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Creatures of Habit

It's difficult to carry a big stick. The Middle East is east and west. Sixties Wilsonianism. Finding oneself offside. Plus much more.

7.18.06

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TRIAL RUNS
Re: Jed Babbin's Endgame Conservatives, Chapter Two:

Mr. Babbin is correct with regard to the neo-Wilsonian mindset of the present administration. Historically, the practice of limited response to the type of warfare that has been the norm for the last thirty-five years has always brought the practitioner to the point at which we are now. Being an optimist, I had hoped that the actions of the Bush administration would have done more to stifle terrorist warfare by intimidating the sponsor states. Being a student of history, I was afraid that it wouldn't.

What has to be remembered is that it had to be tried. Not being clairvoyant, we can never know exactly what the future holds or how people (and nations) will react or respond. Well, we tried. The states that we were trying to impress continue with their anti-social activities. They continue to threaten the rest of the world and have embarked upon a course of action that directly threatens this nation. Now is the time to realistically assess the threats and to respond accordingly. Unfortunately, it is time for the U.S. to put on its game face and mobilize for an extended war in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Hamas is a governing body of a territory and Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government and acts as a controlling body of a territory. By attacking Israeli territory and citizens, they are engaged in acts of war under international law. By supporting them with men and materiel, Syria and Iran have allied themselves with a faction of warring nations and have become de facto participants in this war and enemies of Israel. Under treaty provisions with Israel, the U.S. is bound to support and assist Israel. This means that sooner or later, we will be embroiled in this mess, whether we like it or not. It has become only a matter of time until our fears become a reality.

To allow the forces arrayed against Israel, and us, to go unchecked is not an option anymore. Nor would it be prudent to force a return to the status quo of a month ago. The situation is extremely fluid at the moment and even the next few hours are uncertain. Therefore, it would be prudent to be prepared to take whatever action is necessary to ensure that both Israel and the U.S. survive the next few months or years. Unfortunately, this will necessitate the use of military force by the U.S., sooner or later. Hopefully, we will have allies in this fight, but we can not depend upon that. Event will unfold quickly in the near future and we must be prepared to seize the initiative. If we do not, the conflagration in the Middle East will spread across the globe.
-- Michael Tobias
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Mr. Babbin's premise, I thought, had been part and parcel of the "agreement" of our government with its citizens entered into after Vietnam. Politicians learned (if they can learn anything) that fighting wars with boundaries -- Korea and Vietnam -- was a doomed to failure enterprise in which the lives of our sons (and now daughters) were wastefully expended. Ronald Reagan followed this rule and George the first followed it as well.

The agreement was violated by the son of Arkansas who has lied his way through life thus far and so his failure to stick to agreements should come as no surprise. William Jefferson Clinton sent our finest soldiers to a backwater African nation, drowning in internecine tribal warfare, to slow down the pace of Africans murdering Africans. As this is as much a way of life in Africa as is speaking, we had little hope of accomplishing anything meaningful. In fact Mr. Clinton did accomplish a great deal. He showed the world that dead American soldiers could be dragged naked through the blood soaked streets of a loathsome African city by a murderous people with impunity.

On September 11, a very liberal democrat friend of mine, just momentarily reconnected with reality, and angrily said: "We ought to nuke those stone-age, barbarian Arabs."

Let us now restate the "agreement" clearly enough that politicians can understand it. "America will not expend the lives of its children unless, in the war to be prosecuted, we are willing, if necessary to win, to use nuclear weapons." That will provide democrats with every opportunity to surrender our freedoms they require and the Republicans with a useful tool in international relations...

Walk softly and carry a big stick, yes?
-- Jay W. Molyneaux
Wellington, Florida

I am in complete agreement with you on being an endgame conservative. However, I bring up once again your curious insistence on calling radical Islam "an ideology not a religion." I wrote to you a few months ago about this and perhaps I missed it, but I have not seen a fuller explanation.

Whence cometh this distinction between ideology and religion? Islam is a totalitarian religion. It believes in a supreme being, Allah, and believes that Mohammed is the "seal of the prophets". It has creed, code, and cult as all religions do. It is in addition a religion that has nothing short of world-wide political hegemony as its primary goal, and this goal has been there since its founding. Is your distinction based on a notion that somehow religion, to be religion, has to have no political ambitions? But it is only Christianity that has ever figured that out and it took us a long time (and still hasn't completely sunk in, as witness Liberation Theology). Paganism always conflates religion and the state, although not all pagan religions had world-wide designs. Just take Ancient Egypt for example. Islam is a strange thing: a pagan monotheism.

So I am still not clear on your distinction.
-- Lucy Tucker

Jed Babbin has my vote for Secretary of State. He understands to the reality of the world we live in. The war against Islamic terrorism must be fought to win, not to gain favor in the fickle and envious international community. .

As for Miss Rice, I'm afraid she's only marginally better than her predecessors, Colin Powell and Madeleine Halfbright, neither of whom were ready for primetime on the world stage.
-- Peter Skurkiss
Stow, Ohio

THE QUALITY OF MERCY
Re: Jay D. Homnick 's Declaration of War: Restated:

This is again advice time. This time my advice is to Israel. Bomb terrorist marches. I do not see any reason to let terrorist march with masks and guns on the main streets of their local hostages with impunity. It empowers them and intimidates their opponents. Nor should they enjoy impunity during press conferences. Of course, warning leaflets should be dropped prior to such a strategy change warning reporters and the civilian populations of Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon to stay away from terrorist marches and news conferences as they will be considered legitimate military targets.

This is short though not sweet.
-- Judith

I am very much afraid that Bush has lost the will to fight much less fight to win.

Bush must stop acting like Peanut Jimmy and take the battle to the enemy.

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

And let's use nukes. I am tired of this politically correct warring. They are rattling their sabers. Just asking for it. Let them have it. We must support Israel.
-- Martin N. Tirrell
Lisbon, New Hampshire

I'LL BE IN RIO
Re: The Washington Prowler's Surrender at Treasury and State:

There's no word to describe it other than "betrayal," pure 'n simple. Bush in virtually all of his actions (or inactions) 'cept the tax cut issue -- and, some were advocating "Condi for President"?

Give me a break.

And to call this "Wilkinson's ability to shape a message" some kind of positive in that (prior to Tony Snow) totally inept White House, that's just gotta be somebody's idea of crazy!

Again, it's sick. And that miserable excuse for a president (and too much of his staff) has been the biggest disappointment I can recall; never expected much from Carter, nor Clinton either. But this complete Bush administration betrayal has me about ready to bolt for Brazil, a land where (thank God) they've never even heard of Political Correctness... or so it seems.

No, the only two options I'd even consider voting for in '08 are Rudy or Joe. Not sure why, but I trust 'em both. Call me an old fart if you like, but that's something I really haven't been able to feel since Barry Goldwater.

Hell, come to think of it, I wish Dubya would resign and let Dick Cheney take over for the remainder of their term -- got more faith in him than in his "boss."
-- Jack Frost

MEXICHUSETTS
Re: Doug Bandow's No Time to Relax:

"No Time to Relax" by Doug Bandow reflects that old adage that democracy is doomed because people will figure out how to vote themselves wealth. The result is creeping, self-consuming socialism. We have seen how it works here in Mexichusetts, once the heart of revolutionary America and an economic powerhouse that since has been reduced to theatrical head scratching over how to stop people from fleeing to El Norte (New Hampshire) and anywhere else that has a non-toxic relationship with jobs and growth. When I announce my candidacy for federal office in January 2007, I will begin to aggressively confront Mexichusetts' economic statists over their failures. The state is a model of decay with billionaire elites King Teddy and King John at the top, the political nomenclature and college professoriate next (How many Harvard professors does it take to operate a convenience store? Ten. One to turn on the lights and nine to give away the money in the cash register) and a poorer and poorer populace. The people of Massachusetts no longer are enamored of the Democrat Party, its compulsive taxation and government control of wealth. They have witnessed firsthand what it hath wrought. They will seek change in 2008. I will represent them.
-- Steve Nikitas
Pittsfield, Massachusetts

LONG LIVE THE KING
Re: Florence King's What's In a Word?:

I'm so, so, so happy to again be reading Florence King. Thank you for posting her book review on the website.

Keep them coming you blessed Southern Lady.
-- Greg Barnard
Franklin, Tennessee

TAKING OFFSIDE
Re: William Tucker's I Don't Know Much About Soccer, But...:

Just like the atheists are fighting something that they think doesn't exist , you American conservatives (almost exclusively!) are fighting or trying to bash Soccer . Why isn't so obvious that you don't like it and will never, never like it or at list trying to understand it. Is the rest of the world at fault that when you were little babies your mothers instead of singing you a nice lullaby they put you to sleep in front of TV with baseball on? Same can be said about baseball, hockey, and even bone crushing sport played by 350 pound "athletes" that advance up and down the field with the mind bugling speed of a snail. And don't get me started about scoring, how about a 24-14 score in football isn't equivalent with a 3-2 in soccer, were is the high scoring in American Football. And more in football they have to hire commentators like John Madden to make the game more interesting because there is nothing going on in the filed, except stopping the clock after every 15 seconds of advancing yet another inch or two. Can't you super geniuses that split the hair in 4 every time an "athlete" in baseball scratches his crutch and spits the furthest, let the rest of the world be so dumb and so stupid to like the real football. Can't we all just get along...in the words of another genius. At the way American kids are growing up (or should I say sideways!) -- 100 pounds before they are 10 years old -- of course nobody will ever will play a real sport. We may all turn to like sumo wrestling or may try to invent something that can use overweight people...oops I'm sorry we already have American Football. So just give it up guys, you keep on watching the very excited sport of baseball, and NESCAR and WWE Wrestling and let the rest of the world like the Real Football, Formula 1, Rugby and whatever else they want.
-- Dorin Matei

I was greatly amused by William Tucker's column. He admits that he knows nothing about soccer, but finds that in no way a bar to explaining how to fix it. This is the quintessential American spirit, to remake everything in our own image. I happen to support this spirit, but recognize that it is sometimes misplaced. Given the incredible worldwide interest in soccer, I can only suggest that perhaps soccer does not need to be fixed, no matter how boring or bizarre I find it.

This column does inadvertently solve one mystery that has puzzled me. How can there be a sport, that Americans (or at least their kids) have taken seriously for a generation, in which we cannot beat Ghana? When Mr. Tucker writes that he "didn't learn the rules…until I started coaching my sons" he has probably placed his finger on the whole problem.
-- Glen Hoffing
Shamong, New Jersey

William Tucker is right about the offside rule in soccer, but changing it wouldn't help much. Any game that is timed is flawed. There is no point in watching basketball until the last 2 minutes of the game. And even then it's only worth it if you like intentional fouls, delaying tactics, free throws and timeouts. Football and hockey suffer from a similar defect, but the speed and violence of those games offers a bit more entertainment. Golf, tennis and volleyball are better in this regard because you have to actually defeat your opponent to win, not just happen to be ahead when time runs out. Still, these games are relatively boring. Baseball is different. Although it can be slow moving at times, the varying strategies involved, the pitcher vs. batter duel, the dichotomy between individual performance and team effort, the fact that skill is more important than physical attributes, and the fact that you can't win until you've gotten your opponent out 27 times all combine to make baseball the far superior game.
-- Matt M.
St. Paul, Minnesota

The "beautiful game" should be re-named the "boring game." Truck-pulling out-rates soccer on U.S. TV. The people have spoken!
-- Nathan Maskiell
Melbourne, Australia

I know less about soccer than you, but I think hockey made some changes (for the better) last year which were along the same lines as what you propose for soccer.

The changes were in favor of offense, which had been hampered to a point where it was getting too hard to score. The NHL also added a shootout, to avoid ties, and I'm not sure that was a good thing, but I thought the game was much more fun to watch last year -- and I liked it before.
-- Tim Williams

I am an avid consumer of conservative news and articles but for some reason have never come across your articles until today. I must say that your views (at least the few I have read so far) are like a breath of fresh air in a dungeon of half truths. Thanks for your uncommon wisdom and insight. I grew up playing and loving soccer. I cared little for other sports until I came to America and fell in love with Detroit basketball and that has totally changed my perspective. I totally agree that soccer rules need a complete overhaul and the offside rule should be the first to go. The offside rule is the equivalent of making a law that forbids special forces from going behind enemy lines in time of war.
-- Jude Okechukwu

Enough already with the analyzing of America's aversion to World Cup soccer. The game as played by those professionals is boring. I live in a very diverse neighborhood where every Sunday afternoon a large group of young Hispanics play "futbol" in the park across the street from my home. It is a joy to watch them. No yellow cards, no histrionics when they collide, just good clean fun, sometimes in extreme heat and humidity. Just as in my long ago youth in baseball, it seems to be much more fun to play a pick-up game, than to be encumbered by all the trappings of "organized sport."
-- Tom McGonnell
Alexandria, Virginia

SHARK BITES
Re: Jeffrey Lord's Plaming Out: Joe Wilson Jumps the Shark:

I wish to thank Mr. Lord for his article on Friday. The tiresome couple of Wilson and Plame give new meaning to the Yiddish word "chutzpah." Their timing, like their faux indignation, is impeccable. Just when Robert Novak blows their entire charade to bits, these egoists file a lawsuit to perpetuate their sorry myth. Wilson and Plame are the perfect poster-children for the "Woodstock Generation." They are white, well-off, well educated, elitist, arrogant and spoiled rotten. Like Mr. Keller and Pinch at the New York Times, these fellow '60s peaceniks are seldom right, but never in doubt.

I find it interesting that an alleged former covert agent of the CIA, imbued in the code of silent clandestine operation, would make such a public and constant spectacle of herself and all the while, seem quite at ease in doing so. Let's see, first a splashy photo spread in Vanity Fair magazine; next, a two million dollar advance offer on a tell-all book deal. And now, this sorry exploitation of the legal system, just to perpetuate their fame and their anti-Bush agenda. No reputable lawyer could possibly believe that this sham of a lawsuit has any merit, other than perhaps the intrepid Mr. Fitzgerald.

All the while, the world class prevaricator, Joe Wilson, has been shilling for both himself and his wife on national TV, with an enthralled fawning media willing and eager to aide in their anti-Administration screeds. Ah yes, it might be sad to say, but when this generation of "Doonesbury" characters finally passes to the great sit-in in the sky, those left on earth will cheer wildly.
-- A. DiPentima
Vero Beach, Florida

As regards Jeffrey Lord's use of The Fonze as a sharp instrument with acupuncture-like precision to deflate a couple of badly bloated ego balloons, it now looks like we may have to invent a new bit of slang to describe any number micro-tempests in a teenie, tiny teacups of the terminally self absorbed:

PLAMEBOUYANT (rhymes with "Flamboyant"; adj.): a modest person with much to be modest about; one who seeks notoriety to compensate for the painful consequences of cognitive limitations; a frustrated desk driving munchkin so far down some federal bureaucratic food chain she finds it necessary to make a desperate grab for the brass ring of upward mobility by loudly insisting she was "outed" by some ranking official who had, a priori, been happily unaware of her existence; one half of a tag team of intellectual miniatures both of whom wobble under the oppressive load of massive chips carried on their narrow, sloping shoulders because of careers stalled at the plankton level of their respective food chains.

It is useful term that one might handily apply not only to these two publicity starved intra-beltway apparatchik nincompoops, but with equal facility to Cindy Crawford, Ward Churchill, The Jersey Girls, The Dixie Chicks and Kim Jong Il.
-- Thomas E. Stuart

When Bob Novak said that Who's Who in America 2003 edition gave him Valerie's operative name much of the media pooh-poohed it. Hopefully the lawsuit filed by Val and Joe Wilson will be eaten by the shark that the "Fonz" jumped over. If not, maybe the defense can enter into evidence the fact that Joe's biography included his wife's name "Plame" in the 1999 Who's Who in the World. I wonder who in the world might have use that public information to the own purposes, one can only wonder? Public information can lead to further questions and possible leads to either follow or help put pieces of a puzzle together. When putting pieces into place with others forming an incomplete puzzle people start to ask themselves what pieces are still missing and why? They use the information present to help direct them to where the missing pieces might be hidden or at the very least speculate as to what the missing pieces are. Thanks to journalists like Bob Novak and Jeffrey Lord maybe the whole Plame saga can finally be put to rest.
-- unsigned

I usually defer to Mike Showalter's better judgment (re: Plamefully...), but I just don't think we can "move one" until everyone gets hold of an old Vanity Fair and compares last year's Plame nose -- well, the entire face, if you like -- to the winsome lass we saw on C-Span National Press Club. I think I know how she spent her book advance.

As to Joe Wilson, he still prefers the aging paid escort look -- no haircut, French cuffs, frayed collar. Man, that guy is seedy looking.
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

MENSA MEAT
Re: Paul Dorell's letter (under "Prolific Paul") in Reader Mail's Proud Moments and (under "Draft Away") in Reader Mail's Penalty Kicks:

Some of the dumbest people I've ever had the distinction (that would be their word) or privilege of meeting were MENSA folk; certainly the most condescending, sanctimonious, 'n pain-in-the-*** types... They neglect to acknowledge the truth in the following quotation: "It's what you learn after you know-it-all that counts." And regarding his (Dorell) parting words about Bush being an unfortunate choice for president? On that we might agree; Dubya's a disaster! Still, I'm mighty glad that neither Gore nor Kerry were elected. Settling for the "lesser-of-evils" is a *****, 'ay?!?
-- Jack Frost

Does Paul Dorell realize how many MENSA members are tending bar, driving cabs, and/or standing in line at government agencies looking for a handout?
-- Jack Hughes
Chicago, Illinois

I can't resist this rejoinder to Mr. Dorell's comment that,"...I was formerly a member of MENSA." Could be that like so many liberals, he faked his credentials (IQ in this case) and was booted out when the truth was uncovered. Therefore, a former MENSA member. Perhaps a stretch, but would not be an uncommon occurrence given such a long history of Democrat fakery.
-- R.D. Vraa
Mansfield, Texas

Why didn't I recognize immediately Dorell's ailment? It's the MENSA Malady and there is no "former" to it. My brother, bless his high-IQ heart, belonged to MENSA and was so enamored of the heady atmosphere that he had an application sent to me.

This was somewhere back in the sixties -- and along came a sample test -- about like you used to see in airline seat pockets. Accompanying it was a request for $25 to evaluate my "test" for membership. I wrote on the margin, "I already know how smart I am and if you want to know, it is going to cost you more than twenty five bucks to find out." I told my brother what I wrote and he reacted as though I had insulted God and refused an invitation to Heaven. For a period there he was torn between choosing me or MENSA.
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

Does anyone have an idea where we could get an Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. autographed bow tie to send Mr. Dorell as a going away present?
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

THE PLOT THICKENS
Re: Ben Stein's Eretz Israel:

Tell Ben Stein that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper -- and Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay also defended Israel--- Harper called Israel's actions as "measured response under the circumstances. MacKay said the onus for ending the fighting was on "Hezbollah to give back the 2 soldiers and dismantle their military apparatus'."

It was great to see Pres. Bush and Sec. Rice do what they did , but in the interests of accuracy, they weren't the only ones.
-- W. Dunkley

I say: Eretz the Free World.

In answer to your question (3), my answer is, "Yes, it is high time"

In answer to your question (4), I would not only agree, indeed, add that all peoples of the democracy practicing, free world, should also be on their veritable knees thanking the Dear Lord for the safety the U.S.A. offers it.
-- Alexandra Taylor

Great article from Ben Stein ("Eretz Israel"). But if the truth be known, America and Israel are partially in this mess because both countries have had 30 years of spineless geldings in positions of leadership, none of whom has a clue. Israel is now reaping the results of 30+ years of concessions, withdrawals, appeasements, and bed-wetting, mostly at the insistence of the political hacks in Washington....
-- Frank Traynor
Tulsa, Oklahoma

WIRELESS CRASHES
Re: Eric Peters's Cell Phones and Driving Don't Mix:

I really didn't want to enter this debate, but it has become silly. It is true that the use of a cellular telephone while operating a motor vehicle lessens the driver's ability to control that vehicle by imposing a division of attention. So, also, does listening to the radio, chatting with friends and reading street signs and roadside advertising. Yet, no one has suggested that we ban the installation of radios, the removal of information and regulatory signage or mandate that all passengers be separated from the driver by a soundproof partition. Or better yet, that the operation of all motor vehicles be limited to professional drivers only. For those of us who cannot afford to hire a full time live-in chauffeur, there is always public transportation.

Reality check, folks. Some of us are able to multi-task. We can drive a car, talk on the phone, listen to the radio and read street signs; all at the same time. Being prudent, some of us will voluntarily reduce the number of tasks we have to perform whenever possible; such as, turning the radio down, asking the party on the other end of the phone to hold for a moment while we read a sign or negotiate a curve, or simply by tuning out non-necessary sensory input (i.e. ignoring surrounding noise).

It is refreshing to see that liberals and conservatives alike agree upon one thing. Both groups do not hesitate to demand government regulation of practices with which they disagree, whether those practices constitute a significant danger or not. The world is not Disney world. It is not a safe nor sane place and danger lurks everywhere. When driving, stay alert to your surroundings and stay away from people talking on their cell phones; reading books, newspapers and maps; eating breakfast; shaving; putting on their make-up or leaning over the back of the front seat to talk with passengers or chastise their children. Or, better yet, utilize public transportation.
-- Michael Tobias
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Oh, for goodness' sake. Just because some people can't drive and talk on the phone at the same time doesn't mean that nobody can.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall while talking on a cell phone? "Practice,
practice, practice!"
-- Doug Welty
Arlington, Virginia

LOOKISM
Re: Manon McKinnon's Unembarrasable Helen Thomas:

Has anyone noticed that Dan Rather is beginning to look and sound like Helen?
-- Jack Hughes
Chicago, Illinois

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