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Still Kicking

The continuing siege of Israel. Also: Wilson-Plame offer shark bait. The Soccer Wars escalate. Plus much more.

7.17.06

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THIS IS IT
Re: Ben Stein's Eretz Israel:

Great column today!
-- Ed Lind
Lone Tree, Colorado

Regarding Ben Stein's column "Eretz Israel" -- all I can say is "Shalom, Ben, Shalom" -- thanks for the great insight! I agree wholeheartedly!!
-- Maggie Courtney
Destin, Florida

Hurrah for Mr. Stein!
-- Brian P.T. Blake

I am not Jewish but I totally agree with Mr. Stein's take on the Palestine Israel conflict. I have always been amazed how any person of Jewish descent could not only not support George W. Bush but how could they vote Democrat. The Democrat party seems to universally support Palestine.
-- J. Lemieux

Stein has missed Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's very strong support of Israel.
-- Leonard Herchen
Calagary, Alberta

If there is one person who speaks the language of the True American, it has to be Ben Stein. I wavered in my support of the War on Terror , my support of Bush, and other things but he has remained steadfast in his support. I stand behind this man now, come Hell or high water. He has voiced what needs to be said, not in the manner of Coulter but in a humble precise way. He also lives what he says. Yes, Israel is fighting back and we need to stand behind her. Maybe her soldiers can link up with ours in Iraq and together we can put an end to these murderers once and for all. Hooray for Israel and hooray for Ben Stein. Truer friends this country never had.
-- Pete Chagnon

Yes, amen, God bless Israel. But our beloved Ben apparently, inadvertently, left off item #5 to his article: "God bless the Palestinian people."

Yes, amen, evil has been wrought by Hamas. But battle alone is not a solution, as ignorance and evil cannot be destroyed...only recognized and dealt with. Evil, particularly, can only be bolstered in its energies when drawing others into its own hell.

Yes, amen, wars can be won. But warring itself cannot be won, as it is the purest definition of loss.

It is regrettable that not much has changed here on Earth since the days documented in 1 Samuel 17, wherein the armies of the Palestinians, i.e., the Philistines, and Israel engaged in war. One could say these were "struggles to the death," except for the fact that, clearly, this struggle hasn't died.

Perhaps only a child could observe this multi-millennia situation and ask the only questions that matter: "Why...? Why are they fighting...? Why don't they love each other...?

Yes, amen, love is the answer, but naive, sympathetic love is not a solution. Unceasing, meaningful, true love is. In the language of ancient Israel and Jesus, Aramaic, the root word for "love" occurs in only two other words: "mercy" and "compassion." When -- and only when -- Israel shows unceasing true love, mercy and compassion to the Palestinian people, the warring shall end. And "happy are the merciful...for they shall obtain mercy."

How do we all win the struggle...? By listening. By listening to the singular, principal words of both the Hebrew Bible, Deuteronomy 6:4 and the identical words given by Jesus Christ in Mark 12:29:

"Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might."

When we truly listen to the above words, we'll come to know that Israel is struggling with itself. We are all children of God. We are all "one."

May Israel achieve true victory.
-- Mark Hughes
Austin, Texas

I stand with Mr. Ben Stein with his current commentary on Israel and its response to the vicious provocations by Hezbollah and Hamas in recent weeks. I am a life-long conservative, Christian, and an unabashed supporter of Israel and its right to exist in peace. What that country and its people have had to endure for far too many years is beyond the pale, and I support its response against the murderers that continue to plague it.

Perhaps now P.M. Ehud Olmert will more fully understand that his withdrawals from Gaza and the West Bank were fool-hardy notions. It brought no peace with the monsters that now inhabit those areas, not to mention southern Lebanon. I would remind Mr. Olmert of a quote from the Roman writer Virgil, one that became the motto of the great Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises: "Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito" -- "Do not give in to evil, but proceed ever more boldly against it."
-- James J. Bjaloncik
Stow, Ohio

Written from the heart.

I wish our government would help by dealing Iran a lesson from the air. It would help Israel, and maybe, it would shut up that mad dog they have for a president.
-- R. Goodson
Vero Beach, Florida

I disagree on so many things that Ben says but he's right on here. I wish he could get his liberal friends on the same page. Israel can win peace by destroying these terrorists. Talks will do no good. One only needs to look at the history, even starting in 1948. Then maybe we can apply this to all groups that only want to kill innocent people.
Steve Keuseman

And God bless Ben Stein for writing that column.
-- Martha Wayles

And God bless you, Ben Stein!
-- Bruce Wulwick

TRUMAN'S TRUTHFULNESS
Re: Jeffrey Lord's Plaming Out: Joe Wilson Jumps the Shark:

Thanks Mr. Lord! Hopefully now, we can ALL "move on"!
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

I realize this is nit-picking an otherwise fine, helpful, and historically interesting article, but as I was reading along I stopped short when I came to this: "Like both Wilson and Plame, Walker was a distinguished government servant..."

I admit, and proudly so, that I am among those who have been trying hard to ignore the whole Plamegate thing, so I can't claim to be well versed on all the twists and turns, and on the backgrounds, connections and possible motives of the principals. Even so, like everybody else on earth (with the possible exception of the Bushmen of the Kalahari), it's not as though I'm totally ignorant of what it's all about and what's been going on with it. And I must say that this is the first time, at least outside of the liberal press, that I have seen Wilson and Plame referred to as distinguished government servants.

Wilson was -- what? -- a short-term, generally recognized hack ambassador to some insignificant Middle Eastern country. Plame was an obscure intelligence analyst. Nothing wrong with either job, and I thank them for their (previous) service, but if that makes them "distinguished," well then I guess nearly everybody in Washington is "distinguished." Which of course is not too far from the truth, at least as they see themselves.

Yes sir, they are all "distinguished," and "honorable," and gosh darn it, "right honorable" to boot.
-- C. Vail

Jeffrey Lord in "Jumping the Shark" mentions General Edwin Walker's disagreement with Truman and what it cost him. Apparently ol' Harry did not suffer fools or generals gladly. Or are they the same? I recall (rather I looked it up, after recalling) Truman's explanation/justification for firing MacArthur, It was "I fired MacArthur because he wouldn't respect the authority of a president. I didn't fire him because he was a dumb son of a *****, although he was, but that's not against the law for Generals. If it was, half to three quarters of them would be in jail."

That kind of barbed-wire honesty couldn't get you elected dogcatcher in today's politics.

If only George Bush were not encumbered by that Golden Rule of doing unto others...we would have fewer know-it-all generals. He is apparently more inclined to turn the other cheek. I just wish he'd realize he has two more in addition to those framing his engaging smile.

How do the Democrats of today explain the last real Democrat, Harry Truman? I guess they really don't. I never hear much mention of him among the libs.
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

The latest efforts of Valerie Plame and husband Joe Wilson to keep accusations alive in the media during the run-up to November elections carry an ever-strengthening odor of party politics; and increasingly undercut is their bald assertion that politics played no role in securing Wilson's pivotal excursion to Niger or in his "findings" that afterwards were so helpfully disseminated by the anti-Administration media.

Who's really behind this continuing charade? Consider the question from a more "Gaullic" perspective: Which party benefits?
-- Ron Goodden
Atlanta, Georgia

Excellent article! I would pay a decent price to see a really good defense attorney cross examine both the Wilsons. Unfortunately, it will never come to trial.

There are those at the CIA who don't want their names splashed all over the newspapers as being the authorizers of the junket Valerie managed to land for her unemployed husband.

If I were the Wilsons, I wouldn't accept any sailing invitations on the Chesapeake Bay with CIA buddies in the near future, nor would I accept the loan of any boats for a weekend junket on self-same bay.
-- R. Goodson
Vero Beach, Florida

THE SOCCER WARS
Re: William Tucker's I Don't Know Much About Soccer, But... and also Reid Collins's Soccer, Anyone?, Reader Mail's Penalty Kicks, and Kate Shaw's letter (under "Corner Kicks") in Reader Mail's Proud Moments:

If Mr. Tucker wishes not to be looked at "as if I haven't grasped the first thing about it," (the game of soccer that is) he should learn the laws of the game (laws - rules they are not). An offensive player (offense A) is offside only if at the point of impact of the passing player's (offense B) foot upon the ball to pass the ball to the player in question (offense A), that player (offense A) is closer to the defender's goal than the defender (defense A). The offensive player (offense A) can be even with or not closer to the defender's goal than the defender (defense A) at the point the offensive player's (offense B) foot touches the ball to pass to the offensive player (offense A), but, after the ball is kicked (by offense B) the offense is not constrained by the offside rule. This means that the entire offense can sprint past the defense after the ball leaves the kickers foot, but not prior to, and not be offsides. Mr. Tucker asserts that an offensive player can never be closer to the goal than the defensive players (excluding the goalie) without being whistled for an offside penalty. This is not the case. And this is what makes for strategy and tactics within the time period of each match. And this is what helps to level the playing field for all players. Soccer is not a game like basketball with high scores. Basketball has no defender placed exclusively in front of the net to stop an incoming ball. Soccer is a game of skill, tactics, and strategy that allows for both low and high scoring matches depending on the level of expertise of the opposing teams. Basically, it is a game of keep-away until an opening exists to take advantage of the opposing team. Mr. Tucker does the team he coaches a disservice by not understanding the laws of the game.
-- Brett Schinnerer
(amateur soccer referee, assistant soccer coach, and father of soccer players)

Why would we want to change the rules of a game that is only dabbled at in America? With some exceptions, American kids play this game only when they're dragged to the field by their parents. But if you insist on wanting to change the rules, why pick on the offside rule? Though not exactly the same, hockey has an offside rule, and hockey games still feature a lot of shots on goal. Not so in soccer. Instead, my suggestion would be to just remove the goalie. Then scores might rise a bit, but I wouldn't bet on it.

It seems that teams play this game in fear of the opposition scoring a goal. At least this concern, as evidenced by the offensive/defensive alignments, seems to outweigh any effort to mount a purposeful offense. A good game for the Euros.

In jest,
-- Pat B'ham
South Carolina

Mr. Tucker is spot on. The offside rule is my biggest complaint about international soccer. Its elimination would undoubtedly make the game more exciting to Americans and raise television ratings to Olympic-like levels.
-- Dave Heinekamp
Indianapolis, Indiana

Does Mr. Tucker know that what he calls "European football" happens to be Football anywhere else in this world?

That he grew up playing "football," an American sport in which hardly a kick with the foot can be seen? (AND that that is called American football anywhere else in this world?)

He should read a little about all that, before emitting his opinion about rules changes.
-- Alfonso Lebron-Berges

Periodically the American news media puts forth a flurry of articles devoted to putting down the sport of soccer. For years my blood pressure and ire would rise dramatically as I read these pieces. But a couple of years ago I decided to ignore such articles. How did I know to avoid them? Easy. For the most the headlines were a dead giveaway as well as the time of the year. Or the writer’s name e.g. Frank DeFord of Sports Illustrated fame. But imagine my surprise when one of my favorite publications decided to jump on this bandwagon

To soccer aficionados these articles are known by the quaint name of soccer-bashing. They do nothing but find fault with a game that the vast majority of the world adores. The writers say "I don’t get the game." Or "why don’t they eliminate the offside rule?" I could go one but I won't. We don't ask you to love our game like we do. But we do ask you to respect it. I've always wondered what it is about soccer that causes folks to hate it, but I don't anymore.

I'm an American, born and raised, who has been in love with the beautiful game for over 40 years. I love the action, the movement, the involvement of the full team. I love the fact that there is no one star on the team. Yes, you can have a name player, but that player may not necessarily be the one who scores the winning goal. I love the fact that a team of amateurs such as FC Roma of Dallas can enter a national competition (the United States Open Cup) and defeat a team from Major League Soccer. Would the New York Yankees be willing to enter an open competition only to risk losing to some minor-league team made up of college players and castoffs?

Now I could go on and list the problems I have with American sports such as football a game that is supposed to take 60 minutes to play but actually takes almost 4 hours, or basketball whose pool of players is generally restricted to athletes who are well over 6 foot 6, or baseball which really only involves 3 players at any given time (pitcher, batter and catcher). I could mention the fact that American sports have rule books that put Gibbons' Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire to shame because of their length. But I will point out that soccer takes about 90 minutes of real time, involves all the players in continuous motion all while being controlled by a single referee with two assistants. Oh! And there are only 17 Laws that govern the game.

So please next time you wish to publish articles such as the ones by William Tucker and Reid Collins, don’t. Or at least offer articles pointing out the flaws in baseball, basketball and American football. Thank you.
-- Peter A. Kurilecz
Richmond, Virginia

Bravo! What an excellent suggestion, getting rid of the offsides penalty! My sons got me involved in the soccer game 30 years ago, because their junior high school didn't sponsor any other sports.

The offsides penalty is nothing more than a way to penalize speedy, talented players, who would outrun the less speedy defenders and score. Soccer would become a very interesting, speedy game, rather than the aimless, midfield passing game it has now generated into.

Let's hope those Europeans and the rest of the world realize how much fun the game would really be if they opened it up a little. We Americans are always tinkering with our games, i.e., designated hitter and lowering the mound in baseball, three point shots in basketball, and the modified sudden-death overtime in football. Sadly, in the case of NASCAR, the powers that be went the other way, with restrictor plates, and all kinds of bull to make cars equal, making the sport more a game of bumper cars, which is exciting in a macabre way.
-- R. Goodson
Vero Beach, Florida

To American expat Kate Shaw who says, "...have another Budweiser on me and
enjoy your tailgate party. There are enough of us out here beyond your
borders so we won't even miss you.". Well, bully for you. Guess what? We
don't miss you either.
-- Milo

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

Reading the latest bloviation of Mr. Dorell, about his college degrees, reminded me of the routine that was a part of the "Ask Doctor Science" radio program which went,
Announcer, "Ask Doctor Science."
Second Voice, "He's not really a Doctor."
Dr. Science, "I have a Master's Degree, in Science!"
-- W. B. Heffernan, Jr.

I will not insult Mr. Dorell by attempting to argue his beliefs. He is entitled to them, as are we all, and if his religious beliefs include such items of faith as: "A military composed entirely of volunteers isn't fair when there is a war," then there is nothing to rationally, objectively discuss. We can only agree to disagree.

The incoherence of the anti-war movement can, however, be demonstrated by looking more closely at tension between this belief and the actions of those who hold it. If conscription is moral and just in times of war then those that believe this must, by all moral logic, be running to the recruiting stations in droves to volunteer for service. After all, if a person believes that an action is right and just, isn't it even more right and just to perform that action voluntarily and not wait to be forced to perform it?

Mr. Dorell's response to my letter outlining some of the reasons for going to war, and how President Bush explained his thought process and laid out his reasons before Congress was, in short, that he did not listen to the President's speeches. I submit to Mr. Dorell
that it is difficult to judge a man's reasons for any action, if you refuse to give him a fair and just hearing.

Mr. Dorell is free to make his decisions in any way he chooses, but simple assertions such as "3) The situation in Iraq has almost no relevance to Afghanistan, and Saddam Hussein has more in common with Joseph Stalin than with Osama bin Laden," especially when such assertions are in violation of the facts, makes his point of view unconvincing to others, especially when Mr. Dorell misstates the purpose of the war, which is to defeat terrorism, not just to defeat Osama Bin Laden.

As to fantasies about what some one else might, or might not have done in the same position: well, we can all fantasize, but at the end of the day, we have to put fantasy aside and deal with the real world.

The real world is imperfect, messy, confusing and unclear. In the real world, terrorists deliberately and with malice aforethought strive mightily to achieve "plausible deniability." As a just people, we can do naught but attempt to pierce this veil of lies and distortion, and get to the truth. Along the way, some of us have been convinced by the denials, and that is sad. But it would be unfortunate, possibly even fatal, to allow the enemies tactics to confuse us to the point of utter paralysis, to the point of being unable to make decisions.

Mr. Dorell seems to have been led astray in exactly this fashion when he reiterates yet more assertions that have already been shown to be false: "4) The Bush Administration's main justifications for attacking Iraq were WMD, terrorism, and democracy-building, none of which are valid..." It is this inability to accept simple reality, combined with democracy, that makes the terrorist strategy so very effective. If the enemy can get enough of the electorate to believe these kinds of lies, he can defeat an undeniably and vastly superior enemy. It is a ju-jitsu of the mind, where the combination of confusion, propaganda and democracy is used against us.

Lastly, as an American, one is forced to feel at least a frisson of fear when another American states that build a democracy is invalid!

I thank the readers and editor of the Spectator for giving me the room and time to take part in this ongoing national discussion. I will stop wasting everybody's time on this topic, but I would hope that others will take it upon themselves do join the discussion.

Such discussions are critical to the health and safety of our nation, and I would encourage others to join in, as well as taking the discussion to other venues (such as, for example, the New York Times).
-- John S.

I have two comments for Mr. Dorell. First, I too have an MBA and was in Mensa. Big deal and even so, he would think down on me for my rather pronounced Texas accent. Second, at least in Texas, the sons of the elite often serve in the military. The Texas Land Commissioner and the Ag Commissioner both have sons who served in the current fighting. I have many friends, including my dentist, whose sons have been in the fight. I think it is the liberal elite who do not serve.
-- Mike Bergsma

Why would you think anything would have been done to al Qaeda and the Taliban if Gore had been elected, Clinton did nothing all the years he was in office. We were hit again and again and all Clinton did was diddle in the White House.

We know Saddam had WMD because he used them on his people and if you go back and read what your liberal buddies said they all said he had WMD. Even Kerry made a speech about it and you just HAVE to believe Kerry, after all he served in Vietnam. You did know that, right?

And I have to say you are more than likely correct in saying that if Bush had not been elected President we would not be in Iraq. The Democrats would have just rolled over with yellow belly up and let the Terrorist and the U.N. take over America.
-- Elaine Kyle

I hereby announce my temporary withdrawal from the debates. Unlike many of my fellow letter-writers, I'm still an active member of the workforce and don't always have time for this merriment. Therefore, I'm putting my free red-tinted glasses provided by TAS, which never fit properly anyway, back into their case. I hope that my intentional cage rattling has made a few of you less complacent than you might otherwise have been. And, for the record, I don't hate George W. Bush -- I just think that he was an unfortunate choice for the presidency.
-- Paul Dorell
Highland Park, Illinois

THOSE PHONIES
Re: Eric Peters's Cell Phones and Driving Don't Mix:

When I lived in Maryland a few years ago, I mounted a one-man campaign on this issue: I wrote letters to the governor and selected state legislators almost BEGGING them to do something about witless drivers yakking into cell phones, after I saw a woman nearly cause an accident because she was too busy blabbering to pay any attention to the fact that she was making an illegal U-turn.

Two years ago in California, I wrote a furious letter to the editor, which was published in the San Diego Union-Tribune, after watching some nitwit in an SUV run, first a stop sign, and then a red light, because he was too busy blabbering into his cell phone to pay any attention to the world outside his car.

Both appeals were ignored, and I have a dark suspicion as to why. I suspect that state legislators are reluctant to pass laws against cell-phone use in automobiles because they themselves find it a convenient practice. They can harangue their staffs while they're stuck in traffic. What lawmaker would want to give up a perk like that?

As to claims by police departments that such a law would be "unenforcable," I say "click and stick it." If the cops can enforce seatbelt laws, they can certainly enforce a law against steering with one hand and blabbering with the other, a much more highly visible activity than driving without a seat belt, and needless to say, more threatening to others. Hang up and drive!
-- Kelley Dupuis
Spokane, Washington

I agree, but let's go with one more danger, the GPS maps in the dash. Wrecks don't happen to me, just to the other guy...yeah right. Pay attention when you drive, don't talk on the phone, shave, apply makeup or watch your GPS map.
-- Elaine Kyle

ONE MORE COUNT
Re: David Holman's The Rest of Murtha's FBI Tape:

Why has no one asked Murtha: Why didn't you REPORT these attempted bribes to the FBI? Wouldn't that be the CORRECT way for a Marine Colonel "here" to have reacted?
-- Tom Halleck
Longwood, Florida

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