Reader Mail

Feel the Draft

Demands for shared pain and gender-neutral conscription. Also: On reading Judith Regan's letter. Parkinson's humor. Jimmy Carter's special appearance. Plus more.

11.29.06

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PRE-GAME WARMUP
Re: Quin Hillyer's Two Double Sets of Footprints:

Please thank Mr. Hillyer on my behalf. After a busy, dizzying day, I sat down for a few moments looking for something good to read and of course headed straight for The American Spectator where I found his gem of a column. Now I am off to my 12-year old son's first basketball game of the season in the very best frame of mind.
-- Dave Mills
Rolla, Missouri

BACKLASH
Re: William Tucker's From O.J. to Anita O'Day:

I have no quarrel with Judith Regan's attempt to give O.J. Simpson yet another sickening 15 minutes of fame. I do find it interesting that she has no one with the slightest bit of common sense editing her letters to you. First, she "was told" the company was owned by Mr. Simpson's children. Who told her -- Simpson himself? Since he's got custody of them, wouldn't that give him access to whatever monies the company produces? Second, these 2 children are the "true victims" of this crime? Geez, I thought Ronald Goldman and Nicole Brown were the victims. And what about their families? Aren't they victims, too? Do they deserve ever to see the first dollar out of the $33 million they've won in civil judgment against Mr. Simpson? Was Miz Regan in fact helping Mr. Simpson shelter these monies from that judgment?

We unwashed common citizens in fly-over country really don't care what Miz Regan and Mr. Murdoch and Mr. Simpson do. But please, none of them were doing this "for the kids." We're not complete idiots.
-- Tim Jones
Cordova, Tennessee

Possibly the worst criticism of William Tucker's column on O.J. Simpson is the letter you received from Judith Regan praising it. Tucker's main point is that the book provides a confession that is cathartic to the nation's soul, and Regan writes that her advance (she was told) went to the "real victims" of the crime, Simpson's children.

Unfortunately for both writers, Simpson has already given an interview in which he says the ghostwriter made up the confessional parts, and he needed the proceeds of the book to address tax problems. What more is there to say? The brother lied. Who could have guessed?

Oh, and the "real victims" of the crime were the two people actually killed in the crime. Not a hard concept.
-- Glen Hoffing
Shamong, New Jersey

HELL NO, WE WON'T GO
Re: G. Tracy Mehan's Charle Rangel Wants to Draft My Daughters:

I want to draft your daughters too!!

If women want full equality, they should bear equal responsibility. Making men register for selective service but not women is blatantly unconstitutional.

Why should Johnny be forced into military service but Janey doesn't even have to register? Discrimination to the extreme.

We hear the feminists screaming about the "male dominated" society yet get a pass at military service. If men only are required to serve, then there must be built-in advantages that they receive under the law that women will not receive. Preferences in hiring or an extra vote or higher pension benefits perhaps.

The biological argument is nonsense as many women do not plan for families until they are in their 30s.

I have no intention of letting any male family members register until women are required to do the same.
-- Mashall Maguire III

The idea that girls of childbearing age should be exempt from involuntary servitude -- implying of course that they had better marry and get pregnant the instant it becomes possible so to do -- is even sadder than the assumption that involuntary servitude has somehow dropped out of the Bill of Rights.

The idea that enslaving fathers or potential fathers is okay, but enslaving mothers or potential mothers is not, is specious and would instantly be challenged in the Courts; and the idea that we can force women to marry and give birth by threatening to enslave them otherwise is social engineering at its most dangerous.

And what about those girls who WISH to serve their country? Are they to be denied that right because they have an untenanted uterus and told instead to go home and fill that sucker up?

In Canada and in some parts of the United States the high school students are forced to prove they have done a certain amount of "charitable work" -- forcible charity, now there's an oxymoron for you! -- in order to graduate. This also is involuntary servitude and should be challenged in the courts. Who told Mr. Rangel or any of the Liberal Ninnies who made up this forcible charity work requirement that you could force people to love one another?

I call this kind of thinking the Marching Mommy Syndrome, and you can spot it easily. Whenever you hear someone say, "The people cannot be trusted to do the right thing voluntarily," you are dealing with a Marching Mommy.
-- Kate Shaw
Toronto, Canada

To correct a nominal error in Mr. Mehan's, college deferments ended with Selective Service year group 1971. I was a member of year group 1972. My lottery number was 6. I joined the Marine Corps PLC program 3 days before I was to be drafted. It is the best "bad luck" of my life. Later, I was 6 years on active duty during the immediate post-draft era. In all likelihood, I am the only member of my prep school class to have served.

I can see no other primary outcome of Mr. Rangel's idiot desire than to weaken our military. If he cannot see that, he is stupid and we know he is not stupid. The "share the misery" concept is flawed because of the concept of scale; the "privileged," assuming they were gathered up very evenly, would be far fewer in the ranks than the unwilling forced there by Mr. Rangel's draft. Vietnam taught us what the unwilling do to military effectiveness. Further, the idea that Mr. Rangel's draft would cut evenly across our society is hokum. I remember that CCR refrain "I ain't no Senator's son." The chance that Congress would permit its children or those of their benefactors/big contributors or staff and employees to be drafted is close to nil. There will be outs and the outs will be tailored to their children. Count on it.

Semper Fi,
-- Reid Bogie
Waterbury, Connecticut

Forcing someone to join the military won't make them good soldiers; a lesson learned during WWII when we had 9 million men under arms. America produced its WWII heroes in abundance, but also incurred many cases of battle fatigue and outright cowardice with draftee soldiers. However, today's volunteers for military service are our best and most valuable citizens and therefore rare and to be carefully hoarded.

Consider the fact most Americans are exempt from conscripted military service on the battlefield and, except for fleeting guilt pangs, content to avoid serving their country at the risk of their lives. More than half of American voters are legally exempt from serving in combat units and, being practical souls, have no burning desire to be maimed or killed in battle. Yet, when a country is locked in a desperate struggle for survival, women go to war as combat soldiers rather than as support troops or medical personnel. The Soviet Union had many women soldiers in combat during WWII, including an air-ground support battalion of female flyers that fought like demons and had as much pride in their combat prowess as the American Marines or Army Airborne volunteer units. The Allies captured German women combat troops in 1945. The Japanese drafted women between the ages of 15 and 45 into a home army and armed them with spears to hold off the American invasion of mainland Japan.

So national survival overrides the civilized niceties and hammers home the problem with today's military. A tiny percentage of our male citizens serving in combat units are defending the rest of us with their lives. They and their parents, siblings, wives and children are required to sacrifice so other Americans can live in security and freedom. Amazing people and an amazing contradiction. Voters with no fear of violent death for themselves or their children decide when and where these incredibly valuable citizens will be sent and what dangers they will incur.

Perhaps that's why we've fought a series of limited wars since WWII and suffered such internal political and emotional conflict over each of those struggles. We want cheap and quick victories to spare ourselves collective guilt, but also want the individual right to decide who goes and who stays safe at home.
-- Patrick Skurka
San Ramon, California

If 18-year-old "men" are expected to sign up for selective service,18-year-old "women" must also in the name for equal rights. NO special treatment. Also, fathers are just as important to children as mothers. Look at ALL the problems in America's schools caused by kids being raised without fathers.
-- Karen Guardiola

I think the author illustrates the moral dichotomy now existing in this nation. Women finally have the entire panoply of freedoms and benefits this nation offers its citizens. It is our shame that it took so long for women to be recognized as a vital and vibrant patch in the business, political and social fabric of life here. However, it is exactly this inclusion which compels me to agree (shudder) with Mr. Rangel.

Whatever his motives, and because he is who he is, I assume they are grounded in some nefarious purpose his point is well made. As the father of a daughter I have long felt that women's participation in our society cannot be limited only to the receipt of benefits, but must include participation in the responsibilities as well. This is akin to my belief that if you pay no taxes, you should not be allowed to vote. We have made it perfectly acceptable for women to send our sons to war, why not their daughters as well?

Of course that will sharply reduce the women available for procreation, but I submit to the author when you place boys and girls in proximity to each other, whether in school, nightclubs, or the military, procreation will take care of itself. And it does seem to me that a woman who is 7 or 8 months pregnant would have sufficient health reasons to be at least temporarily from her military duties.
-- Jay W. Molyneaux
Wellington, Florida

I wish I could respond directly to Mr. Mehan. However, let me simply say, any country that would draft its women and any country that would deliberately send its women into combat is not worth defending.
-- W. B. Heffernan, Jr.

BRONZE MEDALS
Re: Julia Gorin's When Parkinson's Just Isn't Enough:

Julia Gorin is not funny and she is misinformed regarding stem cell research. No fetal cells are called for by any supporter of embryonic stem cell research. Michael J. Fox and I are not seeking brain tumors, we want research on ALL kinds of stem cells. Research is something scientists do so that someday there will be cures to horrible diseases. It looks like there is no cure for the flat-earth Bronze Age thinking of today's conservatives.
-- Rayilyn Brown
Surprise, Arizona

It just makes my belief stronger in God and His wisdom in design. The innocent life may not be murdered (harvested) to promote life. Perfect. The illogical liberal mind will never understand.
-- Kevin W.
Morgantown, West Virginia

Loved your article about Parkinson's and stem cell research! Science and the media have really done a job on this whole issue -- you break it down concisely and with wit -- loved the article!
-- Julia Lostroh
Lincoln, Nebraska

PARDON, MOI
Re: Lisa Fabrizio's Going on the Offensive:

Maybe we're missing a bet here.

Suppose there actually were laws against deliberately giving offense -- would that hurt conservatives? After all, this is the side of the cultural divide that believes in manners, tact and restraint. It's the left-softy- loony brigade that goes in for primal screams and XXX-rated lyrics and "letting it all hang out" generally.

Is it conservatives who shout down speakers they don't like? Riot against summit conferences they don't control? Are they the ones who insist on graphic discussions of sexuality at all times and places? Let's have those laws that the would-be thought police are always howling for.

They'd be the first ones rounded up.
-- Martin Owens
Sacramento, California

Oh do I agree with Ms. Fabrizio, if we did not watch the TV shows and movies with all the filthy words they would stop making them. I started watching The Sopranos, but did not make it very far into the show. I just don't know anyone that talks that way and don't want to know anyone like that. Using the F word adds nothing to any show I have every seen.

Parents complain about the hooker clothes for young girls, well just don't buy them. You can make a difference with your pocket book.

At least with a DVR I get to watch movies that I would not watch on HBO because of the profanity, so far at least, the broadcast networks are cutting that out and I can just skip commercials. But some of the commercials are much better than the shows they are in and I will back up just to watch them. Notice to ad agencies, make a good commercial and people WILL watch. Check out this Bud commercial.
-- Elaine Kyle

SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY
Re: Paul Chesser's No Spark for a Higher Power:

Though not a scientist, long ago as a chemical engineering undergraduate, I found the worlds of chemistry, physics and mathematics revealed the mysteries of God in ways I couldn't have imagined. A course I took in nuclear physics surprisingly brought me closer to God.

Many years later, I began a personal relationship with Jesus the Christ. Then, I began to wonder, as I do know: How arrogant is it for a scientist to claim to have discovered something new, when, really, all they've done is to uncover or decipher a part of God's creation for the rest of us? Perhaps their arrogance is fueled by anger, even jealousy or fear, that they have been unsuccessful in supplanting God? Perhaps they misunderstand the role of science? Perhaps they've fooled themselves into believing that science and reason are ends unto themselves?
-- C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia

LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED
Re: Newt Love's letter (under "Without Reservations") in Reader Mail's Why They Do It:

Well said, Newt Love (Lakhota cousin. My cousins are Creek from OK).

It is my understanding that the nDns simply called themselves human beings before a native American (read: Italian) got involved.

In Africa the word was/is Umuntu -- human. The Arabs and later the Europeans applied the word Kaffir (Arabic for non-believer). It is considered derogatory. But it is often used for context in literature and in jest amongst Africans themselves.

An aside: Naive western "anthropologists" often write about African Shamans -- I have not met any myself, only Songomas.
-- Marc de Jong
Azania

About one-half of my ancestors came to America (Great Island, if you prefer) in the early-to-mid 1600s, from England, fleeing religious intolerance and persecution. Many made friends with the Indians (or nDns) and some were killed by them without any known provocation other than seeking to live in peace and freedom. I concede that you have your view of this migration.

However, the English do not consider themselves "European." Now who's being insensitive?
-- Ed Cunn

With a nod to Don and Phil, Newt Love (might this be a Triturian version of Willis Ramsay's "Muskrat Love"?) certainly seems to have lots of problems. Particularly problematic is his problem #5 (mambo, anyone?), which he launches by screaming "WE DON'T HAVE SHAMANS" and concludes by accusing us of force-feeding him our lexicon. In his tirade, he asks:

Given the Sino-Russian origins of shamans, how can we nDns possibly have them as our healer-priests?

How? (A brief pause to allow the reader to reflect upon his delightfully ironic choice of words.) Mr. Love, all of the anthropological texts I've perused indicate that there once existed a passable causeway connecting (what is now) the town of Wales, on the east (Alaskan) side of (what eventually became) the Bering Strait, with (what is now) the town of Uelen, which lies on the west (Russian) side of that waterway. Said causeway permitted the migration of Sino-Russian (Mongol/Siberian) peoples from Asia to what you so-called "indigenous peoples" refer to as the "Great Island."

Since the people you refer to as the "Red Nations" (an allusion to their Sino-Russian heritage, perhaps?) are descended from those early migrants from Mongolia and Siberia, why would they not have "shamans" as their healer-priests?
-- David Gonzalez (a native American, by virtue of my birth in Bethesda, Maryland)
Wheeling, Illinois

NEVER GO WOBBLY
Re: Christopher Holland's letter (under "Withdrawal Pains ") in Reader Mail's Why They Do It:

It's easy to get disillusioned with our political "masters" over here; just look at the ones of any political persuasion clinging to or vying for power. A few descriptions come to mind: self-seeking, out of touch, bankrupt (financially and ideologically) and definitely way in over their heads and these are the printable ones. With this motley crew, there won't be a Great Britain in 5 years time (in name, potential or deed) just a western region of the EU. What then will previous generations' sacrifices have been for? If this isn't enough to make the blood boil, I look across the pond with alarm at the USA. Jed Babbin regularly hits the nail on the head and his latest doesn't disappoint. One of your readers' letters (Christopher Holland from Canberra, Australia) sums up what millions of us are increasingly thinking. Get the damn job done Mr. Bush; you lead, we'll follow. Oh for a Maggie Thatcher now!
-- Graham Constable
Oxford, England

GUEST APPEARANCE
Jimmy Carter's snitty performance in his Lehrer interview with Judy Woodruff was in character and showed his lack of character. He mentioned three times that Nobel Peace Prizes had been given in reference to efforts to bring peace in Israel. One obvious implication was that he is still bitter that he didn't get one for that. Of course, he did get one for undermining U.S. foreign policy by announcing an agreement with North Korea before clearing it with President Clinton, who was seriously thinking of bombing North Korea, thus handcuffing Clinton. It might be true that the prize was given to Carter partly because they felt guilty about not giving it previously (something like giving Elizabeth Taylor an Oscar for Butterfield 8, after they refused to give it to her for Cleopatra because she stole Eddie Fisher from Debbie Reynolds, and then thought better of it when she almost died). But an announced reason for giving the prize stated by one of the committee was to kick Bush in the shins. Shortly after the prize was announced, the North Korea agreement was shown to be a North Korean deception and fell apart. Carter admitted he had misjudged the Soviet Union after they invaded Afghanistan, leading to the silly gesture of boycotting the Olympics. He also misjudged North Korea. An American of character would have refused the prize, given the Swedish motivation.

Carter actually attacked Judy Woodruff for the way she was phrasing the questions. I notice that Clinton and Barney Frank on Fox and now Carter on Lehrer are using this tactic of attacking the interviewer. He's used to softball, I guess. Judy felt impelled to say that he had been given a chance to have his say. He defended his use of the word "apartheid" in his book title -- and the whole title, he added both snottily and as a diversion from his senseless defense of his choice of that word. He defended Hamas and defended only the Palestinian position regarding U.N. measures, and he drastically downplayed recent offers by the head of Israel. He couldn't even bring himself to condemn Hamas' refusal to acknowledge the right of Israel to exist. Naturally, he also downplayed any efforts by our Secretary of State, a position he seems to want to exercise -- as he did in the Clinton administration on several occasions. What a jerk! He is being featured for the 3-hour "In Depth" feature on C-Span 2 on December 3. It calls to mind the fact that he has made several lists of the worst books ever written. Imagine that: worst President, worst ex-President, and worst author! Indeed, worst subject of a Judy Woodruff interview. He gives even self-righteousness a worse name.
-- Richard L.A. Schaefer

HOLDING ON
Re: Devin Foley's and Ed Kvaale's letters (under "Great Lakes Results") in Reader Mail's Why They Do It and Mark G. Michaelsen's It Could Have Been Worse:

I am grateful to Devin Foley and Ed Kvaale for explaining that the fate of Minnesota Republican elected officials on Election Day was marginally less dire than I recounted in "It Could Have Been Worse."

Only one Minnesota Republican U.S. Congressman lost his seat, not two. The Minnesota Attorney General did not change party control, unlike Secretary of State and State Auditor. I regret these errors.

While party control of the Minnesota state house swung wildly, neither the Democrat majorities in the house or senate have the ability to override a Governor Tim Pawlenty veto. That was my point: the importance of Republican control of one or more legislative majority or key statewide office around the Great Lakes.
-- Mark G. Michaelsen

RISE AND FALL
Re: Peter Hannaford's All Rise for Her Ethicalness:

Re-reading November 22 "All Rise For Her Ethicalness." Good article, but Mr. Hannaford can't write fast enough to cover the missteps of Ms. Pelosi. Here it is 6 days later and her next choice, Alcee Hastings, has been torpedoed by his past. Face it fellas, in the age of Internet there is nothing that is too "past" to re-visit.

You gotta hand it to Ms. Pelosi, though. She has the Midas touch. Everything she touches turns to mufflers.
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

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