Reader Mail

Generals and Their Men

The example of Gen. James Mattis. Also: Reservations about Ward Churchill -- plus defenses of same. Union men reply. Post-Dayton Minnesota. Plus much more.

2.13.05

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A FIGHTING FORCE
Re: John R. Guardiano's Breaking the Warrior Code:

I read with great interest Mr. John Guardiano's article on the reaction to Gen. James N. Mattis that have received such attention of late. Mr. Guardiano's writing of the General and how he commands was very informative. His take on how wildly uninformed the opinions on the Right & Left on the General were also spot on.

All of which I understood the moment I heard the General's sound bite on the radio. A Great man speaks to you. He doesn't need explanations.
-- Jon W. Taliaferro
Reston, Virginia

While I agree wholeheartedly with John Guardiano's defending General Mattis from the silly accusations made by the chattering class, I do find odd this comment made by the General and Mr. Guardiano's interpretation of it:

"I don't give a damn about the officers. If they don't like what they're doing, they can get on a plane and leave the Corps -- go back where they came from. But I do care deeply about those 18- and 19-year-old Lance Corporals out on the front lines." The General was telling me that, as an officer, I better be concerned with helping younger, junior Marines, not advancing my own career.

Certainly the sentiment of looking out for the younger Marines is correct, but does caring about 18- and 19-year-old lance corporals preclude having the same regard for 21- or 22-year-old second lieutenants? I can't imagine any senior officer of field grade or flag rank not being concerned with both the general welfare and career development of his or her junior officers.
-- Paul M. DeSisto, Lt Col, USAF (Ret)
Cedar Grove, New Jersey

Thank you, Mr. Guardiano, for your service to our country, and for this insightful article. It's good to know of the humanity of Gen. Mattis, and of his heart. What a privilege it must have been to have served under him.

But while it is heartening, and necessary, to know that he's a man of honor who doesn't enjoy killing for killing's sake, the truth is that it's his job, and the job of his men, to kill people and break things. And the better he is at doing that, especially in this conflict, and against this despicable enemy, the better off both conservative and liberal Americans are, whether we know the truth about Gen. Mattis or not.
-- Tim Jones
Cordova, Tennessee

Kudos to John Guardiano! Finally, someone with direct knowledge put some understandable things out there about Gen. Mattis. Being from a military family not unlike Gen. Mattis's, I also recognize these traits, applaud them wherever I find them, and try to nurture them whenever possible, even in the civilian population. We need more like Guardiano and Mattis.
-- Judy Dawson
Houston, Texas

Thank you for the best, most balanced and eloquent defense of LtGen Mattis I have read. He is truly an exceptional American, Marine, warrior, leader, friend and brother. Thank you.

Semper fi,
-- Tom Mattis, Sgt, USMC, 1967-1970

WARD OF BOULDER
Re: George Neumayr's Professors of Stupidity:

Excellent piece. Well-thought and well-written. The complete opposite of what corrupt, hyperventilating nuts like Ward Churchill, Nancy Hopkins and their brethren are all about. We should throw in Chomsky and Michael Moore while we're at it -- better still to throw them out, so to speak.
-- Tony Outhwaite
New York, New York

Thank you, George, for the great article on that phony shlub Churchill. I sent it to my son who is a Junior at the University of Wyoming, a school that isn't the University of Colorado...thank God.
-- Pat Barrett
Cheyenne, Wyoming

"I am willing to fight to the death for your right to express your belief freely." Shorn of its mindless piety, this position essentially means that people have a right to lie. Voltaire's line should read, "I am willing to fight to the death for your right to tell lies." It doesn't sound as grand and compelling then. It sounds absurd.

Neumayr tries to rationally use deconstructive technique to rail on deconstructionism? Clearly Voltaire was not advocating only the right to lie. The rest of the article was good, and I agree with most points. However, using crappy deconstructive arguments against the left should be done only as a farce, as Ann Coulter does.
-- Josh Davenport

I cannot help feeling, after reading George Neumayr's most recent article, that Mr. Neumayr himself is culpable of professing stupidity. The substance, and the word must be used lightly in this case, of the article seems to be that Ward Churchill is a liar. Neumayr, purporting to be defending truth and "those who exercise reason and demand the observance of rational standards," proceeds to back up his first (libelous?) identification of Churchill as a liar not with any demonstrable facts or truths, but with further emotionally charged epithets such as barbarian (open to argument) and jobless grifter (obviously untrue -- Mr. Churchill is, as the article bemoans, gainfully employed). I am not familiar with Churchill's work, but the statement generating such controversy is not a falsifiable one, and thus not, by definition, capable of being a lie: a simile is a comparison, and while it can be misleading, it cannot be simply false. If one is to make a demand for the observance of rational standards, one would be advised to make such demands using rational arguments.

Instead, Mr. Neumayr provides nothing but a series of utterly undocumented assumptions that, structurally, precisely parallel the type of irresponsible analogies for which Mr. Churchill has been excoriated. I would expect a higher standard of journalism from the self-proclaimed defenders of decency, standards, truth, and freedom. Relatedly, the purpose of "academic freedom" is not solely the attainment of truth, though that is surely the end goal of the university in its ideal form. In the process, however, academic freedom is specifically designed to allow professional scholars employed by a university to submit their findings (and the facts on which they base them) for the scrutiny of all without fear of political retribution from their employers. Indeed, it consists of libertarian free speech (remember the anti-PC wars and the horror of muzzling campus speech?) competing in the "free marketplace of ideas" that Spectator readers should hold dear to their hearts. Unless, it seems, they don't agree. On a final note, I cannot help noting the irony of your readers complaining about Mr. Churchill's lack of a Ph.D. By the perverse logic of the prevailing conspiracy theory regarding leftist academia, the fact that he has not been brainwashed as much by all the evil professors, should make Mr. Churchill more qualified, not less, to speak truth to power.
-- Jeffrey Brown

Criminy, but I love that line. "While Ward Churchill can tell lies about differences between America and the terrorists, Larry Summers is forbidden to tell truths about differences between men and women."

Keep up the good work, Mr. Neumayr. As long as truth continues to be heard outside the walls, the citadel of leftist university thought will certainly fall. Eventually.
-- Tim Jones
Cordova, Tennessee

Great article today. I did notice one thing that appears to be missed in all the articles that I have read to date. Nothing is ever mentioned of the students who think this guy is some god. Can American college students be this dumb! Someone needs to draw attention to this unusual fact.
-- Sal Cantarella
Bermuda

Let Ward Churchill speak and write. It is an irrepressible American right. He is a refugee from the sixties who wants his 15 minutes of fame. He has already been writing and saying inflammatory things throughout his career. No one is going to change his mind.

But what his 15 minutes will also get him -- intense scrutiny of everything he has ever said or written or done. His glass house probably won't stand up any better than yours or mine. As the camp commandant said in Cool Hand Luke. "He wants it, so now he gets it."

As a result, I predict that all his idiocy, lunacy, egoism, warped logic, hate, aberrant ideology and preposterousness will then become even more bare and blatant. America will disown him and discredit him. He will become irrelevant and that will hurt Ward Churchill to no end. So, let him speak.

Every university that has him speak or teach a class will get the dishonor and notoriety they deserve also. Eventually the pool of institutions willing to parlay with this devil will dry up and he will become a pariah. An unremoveable mark of Cain.
-- R. Jones
Gulfport, Mississippi

The Ward Churchill situation reminds me of a sad case in Florida several years ago when some teenagers decided to alter the location of a traffic sign. Eventually, it caused death and destruction. The only difference is that the Florida state officials, with an obligation to the truth, never defended the rights of the miscreants to continue to purvey misinformation. Mr. Churchill's students are surely heading into a crash with reality that Mr. Churchill will never have as long as he wears his tenure seat belt.
-- Danny L. Newton
Cookeville, Tennessee

ON AND OFF THE WATERFRONT
Re: John Carlisle's Shrinking Union Labels :

Businesses contribute millions to Republican coffers and that's all right. But union brothers and sisters band together and contribute millions and you seem to think this is a crime. Workers need representation in Washington too. Union membership is falling because all of our jobs are going overseas. Are we supposed to work for pennies per day to keep our jobs.

Thank you,
-- Proud Union Ironworker

As a more than 30-year member of the Ohio Education Association, an AFL-CIO affiliated union which forces its members to join the NEA and a plethora of other alphabetical groups, I can say AMEN to brother Carlisle's piece. I contribute over $600 a year in dues which are parceled out to organizations to which I do not want to belong. Much of the remainder is squandered on the campaigns of those politicians who bellow the loudest liberal cant. Once, many years ago, I was a delegate to a meeting which involved the 1984 presidential campaign. A large group of teachers representing the farthest left of the profession, shouted and stomped for a STRONG endorsement of the Mondale-Ferraro ticket. I stood up, braving the ire of the assembled mass, and tried to explain that this was a ticket to oblivion, and that it would make more sense to remain neutral in the hope of advancing those positions which we held dear. I was lucky to escape with my life. Later, I did an informal poll at my school to see how many of my colleagues had voted for the recommended ticket. It turns out that Walter and Geraldine not only lost in other places, but also lost at our school. So much for unions representing rank and file.
-- Joseph Baum
Newton Falls, Ohio

I agree wholeheartedly with John Carlisle's assessment of the level of corruption of labor union's corruption, but I would like to add one point. Even if all labor unions in the U.S. today suddenly eliminated all corruption, their membership numbers in private businesses would still continue to decline. The main reason that union membership has declined over the past 50 years is their insistence on keeping the seniority system and their refusal of any type of employee reward (bonuses or promotions) based on performance.

The current seniority system protects the weakest (or laziest performers) and refuses to reward the strongest performers. Allowing management the ability to promote based on performance would, in the union leadership's mind, take away much of their power. They want their union members to understand that their high-paying jobs exist only because the union leaders stand up to the private business owners and negotiate a generous contract for them.

The seniority system worked 50 years ago, because there was a long history of employee abuse by management and much weaker world-wide competition than there is today. But today, union methods and rules are leading to the extinction of private enterprise, which must remain competitive to stay in business. There are a lot of honest, hard working union workers in private enterprise today, but if companies cannot reward them for their efforts, and eliminate the few bad employees, then unionized companies will continue the decline to extinction, and the only union membership left will be in the public (government) sector, where inefficiency can be promoted and rewarded with higher taxes. But with the current attitude in the U.S. against higher taxes, even the safe haven of the government workforce cannot continue to be a growth sector of union membership.

Will union leadership ever recognize that they are their own worst enemy?
-- Mike Spencer
Midland, Michigan

As a union member all my life, steward, committee man. I agree with your article about the shrinking union membership.

I have seen first hand how the international handles its reps., they ignore our ideas and allow no discussion among the shop elected reps. on how to improve public relations within the membership.

They want it their way and nothing else. I did my best to represent the members in the shop, but was always stopped by our local business rep. We were constantly ignored and made to look bad among the membership.

As long as they continue to rule on the national level they will never have the power they once had. Knowledge is power and they will never give up the power. Lies and deceit are how they stay in power.

I always questioned the way things were handled and was ignored. So as union members educate themselves more you will find that membership will continue to decline.

I am no longer in a union and probably never join again. Our plant closed in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year and will continue to speak to everybody I can about what unions truly represent.
-- Matt Augustine
Kenosha, Wisconsin

I recently joined a union and for my entire life I have abhorred this concept. The only reason I did this thing is for the Dental Insurance. I'm a federal employee and for some reason dental insurance is not available with the rest of the medical package. I hate what the unions stand for and as a stance on my own honor will probably drop the union dues and bite the bullet. I grew up poor and created all that I have on my own. The Marine Corps, then college and now security! I love America, and President Bush. Thank God that we have four more years of relative security. Take care,
-- Charlie

Unions have always failed to address my major concerns. I work high-tech and I want the ability to negotiate my salary and benefits with a prospective employer. I want advancement in my job based on my abilities and job performance, not on seniority. I get the job I deserve because I deserve it rather than seeing some dim bulb who's been in the union for twenty years getting it and helping to sink the company through his or her incompetence. Dump seniority and I'd join a union. Maybe...
-- Gene Smith
Hampton, New Hampshire

MARKING MINNESOTA
Re: The Washington Prowler's Post-Dayton Accords:

Good grief.

How is anyone supposed to take your punditry on Mark "Evacuatin'" Dayton declining to run for reelection for his Senate seat in Minnesota when in the article you can't even get the name of the stat's governor correctly? It's Tim Pawlenty, not "Mark" Pawlenty. As The Prowler in the article touted him as a possible 2008 Presidential candidate you'd think you could get his name right. Sadly, the misinformation the The Prowler piece about the upcoming Minnesota Senate vacancy gets even worse.

Dayton riding into the sunset is hardly good news for the Republicans. He likely would have been easy pickings in 2006. He spent most of his personal fortune getting elected the first time and the Republican candidate would most likely not have the huge campaign funds gap that Rod Grams faced in 2000. What is most astonishing is that The Prowler failed to mention the most likely Democrat nominee, Lawyer Robert Ciresi. Ciresi is much more well-heeled than Dayton, having raked in several hundred million handling the state's tobacco litigation. He sought and lost the nomination in 2000 to Dayton as the latter blew most of his inheritance in the Democratic primary and against Grams. Now it appears highly possible that the Minnesota Senate seat in 2006 is at the top of the list as most likely to be bought by a filthy rich candidate. Ciresi can outspend by far anyone the Republicans put against him.

The Prowler took a big credibility hit here.
-- Bruce Berg

It's one thing to be eccentric, but it's something entirely different to be downright weird, and Mark Dayton's Christmas season retreat from Washington certainly tips him over into the latter category. It's not for nothing that a commentator called him "Sir Robin," from Monty Python's Holy Grail: "When danger reared its ugly head, Sir Robin turned his tail and fled." Indeed, good riddance.
-- Warren Mowry

TAKING STOCK
Re: Lawrence Henry's The Least of Our Worries:

Lawrence Henry still has not addressed how privatization of a portion of Social Security saves the system. As I see it, the debt that the government will have to assume to start up this scheme will have to be paid off. How? Another factor is what has happened in other countries that have initiated these private accounts. They are a mess with not only high expenses, but corruption.

Every time someone suggests a different approach (Bush says he's open to them) he and his fellow cronies say no. The most logical plan to save Social Security is first to rescind the tax break -- certainly not make it permanent. It is unfair and unproductive. Next is to raise the cap on collection to $200,000 at least. The third suggestion is to insist all people who collect public pension be exempt from collecting Social Security. As a teacher in Ohio, I am not eligible to collect any of my husband's Social Security. He died after contributing for over 30 years and before collecting a penny.

By the way I have investments in the stock market and right now I'm scared that their value will depreciate as this country goes farther in debt and the dollar's value continues to fail.
-- unsigned

Mr. Henry fails to take into consideration that the Leftist plan to destroy Capitalism and all of its various components, like the stock market. The left would not plan on benefiting from Bush's privatized version of Social Security no more than a butcher would plan on having Easter eggs from the carcass of a Christmas chicken.
-- Danny L. Newton
Cookeville, Tennessee

READY AND ARMED
Re: Philip Klein's Domestic Security Democrats and Hugh Dempsey's "Marshals On Stand-By" letter in Reader Mail's Tough Sledding:

Please tell Mr. Dempsey that at least one of his potential Deputy U.S. Marshals already has his own handgun and is willing to pay for his own ammo and range time.
-- Patrick R. Glass, LTC, USA (Retired)

MAD HOW DISEASE
Re: Christopher Orlet's Return of the Safety Nazis and Robert F. Casselberry's letter (under "Tough Sledding") in Reader Mail's Tough Sledding:

I would disagree with only one point in Mr. Casselberry's well reasoned and well expressed letter. He maintains that tort reform will not alleviate the charitable impulses of juries which award mammoth disproportionate sums of money to plaintiffs in injury related lawsuits. I would, instead, offer the opinion that tort reform is the only thing that will stop juries from issuing gigantic mercy awards out of proportion to the hurts they are intended to assuage. We cannot change what Mr. Casselberry believes to be the national sympathetic mindset of the American people, but we can augment our system in such a way as to temper this basically good national trait with a leavening of common sense.
-- Joseph Baum
Newton Falls, Ohio

Only because I read one of the responses to your article describing "pinheads" (ordinary Americans) which I found condescending, and despite the fact that I agreed with other responders that the real problem lies in silly courtrooms with even sillier lawyers, judges and juries, I am overcome with the desire to post this response to "Return of the Safety Nazis":

The new rule for banning sledding is a great service to the community but, I fear, doesn't do enough. We are talking about public facilities (park) and consideration should be given to the following needs and attached to the new regulations banning sledding:

1. Snow Angels: Children have been allowed to portray "angels" by laying in the park's snow. Some religions and atheists do not believe in angels. Building of angels' representations in a public park constitutes a clear violation of separation of church and state and should be immediately outlawed.

2. Snowmen: Children have been allowed to build "snowmen" in the park's snow. Since they would naturally be all white, this activity in a public park depicting only white playthings is clearly racist and should be immediately outlawed.

3. Walking: Children cannot drive cars to the park, so they obviously have to walk. Walking on snow in the park should be outlawed to prevent children from entering the park to commit the above violations. Naturally, this new regulation might be extended to all sidewalks as well, so they never can reach the park. There can be ice underneath a layer of snow, so safety considerations should come first.

4. Backyards: When the new regulation banning fun in the park becomes law, children will try to find another place to sled. Backyards are especially enticing dangers and children should be kept in the house; after all, they may sled into the barbeque.

Finally, the local governments that passed the ban on sledding should be sued immediately for making their voters a laughingstock.
-- Peter Hughes
Sacramento, California

COUNTERPOINT
Re: Julia Gorin's Found in Translation:

Thank you very much for publishing the true translation of the Kosovo conflict.
-- Milica Milosevic

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