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Asymmetric Symmetry

Tough tactics in the terror war. A lefty lauds Syriana. St. Paul, properly understood. Our corruption goes deeper. Plus much else.

12.6.05

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TAKIN' IT TO THE STREETS
Re: Jay D. Homnick's Polished Hamza:

Much has been made of the conundrum faced by the United States when so-called "asymmetric warfare" is waged upon it. The leviathan American military, some would say, is in the end a Gulliver bound supine by nasty Lilliputians who hijack our commercial airliners and send explosives into our phalanxes with human (single-use) delivery systems.

What Mr. Homnick correctly suggests is that asymmetric warfare is what our enemy proposes, as it suits him, but not necessarily what we must accept. It is in the nature of a first offer, and one we should reject.

The liquidation of Mr. Rabia represents an instance of the restoration of symmetry, and one we should welcome, for in a symmetric war with the likes of al-Qaeda the advantage is entirely our own...
-- Paul Kotik
Plantation, Florida

We should be going after the terrorist anywhere they are, in any country. They brought the war to us and turn about is fair play. If Clinton had the backbone to fight back when we were attacked, then 9/11 might never have happened, but we were thought to be spineless and easy targets.
-- Elaine Kyle

COMEDICALLY PANICKED
Re: Mark Gauvreau Judge's Margaret Cho: Dingbat:

Had to say, loved the article. I had no particular interest in Robert Klein, but after reading the article, want to read his book. That's what good writing does.

Margaret Cho used to be funny. The panic of the liberals kind of scares me sometimes.
-- Angela S.
Clarksville, Tennessee

"Which is why someone slipping on a banana peal is still funny."

As some famous guy said; "never send to know for whom the banana peals; it peals for thee."
-- Gary Henkel
Colorado Springs, Colorado

HANG IN THERE
Re: Enemy Central's Out of Place:

Truth be known, the Democrats are rooting for Saddam. In my opinion, they'd love to see Saddam beat the rap! One can almost imagine the prayers from the left. Dear god all mighty Karl Marx in Utopia, please, please, please let Saddam win. Amen!

Just think how a Saddam court battle win would embarrass President Bush! Why, it might even put (we're gonna lose) Howard Dean or (our troops are terrorizing Iraq's women and children in the middle of the night) John Kerry
in the White House in oh eight! Whooo weee, what a Christmas present that would be for the left!
-- Jim L
East Sandwich, Massachusetts

CLOONIANA
Re: James Bowman's Syriana:

It is clear, from this review why it is often said that Hollywood makes films to impress each other rather than to entertain the ticket buyer. Like many, I enjoy a good conspiracy movie -- the first Manchurian Candidate comes to mind. But no matter how skillfully produced a film is, how can they expect anyone to come see a film that maintains that we are always the bad guys. Yes we are probably the most ham-fisted of the major power. But our lack of subtlety or "nuance" may just mean that we don't see essential value with the status quo. Movies that entertain and don't insult the viewer make money. Garbage like this is successful only if they can fool enough people to overlook the inherent hate for our country.
-- Lee Rodgers

What a hilarious review and the fantasy world that guy lives in: "But then that could be one of the problems with making a film torn from the headlines of 30-odd years ago rather than today."

I doubt even Syriana -- despite all the pro-Bush people attacking it -- really gets to the truth of the horrific crap we are doing to those poor people.

I don't recall us gassing Iraqis with Pentoxide 30 years ago

Last I knew, the oil monopolies, defense contractors, 30 years ago under Nixon only TALKED about doing this kind of crap like what these mobsters are doing. They should all be tried for War Crimes right along next to their puppet Saddam.

Keep shoveling the lies -- only thing it'll do is make sure another poor son or daughter dies
-- Kyle Lussier

So I guess we've now learned from George Clooney that torture works! I know Hollywood was good for something...
-- Todd Gross

CUT THROUGH THE FILTERS
Re: Jed Babbin's What I Expect to Find:

While I'm not a gambling man, I'll bet my hard earned money on a United States Military win in Iraq and indeed on the war on terror. From my perspective, that's a pretty safe bet. What will you find in Iraq? Probably a world that is one hundred and eighty degrees out of phase from the left wing mainstream media and the left wing Democratic Party. I think we can all safely conclude now with one hundred percent accuracy that the left wing Democrat party has indeed invested its fortunes in losing the war in Iraq. And without a doubt, it is clearly apparent that the Democrats and the mainstream media feel if they keep pounding the defeat table, eventually the American voter will begin to believe in what the Democrats are praying for each and every day.

As for me, I think the Democratic Party is disgraceful and anti American. Chairman Mao Dean, the DNC leader has completely gone off the deep end and has taken most in his party with him. God help America if this gang of losers ever regains power in this country. In any case, to my way of thinking, the Democratic Party is on a direct path to the scrap heap of history. Joe Lieberman sir, get out now while you still can. You are too much of a patriot and statesman to be associated with that pack of losers. If you run for president as a Republican in 2008, you have my vote! But, never as a Democrat!
-- Jim L
East Sandwich, Massachusetts

Elizabeth Vargas is really stretching her lipstick tonight. While you are over seeing our countrymen, please find a box big enough for Elizabeth until the war is over. Her passionate "reporting" tonight is really borderline. What are we supposed to do with high-ranking prisoners, keep them in the Hilton? I have had enough. Mr. Jennings is still running ABC.
-- Martin N. Tirrell
Lisbon, New Hampshire

NO PAULINE SYNTHESIS
Re: Dennis B. Wilson's letter (under "Holiday on Wheels") in Reader Mail's Happy Honda Day and Patrick Hynes's Keeping the Christ in Christ:

Dennis B. Wilson's e-mail concerning the role of Paul of Tarsus in the establishment of early Christianity is broadly correct in its observation that Paul more than any other man was responsible for the spread of the new faith throughout the eastern half of the Mediterranean world. However, he repeats a number of old and easily discredited canards regarding Paul's "synthesis" of the teachings of Jesus and various "Eastern mystery religions" to create a new, syncretistic religion that was both more acceptable to gentile pagans and at the same time a distortion of the "real" teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Theories of this sort arose out of the writings of Bultmann and other 19th century theologians, whose knowledge of both early Christianity and first century Judaism, to say nothing of the ancient mystery cults, was not particularly well informed by the standards of modern scholarship (though one notes that they have their contemporary acolytes today among those who wish to detach Christianity from Jesus so as to have the latter without the former, so much the better to rebuild Christ to their own specifications). In fact, the more we know about both first-century Judaism, the writings of Paul, and the life of Jesus, the less tenable the theory that Paul "invented" Christianity becomes. Those who would like to understand better the complex role and teachings of Paul in relationship to Jesus, Judaism and the early Church, would be well advised to consult the work of E. P. Sanders (Paul and Palestinian Judaism) and N.T. Wright (The New Testament and the People of God, Jesus and the Victory of God, The Resurrection of the Son of God, and What Saint Paul Really Said), who are just two of the more accessible scholars whose research is revealing the fundamental historical basis of Christian orthodoxy.
-- Stuart Koehl
Falls Church, Virginia

ABANDON ALL RULES?
Re: George Neumayr's The Commode of D.C.:

Mr. Neumayr is exactly right to identify the case of Duke Cunningham as an awkward example of Congressional corruption, rather than an isolated instance of it. The well-entrenched lobby industry and hollow ethics codes are symptomatic of troubles far greater than this red herring.

But is it not naive and simplistic (or at least awfully convenient) to suggest that willingness to cut taxes is the true "test of a politician's commitment" to honest governance? Certainly Mr. Neumayr can marshal countless other viable arguments for lowering taxes and reducing the size of government, so few readers would object to this editorial prescribing the same medicine for another malady. Certainly, though, the point of the rest of the editorial is that Congressional abuses are systematic, not partisan or tied to political ideology.

We should honestly assess whether reducing the size of government to any realistic level ("what is proper for the federal government to do") would truly solve this problem. Even should federal government spending be curtailed to a fiscal conservative's fondest dream (let's imagine spending only for the Pentagon, Homeland Security, and the Interstate Highways), in this day and age, would those hundreds of billions of dollars not still be enough to attract an army of lobbyists, or tempt the politicians with its oversight? The logical corollary to believing this is to be astonished to find any corruption in state or local governments, all of which have budgets far smaller.

Campaign finance laws or other ethical hurdles may be incremental at best, and disingenuous at worst, but should we abandon all attempts to define what is "proper for a congressman to do"?

In the end, there is no magic bullet, or easy answer; only by deciding that corruption is inexcusable can the public be rid of it. The American voter is told, with increasing sophistication, by party leaders and pundits, that allowing the opposition candidate to win would be far worse than any wrongs perpetrated by our guy. We're told that our ends are worth the means, while theirs are just plain corruption. Until conservatives and liberals decide that our own agendas are not more important than honesty and fairness, we'll keep getting more of the same.
-- Evan Humphreys
Reno, Nevada

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