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Overcome by Fumes

Republican tax-guzzlers. Also: Glasses raised to Lisa Fabrizio. Sounds of Silence Day. America's whiney Parade. Presidents Bush and Lincoln. Plus MUCH more.

4.27.06

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VAPORS OF RESOLVE
Re: Andrew Cline's Pumped Out:

The Republicans could point out that the environmental movement has managed to keep any new oil and gas refineries from being built in this country for three decades, as well as any new atomic reactors. The GOP could also point out that the enlightened ones have prevented any new drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, as well as a small stretch of desolate land in Alaska.

Of course, they won't. After all the New York Times might accuse them of "McCarthyism" and Katie Couric might pout on television. And so, the Stupid Party clings to power for the usual reason: Oh, please let us enjoy the fruits of office. We won't cause any trouble. Please, please.
-- John Lockwood
Washington, D.C.

The only way to tell a Republican from a Democrat is the R or D after their name.

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J
Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska
-- Elaine Kyle

The President and Republicans in Congress should suspend all federal gas taxes until at least Labor Day, but preferably for six months. To "pay" for this tax cut they should transfer funds from the bloated budget of the Department of Energy that does absolutely nothing to produce gas or energy. Couple this with releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, demanding Congress allow drilling in ANWR, relax regulations for the building of more refineries and building nuclear breeder reactors Republicans have a winning "bread and butter" issue in this November's elections.

My wife and I have been writing and faxing letters to Karl Rove, Josh Bolten, and Republicans in Congress calling for such a moratorium since last week. Instead of just complaining we're being proactive something all conservatives need to do to stymie the Democrat Copperheads in November.

If you are one of the so-called conservatives whimsically hearkening back to the "good old days" of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton or believe things will get better with a Democrat Congress you need a dose of reality. Here are the facts about Democrats and gas prices -- Jimmy Carter, benefactor of Islamic terrorism, manufactured an energy crisis that led to increased gas prices and shortages, in 1993 Bill Clinton was the last President to raise Federal gas taxes, John Kerry called for a 50-cent increase in the gas tax, Democrat media hack Thomas Friedman wants oil to sell for $100 a barrel and CNN's lefty Miles O'Brien is encouraging an increase in the federal gas tax while bashing the President and Republicans for rising gas prices. Always remember Democrat = a tax increase.
-- Michael Tomlinson
Crownsville, Maryland

For me, arguing about the role of the gas tax in high gas prices is the wrong approach. OK, 15 percent of gas tax goes into mass transit. What is so wrong about getting people off the road so that people who want to drive have the highways more to themselves? And fully 85 percent of the gas tax is going into roads. Highway pork? That is the whole point of the gas tax and the highway trust fund -- to build more roads to relieve congestion, develop new areas, and so on.

The real issues are how a refinery can't ever get built anymore and the crazy-quilt system of special gasolines and now the new ethanol boondoggle. I never understood this oxygenated fuels business when the savings in pollution are tiny compared to what is achieved by the pollution controls of new vehicles. A modern car makes less smog than a lawnmower -- do you suppose motorists have to put up with oxy fuels because of all of those lawnmowers out there? And do you suppose the blockage of drilling in Alaska might affect futures prices for oil?
-- Paul Milenkovic
Madison, Wisconsin

Where to begin? If one segues Mr. Cline's sure victory advice to the President and the Republicans with Robert Novak's piece and the letters in response thereto from my fellow readers, there just might be a chance to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in November.

Cline is absolutely right. The energy issue is a no-brainer that any small town political hack like me could ram home to victory. Bush could knock the Dems on their butts if he flew up to the Artic Wilderness frozen tundra, (in a spring time snow storm just to rile Al Gore) and announced a federal energy emergency complete with unfettered drilling in ANWR. He could let American's see what the environmentalists, the Dems and the MSM don't want us to see; that ANWR is indeed a frozen, uninhabitable wasteland shrouded in almost perpetual darkness. This reality, in stark contrast to the bucolic fields of summer wildflowers and gamboling reindeer that the MSM loves to misrepresent as ANWAR. Couple this with an immediate suspension of the federal gas tax, until Congress passes a no nonsense comprehensive energy bill, and watch those poll numbers skyrocket as the Dems howl in protest. Of course, this would require the spineless Congressional Republicans to stand firm for once. They might even have to control spending until the gas tax is reimposed. Now wouldn't that be an additional bonus! And for those Republicans who remain unconvinced, send them all copies of Novak's article complete with TAS reader's responses. For the truly hard headed, we might even want to throw in a bonus; a map of downtown D.C. to show them how to get to their next jobs on K Street. Maybe, just maybe, the clueless will become sages.
-- A. DiPentima

Mr. Cline has obviously lost his mind. Suspend a tax on gasoline for six months? Give the beat-up, taxed out, screwed over taxpayer a break? No way, ain't never gonna happen. Not this century, not ever.

Any other suggestions?
-- Mike Webster
Dallas, Texas

Editor's note: Let's remember Mr. Cline's closing words regarding any GOP-led cut of the federal gas taxes: "Of course, Republicans would have to get serious about cutting spending and earmarks before they could do this, so it's never going to happen."

AN AGENT IN EVERY HOME
Re: Lisa Fabrizio's Encroachment of the Nanny State:

Perhaps the cure for this nonsense is not fighting it, but accelerating it to the point of meltdown. By all means, let's have more and more laws against everything and everybody. Food and drink, clothing and housing, work and entertainment, home and school, politics and religion- there's something wrong with everything, and there's sure to be a politician on the make pushing prohibition as the answer, backed by bogus statistics from some other hustler in a "nonprofit" pressure group or grant-hungry "research" facility.

It doesn't matter how we reach this acme of anti-society. Everything may be formally illegal, as in the late Soviet Union, condemned piecemeal by God's representatives on earth, as in Islamic societies, or "discovered" to be "harmful" by white-coated activists. What's important is that once we get there the citizen will be truly free. He can say "alright, it IS illegal... now let's see ya catch me!" Not even Stalin had that many cops.

Then, too, total illegality will give ordinary folks effective weapons to retaliate against the elites. Is the uber-vegan creep next door on the verge of reporting you for red meat? Then beat him to the punch and turn him in for organic free trade coffee beans ("Good intentions, Che, but it is wicked caffeine, after all. You have the right to remain silent....")

We will eventually achieve a domestic balance of terror -- mind your own business, I'll mind mine, and nobody calls the health/safety/thought police. 'Cause I've got as much on you as you do on me.

Paradoxically, such a state of affairs will return zest and savor to the doings of ordinary life. (C'mon, remember your first Playboy? Your first beer? Wasn't the fact it was forbidden half the enjoyment?)

Finally we will achieve limited government and the withering away of the State because the megastate will exhaust itself. There will be so many laws, regulations, rules, guidelines, suggestions, pyramids, and classifications that no one will be able to file them all, let alone enforce them. Free people will win by default.
-- Martin Owens Jr.
Sacramento, California

Any discussion of the suburban sprawl of nanny statehood should return from time to time to its urban roots on Madison Avenue, and whatever other streets of shame billboard content providers frequent.

The admen need the expansion of the nanny domain simply to keep themselves occupied. The antismoking campaign was but the last un-opposed skirmish in the culture wars. Just as lawyers are not supposed to sue each other, the admen don't go in for opposing each other's erstwhile pro bono efforts, especially the ones that lead to huge billings when they blossom into settlements like the ones that pay to browbeat smokers on Big Apple streets and subways. If you doubt the collusion between big brother and BBD&O, in "public service" here's a reminder from Ad Central:

"About The Advertising Council: The Ad Council is a private, non-profit organization with a rich history of marshalling volunteer talent from the advertising and media industries to deliver critical messages to the American public. Having produced literally thousands of PSA campaigns addressing the most pressing social issues of the day, the Ad Council has effected, and continues to affect, tremendous positive change by raising awareness, inspiring action and saving lives."

Translation: If you've got the money, we'll volunteer the junior executives' time.
-- Russell Seitz

How correct Ms. Fabrizio is!

My father thought that if I was introduced to small amounts of whatever was being served as a child and later as a teen, it would take the mystery out of the whole thing. He thought that it was the forbidding, working against human nature, that led American teens into rampant drunkenness (he was from Greece, where children are regularly given wine at the dinner table).

And (oh, dear) we followed the same policy with our children, who are now 26 (and in the army), 21, and 16 years old. They are neither alcoholics nor teetotalers. They shrug about the whole matter, and can't understand the attraction of getting totally mindless. They already have seen how stupid the abuse of alcohol is, but they've also seen it in its proper context.

Silly Connecticut. Silly any state that tries to interfere even more.

And I'd rather remain nameless only because I don't need trouble in retrospect.
-- Anastasia Mather
Staten Island, New York

Another Fabrizio winner.

I remember Christmas when I was a child as being a time of family reunion. But the reunion didn't start until my uncle from Amarillo arrived to make eggnog from scratch with the final added touch of bourbon. Everybody then had a cup, not a glass, before Christmas Eve dinner no matter the age (and there were lots of us wee people).

For your files: In the Kingdom of Santa Fe the city council is well on its way to extending the city's no smoking ordinance to include everywhere in the city that is public, no exceptions. Just another reason to avoid the Kingdom where neo-liberals, eco-nuts and the jet plane contrail conspiracy's home office rule the land.

Oh, I almost forgot: if you are an illegal immigrant you are most welcome in the Kingdom where no immigration laws are enforced as a result of council ordinance. I'm pretty sure illegal aliens can smoke anywhere they want otherwise their sensitivities might be offended. So, come one alien, come all, enjoy free schooling, free medical care, light up a ciggy, and have a grand time.
-- Nelson Ward
Ribera, New Mexico

I can understand and sympathize with Ms. Fabrizio in her thesis against the nanny state culture in our country. That said, however, I was under the impression that it was an unlawful act to serve alcoholic beverages to minors in almost every state in our union.

I know that, here in New Hampshire, if you buy a keg and dispense its contents to your child's high school friends at his/her birthday party, you are subjecting yourself to the whims of law enforcement. There are stories in the MSM every spring about cops charging some parents with serving alcohol to minors at a graduation party, or some such.

Heck, even a hundred years ago when I was young, law enforcement intervened in such revelry in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., where I grew up. Some of my acquaintances had parents that would allow their offspring to imbibe on a limited basis, and they had to be careful lest the authorities decide to enforce the law against such action.

I don't know of anywhere that law enforcement steps in to stop Mom and Dad from letting teen age Johnny have a little wine or a beer at a family dinner or get together. They simply do not have the resources to try to enforce each and every such incident. Unfortunately, without such laws, irresponsible parents are all too eager to let their offspring and their friends get totally drunk at parties in their homes. The attitude is that, as long as the kids don't drive, no harm is done. Unfortunately, there are numerous parents that have a total hissy fit about there kids being around smoking, but see no real harm in the kid "doing a little weed."

Ms. Fabrizio's instincts against "nanny state" laws are a fine thing. Her railing against this particular one seems at least two and maybe three generations late to me.
-- Ken Shreve

I suppose that the Jewish Seder will fall under Connecticut's laws, and be banned by the state as a stupid religious observance that no one but fanatics would ever force on their poor, unwilling children? Hurrah for the state. All bow before the state, our G-d.
-- unsigned

Lisa Fabrizio's question, "Is the nanny state capable of love for anything but its own aggrandizement?" has the same answer regardless of whose "state" it is. The "state" as commonly defined has but one purpose and that is the acquisition of power if left unchecked. All forms of tyranny seek to control the production of goods and services, the flow of information, the care and feeding of children and any means that will make the largest portion of the population dependent on it. I would not call Connecticut a nanny. Go back and re-read 1984 Lisa and see if you still think Connecticut and much of the Northeast Corridor still looks like your Nanny? It looks like something else to me.
-- Thom Bateman
Newport News, Virginia

Lisa must have grown up in a soft Italian house. We spiked our wine with soda! We pressed our own wine.
-- Diamon Sforza
Chicago, Illinois

SOUNDS OF SILENCE
Re: Mark Coppenger's The Curious Rationale for a "Day of Silence":

The absolute silliness of the entire scheduled affair is so surreal that I had to read it twice to be sure of what I was seeing. I would love to find a way to not have to listen to the constant bleating of "gays and lesbians," but I just cannot seem to avoid the noise that they constantly make. I know that they have a constitutional right to speak, but do I have a constitutional duty to have to hear them? And another thing: How about equal time and sound for those bestiality folks? Don't sheep and goats have a constitutional right to be heard? Here is my suggestion for all of you depressed silent homosexuals: Rent a hall, get a bunch of bullhorns, and have a party. Shout to your heart's content. Shout until your vocal chords are raw. I promise not to come near the hall, and I promise not to tell anyone about your gathering.
-- Joseph Baum
Garrettsville, Ohio

Mr. Coppenger's article fails to fully appreciate the bright side of the "Day of Silence." As Pat Buchanan has pointed out, "the love that dare not speak its name" has become the love that won't shut up. Now, if we could extend this program all year 'round, it would be a most welcome respite to these tiresome and tireless narcissists. The more ominous aspect is the classic, leftist strategy of indoctrinating our youth in the same fashion of the Hitler Youth, Young Pioneers, and similar ilk who wish to drive a wedge between kids and parents to break the "bourgeoisie" influence of the latter on the former. And, need it be said, this behavior is biologically a dead-end, and eternal recruitment is the price for sexual satiety.
-- William J. Dye, Esq.
Edwardsville, Illinois

While I have to admit that Mark Coppenger has chosen a perfect forum to vent his homophobic religious extremist rage, and political correctness is certainly annoying to people of all persuasions, I don't think Mark has much of a handle on homosexuality. It is about as close to fact as anything that the majority of homosexuals have no biological choice in their inclinations. Does Mark think that Phyllis Schlafly and Dick Cheney were bad parents? Science has come a long way since burning sulfur supposedly rained down on Sodom and Gomorrah, and frankly I find it more enlightening than religious dogma. Gays and lesbians deserve just as much respect as any minority. Perhaps Mark thinks we should get rid of handicapped parking! This country is about tolerance, not extremism.
-- Paul Dorell
Highland Park, Illinois

I suppose we ought to enlist the ACLU to apply for an injunction against Chapin's day of silence. As the courts have "proved" before, silence can be used for prayer. If a minute of silence in a school is an endorsement of religion, then a day of silence comprises of 1,440 endorsements of religion. The silence tramples atheist rights! Homosexual rights are trampled if you don't respect the day of silence! But if you're a gay atheist, do you trample yourself?
-- Gary
Madison, Wisconsin

HORATIO ALGER, TAKE NOTE
Re: Quin Hillyer's American Dreaming:

Spot on. Bravo!
-- John Nelson
Hebron, Connecticut

Quin, you hit a home run with your dissection of the Parade piece. Thank you!

I read the headline in Parade, scanned the article, laughed and threw the sucker in the trash. As a retired CPA, among other careers, I remember a long time ago someone told me the following: Ask an accountant, or statistician, to add up a column of numbers and their response will be to ask back, "what do you want the answer to be?"

And thanks for your regular entries in the TAS blog. The blog has become my daily source of useful current information.
-- Nelson Ward
Ribera, New Mexico

Amen, amen, amen! This is how conservatives should be writing and talking to remind the disgruntled/disenchanted in the Republican base just how good things are under President Bush.
-- Michael Tomlinson
Crownsville, Maryland

What do you expect from Parade magazine? It is a lightweight throw-away rag, stuffed in the back of a Sunday paper because it cannot sell as a stand alone. As a publication, its content is vapid puff pieces simply ingratiating itself to celebrity adornment. They offer nothing of news value. They stay "fluffy" in order to get decent celebrity pics for their lame articles.

That article probably appeared because they failed to sell enough advertising that month.
-- P. Aaron Jones
Huntington Woods, Michigan

SEE NO EVIL PRESIDENCY
Re: The Prowler's McCarthy in Denial:

The Prowler notes a "former Bush administration staffer" who says that damaging leaks have been coming out of the gubmint ever since the 2004 election, against Bush and Republicans. I see this as a demonstration of the total cluelessness of the whole Bush entourage. These bureaucratic leaks against the Bush administration have been going on since before they actually moved into the White House. Hey, if you ignore it and pretend that it isn't happening, then maybe it was all a dream and you do not need to defend yourself or your policy. That gives you more time to "dis" your base voters.

REMEMBER THE ALAMO -- BUSH WON'T
-- Ken Shreve

REVISIONIST POLITICS
Re: Adam White's Schlesinger Fails History:

I too was appalled by Schlesinger's misunderstanding (or deliberate distortion) of history to suit his thesis. Here's what I wrote to the Post:

I don't usually bother responding to articles as grotesquely one-sided and patently absurd as this, and I'm not going to waste much time on this one either. But because Schlesinger is still regarded (in some circles) as a serious mind, I figure at least a few words are warranted to show that he is not.

Schlesinger says that "...Presidents Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower, veterans of the First World War, explicitly ruled out preventive war against Joseph Stalin's attempt to dominate Europe." Really. I must have read the wrong history books, for I was unaware of Stalin's incursions into France, Italy, Spain, et al. If Mr. Schlesinger is referring to Eastern Europe he should have made that clear, as well as noting that in the post-war period, whether through formal concession or unspoken understanding, the West agreed to a Soviet sphere of influence in Eastern Europe as its portion of the spoils of war. There never was any serious consideration of preventive war, at least insofar as Eastern Europe was concerned, because by the agreements reached at the Potsdam Conference most of it had already been given away to the Soviets. It was a fait accompli, so there was nothing to go to war over.

Schlesinger goes on to state that the rationale for the Iraq war was based on "fantasy, deception, and self-deception." That's it, no support for the charge needed; Schlesinger says it so it must be true. Well, hardly. No serious observer doubts that in the period between the two Iraq wars Hussein did have WMD, and had in fact used them against the Kurds. No serious observer denies that Iraq was being used as a training ground for terrorists. Nor does any serious observer now deny that there were in fact contacts between Hussein's regime and al-Qaeda. These are self-evident or provable facts, as opposed to the "fantasy, deception, and self-deception" which Schlesinger uses to level his ridiculously broad charge against the President.

Finally, to go from the ridiculous to the totally divorced from reality, Schlesinger says that a war with Iran would likewise be based on "fantasy, deception, and self-deception." What planet is this man living on? Are the increasingly virulent words of Ahmadinejad a fantasy? Is Iran's hell-bent-for-leather nuclear development program really to provide cheap energy for its citizens, and its concurrent development and/or acquisition of delivery systems therefore just a deception? Are Iran's increasing attempts to undo what we have worked so hard to accomplish in Iraq mere self-deception on our part?

It's rather pathetic that Schlesinger, still trading on (and still pushing) the so-called Kennedy legacy, apparently believes he can get away with such slop. It's even more pathetic that the Washington Post apparently is more than happy to try and help him out. In any event, it just won't wash.
-- Charles R. Vail

Reading "Schlesinger Fails History" by Adam White prompts me to ask this. Given that the best way to get really good at something is lots of practice and experience, would we want the U.S. to reach a point where invading other countries, crushing their armed forces and reconstructing their government and society to meet our security needs becomes "just all in a day's work"?
-- unsigned

Any mention of George W. Bush and Abraham Lincoln in the same breath is heresy and sacrilege. Any mention of the righteous cause of the Civil War and the Iraqi war in the same breath is worse than sacrilege. Any comparison of the greatest president with the weakest and most dangerous president is folly and insult, and any effort to glorify and make into a person of worth a man who has committed the evils of George W. Bush shows a lack of political acumen and understanding of truth and common sense.
-- MPM

Since the President is "prevented" from independent action, maybe Congress could come up with a way of "preventing" certain old professors from wearing frumpy bow ties, or do we have to go to the U.N.?
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

INTO HADES
Re: Paul Chesser's Moussaoui's Hot Destination:

"Moussaoui's Hot Destination" ... great article. Some men's destruction is reserved for them. They've hardened their hearts... and hardened their hearts... and then God hardens their hearts...

While postmodernism continues to enslave the masses, repudiating all objective, universal or fundamental truth, and the church sits idle, there is a remnant of unashamed and bold believers in the only true and living God, Jesus Christ, who speak up and speak out. Thank you for your righteous judgment. Islam is an attack against Jesus Christ. It is anti-Christian. It is anti-Israel. And I'm quit comfortable stating terrorism is as fundamental to Islam as the Ten Commandments are to Christianity. Call me a radical, but history and objective reasoning stand by my side.

And while I understand "we wrestle not against flesh and blood," and "God shall bring them down into the pit of destruction," my indignation rages and frustration deepens. Articles as yours are light unto this world. Keep the fight brother, and continue to press in the spirit of Philippians 1:20, "According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death."
-- Pipes

THE RUMSFELD FORCE
Re: Jed Babbin's Fighting for a Ticket on the Titanic:

From what I know, one of the goals of Secretary Rumsfeld in modernizing the United States military was the ability to strike quickly anywhere in the world.

I believe that the plan used in Afghanistan was appropriate and that a large "Soviet-style" force was unnecessary. The Taliban were removed from power, and the nation is fairly stable after the ouster.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. The invasion force in Iraq was quickly deployed and highly mobile. The actual ground fighting between the Iraqi Armed Forces and the U.S. Armed Forces seemed to have ended rather quickly, much like the First Iraq War. Yet, this similar effect was achieved with far fewer soldiers. Perhaps bigger isn't necessarily better.

But, what about the resulting occupation? There were over half a million troops participating in the U.N. coalition during the First Iraq War. Now, there is less than half that number, and these soldiers are occupying instead of fighting.

Do you think that a large force is required for successful occupation?

Thanks for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.
-- Alex Yang

Jed Babbin replies:
You have hit on one of the central issues, and it's not susceptible of a short answer. For now, let this suffice. Occupation -- the American form, not the imperial form -- is what you do to a pacified nation while it forms a new government. In this case, Iraq was never pacified thanks to the remnant Baathists, the Sunnis and their terrorist allies who prepared for the invasion by planning and organizing a terrorist campaign. If we intended to overwhelm and terminate the insurgents, the force we had was inadequate, and the way we used it was as well. Ending the insurgency means following it to its base of support. Which is Syria and Iran. We are, in one important way, making the same mistake we made in Vietnam, which was to allow sanctuaries and external support. If you don't intend to remedy that mistake, it makes no difference if your force is small or large. It won't accomplish that mission.

HU'S PAYBACK
Re: Jay D. Homnick's Hu Are We Fooling?:

Do you really think that it would take the Secret Service a full two minutes to subdue a screeching "protester"? Remember now that when GWB went to China he was embarrassed twice -- once with the locked door and another when they had six angry Chinese "students" asking Bush hostile questions. And don't forget about that hijacked U.S. surveillance plane also. I don't think they set out with any kind of agenda -- they just wanted to embarrass Hu and make the left go bonkers that their fearless leader was treated so poorly.

I think the only reason for Hu's trip was to return the favor. Hu didn't get the full-boat evening formal dinner that is typical for most significant world leaders. So there's one embarrassment on Hu. Next was the screeching so-called protester. Now that's two embarrassments on Hu -- you know, he's the Chinese leader -- Hu is the leader. Right. The guy Hu runs China. Yes he certainly does. Hu does. I'm telling you it's Hu. Well if I knew I wouldn't be asking you.

Sorry just could not resist.
-- Brian
Jackson, Michigan

MEN WITH CHESTS
Re: Steven M. Warshawsky's letter (under "My Truth, Your Truth") in Reader Mail's With Spies Like These and Mark A. Kalthoff's To Tell the Truth

I must respectfully disagree with Mr. Warshawsky's argument with "To Tell the Truth." While there is no Truth that is shared by all people, at all times in history, what people believe about the Truth does not change whether or not it is true. While different cultures and civilizations, both in the past and at present, have had very different understandings of good and evil, virtue and vice, the meaning of life, and so on, their (and our) opinion of what is real does not change what truly is. It is merely an opinion.

I would recommend him to Professor C.S. Lewis's The Abolition of Man, in which he points out that the debate over whether a deed is just or courageous, whether an act is temperate or prudent does not depend on what people say about it, if it were so then there would be no moral virtue in choosing one way over another. While today's radical Islamists, to take the most pointed example, have very different answers to the question of "What is Truth?" than Americans and Westerners like ourselves they do not doubt that there is Truth, only the nature of that truth.

Hence, Mr. Warshawsky does not quite get it right when he asserts that "...it is a shared understanding (italics his) of truth and virtue that bind men together and sustain civilizations." These understandings can be quite different -- in ways that have enormous implications for the quality of human life on this planet, but no matter what people believe the Truth is still out there and a culture that believes in a search for absolute Truth is what keeps us together. I for one have no hesitation in saying that our way of life is better than the Islamist way of life, and that we must fight to ensure that our way of life prevails in the ongoing clash of civilizations.

Thus, the problem with university dogma about "diversity" is its philosophical foundations. As a matter of historical fact, people and cultures are indeed different in their opinions, values, habits, customs, and beliefs, and no culture has ever had a set that exclusively held to the Truth. The "relativists" are correct on this point. Where they are wrong, however, is in failing to recognize that a way of life that focuses on Truth will always survive and is superior to one that rejects Truth. I firmly believe that our way of life is closer to the Truth than any other, requiring defending against the barbarian onslaught that is radical Islam (as well as against other dangerous and corrosive ideologies).

The universities' failure, therefore, is that they do not teach that there is absolute Truth. Evil can be done in the name of even the best ideas, values -- and patriotism, but if universities taught a philosophy that included critical analysis of ideas rather than a knee-jerk rejection of one's political or philosophical opponents, then what originally bound Americans and Westerners together would sustain our glorious civilization.
-- Troy Harmon
Albuquerque, New Mexico

NO MORE SOUTHERN MEN
Re: Bruce Karlson's letter ("Not Weeping for Abe") in Reader Mail's With Spies Like These and Shawn Macomber's The Vain Assassin:

By Bruce Karlson's logic the Blue States of the U.S. should be able to secede from what has become a pale shadow of what was a great nation in the 1950s and '60s and to some extent the 1980s. Having seen simpletons from the south like Carter, Clinton, and the two Bushes, can the U.S. afford more ideological, bible-bashing, red-neck Commanders-In-Chief? How I long for the days of Ike and FDR and those irrepressible men, Truman, and Reagan. Those were days when leaders were men before politicians, smart before ideological and didn't buy into the darker angels of prejudice and belligerence but tried to ensure one's own house was in order before renovating others!
-- Nathan Maskiell

LENNY THE GOALIE
Re: Jackie Mason & Raoul Felder's Insult Law:

Regarding the following statement in the most recent column posted online: "That is why there are also no Jewish hockey players..."

Although artistic license and humor have their place, they don't deserve reinforcement at the expense of facts. There are, indeed, several professional hockey players who are Jewish. Mattieu Schneider, Ronnie Stern, Steve Dubinsky, and Jeff Halpern are four.
-- Judith M. Backover

BACK TO CIVICS
Re: Ben Stein's Deep Throat and Genocide:

Mr. Stein is sooooo right on the money. Nixon was a great President of the U.S. The Dems continue to demonstrate their disdain for peace and freedom among peoples in the world by demeaning the U.S. and Bush to such an obvious point that any U.S. citizen that fails to recognize their treasonous policies should be sentenced to repeating their third grade civics classes.
-- unsigned

KATRINA NUMBER CRUNCHING
Re: Jed Babbin's Reconstruction Redux:

In reference to the article "Reconstruction Redux" by Jed Babbin (9/19/2005).

Babbin wrote: "One FEMA report said the LOHSEP couldn't account for more than 90% of $15 million in FEMA funds it had awarded to Louisiana contractors."

The phrase "more than 90%" seems ambiguous.

Is "more than 90%" meant to express a more exact figure slightly over 90%... something like 90.8% for example? Meaning that over 90% over the money could NOT be accounted for?

Or does it mean that LOHSEP could not account for the last 10% of the funds, and that it COULD account for the first 90%?

I'm citing the article for a term paper and want to make sure I paraphrase correctly... by the way, love the Spectator. I read online every morning over breakfast. Good stuff. Keep it up.
-- Cara Davies
Notre Dame '09

Jed Babbin replies:
My recollection of the research I did -- and I can't redo it right now -- was the 90% figure referred to the amount unaccountable by LOHSEP. The 10% was what they could account for. Many thanks for the kind words.

A TIME FOR BEN
Re: Ben Stein's Greetings From Rancho Mirage:

I am a Gunnery Sergeant in the Marine Corps. I was just forwarded an article titled "Greeting From Rancho Mirage" authored by Ben Stein.

On behalf of my fellow Marines and sister service members I would like to thank Mr. Stein for his support.

"All gave some, some gave all"
-- GySgt Walker, S.M.

Thank you so much for writing an article that emphasizes the importance of the tremendous sacrifice that I'm seeing in the Middle East as we speak. The media has done nothing to shed proper praise on these young people that have taken a global conflict and condensed it into a region that may provide the entire world with some safety and freedom. I consider myself fortunate to be an American, and I don't let a day go by where I fail to be thankful for it, and I do feel undeserving of it. I once went off to war voluntarily, and served in the rivers of Vietnam. When I returned, I received less than a polite welcome by strangers and some friends. I could not bear to see that happen again to these young people whom I thank God for. Thank you for writing a positive article for them, and their families.
-- Thomas E. Christopher

I just had to take a moment to send you a message and let you know how much I appreciated your letter to our service members (and indirectly to all the family members who support them). My husband received your letter from a fellow airwing commanding officer currently deployed with him.... All of the messages from Generals, Admirals, Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, etc., held the same tone, "Thank you." It truly means so much, to all our loved ones who serve and sacrifice, to know that individuals such as yourself are in support of what they do.
-- Alison Thompson

Thank you for your wonderful piece, "Greetings From Rancho Mirage." It truly made this old fighter pilot's day.
-- Phil Handley, Colonel, USAF (Ret)

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