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Renew My Cancellation

Newsweek gets stuck in its plumbing. Plus: Happy Gay Anniversary. What if the Cessna had been shot down? McCarrick once again. And much, much more.

5.18.05

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WHAT A LOAD
Re: George Neumayr's Newsweek Blows Smoke:

So, when do I get to see the bumper sticker, placards and hear the sound-bites from Air America saying, "Newsweek Lied; People Died."
-- Rick Osial
Montclair, Virginia

George Neumayr's "Newsweek Blows Smoke" described mainstream media's clumsy and often dishonest attempts at undermining world support for American efforts at self-defense and the active advance of freedom as "a cynical game." Quite correct, but what is the effect of this cynical game?

Superficially, Newsweek and others simply oppose ANY proposal or action taken by a Republican (and Christian) President whether or not such action is proper, logical, moral or necessary. If the same actions were undertaken by a more "favored" political force (however unlikely) Iraq war stories would read more like local high school football coverage. And therein lies the cynicism.

Such transparent and dishonest political sniping by Newsweek results in divisiveness at home and abroad, loss of life, increased suspicion of American motives and -- worst of all -- prolongs the work that needs to be finished in the Middle East.
-- Deane Fish
Altamont, New York

A nickel's worth of common sense could have saved about 20 lives here. What happens when you try to flush a book -- even a small paperback -- down the commode? It can't take it. Most Korans that I have seen, like most Bibles, are big hardbacks. Unless the crappers at Gitmo have pipes two feet wide, it's not possible to flush any books at all.

The editors at Newsweek didn't have to check and double check their sources -- all they would have needed was to pay attention when they visited their own executive washroom....
-- Martin Owens
Sacramento, California

A Newsweek article referring to an urban myth, the incredible flushing Korans of Guantanamo Bay, may be both dumb and unprofessional, but it's not inflammatory.

Condoleezza Rice, a Christian woman, referring to the Koran as "holy," a politically correct bromide intended to show one's respect for the faith of others but which sends out sorts of weird and wonderful mixed messages -- that's inflammatory.
-- Martin Kelly
Glasgow, Scotland

The best "explanation" I've seen so far came from a guest on The Charlie Rose Show (on PBS for those of you playing at home). The problem wasn't the Newsweek report. The "bigger" problem was that people were so quick to believe this story because the United States had lost its credibility. There you have it folks. It's George Bush's fault!
-- Randy Gammon
Drexel, Missouri

The Justice Department should launch an investigation into the fact that Newsweek may have had an active role into the deaths of fifteen Afghanis in the anti- U.S. riots in Afghanistan last week. Newsweek should not be given a pass on this. If outlets of mass media keeps getting away with this type of dime store journalism there is no telling in how brazen reporters and editors will become to get the ratings and influencing world events with shoddy journalism.

The damage that Newsweek's story has caused to U.S., foreign policy will have far reaching consequences that are still reverberating. This issue will not go by the wayside as did the fabricated story that CBS aired about President Bush's National Guard Service. Michael Isikoff, John Barry, and Editor Mark Whitaker as well as anyone else that was involved should be personally held responsible

Newsweek, Michael Isikoff, John Barry, and Mark Whitaker should pay financial restitution to the dead victims and an in person apology to the grieving families, and Muslim world for their irresponsible journalistic behavior. There are only two ways that can get the attention of the wheels that operate Newsweek and other media outlets, these three amigos should be brought up on manslaughter charges if so warranted, but doubtful. The other is more sacred than human life in the journalistic world, MONEY. Newsweek should be slapped with the largest wrongful death suit in world history. Stock holders don't like to part with their money and if Newsweek would be forced to pay millions in restitution in a wrongful death suit, shoddy journalism would go by the way of the dinosaurs overnight.

Somewhere I heard a phrase by a journalism student in stating why he chose that particular profession. "I want to make a difference," was the student's reply. When did journalism change from reporting events as they happen to actively influencing them?
-- Melvin L. Leppla
Jacksonville, North Carolina

Upon reading this piece in the Spectator, I was reminded of the Classic Ray Bradbury novel Fahrenheit 451. The hero, Guy Montag, is a fireman; however, in this society, a fireman is one who responds to an alarm indicating that books have been found. Arriving at the building in question, he and his cohorts proceed to douse the structure with gasoline and burn it, and the books therein, to the ground. Mr. Thomas's argument that the story of the profaned Koran was already out there, and that Newsweek merely repeated it sounds to me like Mr. Montag claiming that the fire had already started and all he did was to help it to continue. Newsweek, like the rest of the liberal media, has an agenda to present. That agenda is, in the main, to criticize virtually everything that comes from this Administration, and to foment as much discord against this Administration as it possibly can. I would have no real problem with the criticism were it straightforward and honest. My constant complaint about this Liberal Media is the hypocrisy of proclaiming its evenhandedness and lack of bias while it engages in the most scurrilous and dishonest attacks on any and all center-right opinions. The classic stupidity of the "Since you didn't deny it, it must be true" line, followed by the "Oh, it's not true? Well, it's your fault for letting us print it" is the print equivalent of the old "Have you stopped beating your wife?" line. Newsweek's attempt to have it both ways by blaming the administration for not denying the story could easily have been shifted to blaming the administration for denying the story. It's Newsweek's own variation on the "Heads I win, tails you lose" gambit. As for the value of Newsweek in anyone's effort to keep up with current events, the magazine is about as useful as chop sticks in a bowl of soup.
-- Joseph Baum
Newton Falls, Ohio

On the rare occasions when Michael Isikoff is mentioned as the author of the Newsweek/Koran story, it is almost always proceeded by "what a great journalist he is," "how well respected," and in short, he is cleansed of any wrongdoing. A couple of seconds thumbing through Howard Kurtz's Spin Cycle reveals (on page 236) regarding Kathleen Willey's charges against President Clinton, "Isikoff couldn't persuade Willey to go on the record, and he wasn't going to level such a serious charge with an anonymous source." And, on the Monica Lewinsky story (referencing page 292 of the same tome) he had the story for over a year, but was unwilling to act on it, no doubt because of the sources. In both instances it was revelations by Matt Drudge and other publications and networks that forced to him to act on these stories.

As I said, the above is a result of a brief scanning of one reference. I'm sure you have access to any number of sources and researchers and could expand on this point more definitively than me. The fact is Isikoff is just another member, regardless of talent, of the elite media, who salivate and publish anything negative regarding this country, this administration, and our military. And, the safety, welfare, and well being of our citizens, soldiers, and allies be damned. Please point this out.
-- Bill Corsair
New York City

Newsweek "lied and people died." The libbies loved to say that about George Bush. However, I can write that about Newsweek magazine and count them. SIXTEEN. Sixteen people died needlessly because Michael Isikoff, Evan Thomas, et al., could not be bothered to check their facts and get at least one corroborating source.

How low the mighty have fallen. CBS and now Newsweek. Who's next, boys? I can hardly wait -- they are falling like dominoes.
-- Judy Beumler
Louisville, Kentucky

I stopped reading Time and Newsweek 30 years ago when I realized that many pieces seemed to have a "fly on the wall" perspective as if the reporter were in the room with the subject or had conversations with the subject regarding the piece. It's about as useful as listening to an analyst after the market has closed.

It's never been clearer to me that the broadcast and print media need a code of conduct and an industry enforcement unit just like realtors, stock brokers and doctors have.
-- Howard Lohmuller
Seabrook, Texas

Remember when the President was given widely believed, but faulty intel? When he acted on the bad intel the libs said, "Bush lied and people died!" Given that Newsweek also had faulty intel, does that mean "Newsweek/Isikoff lied and people died"? Do you think Newsweek will now be a bit more understanding of GWB? The answer is NO!
-- Glenn Smith
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Can anyone say "egregious," "despicable," "cowardly" and "evil"?

How much lower can or will Newsweek -- and the other shills for the anti-Bush, anti-American, anti-capitalist, anti-military, anti-Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, anti-any-good-news-anywhere advocacy press -- go? Will they stage their own violence next?

The advocacy press has real blood on its hands. For Newsweek's incendiary, unsubstantiated story, what is their penance for inciting the killing of people? Should their editors be accused and then judged in a court of law? Better still, should they be turned over for summary judgment to the families and loved ones of those who were killed?

Newsweek published rumor. And, as I once heard in a non-denominational Christian church, spreading gossip is akin to going aloft in an airplane and emptying the contents of a feather pillow over a city: You can never gather all the feathers back. Can the damage Newsweek did ever be gathered back or undone? No.

That magazine must be held accountable and pay for throwing more gasoline on a fire they helped start long ago. And boycotting their magazine doesn't even begin to describe what they should suffer.
-- C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia

"Newsweek was not the first to report allegations of desecrating the Qur'an. As early as last spring and summer, similar reports from released detainees started surfacing in British and Russian news reports, and in the Arab news agency Al-Jazeera; claims by other released detainees have been covered in other media since then."

The Qur'an permits persons to lie... if the lie is for the greater good (the Islamic greater good). In the major media... the unsubstantiated utterances of these terrorists and criminals are all too often taken as fact. Do these morons realize these people are the enemy? It appears to me that much of the news wonks have been educated beyond reasonable usefulness. They KNOW everything... and UNDERSTAND nothing! Even if this story had been valid... WHY print it? The ramifications are damaging to the position of the United States beyond mention. This country is at war. I would fully support a news blackout of any and all things regarding these Islamic fanatics in U.S. custody.
-- Bill Shaw, AO1(AW) USN (ret.)
Baltimore, Maryland

PROGRESSIVE REFERENDA
Re: W. James Antle III's Gay Marriage Down, Not Out:

Proponents of gay "marriage" claim gays were "disenfranchised" by the (Nebraska) marriage amendment. Opponents responded, "They have every right to undertake the amendment process themselves and get a different measure passed -- that's the way democracy is designed to work."

Indeed. The amendment process was intended to put onus on the ADVOCATE of change, NOT those who favor the status quo. The gist of Antle's article is the burden has now been shifted.
-- Gordon Paravano
Sedona, Arizona

Mr. Antle pens a reasonable and low-key article on gay marriage, without the usual hubris and hyperventilation of writers such a Cal Thomas and Maggie Gallagher. One issue that perplexes me is that in all of the writings on this topic by "conservatives" (neocons and religious fundamentalists), there is little or no mention of the current state of heterosexual marriage and what needs to be done to restore it to its alleged place at the top of the heap of civilization.

The destruction of marriage began with the sexual revolution, abortion and now, no-fault divorce. The heterosexual serial adulterers and divorcers are what is really destroying marriage and the family. Not once have I heard anyone who is against gay marriage also propose to outlaw divorce or impose harsh punishment for adulterers. This is the reason many people feel that the pro FMA or anti gay marriage crowd sound like hypocrites and bigots. Gay people currently have nothing to do with the sorry state of marriage, yet are the focus of a campaign aimed at writing discrimination into the constitution. Social conservatives can continue to "make the case for traditional marriage" by focusing on their own issues with divorce and adultery and stop this cowardly campaign to pin all of marriages problems on the homosexual community.
-- Ben Berry
Washington, D.C.

W. James Antle III replies:
Mr. Berry raises a fair point. The decline of marriage over the past few decades has been fueled by heterosexual behavior, with men and women divorcing, cohabitating, committing adultery or refusing to marry altogether. One of the consequences of this degradation of marriage is that we are having a debate over same-sex nuptials today.

The case against gay marriage is not that homosexuals as people are somehow uniquely unqualified to be married. The main concern is that classifying even the most committed same-sex relationships as marriages threatens to erase the entire concept of marriage.

Redefining marriage as a unisex institution changes the purpose and expectations attached to the institution, blurring the distinction between matrimony and other sexual relationships. The way we think about marriage -- its connection to fathers and mothers as well as husband and wife -- will forever be altered.

The phenomena Mr. Berry cites as examples of traditional marriage's problems all stem from making marriage less about family and children and more about the sexual satisfaction of adults. Same-sex marriage only takes us further down that road.

THE UNFORSAKEN
Re: Michael Fumento's Staying Alive:

Thank you for your fine article on movies and the disabled. You would want to know that the movie Million Dollar Baby was based on a true story and the book written about it. In the real world, the Maggie character got depressed, her parents realized it and moved in to keep her from suicide, and Maggie is doing quite well. In this case, truth is more compassionate and inspiring than fiction. It might even be good if you would look this up through Google and share this point with American Spectator readers also.
-- R.L.A. Schaefer
Dubuque, Iowa

GET IT CONSTITUTIONAL
Re: Brandon Crocker's Constitutional Ignorance:

The checks and balances are between the branches of government, not the political parties.
-- unsigned

The badge the current Democrat Party's leadership waves about their obstructionism and misreading of the Constitution is really one of separatism, not ignorance.

But both drive the Dems' apparent desire to live, it seems, in an alter-U.S., one uninhabited by Republicans, conservatives, Christians or anyone else who might encumber the Dems with facts or oppose their views. How silly. How un-American.

Imagine what things we could be accomplishing in America if they would join the rest of us -- it's called unity -- instead of fighting America and plotting against and undermining her Constitution.
-- C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia

THE WIZARD OF TAS
Re: James Bowman's review of Monster-in-Law:

Someone should pay just tribute to whoever wrote your subhead for this review ("Worst person I know..."). And since I doubt James Bowman listens to Ernie K. Doe (is that unfair?), it's thus someone on staff. Was I the only one to pick up on this reference? God but I hope not, I'd feel impossibly old. But then, if you guys start quoting Coldplay and Queens of the Stone Age, I'm outta here anyway.
-- Richard Szathmary

Please, please, no more publicity for, discussion of, or mention of things involving Ms. Fonda. Every time you are tempted to mention her, you (and we as conservatives) should be required to write 100 words about the good deeds done by one of our young military heroes and heroines. Let Ms. Fonda do what she should have done after her trip to Hanoi...just quietly disappear.
-- William R. Falzone
Seminole, Florida

EASY PICKINGS
Re: Wlady Pleszczynski's John Simon Says... and Doug Welty's letter (under "A Master of English") in Reader Mail's Behold the Critic:

After reading Doug Welty's favorite John Simon line, I thought I'd share mine. I'm going from memory, so please forgive me if my attribution to Mr. Simon is incorrect. And I don't remember it verbatim, but in reviewing some other movie, the Critic referred to Easy Rider as his favorite '60s counter-cultural movie, because it was the only one with a happy ending.
-- Dan Martin
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

DON'T SHOOT THE CESSNA
Re: Reid Collins's Assumptions:

Mr. Collins makes a valid point that a deterrent policy is meaningless, indeed counterproductive, unless the policy is made credible by a demonstrable will to enforce it. That said, he's quite a bit off the mark with regard to the incident of the errant Cessna. Once having intercepted the small plane, there was never any doubt that the aircraft could be shot down at will. Given the slow speed of the aircraft, a final decision of whether to do so could be deferred literally to the last moment. Such would not be the case with a larger and faster aircraft, such as a business jet or commercial airliner, and tactical controllers would certainly take that into account in issuing their orders to the intercepting aircraft. Given the luxury of time provided by the nature of the erstwhile target, the controllers were not under the pressure to decide sooner than necessary. According to the pilots who made the intercept, that decision was just a few seconds away when the pilot of the Cessna responded.

Aside from humanitarian concerns (one should never be hasty in taking human life), there were some serious practical issues to be considered, which Mr. Collins failed to recognize and address. The first is the population density of the No-Fly Zone. The 30-mile radius around the Washington Monument is extensively built up and consists of residential suburbs and commercial districts interspersed with relatively small strips of uninhabited land. Second, Mr. Reid fails to consider that what goes up must come down. Contrary to depictions in popular film, when an aircraft is shot down, whether by cannon fire or by guided missiles, it does not disintegrate into a brief puff of red flame and black smoke, and then disappear. Rather, it is blown into varying size chunks of metal, accompanied in many cases by considerable volumes of burning aviation fuel, all of which must fall to the ground.

Some pieces of aerial debris can be quite sizable, even for a small plane like a Cessna: the engine block, the wings, even the tires, falling from a couple of thousand feet, can put quite a divot in houses, cars, and even people. Given that the plane was less than halfway to its intended destination, a lot of burning fuel would also come out of the sky, to land on those houses, cars and people. Moreover, airplanes do not just fall out of the sky, they must be attacked by cannon shells or guided missiles. Given the size of the target, it is most likely that the F-16s would have chosen to use their 20mm M61 Vulcan Gatling guns (an AIM-9 Sidewinder costs considerably more than a used Cessna, and would be massive overkill in any case). Given that the Vulcan can fire 6,000 rounds per minute, and that just one 20mm round can destroy a Cessna, even if the pilot of the F-16 fired just quarter second burst, between 50-150 rounds would be fired.

Most of those would miss the Cessna (either due to the natural dispersion pattern of the gun, or because, after the first rounds hit, there would be nothing for them to hit), and the remaining rounds would then travel some two or three miles downrange, until they hit the ground. As we saw with the recent accident involving F-16s firing their cannon over New Jersey, even inert rounds can cause substantial damage to property. These would be live, high-explosive rounds, and there would be a very high risk "collateral damage" on the ground.

One shudders to think of what might happen if the F-16 fired a Sidewinder missile, instead. Sidewinders are pretty accurate, but they do miss, in which case, one would have a live, infrared-homing missile headed directly for downtown DC, ready to lock onto any significant heat source -- chimneys, overheating cars, even a legitimate aircraft flying into Washington National.

So, there are a lot of factors that go into deciding whether or not to shoot, and Mr. Collins chose to ignore most of them in order to make a polemical point, an example of armchair generalship at its absolute worst. The pilots of the Air National Guard and their ground controllers are highly trained professionals, who know their jobs and their duty, and I would much rather defer to their judgment than that of a rank amateur like Reid Collins.
-- Stuart Koehl
Falls Church, Virginia

CARDINAL MEMO
Re: The Prowler's Clerical Losers:

"McCarrick is believed by many in conservative Catholic circles to have been the individual who in June 2004 leaked to the Washington Post and other newspapers a memo written by Cardinal Ratzinger instructing American bishops to detail to their congregations the Catholic Church's longstanding doctrine on life issues and on the responsibility of Catholic politicians to live both their private and political lives in union with the Church. As Ratzinger's letter stated, those politicians out of step with the Church should be turned away from the communion rail. "

This paragraph seems to be wrong. Cardinal Ratzinger's memo was sent to Cardinal McCarrick, who was chairing a U.S. bishops' task force assigned to study the question of admitting pro-abortion politicians to Holy Communion. At the bishops' meeting in June, 2004, McCarrick recommended that the bishops not issue a statement saying that such politicians should be barred; instead each bishop was left free to do as he wished. Cardinal McCarrick apparently told the bishops that this was Cardinal Ratzinger's advice. When Cardinal Ratzinger's memo was published in Italy's L'Espresso two weeks later, proving that Cardinal Ratzinger said that the pro-abortion politicians should be barred, Cardinal McCarrick was accused of concealing Cardinal Ratzinger's memo from the other U.S. bishops. Some one else leaked it to an Italian paper, much to McCarrick's embarrassment. His interest was to conceal it.

Thank you for a very interesting piece.
-- Donna F. Bethell

INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
Re: Wade Smith's letter (under "Modeled on Success") in Reader Mail's Behold the Critic, Bob Keiser's letter (under "A Federal Matter") in Reader Mail's Preventions and Interventions, and Michael Van Winkle's Social Security Psychology:

Reader Wade Smith's letter of 5/17/05, "Modeled on Success" is correct in the facts it presents, but he misses the point of my letter of 5/16/05, "A Federal Matter," which is about risk.

Like federal pensions, Social Security is guaranteed by the federal government. The President wants to take a small portion of an individual's contribution to Social Security and allow that person to invest it in the private sector, thus introducing an element of risk into the equation. The federal employee is not required to do the same thing with the portion of his wages he pays into the federal pension fund. He has no risk factor. He is not treated equally with his countrymen who do not work for the federal government!

I have a solution. Federal employees can contribute up to 15% of their salary (which is paid for by the taxpayers) into their pension fund. Why not require that any contribution above 5% be privatized and put back into the U.S economy while it is earning interest and dividends for the federal employees retirement? Thirty years from now, the same taxpayers who will have to fund social security for retirees will also have to fund the pensions of federal retirees. They are going to need some help.

Remember, Senator Albert Gore left the senate with a salary of $40,000 a year. When he died, his pension was $140,000 a year. This wonderful investment was made without any help whatsoever from the private sector! Amazing, no? No one in his right mind wants this to continue.
-- Bob Keiser
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

TIRED
Re: Ben Berry's letters in Reader Mail's Let the Games Begin (under "GOP's Last Stand") and Behold the Critic (under "Protective Justice") Bob Johnson and Geoff Bowden's letters (under "Judicial Passions") in Reader Mail's Preventions and Interventions:

Ben Berry's ridiculous screed was plagiarized from the old, worn out book of left wing cliches.
-- Greg Barnard
Franklin, Tennessee

NOT TWO PLANTATIONS
Re: Shawn Macomber's Uncle John's Cabin:

My son graduated from William & Mary Law this past weekend. John Edwards spoke (a recognized failure on the part of the class of '05 speaker selection committee). We all expected a stump speech and got it: "End poverty, grow government, let's all do our part."

Your article hit home.

Regards from Texas
-- Brian Murphy
Kerrville, Texas

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