Reader Mail

Cracking the Nutty Story

Bill's Big Party picture. Spot's spot restored. Also: Embedded journalism's patron saint. Romney was right. Silencer Democrats. Plus: Raising baby the Rush way. And more.

5.16.07

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PHOTOCONSERVATISM
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Front Page's Picture of Bill and Me:

R. Emmett Tyrrell's crashing of Bill's Big Party is one of the funniest stories I've ever heard. The photograph of the two beaming gentlemen captures a classic moment in advanced conservative high jinks. It's impossible to look at without cracking up.

Well done and excellent sleuthing!
-- Doug Roll
Jacksonville, Texas

PYLING ON
Re: Jeff Emanuel's Winning the PR War in Iraq:

Jeff Emanuel without a trace of irony describes the efforts to win, and possible victory in, the "PR War."

Anybody out there read Ernie's War: The Best of Ernie Pyle's World War II Dispatches, edited by David Nichols, published by Touchstone? If you did, you can't help but ask yourself what died on Ie Shima on April 18, 1945, besides the GIs' best buddy.

As Nichols notes on page 363, "shortly before Pyle left France, General Omar Bradley urged him to go home and stay home; his chances, the general suggested, were about used up. Pyle's wife, Jerry, virtually begged him to abandon war correspondence. But the armed forces in the Pacific badly wanted Pyle to join them. It was apparent to them what a morale booster he had been in Europe, how he had made the war there so vivid to stateside readers, and they exerted considerable pressure on him to cover the Pacific Theater. Although he was emotionally not up to the job, Pyle acquiesced." In fact, Pyle had premonitions of death before leaving his home in New Mexico, and advised at least one friend that he didn't think he was coming back.

How could Pyle be such a hero to the GIs, improve morale at home and still "tell the truth"? And what was Pyle's "truth"? Consider this rough draft of a column Pyle had been preparing for release upon the end of the war in Europe, found on his body the day he was killed.

...This is written on a little ship lying off the coast of the Island of Okinawa, just south of Japan, on the other side of the world from the Ardennes.

But my heart is still in Europe, and that's why I am writing this column.

It is to the boys who were my friends for so long. My one regret of the war is that I was not with them when it ended.

For the companionship of two-and-a-half years of death and misery is a spouse that tolerates no divorce. Such companionship finally becomes a part of one's soul, and it cannot be obliterated.

True, I am with American boys in the other war not yet ended, but I am old-fashioned and my sentiment runs to old things.

To me the European war is old, and the Pacific war is new.

Last summer I wrote that I hoped the end of the war could be a gigantic relief, but not an elation. In the joyousness of high spirits it is easy for us to forget the dead. Those who are gone would not wish themselves to be a millstone of gloom around our necks.

But there are many of the living who have had burned into their brains forever the unnatural sight of cold dead men scattered over the hillsides and in the ditches along with high rows of hedge throughout the world.

Dead men by mass production -- in one country after another -- month after month and year after year. Dead men in winter and dead men in summer.

Dead men in such monstrous infinity that you come almost to hate them.

There are the things that you at home need not even try to understand. To you at home they are columns of figures, or he is a near one who went away and just didn't come back. You didn't see him lying so grotesque and pasty beside the gravel road in France.

We saw him, saw him by the multiple thousands. That's the difference...


This was the same Ernie Pyle whose June 12, 1944 column, describing the fighting on Omaha Beach, told his fellow Americans "In this column I want to tell you what the opening of the second front in this one section entailed, so that you can know and appreciate and forever be humbly grateful to those both dead and alive who did it for you."

Any chance any Iraq embed wrote "so that you can know and appreciate and forever be humbly grateful to those both dead and alive who did it for you"? How about zero?

There are no more Ernie Pyles. There are few Americans who not only "support the troops," but also appreciate and are forever humbly grateful. The one constant, the one hero, is the American fighting man. He is still with us. I never wore the uniform, so this is not self-congratulatory. I'm just grateful.
-- Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey

Mr. Emanuel has written a very good article. Additionally, he has the background to discuss the effects embedding has on the individual reporters. Far be it from me to rain on his parade, because I believe in his general message and the excellent work being done by our truly courageous warriors.

From reading an awful lot of information regarding the war and our military, I must express a bit of skepticism, however. I note that Mr. Emanuel cites as examples a couple of European journalists. He does not cite a single instance of this happening with an American reporter. Now I am sure that it has happened with an American reporter, but I do think that it happens less often than with the Europeans.

I would also say that the preponderance of stories in the American media are coming from the reporters that spend their time in the Green Zone waiting for their Iraqi stringers to submit a story to them, and complaining about the conditions under which they are expected to work. Or the stories are submitted by a reporter that flies in with some dignitary, spends a few hours surrounded by excessive security laid on to protect the dignitary, and flies out the same day or the next day.

But let us stipulate that reporters are positively influenced by the embeds with our military and that they file wonderfully balanced and truthful reports of the action that they see. That reporter has little to no control over whether that story gets in the paper or on the TV. Some jaded, opinionated, biased editor or producer will be making the decisions on which stories get aired and where and how. That editor or producer has NOT been embedded with our troops, and likely is on guard against any positive words for the troops that might slip into the paper or TV report by accident.

Bottom line, this positive attitude, however prevalent it may be among the reporters in the field, it isn't allowed to leak into the reports that the public sees here at home. See ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, New York Times, Boston Globe, Washington Post, and on and on.
-- Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

What we call "combat bonding" is not an unknown phenomena in Law Enforcement either. I was part of a team putting on and training Citizen Academy's for my LE department and the one thing we noted was even those that did not want to be there for the 13 weeks, like some reporters and just plain Jane citizens that had deprecating opinions of police in general came out the other end of that time, after being thrust into the training, paperwork, roll playing where they are the Officer making the decisions and in some cases danger, riding with patrol officers, getting out in the marine patrol units or running alone with SWAT teams...consistently went from "I have to ride with some cop tonight" to "You should have seen what me and MY officer did." Those that had less strenuous experiences all were envious of those that "got to do it!"

Funny how when you filter it thorough the highly evolved and oh so sophisticated MSM it comes out crap. But expose Americans of all stripes to the real thing, life, death and stress, they become one with us. No different in Iraq apparently, and they are not even shot at (yet).
-- Craig Sarver
Seattle, Washington

NEUTICLE POWER
Re: Larry Thornberry's A Nutty But True Story:

Appreciate Mr. Thornberry's humorous look, "A Nutty But True Story," at the prospects of the neuticles market. He overlooked one significant possibility. Macho pick-up trucks, SUVs, atvs, and any other vehicles real men drive. Around my semi-rural district, where there are plenty of farm animals, manly men and their toys one sees neuticles, size X-large of course, hanging proudly from trailer hitches and bumpers. Not quite sure what it says about the vehicle or the man inside but it certainly says something loud and clear and seeing them dangling there never fails to bring a knowing smile from this regular guy, faithful husband and father of six. Let's just say to a man that its meaning, like has been said of obscenity, falls under the "can't describe it but know it when you see it" category. I thought of hanging a pair myself on my restored beast of an '86 Chevy but I didn't know how I'd explain it to the kids, particularly my little girls. I'm pretty sure my wife would understand though because she knows by now that guys just gotta be guys.

Forget the neurotic metro-sexual dog owners. If neuticle manufacturers really want to move their product they'd market them to auto parts stores, catalogs, repair shops and every other outlet where real men and their vehicles mix.
-- Mark Shepler
Jupiter, Florida

I have been pretty well convinced for many years that a large segment of the GOP professional politicians have been making due with fakes. Certainly all the indications and symptoms are there with which to make a judgment.
--- Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

At first I thought neuticles were meant for a former Speaker of the House who today can't seem to decide if he's running for president or not. The neuts might help him make a decision. Okay, maybe not helpful in any real sense, but they couldn't hurt.

But I believe a better use would be for the current Speaker and the rest of the neutered Democrats. What better symbol than one that says "they might look impressive at first glance, but after further observations, there really isn't anything there." Besides Neuticle Nancy has a ring to it.
-- Karl F Auerbach
Eden, Utah

Just read "A Nutty But True Story." Brilliant, dead-on, and hilarious!

Please write more!
-- Dave Wolfe

ON WISCONSIN!
Re: G. Tracy Mehan, III's A Tale of Two Thompsons:

Tommy is a great guy, but I think his two recent gaffes and a revelation that he has lost hearing in one ear may doom his presidential aspirations. It was heartwarming to read your honorable mention of the guy and to admit that you are married to a Wisconsinite. The real question is whether or not she's Norwegian!
-- Richard L. Thom Jr.
Sauk City, Wisconsin

G. Tracy Mehan, III replies: I thank Mr. Thom for his kind letter. However, my wife is of German-Irish heritage. But we love Norwegians, too!

Yeah, man! That's what I want. Thompson / Thompson. That's the ticket!
-- Greg F
Delray Beach, Florida

ROMNEY SPOT ON
Re: Brendan R. Merrick's letter (under "A Mormon in the White House") in Reader Mail's Giuliani Jeering Section:

I sat slack-jawed in disbelief reading Brendan R. Merrick's broadside against Mitt Romney and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ("Mormons"). He can't be serious. Polygamy was introduced prior to the Saints settling in the Salt Lake Valley, but just barely. The practice did not become more widespread (or even generally known) until the early 1850s, and so Romney's statement that his ancestors were trying "to build a generation out there in the desert" (in what would become Utah) is historically spot-on. Further, Romney may very well have slept through Sunday school and Priesthood classes, but that wouldn't matter in the least -- those hours of worship are ... NEVER ... dedicated to the discussion of polygamy, in my experience (43-year-old high priest and lifelong member, attending church in Seattle, Atlanta, Montreal, Paris, Salt Lake City, Washington, D.C., etc.). Merrick's allegation that Jesus Christ was married to Mary and Martha is not and has never been Mormon doctrine, and reading Merrick's screed is the first I've ever even heard that. Perhaps he was confused by The Da Vinci Code ...?

It unfortunately remains the case, as it was when Joseph Smith was alive, that some people -- with apparently no first-hand experience in these matters -- like to spread baseless, absurd rumors about my church, its teachings, and its leaders. In the olden days, this did indeed result in "Mormons ... dying by the truckloads," in Mr. Merrick's unsympathetic phrasing. Today, Mormons are luckier and feel blessed that the most damage that can be done to us is our reputations being tarnished by ludicrous assertions (i.e., sucker punches) like those found in Mr. Merrick's bizarre correspondence. Usually the stereotypes persist until someone actually meets a Mormon co-worker or has a Mormon neighbor, and then all the libels of the cranks seem, over time, to vanish (to our huge relief).
-- Ken Kuykendall
MormonCentury.org

It seems that with opinion articles, a real problem is that individuals continually make assertions about what Mormons do and do not believe, and about half the time they only get it half correct. Brendan Merrick states:

For a man who grew up in the Mormon Church to not understand a pivotal point of doctrine such as polygamy, is idiotic. ....Romney must sleep through Sunday school and Priesthood classes on the Sabbath day, or he would have known that it is church doctrine that polygamy will be practiced in the eternities, that God the Father is a polygamist, and that even Jesus is said to have been married to both Mary and Martha. Call this disgusting if you will. Call it incorrect, fabricated, blasphemous, sexist, or any other negative connotation you may, but this is something all Mormons who grow up in the church learn.

Romney's 60 Minutes comments were spot on. As a 39-year-old practicing Mormon, returned missionary, current seminary teacher, I can state that Brendan is off base. Look at the church website about doctrinal beliefs and see if you can substantiate any of Brendan's statements. Our previously practiced doctrine of polygamy, although based on biblical precedent, is not something that we can easily understand/accept. I have great-great-grandparents who were polygamists and I struggle to comprehend the difficulty it must have caused for them. I think most Mormons feel this way. Yeah, we believe that polygamy may be a reality in heaven, but if you believe in eternal marriage then that aspect does make more sense -- what if your wife dies and you marry another, will you be forced to choose in the next life which wife to be with or will the marriages be permitted to continue with both? As for the question about what if your husband dies and you marry another -- what happens then? I don't know. The doctrine of eternal marriage results in some of these questions about marriages in next life which are hard to answer. I believe that frankly, we are best leaving these issues up to Heavenly Father to straighten out in the next life.

What is this business that God the Father is a polygamist? Never heard that part before. Yes, we believe he is married, but there is no commonly taught doctrine that he is a polygamist. What about Jesus being married? Huh, never heard this openly taught. I have heard it SPECULATED about but not taught as doctrine, and NEVER have I heard that he had multiple wives.

I wish that there was a better understanding out there about what we do and do not believe so that I don't have to keep seeing these far out statements in the press, that inappropriately distance my beliefs from most of my mainstream Christian neighbors. As far as that goes, this whole definitional debate about whether or not Mormons are "Christians" is unnerving. My understanding is that the "followers or Christ, those who are baptized in his name, those who are willing to witness for him, those who are willing to seek salvation though his atoning Sacrifice, who try to follow his example, ought to be considered "Christians." I believe that it is only through his grace, after I do all that I can to follow him, that I can be saved. I cannot "work" my way to heaven -- Christ must lift me up and make me clean and I cannot do this myself. If you want to define Christianity by the belief creeds agreed upon hundreds of years after the death of the apostles and say that is what you have to believe to be a Christian, then you have inappropriately defined the term to something other than that of a true follower of Jesus Christ -- and this is what is hard to accept. I believe that Mormons are Christians in the way that Christ would have defined it.
-- Blake Salisbury
Graduate of Brigham Young University

DEMOCAT GOT YOUR TONGUE?
Re: The Washington Prowler's Here Royal Fairness:

Congressional Democrat leaders appear to be hell bent on substantiating Nat Hentoff's premise in his book, Free Speech for Me -- But Not for Thee. Their announced intention to resurrect the laughably misnamed Fairness Doctrine is just the latest salvo in their foray down the road of censorship. Apparently, they cannot sell their vacuous political philosophy through persuasive argument, so they seek a new remedy for silencing their opposition. Simply apply a dash of coercion, a pinch of intimidation and invoke the moniker of fairness to disguise the real objective and soon, they believe, those pesky conservative commentators and their treacherous ideas will become a fading memory. This demagoguery is so transparent in its dishonesty that no thinking American should be fooled by it.

In spite of the fact that the majority of mainstream media outlets overwhelmingly lean to the left and the editorial staffs of nearly every major newspaper in the country are steeped in liberal orthodoxy, Nancy Pelosi and the rest of her band of miscreants want us to believe they aren't getting a fair shake in the marketplace of ideas. Their plan is to force Americans to drink their poison regardless of how clearly the label on the package is marked. These tactics are loathsome and anti-American. The Democrats' doublespeak about this matter reveals much more about their inability to sell their political agenda than it does their perceived unfair treatment on the airwaves.
-- Rick Arand
Lee's Summit, Missouri

In the marketplace, when a product fails to perform its expectations or simply is not liked by consumers, it is usually discontinued or modified to the mold of the winning types. That's one way business makes money and is able to hire people, maybe even expand and grow operations. Unless, of course, you are in business trying to broadcast programs based on espousing liberal political and social viewpoints. In that event, when your stations have little or no audience and advertisers decide to spend their dollars on stations and shows where the greatest number of potential customers are tuned in, you cry "Foul! It isn't fair! We deserve to be heard, too!" So, you turn to the government to artificially (and unconstitutionally) make things equal. The result is something going quietly through Congress now called the "Media Ownership Reform Act."

Never heard of it? It is the creation of New York Democrat representative Maurice Hinchey. He recently stated he considers conservative talk radio in particular a "threat" to national security. Excuse me?? Letting a legal, legitimate market determine what its customers want is a threat to national security?? Among his bill's provisions, the FCC, if it deemed necessary, would be able to change radio and television content, severely limit free-market broadcast ownership and force owners to divest stations to meet arbitrary limits. It is a twisted resurrection of the "Fairness Doctrine," discarded by the FCC in 1987 after being shown to be unfair by the market and the courts. In short, it is a government welfare program for ideas that have a negligible audience compared to the tax dollars that would be spent enforcing it.

But the greatest injury we should be aware of, it is an attempt at censorship of free speech provided by our Constitution. This is an oft-used method of liberals; if they are unable to win in the marketplace, they claim the other side is cheating and try to change the very rules of fairness they claim to hold so dear. The "threat" to our national security is not talk radio, but those who support and are pushing this piece of socialist legislation, including Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, et al. And where are the major news media reports on this? Flip the coin; the majority of the nation's largest daily newspapers are devout liberal publications. If conservatives cried "foul" and followed the same course of action, I am willing to bet the farm such a story would be major headlines and not allowed to slip by in the shadows or buried on page C12 next to the phone sex ads. There would be demands by liberal-leaning politicos for investigations into the devious treachery of trying to force a bill like this with such underhanded back-room dealing. Voters need to discover how their representatives stand on this issue of promoting censorship hidden behind attempted deception that is aimed at stifling ideas and voices that certain politicians and so-called media "elites" don't like. If they are able to stifle open debate and dissent, who or what will they not like next?
-- Bob Godsil
Lisle, Illinois

That Democrat government officials are setting out to investigate private individuals in media and plotting to obstruct their broadcasts and written communications is outrageous. Democrats are more interested in controlling citizens than promoting democracy. A lawsuit for invasion of privacy by public interest law firms strikes me as a first step to prevent erosion of 1st amendment rights. The Mainstream Media will acquiesce as they follow their dictum "Rights for me but not for thee."
-- Howard Lohmuller
Seabrook, Texas

SLOW TO ANGER
Re: Reader Mail's Giuliani Jeering Section:

I found Tuesday's Reader's Mail most surprising; by what was not in it. And while I thought the Democrats couldn't shock me any more, yesterday's Prowler came damn close. The blase, iron-fisted Stalinist attack on free speech by Comrade Nancy and her band of thugs, made my skin crawl. Their execrable attacks on the Constitution and conservative talk radio, all in the name of leftist hegemony, mimic past epochs of totalitarian brutality. Their brazen openness about it, just another example of their casual ruthlessness, as recently demonstrated against Sec. Rice by the diminutive pit bull, Barbara Boxer.

I thought the Reader's Mail section would be up in arms over this, but alas, no. Rudy seems to be more the problem. So, it appears we conservatives will bash a very good & decent man for his respect and forthrightness for and with the American people, albeit, with some views we do not share, rather than focus on the very demagogues hard at work on their new world order. Funny, don't we accuse the Left of the very same blindness when it comes to the War on Terror? Oh well, at least reader Michael Tomlinson gets it when it comes to the real Reagan legacy. I still submit that Rudy, faults and all, can still make the case, along with some of the other candidates, as to who can best make claim to carrying the Reagan banner.
-- A. DiPentima

RUSH, LITTLE BABY
Re: Diane Smith's letter (under "Life Is Unfair") in Reader Mail's Giuliani Jeering Section:

Just want to say: "Hear, Hear!" to Diane Smith's letter about Rush Limbaugh. Or maybe, "mega dittos" would be more appropriate.

Rush Limbaugh is an American hero, and one that I credit with finally waking me up to the liberal fog I'd been in for years. It was his TV show years ago that finally made me pay attention. It was during the early years of the Clinton administration and the topics were tax cuts and welfare reform. He put up on the screen the words of John F. Kennedy regarding welfare and the problems with it. That's when I knew how far left the Democratic Party of my youth had gone.

He has continued over the years to cut through the crap and find the truth in the spin. I truly believe we'd be more like Europe than we already are if it were not for Rush Limbaugh. No wonder the media and the Dems hate his guts. He has pointed out their bias and their hatred for their own country that permeates every liberal bastion.

My daughter is a Rush baby -- she grew up hearing his words and his words coming from my own mouth. She is now in graduate school and can spot liberal spin a mile away. His ripples continue.
-- Deborah Durkee
Marietta, Georgia

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