Reader Mail

A Clinton Portfolio

Pictures from a political exhibition. Also: Bush, Alberto, and the U.S. attorneys -- no sympathy in sight. Iraq reportage. Valeria plane. Class war casualties. Plus more.

3.19.07

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NEGATIVE FEEDBACK
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Picture This:

How utterly delicious -- the photograph of RET and quarry in "Picture This." On the right a handsome tanned gent looking ten years less than his unstated age, celebrates with a frumpy old one on the left, who looks 10 years older than that on his birthday announcement. Surely, once the most powerful earthly man knows that Mr. Tyrrell is almost singularly responsible for cooking his goose and serving it up ala peche to the Congress, that impeached him. Let bygones be bygones -- how peachy.
-- Robert S. Hattner, MD

That "photograph" of AmSpec's estimable editor and der Schlickmeister "posing" together is just about the funniest thing I've seen since Britney's upskirt oopsie a few months ago. The idea that the nasty clown would even be seen in the same room as Mr. Tyrrell is as laughable as seeing Henry Waxman chair a congressional committee. Keep up the good work. Nothing like a good laugh, especially at Boy Clinton's expense. The old satyr deserves every ounce of disrespect he gets, and then some.
-- Peter R. McGrath
Winter Park, Florida

In the relaxed atmosphere of a private birthday party for an aging ex-President, Mr. Tyrrell may have felt the kind feelings of a magnanimous conservative, but the apparent warmth of friendship from such as William Jefferson Clinton would make me as comfortable as cuddling next to a tiger on a cold night, especially if Clinton's lovely wife Bruno ascends to the throne. I almost fear an IRS audit, if you print my name and our next president is Hillary Rodham Clinton. Bill Clinton's IRS audited TAS.
-- David Shoup
Grovetown, Georgia

You are a total nut... I would prefer to have a president that was a womanizer than what you want: a president that has taken part in the killing of thousands of young men to help his pocket book. How can you feel the way you do? You surely will go to hell when you depart us!
-- K. Brant

I should be named Cassandra. The stuff about Bill fooling around isn't going to hurt at all. The Clintons are going to have a highly public dust-up. They will separate, maybe even divorce, BUT Bill will of course campaign for her, not because of any personal relationship but because she is so clearly the "best person for the job." The thirty percent of women that aren't going to vote for her anyway will certainly vote for her after that.

Later, we will have a White House wedding with coverage that will make you think Elvis and Princess Di came back to life and got hitched.
-- unsigned

Not to put too fine a point on it but Mrs. Clinton was referring the jamming of N.H. phone lines that resulted in a conviction. The last thing thinking conservatives should do is give these people ammunition by behaving in as corrupt a fashion as "progressives" do.
-- Rick Peterson
Duxbury, Massachusetts

How you can continue to write tripe against the Clintons and ignore the most corrupt government the U.S. has ever had. So much material, so few rational brains.

Ben, I adored your column in Los Angeles about 1980. What laughs I had. It's sad to think it's come to this.
-- Kate Wagar
Minnesota

HOMEFRONTING
Re: William Tucker's Patrolling Tikrit:

I was critical of Mr. Tucker's last piece "Prisoner of War." Today's dispatch is better.

Reports from the front by embedded journalists are important. I believe that part of the problem with declining support for the war in the U.S. is that many Americans hardly know a war is going on. We are so comfortable in our lives, so wealthy in almost every respect, so protected from the dangers of the rest of the world, that the Iraq war seems like just another political fight between Republicans and Democrats. Did Libby lie to a grand jury? Should Howard Dean talk to foreign governments? Should we pull our troops out of Iraq? Many Americans seem to think the answers to these questions, whatever the answers might be, will make no difference in their lives. And with respect to the first two questions, I agree. The third question is different. The third question is in a different league. The third question has direct implications for the safety of Americans at home and abroad and long-term consequences for American national interests.

Informed, factual, sober, non-biased reports from Iraq can help change the dynamic I just described. As Americans understand the nature of the enemy we face, the dedication and bravery of the men and women in our all-volunteer military, and the implications of American withdrawal from the global struggle against Islamofascism, I believe the collective will to prevail in the struggle will improve. We cannot count on MSM outlets to bring this type of reporting to Americans. The decision by The American Spectator and other "New Media" outlets to support reporting of this type and bring it to the public is a good one.

I must reiterate that the quality of the reporting in this instance is critically important. The American public needs facts, not journalistic opinion -- we get plenty of that. Report it straight. Good and bad. Tell the truth.
-- Doug Santo
Pasadena, California

In one dispatch Bill Tucker mentioned that everyone he saw, American and Iraqi, carried machine guns. They're not; they're magazine-fed automatic rifles. Iraqis carry the 7.62 mm fully automatic AK-47, although perhaps every tenth one will indeed have a 7.62 belt-fed machine gun. Americans carry either the 5.56 M-16 or a shortened version, the M-4 carbine. Both fire either single shots or three-round bursts. Again there will be the occasional machine gun, either the 5.56 mm M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) which uses a belt carried in a box or the belt-fed 7.62 mm M-240B.

As to the weight of body armor, it's not 40 pounds but rather with ceramic plates front and back about 16.5 pounds. Add side plates, which few journalists do, and it's 25 pounds. That said, I don't doubt it FEELS like 40 pounds to Bill! But you get used to everything.
-- Michael Fumento
www.fumento.com

Re: "Patrolling Tikrit" by William Tucker.

To redo John Lennon regarding Iraq:

All we are say-ay-ing, is give Pace a chance.
And for Petrae-ay-us, give him a chance."
--
Dubuque Iowa

ON THE OTHER HAND
Re: Mark E. Hyman's Inspector Valerie Clouseau:

Regarding Mr. Hyman's assertion: "The Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction, chaired by The Right Honorable Lord Butler of Brockwell (the 'Butler Report'), was Britain's own '9/11 Commission Report.' The Butler Report concluded that the original British report of Iraq seeking uranium ore from Niger, which led to the 16-word sentence used in the 2003 State of the Union address, was 'well-founded.'"

Please note: "Nuclear expert Norman Dombey has pointed out that the information relied upon by the Butler Review on the Niger issue was incomplete; as he noted, 'The Butler report says the claim was credible because an Iraqi diplomat visited Niger in 1999, and almost three-quarters of Niger's exports were uranium. But this is irrelevant, since France controls Niger's uranium mines.'" (Independent, 25 July 2004). And when asked by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to discuss the conclusions of British intelligence, Deputy Director of Central Intelligence John McLaughlin stated, "The one thing where I think they stretched a little bit beyond where we would stretch is on the points about Iraq seeking uranium from various African locations. We've looked at those reports and we don't think they are very credible. It doesn't diminish our conviction that he's going for nuclear weapons, but I think they reached a little bit on that one point" (from Wikipedia).

This is just one example of a number of conspicuously flawed contentions. Mr. Hyman's article is spurious, based on "cherry-picked" references. But this is the style of today. One cannot invent one's own facts, but one can certainly pick-and-choose which ones to cite.
-- Bruce Foster

GOOD DAY FOR A HANGING
Re: Quin Hillyer's Bumbling Into a Scandal:

Mr. Hillyer, does as good of a job as could be done at exempting Mr. Bush from the incompetence, which he then tries to limit to the Dept. of Justice and the White House legal staff. I am really sorry, Quin, but it just doesn't wash. If you wish to restrict the conversation to the USAs firing alone, then I can go with your analysis.

If we bring into the discussion the Harriet Meyers fiasco, then the White House Chief of Staff and Bush, himself, are implicated. Andrew Card may have been the originator of the idea of nominating Ms. Meyers, I don't know. We do know, however, that George Bush was an enthusiastic supporter of the idea at the very least.

Then there is the absolutely shameful way that Bush nominated judges to the various courts, and then promptly moved on to other things, leaving them to flounder in the angry seas that are the partisan Senate confirmation process. No Dem would have behaved thusly. They would have fought for their nominee tooth and nail from the time of nomination to confirmation or rejection by the Senate, and they would have used every weapon in their arsenal.

But you say that was all legal stuff concerning the Justice Dept. and the White House legal staff. Can I mention Katrina. That mess was screwed up from day one, and had nothing to do with the legal side of things. Bush allowed the New Orleans Mayor and the Louisiana Governor to take over center stage and successfully deflect blame from their own incompetent blunders to the operation of FEMA, Homeland Security, and the White House. Meanwhile Bush went in and stroked their egos, soothed their feelings, and almost ignored Mississippi and its Republican Governor, who was quietly going along getting a job done.

Additionally, we have had the absolutely inept way that SecDef Rumsfeld was fired. That was handled in such a way that the Dems could claim that they finally got a scalp they were after, whether that was true or not. So a dedicated public servant that had remained true and steadfast to the administration and its wishes was left drawn and quartered.

Then there is the way that Bush has allowed Scooter Libby to be the fall guy in the Plame/Wilson mess, when it should have been Armitage. But he is a Colin Powell guy. Can't let him be tarnished.

Then there is the fact that the heads of the CIA and FBI were NOT fired after 9-11. Instead they go out with White House medals and a band playing. Then there is the President's (or Sec. Powell's) hand picked guy that is sent to run Iraq, he screws up royally, turns the mess back over to the military, and gets out of Dodge. Oh, and he also gets a White House medal amidst Ruffles and Flourishes.

On and on the list of missteps goes. Shoving illegal amnesty down the throats of Americans when 70 to 80 percent say no. Oh, and while in Mexico meeting with their Presidente, he makes public comments about how hard he is working to advance their interests with the American people and the American government. Praising and bowing and scraping to the most vicious of the Dems while bashing the base that got you elected. The war in Iraq and Afghanistan is the one thing where the Presidential instincts were right, but the implementation of the policy leaves much to be desired, (PC war fighting is always wrong) and the public justification has been less than totally convincing to a huge swath of the American public.

It would seem that this administration is racing full out to break or tie Jimmy Carter's record for incompetence. They may be lucky and have time run out before taking 1st place.
-- Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

Of course, Mr. Hillyer's assessment that "the administration created its own quicksand and stepped right into it" is on-target, though I suggest they also stepped into something smellier.

What's troubling is how their gross political and managerial ineptness continues to overshadow whatever competent, significant actions Mr. Bush and his administration may have accomplished or are in the process of executing. But as the Wall Street Journal editorialized on March 14, "When it comes to 'politicizing' [the Department of] Justice...the Bush White House is full of amateurs compared to the Clintons."

The WSJ referred to how, just after co-presidents Bill and Hillary Clinton took office in 1993, Attorney General Janet Reno and Associate Attorney General Webster Hubbell, a former Rose Law Firm partner of Mrs. Clinton and the Clinton's go-between with DOJ, dismissed U.S. attorneys. In that unprecedented action by an administration, all 93 attorneys fell simultaneously to Reno and/or Hubbell's axe. From that mass firing, at least one key investigation -- of the Clintons and their part in the Whitewater scandal -- died.

But did the Democrats, liberals and their mouthpieces in the mainstream news media rise then in gum-flapping apoplectic condemnation about that White House driving those firings? And, now, have they even had the integrity to acknowledge or refer to what the Clintons did?
--- C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia

Through all of the rhetoric from the right and the left about the firing of the eight U.S. Attorneys, there is one point that seems to get lost. That is the dictum from former Attorney General John Ashcroft: "You have to leave politics at the door to do this job properly."

The issue is not the President's right to appoint USAs. That is the expectation at the beginning of Presidential terms and chief executives from both parties have exercised this right without controversy. However, once in place, the expectation has been that the attorneys would remain on the job throughout the President's term so they could do their job without fear of negative political repercussions. At least until now.

What is disturbing about the firings is not bureaucratic incompetence or the lack of good public relations; it is a callous disregard for the rule of law and the legal machinery necessary to protect this vital American value.
-- Mike Roush
North Carolina

It's Goodbye, Alberto, any day now, as Attorney General Gonzales reroutes any thoughts of a Supreme Court appointment to instead preparing for Congressional hearings over the sloppy handling of the U.S. attorney firings, and as the Bush team readies to push him out the door as a liability that could sink a ship already going down (Bumbling into a Scandal, March 16). Gonzales thought he didn't need conservative support during his heady tenure, when he filed legal briefs in favor of affirmative action, race-based admissions at universities and mouthed the elite party line of pro-illegal alien advocacy of his boss. At the time, he didn't care about us peasant conservatives at the bottom of the food chain, and now that his job is at stake he has no base to draw on for support. Adios, Alberto. Maybe you can get a job picking lettuce with your boss at another photo op in Mexico.
-- Caroline Miranda
North Hollywood, California

WHY FRED
Re: Jeffrey Lord's Playing Ball With the Base:

I say, I do believe that Mr. Lord has identified the nub of the matter. The only true believer conservative Republican that has been elected since at least 1925, has been Ronald Reagan. Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, the two Bushes, they may or may not have been decent Presidents and men, but please, they were NOT conservatives. I would opine that is precisely why there is such an unease within the ranks of conservatives. History has taught us to expect to be double crossed by the politicians that we work so hard to elect.

In my particular case, this has led me to pray nightly for Sen. Fred Thompson to enter the race for the GOP nomination. Aside from his many good qualities, he simply seems to come down on the conservative side of almost any issue reflexively. I am convinced that he is conservative in his bones, like Ronald Reagan was, and he knows how to play the game and, I believe, plays to win. If it is our karma to lose in 2008, I prefer to go down with all guns blazing beside a man that seems so reflexively conservative. Besides, no one has convinced me that a real, true conservative will not win.
-- Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

INSIDE THE CLASS WAR
Re: Ben Stein's Terribly Exciting:

After reading Ben Stein's "Terribly Exciting," various reader's responses and dressing the wound on my head from repeatedly beating it on my computer screen I thought I'd address some of the "myths" that such class warfare rants always forget to mention. I'll point out from the outset that my income level is about 50% higher than the national average (or median) income, I've been doing the job I do in the same Tech field since 1973, started at a dime above minimum wage with an AAS degree from a two year college, then a 4 year BS degree after 8 years in night school, have a home mortgage and pay the "single" tax rate on my income. I paid enough in Federal income tax last year to hire a full time minimum wage worker. In round numbers, I paid 14% in Federal income tax, 15% to someone else's Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid benefits, 7% in State and local taxes. If you add up all the hidden taxes and fees on utilities I can surpass 40% of my income going to taxes right off the top. Add to this my own contributions to a 401K (8%) and another 3% in post tax retirement investments and over 50% of my income goes just to Government and saving for my retirement. Add the annual interest on my mortgage (4800.00) for which the deduction is already reflected in the above Federal and State taxes and 60% is in sight. Add my portion of my employer's medical insurance premiums and I'm right on 60% of my income gone to all that is mentioned above. I won't even touch upon what my marginal income tax rate is, but needless to say that a 4% raise is about break even all said and done. Everyone reading this has their own story and some might be embarrassed to do so, but the story repeats over and over millions of times except for those that choose to not step up to the plate and apply themselves.

While this is not meant to pick on Ben I will nevertheless use some of his info to make my points since he stoked the flames and is partly responsible for my headache. Ben's bio says he resides in Beverly Hills and Malibu. My Appalachian relatives would think Ben was living out of Chevy Malibu if they read that. I know I could not afford a doublewide on a quarter acre lot in either place. Ben's bio also says he is a lawyer. The last lawyer I had dealings with, 30 years ago charged more per hour for his service than I grossed in two days. I felt violated. John Edwards got very rich off of soaking the Medical profession who is covered by insurance that the rest of us pay for every time we make a premium payment. There are lots of John Edwards in our society and we subsidize their existence through some sort of insurance. Ben's bio says he is an economist. I have a minor in essentially applied economics and based on Ben's statements I'm not too sure what course of economics Ben has had. I studied under Paul Samuelson, who is a liberal. Virtually every rant about the economic disparity in this country has an economic cause and effect or Supply and Demand reason related to where 60% of my income goes before I get to eat. I'll even go out on a limb and state that everything that is subsidized by the government or your employer eventually has run away cost and declining economic return or level of service. Everything.

First, start with the claimed 40 million that don't have health care insurance. These are also the same people that don't have auto insurance or save any money beyond what they may pay to Social Security. Who are these people? They are my relatives (and yours in many cases). You know who I'm talking about. Both sides of my family came from meager means, which means my mother's side was born, raised and stayed in the coal fields of southern West Virginia until the mine at JenkinsJones WV went dry. They then moved to Kentucky, where strip mining is favored over the shaft mines of WV. Not one of my mother's brothers, sisters or children could even approach the median income level in this country. Their choice. The bulk of them when they reach 62 years old will receive from Social Security what they made before they retired. Ben and his wife's Social Security checks combined wouldn't put a doublewide on my quarter acre lot. Two-thirds of those that receive Social Security now are subsidized by all the rest that pay into the system. Two generations support one. Social Security is a good investment from my relatives' perspective. What the system does is enable millions of people to live off the work of others and my generation is no different than our parents were in this regard. Simple question: before subsidized retirement income, medical insurance and public education, how did people pay for these items?

Second, all my relatives have the same subsidized public education I have. Not one of them has progressed beyond that level of education because it stops being as "free" after K-12. Each K-12 education cost about $100,000 average per pupil. In most of the large urban Public school systems that $100,000 investment produces an illiterate, unmotivated and eventually very angry man or women who all too often turns to crime as a way to support themselves. Why? Because the subsidized Public education system produces nothing of value in our society any longer. It did when I graduated from High School in 1970 but it was already in decline when I "escaped". In the real world outside of academia, Public education has no worth because it has no meaningful standards. What Public education has become is the largest provider of Day Care, Welfare services (Free and Reduced meals for children of Welfare parent(s)) and largest religious denomination in the country. Make no mistake, Public education is a government run religion. You will find more "faithful" there everyday than in all the Churches combined. Subsidized Public education produces a high percentage of dysfunctional and unemployable people who spend a large portion or all of their adult life just getting by till Social Security saves them. Each one cost $100,000 to produce just for starters, idiot or genius.

Third, subsidized medical insurance does everything the Public education system does, but since it covers a person's entire life it has a constantly increasing demand for services and rising premiums to match. Given enough time, our medical system will collapse under its own weight and the quality of service and care will follow the Public Education route. If you subsidize it, "they will come."

All the things that cause an expanding rift between those on the lower end of the economic ladder and the upper end are associated with government interactions to subsidize people's life style choices and relieve them of the responsibility to take care of themselves first before they hold out their hand for someone else's income. This Nation got to where it is mostly without the government robbing the rich and giving to the poor and every rant about social justice and what the "poor" don't have reflects upon the sunshine of truth not being brought into the debate. We reward sloth and we don't seem to understand why we get more of it. Our "poor" would be viewed as the "rich" in about 95% of the world.

I heard once some religious guy from way back said there will always be the poor. My relatives certainly believe that. They remind me every time I visit them. I think what the guy meant was there will always be people in need, but I don't remember him saying you should subsidize their existence to remain poor and then pat yourself on the back for the effort. That's what we do. We never ask the poor to step up to the plate in return for our assistance. The more we subsidize, the more poor we will get.

Ben, I don't begrudge your wealth or success in life but if it really bothers you that my relatives don't have any savings or medical insurance, have to work at Wal-Mart now that the mines have been shut down to save Mother Earth or would just like to contribute to my youngest niece's three babies (with two different husbands) I'd be more than willing to forward most of your check to her. I give them everything I can every payday. It is never enough.
-- Thom Bateman
Newport News, Virginia

SEAN FOR LIFE
Re: Lisa Fabrizio's Resent or Repent?, the letters under "Our Sunday Visitors" in Reader Mail's Tuning Out, and Richard L.A. Schaefer's letter (under "Matters of Faith") in Reader Mail's Governmental Incompetence:

Lisa Fabrizio says: "As difficult as Christian living is, it's harder still to be a Catholic." Wrong: Jesus said, "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light." She defends the attack on Sean Hannity by Rev. Euteneuer of HLI. Mr. Hannity stated that birth control is preferable to abortion, and also that their Church endorses Natural Family Planning, which he describes as a form of birth control.

The Rev. & Lisa fail to acknowledge that Sean Hannity is one of the most pro-life people in the media. He was almost alone in defending Terri Schiavo, when her own bishop said not a word in her defense. He has consistently opposed abortion.

I suspect Rev. Euteneuer was currying favor with the Democrats, who are overwhelmingly supported by the Church hierarchy. When Mr. Hannity asked what the Rev. had done to combat the horrible sex abuses among the clergy, he was unable to answer. I didn't hear the Rev. attacking Catholics who support abortion, such as Sens. Kennedy, Dodd, Biden, Durbin, Leahy, etc. Nor does he criticize their enablers among the clergy, such as Cardinal McCarrick going down the aisle after Mass arm-in-arm with the famous swimmer, D.-Mass., or the Bishops who support the pro-abortion, pro-sodomy Speaker Pelosi, D.-Cal.

Mr. Hannity is not a theologian. Rev. Euteneuer's predecessor and the founder of HLI, Rev. Paul Marx, said, "Contraception always leads to massive abortion." When asked, "Who are the greatest obstacles to the pro-life cause?" He responded, "The Catholic bishops."

So I would urge Rev. Euteneuer, "Clean up your own back yard before attacking someone who is on the right side of the abortion controversy."
-- C. Baker

Concerning my remarks about the Sean Hannity vs. Fr. Euteneuer dust up, I wrote them as a satire on both Protestants and Catholics. The human heart has a deep capability to deceive itself and Christians of all stripes rationalize following their wicked desires while knowing full good and well what the Church has taught. Many of us have even convinced ourselves we acquire a superior virtue in doing so. (Given the sexual immorality rampant at a great number of seminaries, the "grown up" sex sandals of the Bakers, Swaggarts, and Ted Haggerts really shouldn't surprise us.)

One would think that if we steadfastly refused to give our assent to a major teaching of any Church we should have enough integrity and respect to either admit we are poor and rebellious disciples or that we no longer belong. Given our sinful nature, most of the time we will do neither.

Too often in writing satire one hits another nerve he did not intend. Unfortunately, some construed my letter as an attack on Roman Catholicism itself. I assure all I have too much respect for Rome to actually compare it to "show business". I would hope those such as Mr. Richard L.A. Schaefer would reread my words and conclude that I was poking fun at both Catholics and Protestants who make fundamental exceptions for themselves over the claims of the faith.
-- Mike Dooley

ALL THE FIXINGS
Re: D. Chambers's letter (under "Missing Ben") in Reader Mail's Governmental Incompetence:

It is the gun shy Republicans and RINO'S engaging in the infamous "new tone" in Washington that are the problem. You hit the nail on the head when you criticized them for higher taxes and more spending. However, you lost me completely with your "... the dems are in to do some fixing." Unless you have been living under a mountain for the last several decades, you cannot possibly believe that the dems could fix anything related to taxing, spending, or the economy in general. In reality, you must know that "the dems" couldn't fix a one horse race. They belong to the political party that in spite of several thousand years of evidence to the contrary, yet believes that a country can tax itself into prosperity. Read our recent history. Read any country's recent history. Hell, read any history at all and you will see that this is true.

John Kerry may have proven that one can marry one's way into prosperity, and John Edwards may have proven that one can channel one's way there, and for that matter, the Kennedys have proven that one can bootleg one's way into prosperity, but, in the end, free enterprise and competition are necessary for the rest of us to make the trip.
-- Joseph Baum
Garrettsville, Ohio

D. Chambers letter merits only one response.... HA, ha, ha, ha, ha. You think the economy is bad? Wait till Pelosi gets done with it.
-- Pete Chagnon


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