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Outrage Outage

Reasons for White House silence. Also: A service economy without service. A column made to order. Texas Perry wars continue. Mean-spirited about. Plus much more.

6.23.06

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TAKE OFF THE GLOVES
Re: Paul Beston's Where Is the Outrage?:

By the grace of God, these young men are at peace now. One of the young soldiers was from my town of Madras, Oregon. I am sickened by the ways these young soldiers died. No, we cannot bring troops home at this time. Think of the Revolutionary War, and what this "country" would be like now. Think of the Holocaust and WWII and Pearl Harbor. What would those soldiers who gave their lives think of our situation now if we pulled the troops out before a resolution in Iraq? We must stay on and fight. If our country left Iraq now, we could not hold our heads up, and we would be shamed as a nation.

I seem to recall an email that was sent to me about "sheep dogs, border collies, working dogs, and sheep," written by someone who had served in the military. It was an excellent article. He wrote the article in response to a cancelled request for a military person to speak at a college graduation ceremony. "We don't want these types of people here" is one of the reasons for the cancelled request. It is worth reading, and sums up anything else that I could say.

We must be ever vigilant, and present a united front. These terrorists don't care if you are a liberal lefty who empathizes with the terrorist groups and their "philosophy" -- if they have a chance, they will kill every one of us: death to the infidel, you know. These individuals are worse than any nightmare, and people in this country and others had better wake up before it's too late. We are at war, and many refuse to believe it. So be it, and let them handle the consequences.
-- Jackie J. May
Jefferson County Library
Madras, Oregon

More outrageous than President Bush's silence after this abomination are the rules of engagement he has devised for this war. It is absurd to have our troops in a perpetual Stalingrad-in-Iraq -- handcuffed by the rules, unable to allow even one civilian casualty, having to fight over and over again in places like Fallujah. Having to go house-to-house everywhere, day after day, month after month, to extract individuals. Being therefore, spread thin, isolated and exposed to capture as were these two soldiers.

Were more reasonable rules of engagement in effect, our troops would not have been so vulnerable. For that matter, towns like Fallujah, or others in the "Triangle of Death" would not exist anymore, let alone be an active headquarters for the enemy forces, let alone a theater of operations. Let alone need a checkpoint, the likes of which were the last assignments of Pfc. Menchaca and Pfc. Tucker. The "Triangle of Death" should be a "Triangle of Glass" by now.

Why does the President insist on such rules of engagement? It seems to be a way of moral preening for him, one that allows him to claim that no excess loss of innocent life should occur in this war. The problem is, the torture-decapitations of Pfc. Menchaca and Pfc. Tucker constitute yet another public relations victory for the enemy. Therefore it emboldens them, and all the millions of civilians sympathetic to them. So it leads to a prolongation of the war, and paradoxically, more civilian and American lives lost.

Mr. Bush ought to internalize this reality: The sort of creatures we are dealing with here see such rules of engagement as a sign of our weakness. To win this conflict, and to ensure a lasting peaceful coexistence with the Muslim world, the gloves must come off. Some towns must be destroyed; those "civilians" harboring combatants must be considered combatants too, and some of them must die too. But mostly, our troops must receive more respect, not just as troops, but as human beings. They should not be treated by Mr. Bush as pawns in the weird moral hairsplitting game he plays.

The Democrats have one thing right: The American people do not have the will to put up with a decade-long Vietnam-type pseudo-war where all-out warfare is taboo and endless footsie with the enemy is the order of the day. Why in hell should they have to? With all the expensive weaponry and technology, all the overwhelming horsepower, all the trillions in taxes paid and the millions of lives put at risk in so many silly, mismanaged conflicts from Vietnam to Delta Force to Beirut to Somalia to the inane "almost victory" in Iraq I, why in the world should the American people be pleased with the mediocre-to-bad results of these engagements? Why on earth would they want to buy into another one in Iraq?

The bravado of the enemy is bogus. In reality, they will respond to the deterrent effect of all-out destruction. Not all-out footsie, but all-out destruction. It will have to be so overwhelming and so odious that the Iraqi man in the street starts getting fed up with things, and HE and other Iraqi civilians start killing the insurgents themselves. Not out of anger or for political motives, but because they are afraid of EVERYONE getting killed by us. When the whole Iraqi population, civilian and combatant, is on the same page in this regard, then, the war will end.

One way or another, the enemy combatants must yet make the connection between their toxic philosophy and their own destruction. Sad to say, sheer deadly force appears to be the only way to communicate this to these barbarians.

But we Americans need to understand this connection first, on a deep level. That their philosophy will irretrievably lead to our destroying them. Until we commit to this, the Iraqis will remain unconvinced, and the war will go on.
-- Francis Dillon
Indianapolis, Indiana

The article "Where Is the Outrage?" was very poorly researched. There are several publicly stated reasons why President Bush would not want to make a public statement about the POW soldiers at this point. Most important is that the bodies were so mutilated that the military is still not certain that they are indeed the remains of the two captured U.S. soldiers. The bodies and surroundings were booby trapped, and one "defense official" told Reuters they might be non-U.S. bodies put there as a trap. Besides being a huge propaganda victory for the enemy, it would be an absolute horror for the soldiers' families to have the President announce they are dead, then later find out they are still POWs.

Second, many experts have said that the alleged terrorist message which Beston quoted in the article was a fake. It was not posted on the web in the normal fashion of other terrorist messages. Again, it would hurt the soldiers' families and the U.S. image to respond to a phony message.

Perhaps even more importantly, if the facts are confirmed, it is clear that the enemy deliberately tortured and mutilated in order to create a propaganda event, to invoke an angry U.S. reaction. Shouldn't we think twice before doing exactly what the torturers of our soldiers want? According to CNN, "The military said that because of sensitive details of the soldiers' deaths, it will not be making a public statement after medical exams are conducted, although family members can learn the details if they wish." And Maybe the U.S. military is right in that approach. The enemy sees propaganda value in having the U.S. report the way they mutilated our troops' bodies; perhaps one of the best forms of revenge is to not do it. We should quietly report that our soldiers died as heroes in captivity, and that they will be avenged.
-- Russell Van Zandt

I want you to know I completely agree with you on this matter. A huge outcry should be on the headlines of every paper and newscast in America for at least a week. Instead, they further dishonor these two and all of the others who have died by ignoring these atrocities and others every day. It is disgraceful and shameful. They are aiding and abetting the enemy, we used to call that TREASON, and as far as I am concerned, it still is TREASON and I am ashamed that none of our politicians have backbone enough to call a spade a spade!!! If you don't call it what it is, you can't fix it. I for one am outraged. I love and uphold President Bush but he is way short on some issues. I know I couldn't do any better or as well, so I will lift him up more and more.

If the liberals sink any lower they will be spitting dust out of their mouths.
-- Bill & Marieta Marney from small town America, thank you for your work

CONTEXT: Our Enemies Are Butchers.

Context is vital in all news reporting, because without it one cannot make reasoned judgments about the importance of any event. Sadly, context is almost always lacking in coverage of both the Iraq conflict and the War against Islamo-Fascism. As the events surrounding Haditha or future such incidents unfold, the public will be subject to countless impassioned harangues from commentators and reporters. Far too many of these efforts will fail to provide a context to understand the events in question.

What makes incidents like No Gun Ri, My Lai, and perhaps Haditha noteworthy is not the scale of death, but that such incidents are so very rare. The U.S. military takes its obligations under both the rules of war and its own rules of engagement very seriously. All personnel are accountable, unlike our current enemies, for upholding these standards. Those who do not, a remarkably tiny number of people, will face consequences ranging up to criminal punishment. This accountability is painful to watch and even provides succor to both our enemies and our critics. These groups however fail to grasp the fundamental truth: today the U.S. holds itself to a high standard of conduct. Whenever violations occur the U.S. is moving to ensure that the resolution is swift and transparent.

The same cannot be said of our enemies: the Islamo-Fascists and rejectionist Baathists. Contrast the U.S. incidents, which were committed by isolated groups without policy sanction, with those committed by our enemies. These groups target as a matter of policy and procedure innocents and often random noncombatants. Consider the weapons that are the hallmark of our enemies: IEDs, blades, and passenger planes.

Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), hundreds and hundreds of IEDs, ranging from car bombs to homicide bombers to roadside bombs continue to be used in Iraq and around the world. Despite the method of delivery high explosives are indiscriminate killers. Indeed, many thousands of Iraqis: men, women, children, and elderly have been killed, maimed, and traumatized by the IEDs of our enemies. These IEDs have created a toll of carnage vastly exceeding the US troop losses, which is a fact only very rarely noted in media coverage of the conflict.

Blades are yet another weapon of choice for our enemies, but not for combat. They employ blades for the torture and murder of their prisoners. Our enemies butcher, there is no other word for it. They butcher their prisoners. The Islamo-Fascists not only behead their prisoners as a matter of policy, but broadcast the grisly spectacle on the internet and film for a worldwide audience. Note the pride of our enemies in this activity and contrast that with the aftermath of the Abu Ghraib incidents, where those responsible are facing judicial proceedings. A simple question: By which group would you rather be held captive the worst of the Americans at Abu Ghraib or the leaders of the Islamo-Fascists?

Any of you remember 9/11? The Islamo-Fascists hijacked 4 passenger planes, which contained scores of noncombatants, and used them for their kamikaze attacks. Reflect for a moment on the cold blooded planning and equally cold blooded execution which was required to carry out this plan. Years of preparation and sizable, for Al Qaeda, commitment of resources went into this terrorist plan. The result: nearly three thousand dead noncombatants and our enemies only regret, that many more thousands of noncombatants were not killed.

These and many other factors should form the basis on which to evaluate events occurring in our continuing struggle against Islamo-Fascism and the Baathist rejectionists.
-- Kevin Frei
Houston, Texas

On "Where's the Outrage?" article I don't want to hear or read another word from those who decry America, the military, or George Bush about Abu Ghraib, Haditha, or Gitmo. NOT ANOTHER WORD! The left and anti-America crowd have lost their moral authority on the war -- especially the issue of torture.

NOT ANOTHER BLEEPIN' WORD.
-- John McCubbin
Burlingame, California

Why isn't he asking, "Why is the liberal press so quiet"? Where is their outrage over the Muslims slaughtering our men????
-- unsigned

Outrage against who and what? If any American has failed to understand the type of enemy we are fighting worldwide then they have been asleep or in total denial. Don't expect fairness from these people and don't expect an outcry from the Commander in Chief. Try instead to fully appreciate the kind of war we are in and support him rather than trash him.
-- Richard Ledford

Paul Beston laments our political leaders' delicate approach to hard issues arising from the conflict in Iraq, and, in particular, the tepid response emanating from Washington in support of our massacred soldiers. I use the term "conflict" because the war there is over; our troops disposed of that matter in the space of a few weeks. The President even made a big media splash in announcing its successful conclusion. I saw him do it.

The conflict will never end because although we won the war, we have not defeated the will to war. In this politically correct and sensitive age, we never will do so regardless how long we merely maintain a pseudo-military presence in Iraq, building hospitals and schools and dishing up pork-free meals on wheels from combat vehicles. Begging to differ with Mr. Beston, but just keeping our troops hanging around in Iraq like ducks in a shooting gallery does not serve those remaining or honor those who have fallen.

Does anyone doubt that Muslims, wherever they may be found, are less devoted or even fanatical in their beliefs than were the devotees of Hitler or Hirohito? The only way we defeated those brave and dedicated souls was by imposing a crushing, utterly demoralizing hurt on the military and the population in general. Those citizens were no less proud of their fighting men and honored their sacrifices no less than do we. Dare we continue to discount the Iraqi/Muslim sense of honor?...

How long will the United States continue to pour blood and money down this bottomless hole in Iraq? I'm as proud of the American heritage as anyone. The hard reality is, however, that having gone into this debacle unwilling (or seriously deluded about the demands) to do what it would take to impose our objectives, and being, politically and popularly, far less resolute now, I say we should cut our losses. Instead we might engage in some serious reflection about human nature, history and our delicate sensibilities.

For heaven's sake, some captured Iraqi fighters had their feelings hurt and unmentionables viewed by girls not under their domination while in detention, and the national chorus of mea culpas was deafening. Now, it seems that an Iraqi civilian was killed when he didn't necessarily have to be, and the howls of outrage and screeches for punishment of our beleaguered military personnel exceed what befell the Manson Family.

Here's some bad news about how to win a war. You grab the enemy by the tenderonis and squeeze until he cries "Uncle," and then squeeze harder, just to be sure you've drained away the last drippy drop of resistance. Only then is there any prospect of winning his heart and mind, and not coincidentally, peace. I didn't just invent this. It's a story as old as military conflict. You can look it up. If we're going to go to war, let's go to war. Respect our enemy and those who support him and kill (or capture; I'm not arguing for atrocities, wherever that line is) them when and where you find them and break their goodies until they quit....

Mean-spirited? Distasteful? Wrenchingly painful? Far beyond any of those, but necessary, if what we're doing is, indeed, war, and if we would not damn our troops to a perpetual meatgrinder. Nobody likes it, but that's what I call supporting our troops in the only way that really matters -- saving their lives.
-- Mark Fallert
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Regarding "Where is the Outrage?": silence from the President can be defended on the grounds that acknowledging the injury magnifies its significance. The Jihadists then say, "Aha, we even made the President of the Great Evil Country himself wince!" This is the bitter truth that I came to understand when I finally read an article explaining why American POWs tend to disappear down the government's memory hole, which is that to openly obsess over them simply makes them that much more valuable to present and future enemies, and increases the danger to our present and future troops. It is a very, very bitter truth to the families and loved ones of POWs, but the logic is inescapable, and its corollary seems to be present here.

"Warrior class, worker class, and coffee class" -- thanks for your insights, it clarifies what I had sensed but hadn't articulated to myself. Does this spontaneous segregation make our country stronger or less stable? The former, I believe, and I do hope I'm right.
-- Wayne Pickard

Well, let's quit talking and do something.
-- Peter Shannon

TECHNOLOGICAL REGRESS
Re: Peter Hannaford's Btflspk, Is That You?:

Btflspk. Wasn't that the last name of the little guy who walked under a perpetual rain cloud in Al Capp's Li'l Abner? If not, transpose a few letters and you have little Joe.

I was recently listing myself for a flight on a computer generated "service." Voice asks me my name. I am glad it is not Glockenspiel and confidently say "Smith, S-M-I-T-H" Tinny, twangy voice says "O.K., I think you said Smith. Press 1, if that is right." Well, this way lies madness and the assurance that I am going to celebrate another birthday on the phone. But I press on, giving flight numbers and destination (Houston) when suddenly the voice tells me that there is no flight #--- to some place in Bolivia.

Ah, the marvels of technology.
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

Right on, Mr. Hannaford!

Just last night, trying to get some information from VA, I nearly drowned in the automated menu swamp. I made two separate calls, and needed to speak to a real live person for each of them. I didn't get to choose "speak to a representative" until the very last menu, both times. The total time spent in each swamp easily doubled, if not tripled, the time I spent actually speaking to a real, live person. A good time was had by all.
-- unsigned

Here in Canada the first job an immigrant or refugee gets when he or she steps off the boat is, apparently, customer service. Once we reach a human being at the other end of the phone, odds are pretty good that the person will neither speak nor understand standard English beyond that necessary to make her way to work in the morning and perhaps to order lunch. Same with the people manning the "information" boots at sporting and festival events; they can't give you directions because they live in Montreal or Bangalore or on Mars and they came straight to the venue in their mother's Saab and they have never actually ventured into the venue at all so the map they were handed is hieroglyphics to them and they don't even know how to find their own location much less the location you want to go to.

My bank has automated a lot of its services and seems puzzled when long lines of people still gather to interact with human tellers who profoundly resent the fact that they have to interrupt their conversations to serve actual customers. Recently a bank management person went down the long line at my bank telling us that we could use their automatic systems, and hearing from each of us the transaction we had to do that could not be handled by their automatic systems: money order in U.S. dollars; change for the laundromat; deposit a check in foreign funds; explain secret codes in our passbooks; replace passbook that had been torn to pieces by automated machinery... the list went on and the management person finally went back to whatever it is she normally did, much chastened.

When calling the cable company or any other "tech support" line, one is connected with someone who speaks only Geek (my standard answer now is "It's all Geek to me!") and seems to believe that the people on the other end of the phone are all 12-year-old boys like themselves. Not too long ago I experienced difficulty with my CD drive and tried to call tech support to help me solve the problem. Fortunately my grandson (age 15) drifted past as I was closing in on a towering rage, and said, "Grandma, just open the little door and then close it tight, and it'll run." He was right. I did that and it worked. This is even more fun when the guy on the other end of the phone is not only a Geek, but a Geek who speaks only French.

Of course, in a socialist workers paradise like this, most of them have long ago realized that the banner under which they stand is "The Customer Be Damned." But I have the feeling this attitude is taking over the world.
-- Kate Shaw

I dialed Comcast to report that my DSL signal had gone "down," and I was unable to access the internet. I used my phone to call Comcast and, of course, was put on hold. The recorded message told me that all their representative were busy with other customers and then instructed me to solve the problem myself by going to the self-help section on Comcast.net.
-- unsigned

I totally agree with you about customer service today. I have heard that this is what did Enron in. The executives hid themselves under so many layers of telephone extensions that no one could get to them.

Regarding the e-mail message making the rounds containing numbers to by-pass answering machines and get to a real person, the website for this is www.gethuman.com. The last time I checked, a 19-page printout could be made listing all of the numbers known for this purpose. The list is being updated all the time.
-- Bill Reynolds

SOLID DON, WOBBLY W
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Lords of Self-Discipline:

Mr. Tyrrell writes a really good piece regarding Churchill and Rumsfeld. My only real quibble lies just here, to wit:

"Rumsfeld is true blue. We should not have to wait for the end of the war to recognize that. He and President George W. Bush should have the loyal opposition FDR had in his day."

I will grant that Mr. Bush does not enjoy the unanimity of public discourse that FDR enjoyed. I would argue that Mr. Bush has NOT held up his end of the bargain and has demonstrated his penchant to "go wobbly" in the face of criticism. In my humble opinion this has fueled, not only the determination of our enemy the Islamic terrorists, but also the political opposition from our international "friends," from the Democrats, from squishy Republicans, and from the press.

Mr. Rumsfeld, on the other hand, tends to not suffer fools gladly and to tell them that he knows that they are fools. I see the phrase "Don't get stuck on stupid" as Gen. Honore's version of a Rumsfeld press conference.

I enjoyed Mr. Tyrrell's article, I just wish that he would have made a clearer distinction between Mr. Bush and Mr. Rumsfeld.
-- Ken Shreve

Rumsfeld is a target for good reason: He is effective and loyal. The Democrats understand that a wobbly Secretary of Defense would be damaging to Bush, and that is why they are carping so loudly and so childishly for Rummy's head.

We have the finest military force ever seen -- unmatched in effectiveness, professionalism and morale. That could not have happened under mediocre leadership.

I'll be nice and not comment on Mr. Biden.
-- GnuCarSmell
Jacksonville, Texas

Have you been moonlighting as a writer for Jay Leno?

"...President Bush returned safely from his surprise trip to Iraq. A lot of people criticize him, saying he was only in Iraq for five hours. Hey, it's still five hours longer than the French were there."
-- Jeff Upton
Brodheadsville, Pennsylvania

This is the column I've been waiting for -- thank you for writing it.
-- John Biver

THEY CHOSE THIS WAR
Re: Ralph R. Reiland's The Great Backlash?:

The professor makes some good points, but ends up sounding like a northeastern egghead when he criticizes the war against Muslim jihadist psychos. They never preach freedom, but only submission and they don't care how many people they have to kill to get every knee to bend before their false god.

Where do so many northeasterners get off criticizing America's efforts in Iraq or the global war on terror? From what I have observed the majority of them think and act like the "Oatmeal Savages" of Canada's liberal party or effete European appeasers -- John "Marine In Name Only (MINO)" Murtha being the quintessential northeasterner. Give me the ineloquent Texas cowboy who doesn't bow before the almighty public opinion polls when it comes to fighting today's greatest threat to human dignity and freedom any day. If he'd been President during the Iranian hostage crisis, or when our Marines were slaughtered in Beirut or Soldiers in Somalia there would have been no "cut 'n run" policy, but a lot of dead Muslims and the world would be better for it today.

Finally, to all you armchair warriors and generals (that includes Zinni's cabal): we've won in Iraq (unless northeasterners with their left coast allies get their way and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory). It just takes time to defeat a terrorist insurgency. Might I suggest contributors to opinion journals and conservative pundits take time and read about our Revolution (particularly the Southern theater where it was won), the Indian Wars, our counter insurgency operations in the Philippines, the Marines in the "Bananas Wars," the British in Malaya, Oman and Northern Ireland and the French in Algeria (a military victory, but political defeat) before pontificating on the war in Iraq.
-- Michael Tomlinson
Crownsville, Maryland

Mr. Reiland has written an enjoyable little piece that ended up rubbing me the wrong way. I have to conclude that a combination of elitism and condescension makes him think I will automatically share his unstated basic political truths as he makes his arguments.

The problem is that al Qaeda has NOTHING to do with freedom in any way. Making a parallel in this way is offensive. Al Qaeda is about imposing their narrow interpretation of religion on everyone leaving themselves in charge. You can't even allude to them wanting to be free to do their own thing because they don't. I think the language that al Qaeda uses with its base is the message that we are cowards who will set a date to run home as we piss ourselves in fear. Lucky for us some in the Senate have time to change their pants because they are not busy with being in charge.

The second problem is that no one believes that the Almighty is setting the agenda at the Pentagon; saying so can be seen as an attempt to denigrate people of faith. Instead of understanding the comfort and moral direction faith can give a person it gives the impression of decisions made by opening the Bible at random for a decisive verse.

You might believe this administration hasn't exactly done a bang-up job in bringing freedom to Iraq. When it can be argued the New York Times is more biased than Al-Jazeera coming to that conclusion is understandable. But if you try to find examples in history of countries being liberated you have to conclude we are doing a bang-up job. Read about the problems overcome in countries like France and Germany after WWII. Those insisting it must be easy and fast should be told to go change their pants.
-- Jeffrey Ring
Lorton, Virginia

DOUBTING PERRY
Re: Seton Motley's reply to the "Not So Fast" letters in Reader Mail's Perry, Texas and Seton Motley's Simply Conservative:

I am sick to death of hearing all the states crying illegal immigration is NOT a state problem, it is national. Why do we have Texas Rangers and police in every city if not to enforce the laws? Perry is supposed to be the leader and if he wanted to would have a lot of clout in getting cities to enforce the law. We DO have laws in Texas. Why wait for D.C. to come to our rescue; sounds like we are no better than Nagin. It is a state problem and one of the reasons our school taxes have been so high and hospital emergency rooms are closing and welfare costs have gone up. If this is not our problem, why are my tax dollars being used for it? Wake up -- illegal immigration is EVERYONE'S problem. And when a county commissioner is breaking the law it is not our problem?
-- Elaine Kyle

Lord what hog wash! I live in Texas and I sure wish this was a true article. Gov. Perry is not listening to his following and we are abandoning ship. Stay tuned for the election and then write your article after you have done your homework.
-- Brenda Jeffrey

I appreciate the Spectator's decision to post my letter yesterday -- I know it was overly long, and will keep this one much shorter. I just wanted to reply briefly to a couple of false things Mr. Motley posted in response, to wit:

Seton says: "The very many conservative successes I attribute to Governor Perry, all of which transpired during his gubernatorial administration, are somehow in Mr. Blackmon's mind the work (at least in part) of his predecessor."

Such a simplistic view of successes that transpire during a gubernatorial or presidential administration would force one to thus credit Bill Clinton for the national economic growth of the late '90s, and not the GOP Congress. I'm guessing Seton is not quite so consistent in thought that he would concede that. And, to correct the record, in no place in my letter did I credit W. for any piece of legislation that has been written into law since he left office -- I merely pointed out that Seton's attempt to lead the reader to believe that W. left behind a budgetary and economic mess was false. Reading comprehension is a good trait, Seton -- you should obtain it.

Seton says: "Does Mr. Blackmon likewise consider the national economic success we currently enjoy in the Year of Our Lord 2006 to be the result of the good works of President Bill Clinton?"

This witty rejoinder is simply an outgrowth of the false premise set up in the preceding sentence, building on something I did not say in order to project a belief upon me that I do not hold. This is a trick of the intellectually and argumentatively challenged, Seton, and beneath any thinking conservative.

Best of luck in the future.
-- David Blackmon
Houston, Texas

Sorry, Mr. Motley, but I did not mean to imply that Gov. Perry created the Robin Hood plan, only that he did nothing to correct the problem that it had become. I have no problem attaching blame to Gov. Perry for not correcting the school funding fiasco that the Robin Hood plan had become just like I have no problem attaching blame for our border situation on Pres. Bush. Good leaders fix problems. My "intellectual peculiarity" tells me as much.

Good leaders are proactive to problems, not reactive. To imply that Gov. Perry was "hamstrung by a judicial ruling" and helpless in correcting a broken system is a bit disingenuous. Texas school districts were forced to sue the state to get Gov. Perry to even address the problem. While our state leaders went through several special sessions to come up with solutions our state school superintendents begged for an audience with the Governor to offer their input but they were shut out. My "intellectual peculiarity" tells me they may have had some insight into situations involving education.

Don't get me wrong, Mr. Motley, I realize the school funding situation is incredibly complicated and required some tough decision making. Our Texas school system requires some big dollars that have to come from somewhere. There is no denying the fact that Perry, Craddick and Dewhurst passed this political hot potato around for years while Texas school children suffered.
-- Russell Gil
Groves, Texas

SELF-DELUDED
Re: Doug Bandow's Korea's Triumph of Hope Over Experience:

The scary thing about the DPRK is that they have broken the first rule of propaganda by believing their own. As such, they see the U.S. as a weak and spineless wimp and the ROK as a bunch of puppet stooges, as that is what the practitioners of "Ju Che" tell them.

They have tried it in action, too -- such as the spring of 1967 in which they reportedly sent some 800 KPAFAC (North Korean air force) personnel to North Vietnam to fight the "running dog Imperialist air pirates" as we were called. Over the course of about six months they shot down a few U.S. aircraft -- but lost 30+ VPAF MiGs and left 14 of their pilots in a Vietnamese cemetery.

Even with that in hand, unfortunately the little dance Madeleine the Short did with "The Dear Leader" convinced them they're still right.
-- Cookie Sewell
Aberdeen, Maryland

STAY HOME, AMERICA
Re: Ben Stein's Greetings From Rancho Mirage:

Having just read Mr. Stein's letter to the troops, I am sickened by the thought that any of our service people may have read this degrading, self-serving lip-service. I hope they know that they are fighting for the safety of millions of Americans that are not like Mr. Stein; Americans who are actually striving to contribute to society in whatever way they can.

A surgeon saving a life, a rescue worker pulling a fellow human being from flood waters, a mother teaching her child to love and respect others, a college student studying to become a teacher, a firefighter running into a burning tower -- those are the people who are living meaningful lives and for whom our service people are fighting. Mr. Stein and his friends do not represent "all of America today." If they did, our service people would truly be fighting for nothing.

Furthermore, while I am not a follower of Oprah Winfrey, I do know that she has used her fame and wealth to support humanitarian causes around the world. Instead of wasting time criticizing Oprah and "paying bills for about two hours" perhaps Mr. Stein should consider using his time and money to contribute to some of Oprah's causes. That is, if he can get past his jealousy and hatred for her. (I can't think of any other reason why he would choose to publicly belittle her.)

Finally, lest you think I missed your point, I do realize the importance of each and every one of our service people. My daughter is a veteran of the United States Army Reserve. While I humbly escaped the worry of having her serve in Iraq or Afghanistan, members of her unit -- her "brothers and sisters" -- were deployed and served in Iraq for a year. Not a day goes by that I do not think about what it would have been like if she had been called for duty. And every day I worry and pray for those who have served and are serving.

Mr. Stein, I must agree with you about one thing. You do have a meaningless life. Thankfully, there are millions of Americans who are not like you.
-- B. Larsen

VERBAL SURRENDER
Re: David Gonzalez's letter ("Word War Escalation") in Reader Mail's Perry, Texas:

Responding to Mr. Gonzalez's comments in yesterday's reader's mail entitled, "Word War Escalation."

"Mildly rebuked" I stand and, alas, I humbly surrender to the Jesuitically educated chap who knows all those big words.

Pacis meus Jesuit excellens.
-- A. A. Reynolds

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