Reader Mail

Passions and Composure

Our Ambassador Kirkpatrick. Also: Burma's victims. Dr. Savage's nation. Repentance found. Return to Erebus. Dresden revisited. Plus much more.

12.14.06

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OUR AMBASSADOR
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Jeane Kirkpatrick, RIP:

I wasn't gonna tell anybody, and up until now, I haven't, but here goes. It's your fault Tyrrell. When I heard Jeane Kirkpatrick had passed, the tears just welled up from all the memories of the '80s with President Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, the Pope, et al. She was a giant among giants. We'll never see another like her. And, that was that. But, you, Tyrrell, had to go and remind me of her previous life, before her conversion. So the tears, all happy ones, came back, manifested in a full-fledged bawl until I got it all out. Why? I don't know all the reasons, but she deserved such and more emotional recognition for a courageous life well lived, and I'm a passionate guy. I hope you're happy Tyrrell, putting me through that. I know I am. Thank you!
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

While obviously wishing to offer condolences to Ambassador Kirkpatrick's family, and to Bob Tyrrell on the loss of a colleague who was clearly also a friend, no analysis of her career would be complete without mention of an incident of profound importance in my country's history which does not portray her in the best of lights.

When the Argentine junta invaded the Falkland Islands in 1982, Ambassador Kirkpatrick gave their actions her unequivocal support -- indeed, going so far as to attend a dinner at the Argentine embassy in Washington as guest of honor on the day the invasion started.

Obviously the Argentines placed her colleagues and herself in a difficult position -- the USA had mutual defense obligations to both parties to that conflict. However they had invaded British sovereign territory and subjugated those loyal to the Crown against their will; an act of fascistic aggression one might expect from a regime that threw its opponents out of aircraft.

For all her obvious love of liberty it is not too soon after her passing for her actions in 1982 to be weighed in the historical balance.

Further details can be found here
and here:
-- M.E. Kelly
Glasgow, UK

VICTIMS OF BURMA
Re: Doug Bandow's Burma's War on Children:

Thank you for your article regarding the victims of Burma! We spent last Christmas in a refugee camp there and are returning on Tuesday. Our hearts were broken for their plight and we have tried to bring awareness of it to this country. My daughter is a medical student and was so moved upon visiting there that she took a break from her studies to join a medical team in Burma. There are several such "heroes" but mostly the peoples should be regarded as Heroes enduring such atrocities for years!! How ashamed the world should feel for turning their backs!! Especially Britain who left this evil military regime in power!! Now China and Korea are supporting the slaughter!!

Please continue to expose these horrors so that the world will know!!!

Gratefully,
-- Janet Johnson

STAR STRUCK
Re: Reader Mail's Eternally Grateful and Ben Stein's Dinner With the Bushes:

Once again, I'm left in awe of Ben Stein and amazed at how much folks like one of your Letter Writers -- Caroline Miranda -- responded to the same.

I found nothing "Star Struck" in his missive; except perhaps his deep belief in America. If that be Star Struck...count me struck! Ben marveled at America, he marveled at our wonderful fortune to be living here, he wondered at the great opportunity this country affords anyone who wants to work for it. He marveled at his good life, and that of others he shared his meal with.

I'm with Ronald Reagan and Mr. Stein, we are a "shining city upon a hill"..."an apparition of freedom in a painful world, a sight for the sore eyes of mankind."

My heart and eyes tire from the onslaught of anger directed at anything right and strong in this country each and every day. There are those of us, like Ben, who understand. Your explicit joy of being an American made me smile, because it is one of our greatest gifts this Holiday Season...any season...

Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday and Happy Hanukah to all -- even the angry ones!
-- Pat Kavanagh-Morris
Gloucester, Massachusetts

ORLET AND SAVAGE
Re: The "Savage Nation" letters in Reader Mail's Eternally Grateful:

I do not think that the estimable Mr. Orlet got the better of his exchange with readers who defended radio host Michael Savage against his glancing attack. Anyone who listens to Savage already knows about the unflattering nicknames he's given to rivals in talk radio. To extrapolate from that into speculation about the character of his listeners is dangerous, however, because it presumes a character flaw or worse in any who enjoy cutting repartee. Where would H.L. Mencken and Mark Twain be in such a world?

Moreover, while Savage says that Rush Limbaugh should be pitied for "carrying water for the Republicans," he's also acknowledged the debt that all of talk radio owes to Rush.

That Bernard Goldberg does not care for Michael Savage is likewise no indicator of the man's talent. Veterans of "old media" sometimes swim against the tide, as John Stossel so often does, but they quickly learn to sand the rough edges off their words. It's no surprise to find a cautious singles hitter like Goldberg disparaging a home run derbyist like Savage, if only because Savage never checks his swings and Goldberg spent most of his career doing that.

Finally, I am Catholic, and while many in the Catholic blogosphere have rightly taken Savage to task for his intemperate words about the Catholic hierarchy, it must also be noted that among nationally syndicated talk show hosts, only Michael Savage and Laura Ingraham regularly defend the moral and theological contributions of Catholic Christianity to Western civilization.

When sexual abuse by a vanishingly small minority of Catholic priests was making headlines, Savage sympathized with their victims, while also and rightfully distrusting the dominant narrative to the point where he cheered for lawyers who worked for rather than against the church. Savage has also defended the wartime record of Pope Pius XII. In his typically combative style, his lead for one article was "It's time to talk about Pope Pius XII and the slander inflicted upon him by the psychotics in the liberal media, who will stoop to outright propaganda to force their will on this country and the world."

In other words, if you're conservative, Savage may well be the man standing next to you at the barricades. Some of his eccentricities strike me as off-putting, and some of his views strike me as uncharitable, but it's no more fair to call Savage or his listeners mouth-breathers than it was for John Kerry and Charlie Rangel to insult the intelligence of those who serve in the U.S. military.
-- Patrick O'Hannigan
San Diego, California

Dr. Savage's comment was correct. Saddam did hold the Muslims in check, in his own tragic way. Now you have to open your eyes and learn to listen to others opinions, be them right or wrong, they can still teach you something. If you don't look at things from all directions you will never know what other people see or feel.
-- Warren Jackson

REPENTANCE FOUND
Re: Paul Chesser's Repentance Lost:

I agree with everything Paul Chesser writes in "Repentance Lost," but I think we should be careful in defining a homosexual. Several men I have known became involved in a homosexual lifestyle in their teens, and then left it. They married and had children, but decades later still struggle with the temptation. They've repented of the lifestyle and generally resist temptation. They may even commit homosexual acts during periods of weakness, but they repent again. These men aren't homosexuals, and the Bible assures them of forgiveness with each instance of repentance. Just as a recovered alcoholic faces temptation to drink for the rest of his life, and may fall occasionally, these men suffer temptations as a result of their former lifestyle. A homosexual is someone who embraces the lifestyle and sees no need to repent. The Bible's condemnation refers to the latter.
-- Roger D. McKinney
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

"The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men." Psalm 12:8.
-- C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia

STATIST FUELS
Re: Jerry Taylor & Peter Van Doren's International Energy Blather:

Messer's Taylor and Van Doren have given a good report about the ideas generated and talked about at the Energy Conference. And as reported the ideas and solutions are marginal and will go nowhere except in the minds of the resident Socialist politicians and bureaucrats. But the question of how the economically developed world will obtain energy is at the heart of the world's most pressing problem, a looming world war. The present situation is somewhat similar to the energy acquisition problems existing before the Second World War. Adding to the problem is the increased wealth and military technology in the Middle East, the worlds largest central supplier of oil to Europe, the East and the U.S. If one adds to the stew a raging xenophobia toward non-Muslim entities and the willingness by Middle East actors to use oil as a weapon against it's customers, an unimaginable tragedy looms. Past depressions in the U.S. were largely the result of financial crises and ignorance of economic theory. A depression caused by a cutoff of oil resources would be worse than the Great Depression of the 30's. The obvious answer to this energy problem is for the U.S to enter a crash national security program switching from oil to coal, nuclear power, shale oil, new domestic drilling, and hydrogen. And we don't have to travel to China or anywhere to find this answer. The drop in oil prices would drain the Middle East of its vast wealth and inhibit the princes, crooks and fanatics from engaging in war, murder subterfuge, and fanaticism.
-- Howard Lohmuller
Seabrook, Texas

And just what are we the peons supposed to do to stop our new rulers from making the energy situation worse by imposing more and more and more statist solutions? Statist solutions that have proved to be disastrously wrong every time they have been imposed? Vote for compassionate conservatives?

Our economy, our Freedoms, are being strangled on the alter of the Mother Earth worshiping, America hating, pagan Left. We need to roll back environmental regulations. They are now going to be tightened with a vengeance and there is not a thing we the peons can do to stop it.

Bush and the Gutless Old Party have sold us down the river and there will be hell to pay.

What city do you think good Muslims will nuke first?
-- Ralph Diamond
Annapolis, Maryland

BAKER BUFFOONS
Re: Joel Himelfarb's Talking to Syria and Iran:

The Baker buffoons of the "Iraq Study Group" have had their day in the sun, perhaps now it is time for the "Iraq Action Group".

The article by Joel Himelfarb, "Talking to Syria and Iran," conclusively shows that "negotiations" with these murderous dictatorships is bloody folly and will only lead to more murder. What would we negotiate? Would be beg them on bended knee to stop murdering U.S. soldiers and slaughtering Iraqi civilians? Would we offer to bribe them to stop? Is this the best that a group of ten sages can come up with?

One thing, at least, the ISG buffoons have done; they have underlined the problem: Iran and Syria. What is pathetic is that we have only two "plans" that have been put forward: The Bush plan, which is to sit on our hands and hope this nightmare will somehow have a happy ending. Absurd. or the Baker buffoon plan: negotiate with these murderers. Is this the best that the most powerful nation in human history can muster in face of two third-rate dictatorships? Amazing.

Both of these plans are going to lead to catastrophe, and very soon. It is so obvious that even a Baker buffoon could see it if he opened his eyes; maybe even a Bush buffoon. Within the next 18 months Israel is going to strike the Iranian nuclear sites. This is going to trigger a vast conflict that risks pulling the entire world into its flames.

The only nation capable of putting an end to the Iranian and Syrian murderous dictatorships without risking world conflagration is the U.S. I don't like it any more than anyone else, but that is reality.

Bush better awaken from his hand sitting stupor soon. It is long past time for the "Iraq Action Group." It is time for action, and time is short.
-- Rogelio el Contrario
St. Martin du Mont, France

FROST WARNINGS
Re: Karl Auerbach's and frost's letters (under "You Load 1,850 Tons") in Reader Mail's Eternally Grateful:

Though I am puzzled he should accuse me of "advocacy of global warming" for merely insisting that debate as to climate change be fact, not faith based, Mr. Karl Auerbach asks a very shrewd question, "how long has Erebus been belching 'crap' vs. how long have humans been at the same thing? If we're talking about CO2 accumulation over time, and I believe we are though I'm just a lowly engineer and not the wiz-bang expert Mr. Seitz is, my bet would be on the tortoise (Erebus, in this case) beating the hare (humans) in total emissions over any long-term time period of interest. The hare has too much of a head start in this race."

The answer is that gases, like humans, have a finite life span. CO2 released in air lasts only decades before ending up nascent limestone or biomass, so it is a very short lived tortoise, while some CFC's are engineered to be phenomenally stable -- Freon-12 ranks as a Methusaleh among hares.

I am not so sanguine as to the life of the mind in the case of the gentleman who styles himself "frost." It is mystifying that wannabe contrarians such as he should insist on misinformation when the real McCoy costs no more, and regrettable that the economic history his latest letter dispenses is as bogus as the natural history that preceded it. This time he asserts, "The single volcano Mt. Erebus, just 6 miles upwind from the McMurdo measuring site has been producing 1,000 tons of chlorine daily since 1972... which is 50 times more-per-year than industry's annual production of CFCs!"

Had "frost" examine the rather thoroughgoing geophysical journal paper I cited yesterday, he would find that Erebrus emits neither CFC's or chlorine, but hydrochloric acid vapor -- its emissions max out during eruptions at 1,250 tons a day, but the yearly average is an order of magnitude lower. In contrast, in the decade following "1972" CFC production exceeded a million tons a year, or 3,000 tons a day. The exclamation point is doubly merited; apart from being, because of the Montreal Convention, signed by President Reagan in 1987, CFC production has been plummeting, and will cease entirely in 2010 . But that will not make an honest statistician of "frost," as primary chlorine production will continue in excess of 10,000 tons a day.

Frost notes, "if my second hand information is mistaken, sorry, but I believe it was backed up in former Governor (D-WA) Dixy Lee Ray's Trashing the Planet or possibly Environmental Overkill maybe." Not overkill -- proliferation of rank error -- Dixy Lee Ray's book famously confused emissions from Alaska and Antarctica in a statistical comedy of errors that has been fisked unto death (here). I hope Santa finds room in his sack for an atmospheric science primer for the impish frost
-- Russell Seitz
Cambridge, Massachusetts

PACIFIERS
Re: Abe Grossman's and Brian Gager's letters (under "The Carter Lobby") in Reader Mail's Eternally Grateful:

Concerning the idealistic thoughts of Mr. Grossman and Mr. Gager, sorry to say, but there has never been a time when pacifism worked and a war was averted. As one who collects information and lotsa quotes, said George Orwell: "Pacifism is objectively pro-fascist - if you hamper the war-effort of one side, you automatically help the other side." Then, when Neville Chamberlain flew to Munich to see Adolf Hitler, Walter Winchell observed in 1938, he did so "because you can't lick a man's boots over the phone." Ol' Neville's assurances, in a letter to King George, "...I have a hunch that we shall get through this time without the use of force....Herr Hitler has not yet made up his mind to violence." And didn't he also add, "...well, it's only the Rhineland." Around the same time, said Sir Winston during the appeasement era of '37 and '38 (to paraphrase slightly perhaps): "We had a choice between Shame or War. We chose Shame -- and we still got War."

Methinks we just can't continue just sitting around, mouthing platitudes and hope that they start liking us; the only thing they understand is strength, because, remember, pacifism only works well against other pacifists.
-- frost

In Response to Brian Gager:

You obviously know little about history of the Middle East, as the people who call themselves Palestinians, which name they adopted in the 1960s, are neither descendants of Ismail nor are they Semites. They are the Philistines, like in the story of David and Goliath, and their original homeland is in the Aegean, quite close to Greece. Therefore, it's hard to see how Jews/Israelis and Palestinians are related in any way what so ever. Their genetic nor cultural origin has absolutely nothing to do Abraham. I think you need to do a lot more research before expressing an opinion based on the same error Carter makes as well. He too knows little about history, and that's why he's been so strongly criticized for his anti-Semitic attitudes, not to mention his close association with the Mainline Protestant Churches who are the religious liberals and vigorous disseminators of anti-Semitism. You write nicely, but unfortunately you're not very well uninformed about the region's history.

Just in case you're skeptical about what I've written look it up for yourself. I'm a Professor Emeritus of History, University of California at Berkeley.
-- EAH, Ph.D.

WHY DRESDEN?
Re: Mike Dooley's letter (under "Firebombing") in Reader Mail's Eternally Grateful:

TAS reader Mike Dooley asks "why did Dresden have to be firebombed".

For most of the air war in Europe, the Brits bombed at night, when there was not even a pretense of aiming conventional high explosives at war industries. Pathfinder Dehavilland Mosquitoes would sow an arrow of colored incendiaries pointing "Hamburg this way" or "Berlin that way" or "Dresden ahead" and the thousand Avro Lancasters following in trail would do their best to avoid Me-110 night fighters and their "Schragen musik" upward firing 20mm cannons, drop their loads, and head back for home. As Sir Laurence Olivier so perfectly intoned in the World at War episode "Whirlwind," there was nothing Bomber Command could do that would overcome the fundamental law [in the early 1940s] that you cannot see in the dark.

Our peerless and legendary Eighth Air Force, fathered by Ira Eaker and later run by Jimmy Doolittle, in classic American fashion determined to bomb by day, where the Norden could place the high explosives from the Fortresses and Liberators on time, on target, without regard for the experience that the Brits had absorbed before we got there, to wit, Luftwaffe day fighters would eat you alive, no matter how tight your box formation, no matter how many 50cals you brought to bear on them. It wasn't until the P-51 Mustang arrived in late 43, early 44, that the Forts and Libs could do their day job and get back with "acceptable" losses.

Dresden was a special case. Documentation exists that the USAAF thought the target, by February 1945, was a bad idea, but Bomber Command and Arthur Harris convinced them otherwise. Of course, that could also be post-mortem revisionism. The fact is, to paraphrase Curtis LeMay, our Forts "made the bricks bounce" that the Lancs had already wrecked.

As a practical matter, indeed as a matter of international law, the Nuremberg trials made clear that attacks on defended cities were legal. Dresden was a defended city, not an "open" city, and the attack on it was unequivocally legal. How Dresden was destroyed was not a matter of law, or of morality. As every baby boomer's WW2 veteran father told them, "there's no nice way to die".

In the grand scheme of things, the USAAF Strategic Bombing Survey team crisscrossed all of the former Reich after the cessation of hostilities, inspecting the damage and attempting to catalog the lessons of what worked and what didn't. What they concluded was that USAAF strategic bombing had a decisive effect on oil production and refining, and consequently movement of all war related materiel, but the predominant effect was the diversion of huge numbers of personnel and materiel to fight the Forts and Libs.

In the early 1990s, after the fall of the wall, this writer had the occasion to visit Dresden, tour the museums, and the then partially restored Frauenkirche, which had been almost completely destroyed by the attack of February 1945. Try to imagine huge outdoor metal shelves, dwarfing a Home Depot, that contained massive masonry chunks of the Frauenkirche, carefully cataloged to fit the puzzle that would restore the church. Since that visit, the Frauenkirche has been fully restored, and is manifestly a delight to behold, a magnificent memorial to what Dresden once was.
-- Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey

To answer Mr. Dooley, firebombing had been found to be the most effective kind at shutting down the usual activities (including war production) of the city being bombed; specifically, it was more effective than trying to hit the factory buildings directly with high explosives at night. There is only one kind of bombing more effective on distributed urban targets, and the war in Europe was over before we'd tested it.

Not saying it's right, but deciding to firebomb is not necessarily bloody-mindedness.
-- Ed Ahlsen-Girard
Fort Walton Beach, Florida

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