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Record Grades

John Kerry cum laude. Plus much more, including professorial experts on Ben Stein. Also, a Nathan Hale revival.

6.8.05

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STILL WAITING, SENATOR
Re: The Prowler's Doing a 180:

Okay, let's accept as fact that he has signed the form. That doesn't mean he has sent it to the Pentagon for processing. And at the rate he's been moving, it'll take him another couple of years to find a stamp, lick it, affix it to an envelope, and drop the form in a mailbox.

Then, assuming that the Pentagon doesn't just make several thousand copies of everything in the file and distribute to every media outlet in the country -- that there is some sort of opportunity for the requestor to review the material -- Kerry may well take another few years in this process.

Then there is likely to be some back and forth between Kerry and the Pentagon -- some alleged inaccuracies, some challenges -- that could easily take years more.

Once these disputes are resolved comes the time-consuming task of actually preparing the material for public release -- copying, collating, stapling, and the like. Chalk up another few years.

Best estimate is that sometime around mid-century Kerry's records will see the light of day.

That is if he doesn't announce, on or about his 100th birthday, that he actually had decided to release the files, before he decided against it.
-- Chuck Vail

It has been several weeks since I first saw where Kerry had signed this form and the comment then was it had not been mailed. Does not do any good to just sign it, maybe they can't afford the postage. Still waiting to see what is in the records. Hopefully I will live that long.
-- Elaine Kyle
Cut & Shoot, Texas

This article asks of John Kerry, "How does a man who attended the best private schools and Yale undergrad end up going to what was then a mediocre Boston College law school?" and refers to suggestions that a less than stellar discharge from the military may have been the cause. But if a June 7 article on Fox News is accurate, the explanation is simpler. It says that Kerry had a 76 average his freshmen year, did better every year, and managed an average of 81 his senior year, when he got his highest grade of 89. Seemingly, he never got a single A and his overall GPA was C or C+. Not exactly Harvard Law School material. Also, it would seem that the BC law school really was mediocre at the time if they accepted students with credentials like this.
-- Chris Mackay
Edmonton, Alberta

In the South, we've a saying that things sometimes are more difficult than squeezing blood out of a turnip. In this case, Kerry's the turnip and what we're trying to squeeze is truth from someone who avoids it or is unfamiliar with it.

He covers up something. I'm with the Prowler: Kerry's hiding his less-than-honorable discharge from the U.S. Naval Reserve for his treasonous meetings with the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong delegations to the Paris Peace Talks, while still an officer in the armed forces of our country.

If he strategizes he can ride out that storm and make a run for the Democrat presidential nomination, he's mistaken and delusional. Badly. But I'd bet his home in Boston's Louisburg Square he thinks he can, just like I'd bet he thinks the Bay State will ignore his ignominy.
-- C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia

CHARGE FELT
Re: James Bowman's It Felt Wrong:

The fact that there has been no suggestion that federal prosecution of Mark Felt is being contemplated is especially interesting to me in the wake of the government's high-profile prosecution of Martha Stewart for her having lied to the FBI -- and their later having secured her humiliation and imprisonment as an example to others. Would the following passage from Mark Felt's 1979 book, The FBI Pyramid, not qualify him for prosecution? Is it a crime, punishable by imprisonment, for a citizen such as Martha Stewart, who is without legal training, to lie to junior agents of the FBI, but not a punishable offense for the second-in-charge of the FBI, who has a law degree, to deliberately lie to the Director of the FBI?

I quote from Felt's 1979 book:

Shortly after he returned from sick leave [January, 1973], Gray confided to me, "You know, Mark, Dick Kleindienst told me that I might have to get rid of you. He says White House staff members are convinced that you are the FBI source of leaks to Woodward and Bernstein" -- the Washington Post reporters who were writing up the Watergate story almost as fast as it was being investigated.

I said, "Pat, I haven't leaked anything to anybody. They are wrong!"

"I believe you," Gray answered, "but the White House doesn't. Kleindienst has told me on three or four occasions to get rid of you but I refused. He didn't say this came from higher up but I am convinced that it did."

This disclosure came as an unpleasant surprise. My contacts with Kleindienst had been frequent and friendly -- there had never been the slightest indication that I was suspect. I could feel anger rising in me but I was very appreciative of Gray's indication of support. Gray went on: "I told Kleindienst that you've worked with me in a very competent manner and I'm convinced that you are completely loyal. I told him I was not going to move you out. Kleindienst told me, 'Pat, I love you for that.'"

What am I missing? Surely there is no statute of limitations for the sort of crime Felt committed. Even if there were, it is only one week since Felt's criminality was known for a certainty because the only individual besides Felt who knew that he had lied shamelessly to the FBI Director (as described in his nook in his own words) was Woodward himself (all others, including Felt's family, Bernstein and Bradlee, knew only hearsay from Felt and Woodward) who, for more than three decades, had protected Felt from prosecution. Could Woodward, whose crime (obstruction of justice) has only been known for a certainty for one week, be prosecuted for obstructing justice?
-- Byron Lane

One of the themes of Nixon's adult life was his feeling that others were out to get him. Although the discussion between Nixon and Haldeman that has been released concomitant with the Felt revelation seems harsh. Haldeman telling Nixon that Felt was a Jew -- the larger point -- Haldeman's speculation to Nixon that Felt was leaking at the FBI -- was absolutely true.

It appears that Nixon's view of the harshness of politics was to some degree correct. JFK may have had many admirable qualities, but playing fair was not one of them. The ethic of the Kennedy's was to do what was necessary to win, and at the time, they were admired for it. Ditto with Lyndon Johnson.

So Nixon's Hobbesian view of the political world which is reflected in the White House tapes was in fact often quite true. Unfortunately, Nixon let that fact deflect him from the true path. He surrounded himself with extremist operators who ultimately brought him down. Perhaps the greatest irony is that the original assignment of the Plumbers was the Pentagon Papers. That was not really Nixon's problem. He made it his problem by seeing it in a larger sense as an attack on the confidentiality of government processes. Which was true, but perhaps overblown. In any case, it started the Plumbers on their career of ransacking offices that ultimately brought everybody down. And once they started down that road, what choice did the public have when it became known?
-- Greg Richards

The last line of your article "It Felt Wrong" was brilliant. Volumes of truth and meaning were contained in that one succinct sentence and I experienced its full weight. At that moment, all the other articles on the same topic that I had read seemed unnecessary. You exhibited true craftsmanship and I applaud you.
-- Barbara D. Crone

RESTORING NATHAN HALE
Re: Andrew Cline's Nathan Hale, American Martyr:

Kudos to Andrew Cline for his contribution to this webzine regarding the (short) life and death of America's first martyr, Nathan Hale. It is a story worth telling, especially today, because Hale's life is virtually unknown among the overwhelming majority of American schoolchildren, his heroism and devotion to country are considered to be of minor importance. He has been replaced in school history texts by references to the Seneca Falls Convention and Sojourner Truth.

Hale and his last words have haunted me from the first time I heard them in grammar school in New York City in the late 1940s; in fact, we were required to memorize them. Hale's brief life was not only taught, but also given a certain reverence, for here was a man who had made the great sacrifice, as had so many during World War II. That was a time of protracted patriotism in this country, and Hale was an avatar of what giving one's life for one's country meant.

Several years ago, I began to research the life and death of Nathan Hale, traveling to Yale's Beinecke Library, where his papers are kept. I noticed that there had not been an adult biography of Hale written since the 1930s, although several children's books had been published. In 1979, Frances Fitzgerald would describe the changes in history texts including the elimination of Hale and the subordination of George Washington in her America Revised: History Schoolbooks in the 20th Century. As one supporter of Hale's demotion in high school texts chirped, history is "explanation," not "veneration." I would suggest that what has happened is the transference of "veneration" to a totally different cast of characters.

While researching the Hale papers, I happened to pass his statue near the Department of Justice building on Constitution Ave. in Washington, where Bela Lyon Pratt's sculpture of Hale, hands and feet bound, stands back from the walkway. Not too far away, a school bus was waiting to take a class of Pennsylvania high school students home. I asked about a half dozen if they would help me by following me a short distance to the statue. They agreed. I then inquired if they had ever heard of, or read anything about, Nathan Hale while in school. I thanked them for their help, but I knew the answer before I asked the question.

Pax tecum.
-- Vincent Chiarello
Reston, Virginia

Great article but one observation! When Nathan Hale asked for a chaplain and a Bible and was refused, Mr. Cline wonders how the ACLU and Amnesty International would have played that. Well, they would probably have totally agreed. However, if Nathan Hale had asked for an Imam and a Koran and been denied, the ACLU would have immediately been all over the 1776 equivalent of CNN and the New York Times and, would have somehow blamed it on George Washington.
-- John Teachey
Charlotte, North Carolina

MORE THANKS
Re: Ben Stein's The Cost of the War on Terrorism:

This is among the most moving things I've ever read. God bless Ben Stein, and God bless our fighting men and women.
-- Brian L. Browdy
Chicago, Illinois

The children always represent the bravest and the best mankind offers. Mr. Stein shows us once again the power of that bravery. Thank you.
-- Jim Haupt
New Orleans, Louisiana

Bravo, to America's valiant survivors. Bravo to Ben Stein who knows value when he sees it.
-- Roz Hudson
Los Angeles, California

Ben Stein: words can't describe my admiration of him. I am retired military and barely missed going to Desert Storm (round one). After 9/11, I called my old helicopter unit and told them to take me back -- they politely turned me down but were grateful for the call. I would still go back in a heartbeat!

Ben's article on the "Cost of the War on Terrorism" was profound and moving. He really gets it about the military!
-- Dave Klosterman, Major, USAFR (Ret.)

NARCOTIC SANITY
Re: John Tabin's Scalia v. Thomas:

I'm a doc and for a time was a state legislator. We debated medical marijuana. During a committee meeting, I was called out by a conservative colleague and ushered into a small closet. In the closet was a man in a wheelchair with a debilitating pain syndrome which only marijuana relieved. He was also a political conservative and a state employee. They both asked my support on legalizing the use of marijuana for the relief of suffering.

Morphine comes from the same place heroin comes from, yet we would never consider outlawing morphine because it can be a substance of abuse.

At work and in the legislature, I have also become familiar with the carnage that alcohol, our legal drug, brings to people's lives. Marijuana is not anything like the menace that alcohol is.

Our national drug policy, like our national health care system, is an irrational and chaotic mess. A tiny step toward sanity would be the legalization of marijuana for the relief of suffering.

Thanks for the fine article.
-- Allen Hurt

WATERGATE CRIMINOLOGY
Re: Ben Stein's Deep Throat and Genocide and I Don't Feel for Felt:

I find the condemnations of Felt increasingly weird--especially Mr. Stein's. The Nixon tapes reveal the disgraced President's anti-Semitism in all its Southern California small town Rotary Club glory. And, let us not forget, the Committee to Reelect the President (acronym CREEP for god's sake) and other White House minions were committing common felonies (burglary of your opponent's political headquarters being just one) in order to try and guarantee Mr. Nixon's reelection. Whether Nixon knew of the break in or not, he certainly authorized the payment of hush money to try and get the burglars to dummy up.

Is this the sort of behavior self-described conservatives should be supporting? And for those who say Mark Felt should have gone to his superiors, those superiors were L. Patrick Gray, the FBI head who was busy dumping documents in the Potomac at the behest of the White House, and Attorney General John Mitchell who was effectively running CREEP.

Dick Nixon was a criminal. The people around him were criminals. Barry Goldwater thought so, which is why the famously told Nixon right before the president resigned that, "You have maybe 10 supporters in the Senate. And I'm not one of them." Mr. Goldwater was the sort of conservative who understood that people who commit common crimes are, uh, common criminals.
-- Jack Purdy

In the good old days of the '70s, carrying out covert wars and trying to cheat and steal to win an election were considered criminal activities.

Mr. Stein's column, "Deep Throat and Genocide," could not have been more disingenuous. How about a little truth in advertising? Here's a question for you: Who was Mr. Stein's boss at the time of Watergate? Ah yes, it was Richard Nixon. That administration's dishonest stench still hovers over Mr. Stein's essay.
-- Linda Dorf Rips

Regardless of Felt's motivation, Richard Nixon committed a crime for which he paid the consequences, making it very difficult for most objective people to feel sympathy for him. Had Nixon not committed said crime, Felt would not have taken the action he did.
-- W. Simmons
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Ben Stein is sobbing in his beer ("Deep Throat and Morose Unremitting and bloviational whining," Ben Stein, 6/1/2005). "Oh, poor misunderstood Richard Nixon. Oh, the horror, the horror." The fact is that Nixon is a criminal and was surrounded by other criminals, apparently including Mr. Stein. Leaving aside his incredibly moronic notion that Nixon's loss created the Cambodian disaster (right up there with Reagan ending communism as historical lies), we have one of the most morose and whine-filled pieces that I have ever read. Other criminal apologists, including Chuck Colson and Gordon Liddy, actually did jail time. Is it too late to charge Mr. Stein with something? Or are we left with the standard charge for conservaboobs: unremitting, thoroughly undiluted stupidity as his condition?
-- Paul A. Thompson
Belleville, Illinois

Editor's Note:
"Oh, the horror" is right. Mr. Thompson hails from academia, St. Louis's Washington University, to be precise, where he is Research Associate Professor of Biostatistics. Perhaps he spends his sabbaticals in a crime lab.

BACKING DOWN
Re: Dimitri Cavalli's A Righteous Gentile:

Cornwell has withdrawn his extreme charges against Pope Pius XII.
-- R.L.A. Schaefer
Dubuque, Iowa

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