Reader Mail

The Short Goodbye

Readers bid adieu to corrupt-and-pork big government Republican losers. Also: The man who plays Truman. Boehner fades. Conservative-Libertarian reconciliations. Plus much more.

11.12.06

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CAN'T STAND THE HEAT
Re: James Bowman's review of Flags of Our Fathers:

Bowman's disinformation in his "review" of Flags Of Our Fathers is asinine. Anyone watching the film without a political ax to grind recognizes the scene with Truman as stark contrast to the crass manipulation of the three veterans of Iwo Jima. Truman is accurately presented as sincere and direct. Clint Eastwood served in the military under Truman and I was honored to be cast in the role.
-- David Patrick Kelly

I have yet to hear any veterans groups knock Flags of our Fathers. Am I missing something? I went to see the movie and while it did incorporate some stuff I thought revisionist, overall, it was pretty good and I think captured what those three survivors went through. That was the intent of the movie. When I went to see it, I wore my veterans cap with my ship's name on it. A woman sitting next to me (a little younger than me) was quite emotional during some of the scenes; however, after the movie was over, she patted me on the back as I was leaving and said, "Thank you for your service." That one statement justified the movie for me. So knock it, if you will, it just doesn't fly.
-- Pete Chagnon

Excellent piece, Mr. Bowman.

I am often told by my naive (not Native) American and South African friends that America lost the Vietnam war.

On the contrary Vietnam was battle that America fought to save SE Asia from totalitarianism. And today Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and strangely even Vietnam are the beneficiaries of America's sacrifice.

Vietnam was merely a battle lost to win the Cold War. Take heed cut and runners!
-- Marc de Jong
Johannesburg, South Africa

GOOD RIDDANCE
Re: David Hogberg's Republicans in Recovery:

In '90 Bush 41 raised taxes at exactly the wrong time, as both a recession and a war were beginning. (Clinton, by the way, craftily raised taxes well after the recovery was under way, which is the right time, if there is such a time, to raise taxes.) Bush 41 also broke a campaign promise when he raised taxes. While I wished him re-election I wasn't upset when he lost -- he deserved to. He (1) made a foolish decision and (2) went back on his word. (I admit that I became very upset later, when Bill Clinton proved himself to be everything a man should not be.) But Bush 41's tax fiasco combined with Clinton's reckless attempted takeover of health care, a seventh of the national economy, created the environment for the conservative resurgence in '94.

In 2005 Tom DeLay, in response to a report by the Republican Study Committee calling for lower spending, claimed that the Republicans in Congress had "cut just about everything [they] could." I knew then that it was his time to go far away, and that's when I realized that congress might change hands. The later Abramoff and Cunningham scandals involving unimaginable dishonesty added to the inevitability of the debacle. (The Foley scandal meant little, as did the schism between Armey, who really should shut up like readers Richard Land and Tim Jones say, and Dobson.)

We lost because the Congressional Republicans broke their promise of fiscal responsibility and smaller government. They cared more about incumbency than statesmanship. They deserved to lose. Good riddance, and don't let the door hit your pork-laden asses on the way out.
-- Paul DeSisto
Cedar Grove, New Jersey

OK, Mr. Hogberg (Mr. 3 for 3), good piece, you're right. We've had our emotionally purgative moment, now, it's back to work. All is definitely not lost. Maybe this will help, too. Remembering news reports about how some Florida Dems sought therapy after the 2004 election, I looked through my extensive archive, and Voila! (December 3, 2004 entry) A little stout maybe, but my heart's sure pumping again, and I'm laughing all the way to work and at work. My Dem "friends" don't know what to make of me. I suggest it as a daily reading.

Ooga booga, woof, woof!
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

Interesting title. I'd say the Republican Party actually might do well to take a looksee at the steps of the 12-step programs. In them, it likely will find better wisdom than it's exhibited in recent years.

But it makes little sense, though, does it, for Republicans or anyone else to start plotting and/or speculating now how the elephants can regain anything, until the GOP honestly assesses why it lost so badly and why it's become so disconnected from America?
-- C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia

Mr. Hogberg has present an interesting article. I do not doubt his migration stats in the least. I would, however, suggest a different and more realistic interpretation. Yes, folks do often leave the high tax and cost of living solid blue states for the lower tax and lower cost of living, usually more red or purple states. That is certainly what has happened here in New Hampshire. I would dispute, however, that the new arrivals benefit the GOP. More often than not, these folks are just as liberal as they always have been. The result is a fairly solid red state moving toward the Dems as the new arrivals demand the same services and policies that they had where they used to live and work. They, of course, want that all while maintaining the new low taxes and cost of living. It certainly has happened in New Hampshire, which is now really a blue state. It certainly happened in Oregon with the refugees from California. I would argue that is also why Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming, etc. are now no longer solid GOP bastions up and down the ticket. As for Florida, the solid Democrat areas are majority populated by the refugees from the high tax northern and rust belt states (see Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Palm Beach, etc.).

I maintain that this migration that Mr. Hogberg notes is decidedly NOT an unmixed blessing.
-- Ken Shreve

As long as self-described conservatives vote for liberals (23% for ultra-leftist Sherrod Brown in OH) and chameleon "conservative" Democrats (leftist in conservative verbal drag) the conservative movement is a sham. Those so-called conservatives who voted against Santorum, Talent, Allen, Burns and DeWine are either totally ignorant or so juvenile that they have put the country's safety in the hands of Muslim appeasers.

For those who think Arkansas is a "red state" wake-up and look at who runs the state. Arkansas is a solidly blue state. It may vote for Republican Presidents, but the state is a bastion of corrupt tax and tax Democrats. As far as 2008, if the GOP follows the lead of the testosterone challenged Nation Review and jumps on the McCain bandwagon we're doomed to seeing Rodham-Clinton/Obama in the White House.
-- Michael Tomlinson
Crownsville, Maryland

The last thing the Republican Party should do now is despair. This is only a house-cleaning and brighter days will return (there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and no it isn't the headlight of an oncoming train). Americans in general are "against the war" in Iraq not because the U.S. was wrong in deposing Saddam, but because it has taken so long and cost so much and we lost some damn good people, without an end in sight. If military operations in Iraq had been more aggressive, focused, and ruthless, and had we kept 300,000 (or more) ground troops in Iraq instead of 140,000 this mess would have been mopped up a long time ago and the President's poll numbers would have been sufficient to carry the day on November 7. This is hardly a liberal position. In reference to Don Rumsfeld, we needed another MacArthur, but got another McNamara with predictable results.

Americans in general, and conservative Americans in particular, were mad as hell at the Republican Party prior to election day and the Republican leadership has only itself to blame. I have voted Republican in the past because I wanted social security reform, tax cuts, fiscal restraint, a balanced budget, accountability and CHARACTER in my elected representatives. I instead received a half-assed effort on social security, tax cuts that will expire in a few years (never to return, either), runaway spending, an ineffectual and incompetent Speaker of the House and a blatantly corrupt House Majority Leader, a Senator who pledged "term limits" when first elected (in 1988) and now running for his fourth term, naturally (of course) found to be in bed with a sleazy lobbyist, a senior Republican congressman cruising for gay sex with teenage pages, and only a partial victory in our quest for sanity on the Supreme Court. The worst of it, though, was the sense that the powers-that-be in the Republican Party didn't even care to listen.

We just need to get back to basics and demand that Republicans who win our vote should act like Republicans once they arrive in Washington. As far as the new Senate is concerned, remember that there are a lot of liberal Democrat Senators in conservative states who are up for re-election in 2008 and 2010 and they will be facing the electoral wrath of conservatives who are "down" (at the moment) but not "out" by any means.

And, as for Virginia Senator-to-be James Webb, if history is any guide he'll get mad at some perceived slight and resign in protest (again) after a few months in office. Some things never change.
-- Daniel McNamee
Somerville, New Jersey

The pitcher has thrown the ball, it's a real slow hanging curve ball. Newt hasn't even chosen his bat yet, but he will walk up to the plate and knock it out of the park. He's waiting to see the nonsense the Democrats propose, and how far south the economy goes before he makes his move. I'd be willing to bet my nice home in the suburbs that Newt will be the next Reagan. He's the smartest man in the room, and he will take Hillary down with no problem. Keep your chins up.
-- John P.
Elmhurst, Illinois

DEAR JOHN
Re: Philip Klein's Leave Boehner Behind:

I write in agreement that we should have no talk of compromise with the Democrats at this point. Bush has gone wobbly and Cheney is muzzled. Supporting Mike Pence is a good move, it will definitely consolidate the base and keep our ideology pure. We should stand on principles not pragmatism. Who gives a damn if the American voters just overwhelmingly decided to throw us out of power. We all know, but don't want to speak it too loudly in public, that the average American watches too much of the wrong kind of television. It's like Rush said the other day, they weren't "ideologically prepared" for the conservative revolution and No Child Left Behind isn't going to help them get any smarter and vote for us. Democracy is nice, but last Tuesday's election clearly demonstrated its limitations. Does it really have to have a place in the conservative agenda?...
-- Pablo Americano
(Paul Griffin)

That Mr. Boehner even believes that he should be minority leader indicates that the Republicans not only have lost their way, but that they, like their opposition, believe that Americans have no memory. Have we reached the point where neither the Republicans nor Dems can do anything but insult us with such in-your-face, arrogant, lame choices?
-- C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia

Mr. Klein makes a very convincing case for leaving John Boehner behind when the new GOP leadership takes over in January. I am totally convinced. I am considerably less sanguine about giving the Minority Leader post to Mr. Pence. Mr. Klein makes note of Mr. Boehner being a leader at the time that the education bill will come up for re-authorization and his conflict of interest on the issue. Mr. Pence has the identical type of conflict on the immigration issue. He is the author and dedicated devotee of an illegal alien amnesty program that he is trying to deny is amnesty at all. Surely we can find someone with the fiscal conservative principles and small government inclination, but without the sell out on illegal alien amnesty.
-- Ken Shreve

This guy is a total loss, If the Republicans go with leadership of his caliber again you can begin to assume right now that the best we are looking at for the future is 2016. Specter, Pompous Giuliani, RINO McCain, Boehner, Romney, and a few other jerks who think they are Presidential bound had better join the Democrats, they sure as hell will not be voted for as Republicans, never again. If they did not get the message this year they certainly will in 2008.
-- PapaMac (Gordon Macaulay)

You are exactly right, he is the problem. Thanks for pointing this out. If we had more pences, we would need few fences. If you get my drift.
-- unsigned

ALONE AGAIN
Re: Richard Kirk's Mark Steyn Alone:

There was a time when Mark Steyn used to grace the pages of the Daily Telegraph newspaper with his wit, forthright views and general common sense (see "Mark Steyn Alone" by Richard Kirk). He always could be relied upon to provide a wake-up call for readers. I miss his column and his style. Not sure why he no longer contributes but in my view all we have now of the same calibre to read are Charles Moore and John Keegan, whose insight, knowledge and research would appear even-steven. I scratch my head trying to figure out why a Conservative leaning paper such as the Daily Telegraph occasionally ties itself to the New York Times? Nevertheless, overall the venerable Telegraph is still a good broadsheet, even if Mr. Steyn has gone and even though the odd bleeding heart occasionally gets published. Its sales figures regularly trump its competitor broadsheets and the majority of readers' feedback on the majority of occasions belie the fact that our nation is moving inexorably towards a left-of-centre, taxed-to-the-hilt, state-dominated persuasion. I hope I am proved wrong in the long-term about this descent. Come back Mark Steyn.
-- Graham Constable
Oxford, England

A nice article about one of the few who have stood courageously for what's right and is thus still supportive of America's efforts in Iraq, despite seemingly tough times. Another person who deserves some similar attention from The American Spectator is the historian Victor Davis Hanson www.victorhanson.com. I'm sure you know of him as his musings are always level headed and always look at the big picture instead of the hyped news that just came across the wire. He is very similar to Steyn in his beliefs.
-- Ritchie Emmons
Boston, Massachusetts
(Editors note: See "The New Old Eco-Pessimism," by Victor Davis Hanson, in the October 2006 issue of The American Spectator.)

I've nearly finished the book, and as troubling as it is to read, I highly recommend it to everyone.

After the first fifty or so pages, after Steyn had persuasively presented the case for the demographic demise (and social welfare state suicide) of much of the West, I kept thinking (hoping) that, okay, things look pretty bleak over there, but in the next chapter, or the one after that, surely Steyn will offer some prescription(s) for how things can be turned around, how those societies can yet save themselves. And he does. Alas the people who need to hear it, and act on it, don't seem to be inclined to listen.

If the future unfolded in a predictable pattern then it would be hard not to conclude that the lights have already started going out all over The Old World. It would be very hard to maintain much hope. Yet I do, and it is rooted in, for lack of better terms, the power of progress, the miracle of modernity. When I look at the breathtaking innovations of science and technology in just the last few decades, and when I consider how swiftly most of it has been embraced by, or at least desired by, most of the rest of the world, I simply cannot believe that a society whose leaders insist that it stay firmly rooted in the Seventh Century can endure over the long term.

But that is just hope. And as Steyn compellingly contends, in the here and now, and for the foreseeable future, for much of The Old World what is actually happening doesn't offer much reason for hope.
-- C. Vail

Richard Kirk's review of Mark Steyn's "America Alone" implies that credit for the term "Eurabia" belongs to Steyn. Barring better information, which is probably out there somewhere beyond my reach, I'd give credit for popularizing the term to Bat Ye'or's prior book, Eurabia: the Euro-Arab Axis.
-- Robert Nowall
Cape Coral, Florida

BROTHERS AT HEART
Re: W. James Antle III's Old Fusion?:

I score very high on the Libertarian self-test so often handed out by Libertarian Party members. Unfortunately, the two issues that make me a Conservative are never on those tests and are the center of mass for why the Libertarian Party will never hold power in this country.

The first issue is simply stated. True Liberty, as enshrined in our Constitution by our Founders is not separable from individual responsibility and accountability. The Founders of this Constitutional Republic were a pretty "libertine" group all things considered but they weren't Anarchists. Individuals that cast off all sense of responsibly for their actions and behaviors are a pox on any society and the Founders did not envision a society of individuals living like a bunch of wild animals and having no interactions or responsibilities to their fellow man. Where I part company with modern Day Libertarians on this is where you preach that self destructive human behavior is an individual right and the consequences of such aren't any burden on the rest of us. Sexual perversion in nature is rewarded with an early death. Works that way for Humans too it seems. Even animals will defend their young (and unborn) to the death. Children will be scared for life and dysfunctional when exposed to the excesses of your concept of personal liberty. Destroying the unborn to avoid the responsibility that comes with irresponsible sexual behavior is not individual liberty; it is genocide against the very Liberty you claim to defend. The Founders did not fight a war to legalize the mass murder of the unborn in return.

The second issue is more complicated. The Founders feared a standing professional military and so do I. I include a professional Police force in that same equation. The Founders preached an "isolationist" approach to foreign relations and in the context of the 18/19th centuries that worked. This is not the 18/19th century. It does not take months or in some cases years to assemble an army and threaten our very existence any longer. Our oceans do not protect us any longer from mass invasions or destruction. We do not have months to prepare for the kind of warfare that took place when this Nation was founded and it takes a decade to produce the armaments and train a functioning military force to respond to the kinds of threats that exist today. Unlike Switzerland, where possession of real military arms and training are mandated by law, we do not maintain a "militia" force today in any shape form or fashion as compared to what the Founders had in 1775. Short of a significant change in our laws and reestablishment of personal responsibility in this regard for the "common defense", it is either a large and well maintained professional military force or no defense at all. In the 18/19th century we could go it alone in world affairs. The invention of Air Power, Ballistic missiles and all sorts of WMD made that luxury invalid in a world where death for millions can arrive in less than 30 minutes without warning. Things have changed; we adapt to them or die.

On balance, Libertarians and Conservatives share more core principles found in our founding documents than most are willing to admit I think. There will always be a fringe that does not overlap. The Core principles of modern day Democrats are alien to the very core of the Constitution and what it protects yet, in the name of "liberty" Libertarians are willing to seed power to the same Democrats that will ultimately disarm them and make them a "subject" in their Kingdom of Victimism. I realize you do this based on your concept of principles. My problem with your principles is that they aren't consistent with the Founders wishes and practices. They weren't fools and wouldn't sign onto a suicide pact just to stand on what they thought were principles. You can't cherry pick the Constitution. My suggestion to Libertarians is that you need to align your principles with the spirit of the Founding documents and practices rather than trying to invent a world that does not exist if it ever existed even in the 18th century. The hangman won't care what political party you were with.
-- Thom Bateman
Newport News, Virginia

There has long been a peculiar discomfort between conservatives and the Republican Party. The Republican party is the closest home for conservatives. At least they can be heard there. There is no forum for conservatives in the Democrat party. Indeed, one of the troubling aspects of elected Democrats is their slow but sure transformation in moving leftward once in Congress. Nearly all, whatever their conservative leanings, end up speaking the party line in time. So Republicans and conservatives are in an uneasy marriage of convenience. Long time Republicans resent the new focus brought by the conservatives and conservatives frankly detest the "me too" role Republicans have played in the past: you know, saying they are in favor of the same programs as the Democrats but also saying we should do it cheaper. In addition, Democrats increase the number and size of programs while Republican "deficit hawks" play their assigned role of "if we insist on having these programs we are going to have to raise taxes to pay for them". The Democrats give a dramatic sigh and say, "Well, if you say we have to…" (Part of the anger Democrats have had against Republicans in recent years is the latter's shift away from acting as fund raisers for the government's "drunken sailor" escapades.)

There is supposedly a war within conservatism itself between those who lead on social/moral issues and those who believe the sole focus should be smaller government and less taxes -- all other concerns be damned. This depiction is artificial in that the lion's share of conservatives have both social/moral issues and a strong belief in less taxes and government. To the extent such a division exists, social issues conservatives have to remember there is a limit to what government can do. Contrary to the old saw, we legislate morality everyday. Nonetheless, the state can't make people moral. At the same time, "smaller government" conservatives and libertarians have to remember who brought them to the dance. The smaller government crowd is notorious for its failure to produce results. For all its self depiction of being practical, smaller government folk have few successes in turning out the vote or delivering on their own promises.

Those of us who believe in Burke's "politics of reflection" are imperfect servants of God first, patriots second, conservatives third and Republicans a distant fourth. The two party system in America has a distinct virtue in that it compels those on the right and the left to moderate their views and expectations. Yet, there comes a point where Republicans shouldn't press the envelope against conservative loyalties. There are Republicans in Congress who should be tarred, feathered, and sent out on a rail. Those who can't be driven out should be given seats on the postage stamp committee and kept out of the loop. Those whose sole aim seems to be to frustrate the aims of their own party does not deserve its rewards and support. Any party that ignores the voices of its own members does not deserve power. Conservatives want power to restore the nation. Power is not about getting better parking spaces.
-- Mike Dooley

Can you say "sour grapes?" Some point to the unenthusiastic Libertarian types as being something less than "loyal" -- as if Dubya and his group have given us something to be loyal about?
They state that a couple senate seats might've been "saved" if it were not for the despicable Libertarian types?

Balderdash, and fiddle-de-dum even... do they ever suggest that the Democrats might have won some other earlier election had it not been for those Green dingdongs?

The demented Democrats are dangerous, true. The inept GOP and their misplaced priorities were just plain dumb. Face it, excuses suck.

Bush lowered taxes and was impressive with the bullhorn right after 9/11. He appointed a couple decent judges and an excellent UN Ambassador. That's all. The rest of his six years have been a total and absolute disaster. His party, through its pandering and sheer stupidity were, simply, not deserving of reelection/maintaining its control.

Consequently, I continue to ask, where's the next Barry Goldwater now that we need him so badly!
-- Frost

IRAQ BUILDING
Re: William Tucker's The Roots of Democracy:

Mr. Tucker's article was well written and historically accurate. Not to worry, however, U.S. style democracy was never the objective in Iraq. The democratization of Iraq is a noble, and interesting, experiment, but it is not necessary for the accomplishment of our goal there.

During the "nation building" in Iraq, most have lost sight of the original objective of the invasion of Iraq. That was two fold. First, to eliminate a regime that was attempting to become a danger to the rest of the world and to send a message to other like states, Iran and North Korea. Second, it was the intention of the military planners of this country to install a force-in-place in the Middle East to counter future acts of Iran, and to a lesser extent, Syria. The necessity for additional military bases in the region came about due to the unreliability of our Gulf State "allies".

For those who are worried about a total bug-out of U.S. forces, from Iraq, in the near future; it is unlikely to happen that way. As much as some of the Democrats might like to cut and run, they will not be able to accomplish that. Problems with Iran will intensify. Hezbollah is rapidly re-invigorating itself. Talaban influence in western Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan is still great. All these factors, coupled a very strong need on the part of the Government of Iraq for a large continued U.S. military presence in that country to maintain even a semblance of stability, will make it difficult for the Dems to force a significant drawdown of U.S. forces in-country in a short time. Hopefully the drawdown will be made in conjunction with a significant increase in Special Ops units in Iraq. Units that can assist and coordinate with Iraqi forces to combat terrorist groups still active there.

Something resembling western democracy may very well develop in Iraq, over time. But, it is necessary for our security purposes. Hopefully the newly elected Democrat-controlled Congress will understand that.
-- Michael Tobias
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

RUNNING ON EMPTY
Re: Mark Fallert's letter (under "Clean Sheetz") in Reader Mail's Moving On:

This is in response to Mark Fallert's letter Re: Diane Smith's, Andrew Macfadyen's, Steve Fernandez's and Beverly Gunn's letters (under "The Big Hurt") in Reader Mail's Sore Losing:

Mr. Mark Fallert states that he'll be suspicious if, by February, "[we] see energy prices and corporate profits rise rather sharply." I can pretty well guarantee Mark that energy prices will indeed be up simply in response seasonal supply and demand. As demand for heating increases in response to cold weather, prices will also rise unless supply is increased. This is the rule of the market. And with the Oil Cartel setting production levels (supply) disregarding demand, you can be sure costs will rise as supply falls below demand.

I have a coworker who keeps insisting that Bush is making a lot of money on oil. When questioned for proof, his only response is the increase in oil company profits over the last year. Of course, that doesn't prove that Bush is making a lot of money at all. Oil companies make only about $0.09 profit per dollar; the Government makes $.37 on the dollar, but no one appears to complain about THAT "gouging". Sure, there are a LOT of dollars going into energy/oil, but that reflects our standards of living, not some attempt by the oil companies or Bush to rake us over the coals.

A lot of folks don't even wonder why, up until the late '60s and early '70s, the cost of oil was quite stable, and quite low. Could it be because up until about that time, the oil companies controlled the oil well heads? It wasn't until after the nationalization of oil wells in the '50s-'60s, and the formation of the Oil Cartel (OPEC), that we saw the oil embargoes, shortages, gas lines, and exponentially rising energy costs. Follow the money.

Besides, if BushCo really could manipulate the cost of energy, they would have "started" the decrease at the beginning of the summer (or earlier) and used that as a selling point. It would have giving BushCo MONTHS to brag about all they've done for us. But if one recalls, and yes, it was so long ago, the price of gas didn't start falling until AFTER the peak in the hurricane season, at which point the futures people realized the doom and gloom predictions weren't going to materialize, and the supply of oil wasn't going to go down from the ravages of hurricanes. One should also recall that gas prices rise every summer in response to anticipated summer driving/vacation demands (that damnable supply and demand again!), but that would also require some cognitive ability beyond "Bush did it!"
-- Karl F. Auerbach
Eden, Utah

TAP TAP
Re: Peter Hannaford's Not Long for This World:

I still have the Smith Corona portable typewriter I talked my parents into giving me for my birthday in 1975. It still works and I still occasionally use it -- there are some jobs I just can't get a computer and printer to do. But just try and get a fresh ribbon.
-- Robert Nowall
Cape Coral, Florida


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