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Solid Verification

Nothing but true intelligence under stress. The Pentagon responds (a little late). Plus: Sr. Bill Richardson. Belzer out of the park. DNC consultants in Beijing? Endgame conservatives step up their game. Plus much more.

3.21.06

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DEFENDING DEFENSE
Re: David Holman's Nothing But the Truth:

On December 15, 2005, The American Spectator published an article entitled "Nothing But the Truth" by David Holman. The article criticizes the Department of Defense for not adopting Computer Voice Stress Analysis (CVSA) technology to determine if someone, such as a terrorist, is telling the truth, and states that failing to do so denies U.S. troops the very best equipment. However, Mr. Holman failed to identify the Department's fundamental need for validating equipment. To be successful in obtaining usable intelligence, the Department must go beyond collection of intelligence -- to assessing whether that information is truthful or deceptive.

Merely getting people to talk is not sufficient. The imperative is to discern the accuracy of the information that forms the basis for intelligence. That information must be assessed for accuracy and truthfulness, and there is no scientific evidence that CVSA can adequately distinguish between truthfulness and deceptive information.

A study on voice stress analysis was conducted at the University of Florida, and we await the opportunity to review the results of that study. However, until scientific testing adequately proves the reliability and accuracy of CVSA, the Department of Defense would be irresponsible to condone the acquisition of such an instrument, or endorse a technology that could place its personnel or the reliability of information at risk.

The Department of Defense monitors closely the research, development, and evaluation efforts of academic institutions and other federal departments and agencies involved in assessing a variety of technologies for truth verification. Technological advances enhance the future of intelligence verification within the Department, but these advances -- like CVSA -- must be backed by solid scientific validation.
-- Robert W. Rogalski
Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Counterintelligence and Security)

David Holman replies:
I'm grateful and flattered that Deputy Under Secretary Rogalski read the article and took the time to respond, even more than two months later.

The failure to represent the Department's case in the article is the Department's, which did not respond to ample and repeated opportunities to do so.

Still, my article thoroughly examined the concerns about CVSA's scientific validity. Contrary to Mr. Rogalski's claim, I never claimed that CVSA is "the very best equipment." Rather, I wrote that the Department is "denying our very best the equipment they want to pursue the War on Terror." The bureaucracy has halted use of the CVSA by the guys on the ground, which Rogalski does not deny, and his response reflects that top-down approach.

No one -- not I nor anyone else interviewed for my article -- disputes the need for accurate intelligence and responsible, accurate tools to obtain it. However, if that's the gold standard, then the Department should subject its other truth verification devices to it. That includes the polygraph. Rogalski ignores the large section of the article detailing the polygraph's questionable reliability. Both devices are unproven. Why our troops don't have access to the device many prefer, including apparently the Special Operations Command, is a question only Rogalski and the Department of Defense can answer.

IT'S SPANISH TO ME
Re: Shawn Macomber's Doing the Hispanic Hustle:

When Bill Richardson told the New Hampshire gathering to "be proud to be Latino but know you are also part of the American mainstream," did he mention that the Latino achievers who are part of the American mainstream, yes even in New Mexico, became that way because they are proficient in English? Richardson need only look at his beloved mainstream media where Hispanics are hired to balance the diversity tally but are asked to perform in English.
-- Earl Wright
Clovis, California

The corpulent chameleon Richardson to be taken seriously? Surely you jest. He reeks of insincerity and deviousness. Shawn, could you not divine this when he leaned into your space and uttered "Shawn" before each faux manly sentiment he shared with you? Such could never be nominated for the highest office in the land. Oh, you want to remind me of Clinton and Kerry -- and Carter, and Johnson and.... Well,l he could never be elected. Could he?
-- James Wheatley

The amazing thing about Bill Richardson's Hispanic shuffle is that he is the equivalent of a carpetbagger. He was blessed with that "patron" (overweight) look but was not raised in a Hispanic environment. He has mastered the hustle from the outside. This is the equivalent of a Yankee coming into the south and convincing southerners that he is one of them. Make no mistake about him though he is a politician in a one party state (occasionally there is a Republican governor but the legislature is very Democrat) and he is thoroughly corrupt. Our state government has much in common with a banana republic. Our state ranks in the high forties with respect to all good things (education, income, etc.) and towards the top in all bad things (crime, illegitimacy, etc.). He doesn't play his religion up much in public but is one of those nauseating liberal Catholics that consults his priest about minimum wage laws but doesn't seem to have the slightest problem with tens of millions of aborted babies. Social justice means lots of state money flowing into his friend's pockets. He might give a nice non-partisan talk but can extract revenge on his Republican foes like he has done recently. It is too bad that all Shawn Macomber could do was report on the poppycock at a Mexican restaurant and not even look into what the guy is really about. We expect this kind of lazy reporting from the New York Times but it hurts in The American Spectator.
-- Clifton Briner
New Mexico

BAD CASE OF THE SMARTS
Re: Doug Powers's Belzer's Morons:

For a guy who reads 20 newspapers a day, Belzer sure doesn't have a very good command of the English language.
-- Dwight L. Ludwig
Martinsburg, West Virginia

Mr. Powers' hard hitting article hit a raw nerve and now I'm destined to be frosted all day. Couple this with Russert on Imus this morning and you'd know why I'm so ticked off. Of the many outstanding accomplishments achieved by our military, none have rendered me more in awe and speechless than when I have listened to these brave young men and woman speak about their purpose in the Iraq and Afghanistan theatres. We have all heard interviews in which these "unemployable 18- and 19-year-olds" speak of the subtlety of their mission with a sense of nuisance that would give career State Department diplomats the vapors. Haven't we all heard Mr. Belzer's "hicks" speak of the nuanced differences between Sunnis and Shiites? About how respect for Iraqi culture and society is an indispensable element in achieving the peace? Or their appreciation of regional politics that sends insurgents into Iraq to kill them? Do Belzer and his ilk ever contemplate how a finely tuned military force can adapt to any spontaneous situation encountered on the ground and either shoot dead an insurgent with no collateral damage or cradle a child with equal aplomb? Obviously not, particularly because ignorant elites like Belzer read the "20 or so newspapers" that ignore these things as well. It amazes me how these kids, sans a Harvard or Yale education, have more savvy than the likes of Russert or Dowd. Russert sees an Afghani being prosecuted for conversion to Christianity as a sign that the fledgling democracy is failing. I bet these brave kids see it for what it really is, an intolerant religion that seeks to do the same to us, especially if the Russert's, Dowd's and Sheehan's continue to dominate in the MSM.
-- A. DiPentima

No, in the case of Richard Belzer, those who've given the ultimate sacrifice are not stupid, as Mr. Powers says they may be for dying for the likes of Belzer. In the end, many gave their lives for their buddy to their left or right, or someone else in their unit. Not something that we who aren't there in combat often ascribe to their sacrifices.

But what put them there in harm's way was their willingness to serve and, yes, to allow such as Belzer, Maher, et. al., to continue to trash the living and dead soldiers' sacrifices because that's the price that comes with having a free America.

As to soldiers' qualifications to comment on the war, I've suggestions for Belzer. First, get some special dispensation from Uncle Sam to be in the Army or Marine Corps. Join immediately and get qualified with an M-4 carbine, a sidearm, maybe even a crew-served weapon. Put boots on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan for a season or two. Place glutei on the line frequently. Spend time with fellow soldiers and civilians. Then, speak and maybe someone will actually listen.
-- C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia

"For a moment, let's consider the people Belzer insults. Americans like these have helped put an end to slavery, oppression, genocide, and all manner of craziness put forth by every spiral-eyed deranged dictator and tin-pot wanker on the planet."

To which Powers could have added the comment by RAdm. George Tarrant (fictional character in The Bridges at Toko-Ri): "Where do we get such men? Where do they come from?"
-- GP
Sedona, Arizona

I just read a bio on Belzer after reading your article. The only interesting item was the fact that he only has one testicle.
-- Ron Ramsay

Doug Powers replies:
Hmm, I would have guessed that Belzer was more than just half-nuts.

OUR ENEMIES THE DEMS
Re: Robert T. McLean's The Chinese Lecture on Human Rights:

If one were to read this litany of America's supposed human rights abuses without knowing its author, one could fairly speculate that the mostly fictional trashing came from either Al Jazeera (mouthpiece of al-Qaeda) or Congressional Democrats.

No doubt, Dems would condemn my analogy as "attacking their patriotism," but the content and tone of China's rant bears more than a passing resemblance to DNC talking points.
-- GnuCarSmell
Jacksonville, Texas

State-supported joke or drug-induced fantasy?

What matters is that China sits as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and assumes its presidency on April 1 for the month of April.

And what should also matter is how human-rights watchdog Amnesty International characterized China in AI's most recent report: "Each year thousands of Chinese citizens are put to death under a legal system plagued with corruption and secrecy. While the rest of the world moves toward abolition, Chinese authorities only continue to expand the application of the death penalty. According to reports, an average of 15,000 people per year were executed, judicially or extrajudicially, by the government between 1997 and 2001."

AI also reported in late February that after 16 years of imprisonment for "counter-revolutionary sabotage and incitement," during which he was tortured, beaten and held at length in solitary confinement, Yu Dongyue was freed, though mentally impaired from his treatment. His crime? In 1989, he threw paint at the Tiananmen Square portrait of Mao Zedong.

Too, AI reports that Chinese can be sentenced to death for publishing information on the Internet that the government considers a state secret. AI said Feb. 1, "Scores of people have been imprisoned in China for using the Internet and, of those arrested, some have died as a result of torture by the police. Those detained to date range from political activists and writers to Falun Gong practitioners and members of other religious groups banned by the authorities."

Human rights? Do the Chinese even know how to say it in any of their languages, or write it in with any character in those languages?
-- C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia

INHERENTLY REDISTRIBUTIVE
Re: D. Kelly Jones's Reactionary Riots:

I didn't understand these two sentences: "Many people who are comfortable willfully ignore the fact that their benefits come at the expense of the most needy. Contrary to popular myth, the French welfare state is not redistributive."

It seems that the problem in the first sentence is a natural reaction of the economy to a distortion caused by well meaning government. The idea that the French or any other government with a welfare program is not redistributive is counterintuitive and deserves further explanation. Their gas tax is not redistributive?

If Mr. Jones is right, this is the intersection of an economic and a character crisis caused by unnatural meddling with the natural course of the economy. Before throwing stones at the French we should consider the similarities with our Social Security problems.
-- Danny L. Newton
Cookeville, Tennessee

MISSED TARGET
Re: Christopher Orlet's Domino's Effect:

Tom Monaghan's idea was a good one but today's civil rights laws simply make such towns as he originally wanted to create illegal. His town would be considered a form of religious segregation.
-- Bro. Charles Madden
Libertyville, Illinois

Doesn't Katie have a constitutional right to be anti-Catholic? Wouldn't it be scandalous and hypocritical if she was insincere about her prejudice and animosity? Now, at least, sincere Catholic Americans know where she stands and can act accordingly.
-- unsigned

"Is this another instance of anti-Catholic bias? That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but until we see Katie Couric playing hardball with some dour bearded gentleman in a straw hat, demanding to know what the Amish have against the Playboy channel, I wouldn't rule it out." This is a rather silly conclusion. The Amish have neither electricity nor television. They couldn't care less about the Playboy channel.
-- John H. Krogstad

Christopher Orlet replies:
Before Mr. Krogstad falls off his high horse, I would call his attention to the documentary "The Devil's Playground," which follows, among others, Faron, an 18-year-old with an escalating drug habit who idolizes the late rapper Tupac Shakur -- an unlikely hero for a boy who says he hopes to follow his father into the Amish ministry. And 16-year-old Gerald of Indiana, who moves out of his parents' house to a trailer. "I didn't tell my parents for like a month," he says in the film. "They just kept wondering where I was off to and what I was doing... if I was living at home, I couldn't have 200 channels of DirecTV, a stereo and Nintendo and a fridge full of beer." Ninety percent of Amish teens return to Amish ways and join the church.

TAKE THEM ON
Re: Jed Babbin's Endgame Conservatives:

I was very impressed with your article entitled "Endgame Conservatives." I believe that Iraq can and will be democratized and transformed into a more peaceful nation-state, but only after many years (much like Germany and Japan after WWII). However, your article expressed quite well the frustration I feel about the surrounding states (Iran and Syria most notably) which are actively thwarting our mission. I wish we were militarily engaging those countries right this minute, but it seems the Administration has become hamstrung by treacherous liberals in general and, in my opinion, a traitorous Democrat Party leadership. I hope and pray our efforts in Iraq and the War on Terror succeed.
-- Bart Pemberton
Tucson, Arizona

Babbin and Lowry are both right and wrong as well. Babbin's Endgame Conservatives know that our War on Terrorism and Islamic-totalitarianism will not and cannot end until we take the battle to our enemies not only in Iraq, but beyond to Iran and Syria as well. Lowry's "to hell with them Hawks" are correct that Republicans of all stripes must remain steadfast behind our President's efforts to democratize Iraq. Endgame Conservatives mistakenly believe that this conflict or any, modern-day conflict can be prosecuted with WWII type force or abandon. "To hell with 'em Hawks" who think that bringing Democracy to Iraq alone will cause the "Arab Street" in Iran and Syria to rise up and demand the same for themselves, are equally mistaken.

Contrary to Babbin's contention, the nascent Iraqi democracy is the center of gravity in this war and the determinative factor of victory or defeat of the larger war. Much to the chagrin of Endgame Conservatives, the geo-political realities of the 21st century will not allow the world's only superpower to attack Iran, much less Syria, without provocation or an elongated period of international censure and warning. When that time finally arrives, only a strong, self-sufficient and free Iraq will be able to withstand the influx of refugees and political pressures the collapsing Sunni Baathist and fundamentalist Islamic Shiite regimes will place on their neighbor.

From the beginning of time, the Tigress and Euphrates rivers met at the center of the known world. The Garden of Eden was ground zero then and it remains so today. Twentieth century Iraq was artificially cobbled together to create a buffer state at the geographic confluence of the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish clans. The sectarian tension we see in Iraq today will surely become exacerbated from both the East and the West when the U.S. does affect regime change in Iran and Syria as part of the Global War on Terror. President Bush was right and remains right in seeing a stable democratic Iraq as the centerpiece to successfully defeating and destroying radical Islam throughout the broader Middle East.

The real question is not whether one should be a Lowry Republican or a Babbin Republican, but rather how to elect even more Republicans to Congress, so our President will have sufficient political support to see Iraq through and then turn up the heat on these other countries that harbor and support terrorist organizations. Once our military objectives are achieved, it's the creation of democracies that will keep these countries from falling back once we leave. Perhaps the Wilsonian policy quagmire we see in Iraq will not be replicated in other Arab countries that are predominantly either Sunni, Shia or Kurd, where the opportunity for insurgents to pit tribe against tribe, clan against clan do not exist to the same degree as they do in the historic center of gravity for Islam, Iraq.
-- Dennis L. Goldman
Denver, Colorado

WOW! Amen, AMEN. How can we get President Bush to read this?
-- unsigned

I spent the first half of my life opposing, and occasionally fighting, one superpower's attempt to bring the "blessings" of its ideology to the world by force. When the Soviet Union abandoned its efforts in 1990, I hoped I could relax. But now it seems the remaining superpower again has the idea of spreading a different ideology by on the point of a bayonet. Worse, this time it is my own country, and it may well lead us into strategic mistakes which will defeat our legitimate national interests.

True, democracy is infinitely preferable to Marxism, but in its current form of "democratism," it is an ideology, and some in Washington seek to impose it where they can. And whenever any idea becomes transformed into an ideology, it begins to do harm. All of a sudden the belief becomes an inflexible weapon which can be turned upon you. Democracy ceases to be a superior practice and becomes instead a moral imperative which must be met no matter what the consequence. This is a perversion of our ideals and traditions.

Contrary to what a number of pseudo-conservatives maintain, democracy and freedom in America were never an ideology, but instead the precise absence of any ideology, permitting citizens to order their lives and set their goals substantially as they choose.

Even in our Declaration of Independence, the founders implicitly recognized the legitimacy of alternative systems. That document acknowledges that for several generations British kingship was legitimate, and would have continued to be legitimate for English America, but for the fact that the current king and parliament had voided their legitimacy by abridging traditional rights of English subjects. While there were a few proto-Jacobins who wanted an anarchic revolution form the very first, most of our forefathers came to republicanism gradually, even reluctantly, including, particularly, Benjamin Franklin. After achieving independence, there were even a few who suggested establishing a native dynasty. After debate, the new leaders came to republican democracy as much by default as by theoretical argument. The theoretical explications seem to have developed more at the time of adopting the Constitution. We also remember Madison's declaration that we were defenders only of our own freedom, not the champions of others' liberties. We did nothing for France, nor for any of the other Spanish new world colonies, and precious little about Canada, once we saw they had no desire to follow us. Nor was a single one of our Indian wars about spreading democracy to the tribes; all were about the spread of our civilization. How the tribes ruled themselves was of little interest, so long as they got out of our way and did not raid our frontiers. Democracy, and in those days it was limited democracy even for us, was the default setting for ourselves, not necessarily even for our nearest neighbors.

It was only during the "progressive" age of Roosevelt, McKinley, and particularly Wilson, that some of us began to catch the infection of "imperial democracy." It is really with Woodrow Wilson that democracy first became democratism. And everywhere Wilsonianism has been tried it has yielded disaster.

First Wilson's misapplied democratic self-determination contributed to the causes of World War II. It is no mitigation of Hitler to observe that Wilson's policies facilitated the infliction of German grievances which Hitler exploited. And his policies elsewhere exacerbated rivalries between Czechs, Slovaks, Poles and Hungarians, and between the nationalities combined into Yugoslavia, which Hitler was able to exploit diplomatically. American troops stationed in the Balkans today, precisely because of Wilson's well-intentioned arrogance. Nor did Wilson's precious League of Nations do anything to retard the evil which his policies had facilitated. After World War II, a similar bout of Wilsonianism led to the abomination called the UN. Lingering Wilsonianism informed and distorted the hurried and ill-thought out decolonization of the 1950s and 1960s, which again contributes so much to the problems we face today.

The next great spasm of Wilsonianism began in 1977 under Jimmy Carter's inept direction. Most notable of Carter's legacy was his attempt to bring democracy to Iran. It is precisely to Carter's Wilsonian obsession with democracy that we now have the heirs of Ayatollah Khomeini to deal with, and by extension the other revolutionary Islamists they inspired. While the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Islamic movements had long existed, it was only during the period of obsessive democratism that they gained influence.

While the democratists have noisily championed the success of democracy everywhere outside the Middle East. We can see their claims are way overblown. During the mid-1990s, they celebrated the fact that All of Latin America, save Cuba had finally achieved Democracy. But already by the first years of our current decade, we have seen significant backsliding. Venezuela and Bolivia are democratic only in the shallowest and formalistic sense, and a number of other South American countries appear again to be at risk of joining them. Even if we manage to establish stable democratic governments in Afghanistan and Iraq, how can we have any confidence they will prove longer-lasting than Venezuela?

We should ask if we even really want democracy to succeed in Middle Eastern Islamic countries. Just a few years ago Salafist Muslims won a national election in Algeria, and everyone in the advanced world was relieved when the Algerian army removed that Islamic radical government in favor of military rule. Do we want to find out the hard way what the electorate of Syria wants? Notice that among the Palestinians HAMAS has just won a sweeping electoral victory, and leaders in both Tel Aviv and Washington are debating whether they can be treated as legitimate representatives. The Iranian people may, in majority, be tired of the Mullahs, but what do they want in their stead?

From the time of the Greeks and Romans, through the Enlightenment and the founding of our country till the time of Woodrow Wilson, it has been accepted that the conditions for democracy are rare. Democracy has always been based on two basic assumptions, first that the electorate will show the responsibility to rise above short-term personal advantage and parochial interest to vote the long term good of the community, and second that it is generally educated and knows enough about the political issues and the candidates seeking their support to have a reasonable idea of what that long term good might be. In a larger sense, Freedom is predicated on self-discipline and self rule, rather than self indulgence. It is sometimes questionable whether we and the other advanced countries of the West are any longer capable. For inexperienced Third World countries the issue is also deeply in doubt.

And here we come to the ways in which the obsession with "democracy" could cause military defeat. "Democracy" may also become a weapon to be used against us, to force us to turn upon our less than perfect allies and friends. There are different forms of "democracy"; Stalin, the Kims, Khamenei, and even Saddam all went through the formalities of elections. But we will be moved to attack the rulers of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and such places for a reality that appears less shiny than the pretenses of our enemies. This was the essence of Jeane Kirkpatrick's seminal work Dictatorships and Double Standards. This is how the Democratic Ideology does harm. For some time the anti-war and other Leftist agitators have been demanding that we should focus our hostility on the Saudi government, despite the fact that al-Qaeda has considered the Saudis equally their enemies since the early 1990s.

Does this mean we should turn our backs on Iraq and come home? Absolutely the contrary. It means we should be fighting for our own interest, against foes who mean us harm for who we are, and allying with other governments who may share common interests. During the Cold War, we formed NATO and led a half century struggle against the Soviet Union not because its government and social system were Socialist and inimical to us, but because they were committed to bringing us the "benefits" of their system. We found the deeply Social Democratic system of Sweden quite unacceptable to Americans, but because Sweden never expressed any intention of trying to force their socialism on us or other countries, we never had any serious confrontations. Now revolutionary Marxism (except for a few holdouts in North Korea, Belarus and American university faculty lounges) has abandoned its dreams of spreading itself by violence. Newly reawakened radical Muslims have taken their place as a force of militant conqueror wannabes. As such, they can be ignored no more than the Leninists, in fact, even less so, since they have greater in place resources already in our own country. But let us not become a future third wave of conquering ideologues in our own turn, particularly since our own democracy, as currently manifested seems to inculcate so much social pathology, from nihilism, militant feminism, sexual libertinism, criminality, and all the other social pathologies chronicled and denounced weekly by The American Spectator. So long as these pathologies appear to be part of the democratic package, we will have to resort to bayonets to impose it on other cultures.
-- George Mellinger

Excellent article as far as it goes. I have to admit that my main goal in Iraq was to pay back Saddam Hussein and make it clear to countries which support Islamic terrorism that they will pay a price if they support our attackers. I am dubious about democratizing the Arab countries. I think that will encourage jihadists rather than control them. I can expect dictatorships in Arab countries if those countries will behave properly in their interactions with the rest of the world. I think we should have had a dictator in place.

What Jed does not say is exactly how we can pull out of Iraq. What government would take over? How do we leave before the Iraqi military and police are ready to maintain order. If we broke Iraq, why shouldn't we put it back in order? Won't a disorderly Iraq be the worst case?

It is not clear to me that there is a good solution. I am thinking that maybe the best thing is keep killing and replacing dictators until we get one who behaves OK. I think we should be using much more terrorism to fight terrorism. The approach we took in Iraq is enormously expensive and limits our flexibility to do anything else.
-- unsigned

Jed Babbin replies:
That's one of my main points: we can't pull out of Iraq, at least for the foreseeable future. We need to hang in there and support the brave people who are risking their lives to create the democracy we've promised them. While we're there, though, we can't take our eye off the ball. There's a wider war to be fought -- diplomatically, ideologically and militarily - and we need to get on with it.

LOSERCRATS?
Re: The Prowler's Defiantly Shaky:

With all due respect, I think I know exactly where the Democrats stand. They stand in the loser box. The party is made up of a bunch of losers. The party has a loser mentality. The party is the cut and run loser party. The party has invested its entire political fortunes on losing the war in Iraq. The party has invested its entire political fortune on losing the war on terror. The party has invested its entire political fortune on losing jobs in America. Finally, the party is no longer the Democratic Party in my books, it is the Losercrat Party. And standing shoulder to shoulder with this bunch of losers is the loser mainstream media blessing every loser message that this bunch of losers deliver each and every day.

Harry and the boys and girls on the left are praying for failure, in my opinion, because they hate this president more than they want to see a successful mission in Iraq. They have become the party of losers. Good God almighty, just listen to them every day, the constant barrage of loser messages. If this bunch of losers were in power during the first year of WWII when we getting our butts kicked all over the Pacific, we'd all be speaking Japanese right now. We lost more men in the first hours of one beach landing than we have lost in the entire three years we've been in Iraq. And now they want us to cut and run so the deaths of our soldiers will have been in vain! And this bunch of losers want to take the helm in this country! God help America if they succeed! We might as well raise the white flag.

Do you hear our soldiers in Iraq saying we are losing and should cut and run? Who the hell is the expert on Iraq? Is it the fat politicians sitting in their nice cushy air conditioned offices in Washington throwing stones at our mission each and every day or is it the experts on the ground actually doing the fighting?

Don't know about the rest of America, but I am disgusted and sick and tired of listening to this bunch of losers constantly degrading and criticizing our mission in Iraq. Who is the best friend of the insurgents right now? Is it the Iraq population or is it the Losercrats in Washington? You tell me!
-- Jim L.
East Sandwich, Massachusetts

STILL IN THE TRENCHES
Re: Nathan Maskiell's letter ("Sore Winner") in Reader Mail's Your Tax Dollars at Work:

Poor Nathan Maskiell, not only is his grasp of history limited, but he's woefully uninformed about 21st century America. He needs to get out more. He clearly reflects the boorish, brutish and rapacious nature of the "19th century Yankee" quite nicely.

From his tone Nathan must live in an aging, declining, and over taxed blue state represented by such stellar sell outs as John Murtha, Dick Durbin, Ted Kennedy, Charles Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and/or Mrs. Bill Clinton -- my condolences. Nathan, take comfort in the knowledge that while your politicians and a majority of your neighbors are ready to throw in the turban to 12th-century fanatics (like they did the Communist Vietnamese a generation ago) you're safe, because a disproportionate number of Southerners (along with other brave Americans) are defending your and their right to sit on their derrieres and live in splendid ignorance.
-- Michael Tomlinson
Crownsville, Maryland

THAT WAS QUICK
Re: Tom McGonnell's letter (under "Where Do We Go From Here?") in Reader Mail's Endgame Beginnings:

We can't bomb Islam "BACK to the Stone Age." They're already there.
-- Bob Schwartz
Buffalo, New York

A DAY NEARLY WITHOUT BEN
Re: Ben Stein's Missed Tributes:

Just saw your Oscars email. Thank you SO much, Ben Stein!
-- Fred and Margaret DiRienzo
Reno, Nevada

Bravo, Ben Stein, you said it for all of America (except Hollywood)!!
-- Cathy Abramson

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