Reader Mail

A Day in the Life

Spending time with Ben Stein's guest, Corporal Quinones. Also: Drugged government. Female torturers. Darwin's fact. Plus more.

2.15.05

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SPENDING TIME WITH CORPORAL QUINONES
Re: Ben Stein's How Was Your Day?:

Ben Stein's query at the end of his article about Corporal John Quinones taking out terrorists in Iraq (and lovin' every minute of it) to his readers is: "What did you do today?"

My response is: "Nothing that manly."

Rock on, Corporal. God bless you.
-- Nicky Billou

As an Army veteran of the "Vietnam Conflict" I found your piece very heart warming.

Corporal John Quinones's statement "when he.....spots terrorists laying a roadside bomb and lights them up with his B-240, he feels as if he's earning his pay" will twist the pacifists' panties like General Mathis exclaiming his joy in blowing away the Taliban jihadist who have been slapping their women around. These men are the antithesis of the liberals' ideal, the "Metrosexual."

P.S. An M79 is a 40mm grenade launcher first used in Vietnam.
-- Steve Cushman

When I was 17 years old, a senior in high school in the fall of 1967 I had a wonderful math teacher. He was a retired Army Colonel and each day he would write a quotation on the blackboard for us to ponder. It was at the height of the Vietnam War, something a rancher's daughter in Central Texas did not know much about. One day I walked into class on the board were these words:

"Somewhere out there a man died for me today, and each day I must ask and answer, am I worth dying for?"

I never knew if those words came from his own thoughts or a poem. But later in my life I married an Army officer who returned from two tours of Vietnam with a broken back. He came home to shrill taunts, being spat upon, and was called a baby killer…many times. He continued to serve honorably until he retired. Now he is looking to see if he can return to the service and serve again, alongside our son and daughter-in-law, also serving honorably.

Oh, how I pray that these young men and women do not come home to the same taunts.
-- Beverly Gunn
East Texas

Congratulations on acquiring Ben's column.

The latest, "How was your day" makes me proud to call myself an economist.

I know it seems a bit incongruous, but it's an honest emotion. Ben's a good guy, from what I've seen and read, and it's nice to see him carrying on the tradition of Adam Smith, Jean-Baptiste Say, and his dad too, while keeping his feet on the ground and his head in the game.

Wow. Strange paragraph, eh?

Anyway, tell him "good work" and remind him to let me know when he hits town, 'cause I'm buying the first one.
--Jim

I love Cpl John Quinones. I've never met him, but I love him like a brother. He fights for my freedom.

Contrast a typical day for Quinones and Eason Jordan. Quinones re-ups for Iraq. Jordan ops for Davos. Quinones buttons-up and goes on patrol in Indian territory. Jordan puts on his suit and goes to a panel discussion with world elites. Quinones risks life and limb to kill terrorist head choppers. Jordan vomits on Quinones and his brother soldiers to please an anti-American, left-leaning audience.

I love Quinones. Jordan got what he deserved.
--Doug Santo
Pasadena, California

Thank you for your inspirational article on Corporal John Quinones. The United States of America is blessed to be served by heroes like Corporal Quinones. Also I thank you for your tremendous support of our military. It means more than you can ever know.

One small point concerning the identification of units. Corporal Quinones is assigned to the Second Squadron of the Seventh Cavalry Regiment which is a unit that is usually assigned to the Aviation Brigade of the First Cavalry Division. Cavalry units consist of troops (company level), squadrons (battalion level) and regiments. The Seventh Cavalry Regiment commanded by LTC George A. Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. The Division that Corporal Quinones is assigned to the First Cavalry Division not the First Air Cavalry Division.

Thank you again for your generosity and support for our soldiers, Marines, and other service members.
-- Mike Kryschtal, Colonel (Retired), United States Army
Manhattan, Kansas

FYI, re Ben Stein's "How Was Your Day?", Feb. 15, it's the 1st Cavalry Division, a mechanized unit, not the 1st Air Cavalry Division, a Vietnam-era designation. The Army's current "air cavalry" is the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).
-- David Adrian
Pontiac, Michigan

YOUR GOVERNMENT ON DRUGS
Re: Doug Bandow's Price Control Pills:

I know you know this, but you did not specifically make the point.

There is a "trick" that occurs in economics if the government -- or really any third party -- becomes the primary buyer of a good or service. And that is the "transfer of preferences."

Value is determined subjectively -- by the preferences of consumers. But if the government takes over a product, ALL demand becomes an expense. It would be exactly the same if we had a guaranteed automobile policy -- the government paid for everybody's car. Immediately, all cars become an EXPENSE to be minimized, rather than a value proposition to be maximized (price vs. features and quality). There is no way for the value of the product to the consumer to be expressed when a third party pays for it.

Any industry under this model will be destroyed by the government taking over its provision. The ultimate of this was the Soviet Union. I remember reading a piece in the New Republic(!) in the late 1980's. The writer, a woman, was talking about Soviet health care. She said that Americans complained about there not being enough private rooms; in Russia, most hospitals did not have running water!! (According to this piece.) She was referring to hospitals outside of Moscow and a couple of other major cities. Of course, this is logical from a government standpoint. Running water is an EXPENSE!!
-- Greg Richards

Let me get this straight. If the government were to negotiate bulk discounts for drugs, which any bulk purchaser of any good would demand, research and development would necessarily be diminished? I'm under the impression that drug companies spend more money on marketing than for R&D, so why do we assume that if those companies sell their drugs for less money, R&D instead of marketing will take a hit? Is it really necessary for drug makers to take out all of those print and television ads that don't even tell you what the drug actually treats? They somehow managed to sell drugs before those ads became commonplace, so I think big pharma could do with a smaller marketing budget in the name of some relief for customers from skyrocketing drugs costs. The assertion that any decreases in revenue would necessarily decrease R&D spending, if true, has not been proven to my satisfaction by Mr. Bandow, anyone in the Bush administration, or big pharma.
-- unsigned

Doug Bandow makes a very good presentation in his piece about drug prices. There is one thing I am waiting to see in print and in discussion. That is which drugs are costing us the most, plus which research is the majority of funding going into? Until there is a frank discussion as to which drugs and research are the most expensive, then all this talk about drug prices are meaningless. Like many people, I only know that drug prices here are high, foreign drugs are cheap, R&D suffers, the government wants to regulate this and that, etc. It's time to discuss all the aspects of the prescription drug question from R&D to litigation. Let's lay all the cards on the table. Only then will we be able to really address the issue as it should be.
-- Pete Chagnon

What we need are government entitlement program control pills. This entitlement should be repealed. If we can ever get real Social Security reform retirees will have enough money to afford health insurance. Who knows, with the right Social Security reforms maybe we can get rid of Medicare. I think the long term financial health of the U.S. is ultimately tied to what happens with Social Security.
-- Robert Welcher

REALITY-BASED TERROR FIGHTING
Re: "You Will Reap" letters in Reader Mail's Patriotic Indecency and Jed Babbin's The Gitmo Girls:

I love the reactions to the disclosure that female interrogators are flaunting their sexuality to break down the resistance of terrorist prisoners at Camp X-Ray, Guantanamo. I suppose that we could force them to watch the Wizard of Oz or Mary Poppins for hours on length, but someone (probably me) would find that to be torture.

This is the real world. The people in custody at Camp X-Ray are, at best, suspected terrorists and, at worst, actual terrorists. They have information that our nation needs to defeat their various organizations and it is the job of our interrogators to get it from them. Being an enlightened society, we do not beat, electrocute, hang, drown, rape, burn or dismember our prisoners. Those of our personnel, who do engage in any of these types of actions are charged, prosecuted and sentenced.

So we turn the job over to professional interrogators, men and women, of all races, creeds and national origins to secure this information. The operant term here is professional. Having sex with a subject to entice him, or her, to divulge information has been used since the beginning of recorded history by every intelligence agency ever in existence. Is it wrong? Is the sacrifice made by the male or female agent any less than placing his, or her, self in harm's way on the battlefield? No. And we should not belittle the sacrifices made by professionals in these areas. The acquisition of intelligence is their job and they are good at it.

But, we're not speaking of sex here, merely being provocative to entice a person to reveal information. No "sin" is taking place. The people being subjected to the display of feminine charms have information that they refuse to divulge and they have no "right" to do that. To end the brutal spectacle that these detainees are being forced to endure, they need only provide the information that we seek. I do not wish to sound as though I am bragging, but I think that I could hold out for several days, at least, to being smothered by the Swedish Bikini Team. Twelve hours of forced viewing of Mary Poppins, however, would have me begging to be allowed to talk.

Should we use a person's religious beliefs against them to elicit information? Why not? Once you embark upon a voluntary course of action designed to bring harm members of a society without just cause, then you forfeit certain privileges, such as the privilege of non-coercive questioning. If the manner of that questioning utilizes religious or cultural taboos, within reason of course, that is perfectly all right.

Now I am sorry if this letter sounds a bit tongue in cheek, but let's get serious here. The politicians who bring these things up do it simply to embarrass their political rivals. Though it is possible that some elected officials have taken the threat of nude coercive questioning so seriously that they have embarked upon a program of inoculating themselves to this form of interrogation by subjecting themselves to the company of scantily clad women. This practice may be why my wife has discouraged me from seeking elective office.

Well, we will just have to await the next heinous interrogation practice to come out of Gitmo, possibly the use of the "Comfy Chair" or the "Gourmet Meal" or possibly even incarceration in "Camp Club Med."

Gee, Toto. I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.
-- Michael Tobias
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Women should not use their sexuality when interrogating prisoners? Will those who oppose this explain to me how this is different from using undercover policewomen in prostitution stings; after all don't they use their bodies and provocative dress to do their job? If this is to be the criteria, then we have no need for models in swimwear in sports magazines. All women henceforth must wear Mother Hubbards to work, lest the men feel that they are using their dress and their bodies to influence us. All women appearing in advertisements and on television shows should be likewise attired, lest they be charged with using their sexuality. Heck, we might as well as admit that the Islamofacists have won.

I really doubt that Maureen Dowd would favor anything that restricts women. Should this have happened during the Clinton administration and Jerry Falwell objected, Dowd would have leapt to the defense. Instead I think that the old spinster is trying to twist a narrow argument to get at a man or men she hates.
-- Unsigned

DARWIN'S FACT
Re: Elzie V. Laube's letter (under "Patriotic Indecency") in Reader Mail's Patriotic Indecency:

I must seriously question this writer's characterization of "Intelligent Design" as a misunderstanding of scientific theory, while at the same time suggesting essays by Mayer and Gould are the models of scientific thought. In reality Darwinian evolution is a structured belief system requiring the same kind of faith in its view of the world as any of the traditional religions.

As I was told by one of my own college professors many years ago, the way to recognize real science from pseudoscience is to look at progress over time. Laube is correct to say scientific is to "bring together well-tested hypotheses into a coherent whole." This is how theories are formed but science goes further. Theories must receive testing to be proven as fact or discarded as false. After more than a century with many well-funded universities and researchers in a daily quest to prove Darwin's theory, it can only be said that there is nothing new. There are only new ways of word-crafting old ideas and browbeating critics in the name of science.

Some of these ideas are truly fantastic. Stephen J. Gould has written in his column in Natural History that he expects that Richard Goldschmidt's theory of "The Hopeful Monster" will be proven to be the key to evolution. Developed in the 1930s-40s, "Hopeful Monster" basically says that once in a hundred-million or so times a chicken will hatch from a lizard's egg. The problems are obvious. If this is such a rare event, where does our chicken find a mate? Why has no such event been reliably reported? Other problems come to mind. This theory was dismissed as absurd in the 1940s. Yet to explain the total lack of evolutionary evidence in the fossil record it is being retrieved by the most prominent evolutionist in the field. Back from the ashes like another mythical bird we've heard about.

Darwin's Theory of evolution is just that -- a theory. Tomorrow the Missing Link may show up, UFOs may land on the White House lawn, and Bigfoot may come down from the mountain to buy a Big Mac. But until these things happen and can be proven, all discussion on these topics require faith. This includes Intelligent Design and the Christian Bible. In fact, the Christian Bible demands faith as its primary aim. The point here is not to denigrate Darwin's Theory or any other theory or belief. It is to point out that too many accept it as Darwin's Fact, which it is not.
-- Michael Carraway
Fayetteville, North Carolina

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