found that Antioch College has produced MacArthur Fellows, Fulbright Scholars, MDs, JDs and PhDs in numbers disproportionately high for a college of its size and endowment. I only bring up the credentials because such gross measures of success are easier to understand than a more refined measurement of the thousands of Antiochians who have gone on to toil in the thankless fields of primary and secondary education, social work, community activism, non-profit management, the arts, social entrepreneurship and, don't let me forget: legitimate non-corporate journalism (though we do have several CNN producers to our credit, but then I am sure Ms. Boswell is a FOX fan). Self-designed majors (which sadly are no longer part of the curriculum) allowed students to focus their studies and produce graduate level work.

To almost quote Don Rumsfeld: Democracy is messy. Antioch is based on a model of community government where students, faculty and staff have a say in virtually every aspect of campus life and the academic program. Antioch assumes that its students have the maturity that their majority status implies, unlike Ms. Boswell's alma mater Baylor. At Baylor the university administration, or rather the Baptist Convention circumscribes student speech, appearance and dress; homosexuality is considered sexual misconduct equal to incest and assault, critical thinking is only acceptable to the point that it does not challenge the supremacy and infallibility first of God and second the Baptist Convention.

As for Wordsworth, Antiochians might adopt, as motto if our struggle succeeds, or epitaph if it fails: "Neither evil tongues, rash judgements, nor/the sneers of selfish men, nor greetings/where no kindness is, nor all the dreary/intercours of daily life, shall e'er prevail/against us."
-- Travis Sanford
Antioch Class of 1994
Portland, Oregon

The reason why Antioch is closing is simple. Parents are not willing to spend a fortune on a school that does not teach their children anything.
-- David McGinley
McLean, Virginia

BIPARTISAN DEATH WISH
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Democratic Death Wish:

To anyone who follows the reporting on the war in Iraq, it is evident that as long as American troops are on the ground in a given area, the situation improves. It is also clear that when the Americans leave, the situation deteriorates. Currently, the political progress that is supposed to enable the Iraqis to "stand up" so Americans can "stand down" is not promising as evidenced by the lack progress being made on key benchmarks. How long will it take? Nobody seems to know. Not the Congress that provides only "bad political theatre" (Mitch McConnell) and not the President who, with other members of his administration, "f@#ked up the war" (George Voinovich). In the meantime, the American people grow weary with the lack of leadership and competence. The polls on Congress and the President say it all. They are also increasingly unwilling to sacrifice American lives and treasure for an indefinite amount of time until somebody can figure out what to do.

In the spirit of being "fair and balanced," Mr. Tyrrell might have noted that, in varying degrees, some Republican seems to share the Democrats' death wish and are willing to say so publicly.
-- Mike Roush
North Carolina

Re: Democratic Death Wish and Mr. Tyrrell's enlightening examples of Sharia law: What can be done about a group of lunatics who consider the mixing of odd-shaped vegetables in a bag a sign of immorality while they, themselves rely on transvestite behavior as a means of cowardly escape. Burka-clad girlie-men on the run! Don't stumble on that yardage, guys -- and don't look back. Something might be gaining on you!
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

RET claims that the Democrats have a 14% approval rating. There's a strong possibility that much of that 14% is made up of folks who are rating the whole of Congress, not just the Dems, and their criteria for rating Congress is inversely proportional to its legislative output. Keep up the good work, Dems. So far, you've only hurt the republic with rhetoric and have reminded at least one voter that there's a difference between the two parties.
-- B'ham

Comparing the Democrats to Don Quixote does great damage to Miguel de Cervantes and his wonderful, romantic hero of La Mancha! I would be more likely to compare the Democrats to Larry, Moe and Curly of the Three Stooges or Dracula and Renfroe.
-- Judy Beumler
Louisville, Kentucky

Mr. Tyrrell's analysis of the Democrat party is uplifting. Unfortunately, many conservatives are still letting the Democrat propaganda machine (i.e., mainstream media); their token "conservatives" like Pat Buchanan and lose to win "conservatives" like James G. Poulos shape opinions on Iraq, the GOP, President Bush and a host of issues. At a time when Democrats are in disarray, the conservative meltdown continues proving we don't have the "luxury of blowing an election."

To reverse our self-inflicted wound conservatives need a reality check. Things are good in the USA despite the gloom and doom liberals and their masochistic counterparts on the right.

(1) The economy is booming thanks to low taxes and Reagan/Bush supply-side policies that have produced record highs in the stock market, historically low unemployment, growing incomes and in a time of war unheard of shrinking deficits. A gallon of gasoline is cheaper than a cup of Starbucks coffee.

(2) Despite liberal and paleocon yearnings for defeat the surge is working. Not only that we're winning the war in Iraq with a historically low "butcher's bill" (if the rate of the last 4.4 years of fighting holds it will take 70 years to equal the deaths in Vietnam). While it is taking time for Iraq to develop an efficient national government it should be remembered it took our forefathers 5 years after the Revolution (a total of 13 years from the outbreak of hostilities) to establish our current government. The good news is Iraq is a democracy no longer ruled by a pro-terrorist tyrant.

(3) The Supreme Court has 4 solid conservatives on it thanks to President Bush's 2 superb appointments.

(4) Our Presidential contenders, despite the ambivalence, are head and shoulders above the Democrat hopefuls.

(5) The Kennedy-McCain immigration bill that so antagonized many conservatives was defeated.

(6) The pro-life and family agenda has made gains.

(7) The push for homosexual marriage has been stalled.

(8) The Bush administration despite Democrat and media attempts to undermine national security has kept our homeland safe from terrorist attacks.

(9) A travesty of justice has been offset with the commuting of Scooter Libby's prison sentence.

(10) John Murtha's attempt to railroad Marines into prison is being short circuited by the facts.

Time for conservatives to shake off the negativism or start "fearing the reaper" in 2008, because a Democrat President and Congress will move heaven and earth to raise taxes, appease terrorists, socialize medicine, castrate the military, equate sodomy with marriage, empower labor unions, Federally fund abortion and gut the First Amendment. Personally, I prefer the petulant Democrats (including their not so conservative freshmen) in the minority and not the majority.
-- Michael Tomlinson
Jacksonville, N

SUMMER CAMP IN D.C.

It's summertime, and our friends in the Senate
Held a Pajama Party.
There's nothing else for them to do,
So Harry Reid (their senior smarty)

Arranged a stay-over, a whole night of fun,
Spending their time and our money.
Boys' and girls' summer camp on The Hill.
You mean you don't think that's funny?

-- Mimi Evans Winship

BASIC TRAINING
Re: George H. Wittman's Al Qaeda Recruits:

George Wittman's observation that "[Al Qaeda] is in a form different from the one before its defeat in Afghanistan," and his account of the network's evolving operating modes, ought to raise a higher-order question: Who trains al Qaeda? Whence the canny guidance that animates and shapes the jihadis' relentless tactical adaptations?

The answer is: we train al Qaeda and all the others of its ilk. We do.

We pressure them, but do not eradicate them. This half-hearted pest control is analogous to treating a bacterial infection with inadequate dosing of antibiotics, which simply culls the pathogen and breeds a strain resistant to the therapeutic agent. It's quite true: what doesn't kill them makes them stronger. They are what we have made them, and will be what we are now making them. They are what's left after we've defeated all those against whom our current methods and doctrines are effective.

The West, to survive this challenge, must come to terms with this unpleasant reality and take the appropriate decisions.
-- Paul Kotik

The National Intelligence Estimates states that al Qaeda has been reconstituted to pre-9/11 strength. Mr. Wittman points out that filling the rank and file of al Qaeda is easy, with many of their recruits needing short training periods. Both Europe and America have numerous reasons to be concerned, but as John Irving wryly observed, "All blessings are mixed blessings." AQ recruitment can be (is being?) used to the EU's and America's intelligence communities' advantage. These intelligence agencies need to recruit citizens to work against AQ from the inside. With many thousands of emigres, often from Muslim countries, coming to Europe, cannot European agents find a hundred people who are willing to infiltrate AQ? Those who take the idea of loyalty seriously and understand that citizenship has both privileges and responsibilities will be willing to take on some extremely dangerous missions as repayment for opportunities for themselves and their families. While America does not have as many Muslim immigrants as the EU, we have often heard from Imams and Mosque leaders that they too are victims of the effects of Islamofascists; it is time all Americans perform their patriotic duties. People of Arabic, Persian, and Muslim heritage who enjoy all the comforts of being American citizens have a special opportunity, not a special obligation, to assist in the defeat of AQ. For the safety of the Western way of life, and for the glory of Allah, now is time that those who can do the greatest good by serving to step up.
-- Ira M. Kessel
Rochester, New York

A SURGE INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE
Re: Reader Mail's Reviving the Surge and Jeff Emanuel's A Surge in Ignorance and Defeatism:

I have been busy for a while and have had little opportunity to actively monitor your site. I returned just in time to see some interesting new trends among letters from your readers. It appears that you have been discovered by a whole new group of readers who allow others to do their thinking for them. Allow me to put forth some thoughts for them to ponder.

The Surge: what is it meant to accomplish? The answer is not much. In the best case, it will increase the stability in and around Baghdad. It will not end the war. It will not crush al Qaeda. It will not bring instant stability to Iraq. And, it will most assuredly not make the politicians of Iraq behave as anything other than what they are, politicians. In short, the public and the Democrats have been demanding a change in strategy in Iraq and the administration is giving them one.

What it has already accomplished is significant. It has allowed the Iraqi military and police to engage the major Shia, and Sunni, militias on an equal footing. The Mahdi Army has been either disbanded or driven underground, depending upon which report you are reading at the moment. But, irregardless, it makes it much easier for government forces to locate militia members and take whatever actions are justified. Just as members of the community, the press and rival gangs knew where members of the Capone mob lived, so do those in Iraq know the identities and locations of most militia members. This deprives Iran of one of its most effective weapons in Iraq, its irregular combat forces. It also puts pressure upon al Qaeda. Al Qaeda has been targeting civilians and Iraqi government forces almost exclusively and the victims don't like it much. They are more than ready for some payback. But, al Qaeda members are more difficult to find. For this reason, operations against this group move more slowly.

The NIE: What did it really say? Simply, what it would have said in June of 1943, that almost none of the benchmarks by which success in a war is measured have been achieved. Why is this? Because fighting a war is a complex and uncertain endeavor. Success usually is not realized until one side is destroyed. Therefore, the only way to really tell if you are winning a war, a campaign or even a battle, is when you suddenly find yourself without any living enemies to fight. So, how long should you fight a war? Until you win. How do you tell when you have won? When there is no one left to oppose you. Therefore, there are two ways to lose a war. The first is to be destroyed. The second is to surrender. The United States surrendered in Vietnam. And though our sacrifices there very likely thwarted the total fall of Southeast Asia to communism, our capitulation there led to the deaths of millions of innocent human beings. A capitulation in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines, or any of a dozen other places in the world, where we are actively opposing Islamic terrorism, will make the bloodbaths of Vietnam and Cambodia look tame.

Unfortunately, the United States is engaged in a World War. Iraq is one campaign in that war. It is a campaign that should be won. Losing Iraq would not, necessarily, mean losing the war. But, surrendering Iraq would be a disaster. Surrender might very well result in the destruction of this country, Western society and our very lives. When you surrender the will to win, then you surrender everything.

Just something to think about.
-- Michael Tobias
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

RECHARGED
Re: Eric Peters's Electric Shock:

Eric Peters's article of 7/17/07, titled "Electric Shock," misses its mark in a number of ways.

Despite what Peters seems to imply, the recent movie, Who Killed the Electric Car?, didn't actually spell out any conspiracy to get rid of electric cars. Instead it paints a picture of various parties independently resisting electric cars for their own selfish-but-understandable reasons, combined with apathy on the part of the public, during a time when gasoline was cheap and global warming was a fringe issue. That's not a conspiracy, that's just human nature. At the end of the article I find a particularly cheap shot as Eric gloats that "Michael Moore won't tell you about all this." Yet Michael Moore has never made any movie about electric cars. Who Killed the Electric Car? was directed by Chris Paine, who, unlike Moore, has not yet managed to widely discredit himself. (Ironically, Paine has complained that one of his difficulties in the making of Who Killed was that some people refused to be interviewed because of fear that he was planning to "Michael Moore" them.)

Peters also exaggerates the shortcomings of electric cars. For example, he raises the specter of "being stuck in an unanticipated traffic jam" while the battery charge drains away. This appears to be a fantasy, as electric cars don't use any power while sitting still. Well, there is the heater or air conditioner, but its draw on the batteries is relatively small in comparison with the power required to move the vehicle. It would take an awfully long traffic jam for this to become a problem.

He also ignores technological advances since the time of the EV1. The new generation of electric cars are being designed around lithium-ion batteries which carry substantially more energy per a given weight. Leading the way is the Tesla Roadster, which advertises a range in excess of 200 miles per charge while meeting all federal safety standards, plus weighing in several hundred pounds lighter than competing gasoline-powered sports cars (i.e. Corvettes, Porsches, Ferraris). Another noteworthy vehicle in development is the Chevy Volt, which will pair lithium-ion batteries with a gasoline-powered range extender, thus removing the whole problem of limited range entirely.

The long and loud complaint about federal safety regulations is misplaced. Air bags and crash structures add some weight to vehicles, but not hundreds and hundreds of pounds. It's nothing engineers can't handle. Recently there was an outcry in England about how badly the Indian-made Reva electric micro-car fared in crash testing. Amid the outcry many observers overlooked competing electric micro-cars which, although somewhat more expensive, matched the range and performance of the Reva while passing their crash tests.

So, who did kill the EV1 after all? I point an accusing finger toward California and the Air Resources Board. By enacting the Zero Emissions Mandate at a time when battery technology wasn't quite there yet, when gasoline was plentiful and inexpensive, and global warming wasn't yet looked upon as a crisis, they forced the EV1 and its contemporaries to be created at the wrong time. In so doing, CARB set up the electric car for failure. This should be a lesson about the folly of trying to legislate technological progress. The electric car will come around again when the time and the technology is right, when the marketplace is ready, and there are indications that might be soon.
-- Tony Belding
Hamilton, Texas

CHILD'S PLAY
Re: Patrick O'Hannigan's Sweet Charity:

Although Mr. O'Hannigan raises many good points about current Internet based fundraisers and their results, the power of the Internet to raise money and do very real good should not be underestimated. I have worked with a charity called Child's Play which buys videogames for children's hospitals. It was started by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, the writers of the popular web-based comic strip Penny Arcade. They used their Internet presence to spread the word about their new charity, and set up a website and developed an incredibly convenient system for receiving donations. Each enrolled hospital has an amazon.com wishlist for the equipment and games that they could use, and all a person has to do to send a toy to an unwell child is select an item and check out. The systems and games are then sent directly to the hospital. Videogames are uniquely suitable for children's hospitals, as they can be kept clean easily and even the sickest child can enjoy them for hours. This last season, the charity raised over a million dollars in toys for hospitals all over the world.

Child's Play Charity should be the model for Internet giving and charity. Even though it only takes a click, the results are real and powerful.
-- Julian Lizzio
University of Michigan Junior
http://www.childsplaycharity.org

IT TAKES A NURSERY
Re: David Hogberg & Paul Gessing's SCHIP of Fools:

Senator Clinton believes a 25-year-old is a child? If this is true and it must be if Senator Clinton put in her bill, surely the most important sound bite of the Clinton presidency should be re-written to accommodate the latest Clinton version of the truth:

"I did not have sexual relations with that child, Miss Lewinsky."

Warmest regards,
-- Mrs. Jackson

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