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God, man, and the tsunami. Checkpoint charlies. Torture and other atrocities. Sontag farewell. Atticus Finch in Hollywood. Plus much more.

1.4.05

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BEFORE THE FALL
Re: George Neumayr's The Great Flood:

Thank you, George Neumayr, for your "exegesis" of the disaster in south Asia. Much of it is a timely counter-balance to recent journalistic hand-wringing-verging-on-loss-of-or-questioning-of-faith:

In God, His Wisdom, His Mercy. I have seen such wavering even among conservative commentators, as at National Review Online. How can this be?

The tsunami and its after-effects are indeed horrific, shocking, even too much to bear -- yet deceptive. In a certain way, once again we are gulled by the media. The earth -- or Mr. Neumayr's "dynamic universe" -- has always been, and always will be fraught or riven with natural disasters. The rub is that never before have so many people lived on the planet, meaning that never before have so many people been in harm's way, meaning that never before can so many people die in one disaster. A further rub is that never before have we had the ability to see such a horrific event as this one play out almost before our own eyes, in color, with minute-by-minute tallies of the deaths, the destruction, the aggrieved.

If a massive disaster such as this causes one to question God, logically any such event, regardless of numbers involved, must provoke doubts. If the loss of 150,000 innocents does it, does the loss of 150 do it as well? Or 15? Why not? And then, why not only one victim? And if the "untimely" loss of one innocent provokes the questioning, what is it that we expect? A comfortable, problem-free ride through to our life's expectancy or longer, then an easy drifting away into nothingness?

Life is not like this; the earth is not like this. If we accept, with Hamlet, that "there is a certain providence in the fall of a sparrow," then we must also accept that there is a certain providence in the fall of 150,000 sparrows, however horrific this may seem to us. We are indeed called to prayer for the souls of the deceased, and to prayer and compassion for the survivors. What I pray for as well is that, among the 150,000 dead, there were more than just a few who knew, with Hamlet, that "the readiness is all."
-- Jeffrey S. Erickson
Davidson, North Carolina

Since you opened the door to the theological perspective, I think its fair to give you a little theological correction. Tsunamis would NOT have occurred before the Fall of man as the Bible states that God created the Earth "and it was good." Tsunamis are certainly not "good." The consistent Creationist approach would be that earthquakes and Tsunamis are a residual effect of the global catastrophe that was The Flood of Noah's day and the subsequent raising of the continents and their separation afterward. Also the Bible states the "earth groans" as woman in labor, awaiting our Lord's most imminent return.

No doubt you're going to take a lot of heat for your perspective. Keep up the good work.
-- Paul

Wonderfully put, Mr. Neumayr, wonderfully put. Thank you for putting our world's most recent calamity into proper perspective.

Kofi and all the secularist Kupcakes (thank you, Jed Babbin) may pin together their tickytacky UNarks of salvation. But they willfully ignore the most hopeful promise. The LORD God covenantally guarantees to man that "I will never again destroy every living thing as I have done."

"I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth. This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; I set my [rain]bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. And it shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the [rain]bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth." Genesis 9:11-16

Somewhere in the world, every day, the sun refracts light through water vapor in the rainy skies, and rainbows appear. And every day the LORD sees those 'bows and holds His covenant in His mind. He will never again flood us out unto death. From God's perspective those devastating rollers ripping across the Indian Ocean basin amount to no more than ripples in a bathtub. We ought to thank Him that He doesn't create these awful waves every day!

"See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death, and I who give life. I have wounded, and it is I who heal; and there is no one who can deliver from My hand." Deuteronomy 32:39. But temporal death by water is nothing, compared with eternal death by fire for those reprobates whom God calls "accursed" and "adversaries". Gospel of Matthew 25:41-46; Hebrews 10:26-30. When we each face the ultimate Judgment Day that eternal Ark, the Lord Jesus, God the Son Himself, will save His people.
-- David James Hanson
Fayette, Iowa

This piece was simply outstanding. The paragraph:

"What happened to the media's hardheaded realism on display during the days of Saddam Hussein? If human disasters don't merit American leadership, why should natural ones? The American media were chanting, follow, follow. Now they chant, lead, lead. Which is it? Aid to Iraqis was "patronizing" and presumptuous, but massive aid to Indonesians is compulsory?"

No single statement I have seen so precisely and concisely sums up the hypocrisy and inconsistency of the position of our press and the left in this nation when it comes to the conduct of foreign affairs.
-- unsigned

GET MAD
Re: Eric Peters's Checkpoint Puritans:

Blood alcohol level statutes, like most gun laws, have the intent of depriving everyone of the tools to commit harm against others. Rather than the presumption of liberty in its most refined sense, while simultaneously holding someone accountable for their actions, for injuring or killing someone while driving drunk, or using a firearm in the commission of a crime, and in such event inflicting severe penalties, liberty is disposed of and the malevolent actions pre-empted.

It is not a coincidence that "Mothers Against Drunk Driving" and "Million Mom March" and Sarah Brady's day job are the leaders of such a radical change in the American way of life. It is a maternalistic system that seeks to "protect" people from themselves and in fact treat them like children. Such a system gave us the Eighteenth Amendment, the Volstead Act and the incubation of la Cosa Nostra. It would appear that the granddaughters of those original suffragettes are determined to repeat the bitter mistakes of their grandmothers.
-- Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey

Mr. Peters is way off base. Alcohol consumption is legal, but that doesn't make it right. One drink of beer, wine or whiskey and you are under the influence of alcohol. Then it is only a matter of degree. Three drinks of beer, wine or whiskey and you are legally drunk. There are some mitigating factors -- size, food intake, etc. -- but.

I saw a study several years ago that was video-taped. Professional drivers were given an obstacle course to drive. Then they were given one drink, waited a while, then drove the course. Guess what? They began to make serious mistakes. They were given a second drink, waited a while, then drove the course again. Guess what? More serious mistakes. They were given a third drink, waited a while, and drove the course again. Guess what? They were all over the course.

Nobody should ever drink and drive. Social drinking and driving DO NOT mix.
-- Bob Kastens
Louisville, Kentucky

In reference to the article elaborating on the futility of check points, I agree. The real problem with drunk driving, however, is that the laws concerning drunk driving are not enforced. By that, I am not referring to law enforcement, but rather the enforcement of the drunk driving laws already on the books. When I read of the repeat offense that is committed and the guilty party released to continue driving drunk is the main problem. How often we have heard the phrase "drunk drivers go to jail"? Do they really? Jail time, loss of automobile, and other punishments that are on the books need to be fully embraced. Judges that don't follow through with present laws when sentencing offenders, should be held accountable.
-- C. Mark Gilson
Seneca, South Carolina

BUSINESS COSTS
Re: Brandon Crocker's The Politics of Giving:

Brandon Crocker's piece was well done. I would like to add I am tired of the eternal yammering about the USA being in arrears on its UN dues. In Yongsan Korea is the United Nations Command. Which basically consists of the US Forces Korea? Eighth US Army. We spend approximately $2.6 billion a year to keep up that UN flag and it is all US taxpayer money not UN money. How about we do a retroactive assessment asking the UN to reimburse us for its share since 1953?
-- Chris Buckley
US Army Retired

This was my first time to visit your site. I have been receiving invitations to subscribe. I will not if this is all you can offer. You folks are attacking an ex-president because he said something about the tsunami tragedy. This is far from our concern at the moment, over a quarter million people have perished and this is all you can offer? Who cares if some other country has given more money than we. Our country is at war externally as well so as internally. We can only do so much. We the American people are tired of playing and paying like "big brother," to those who falls short. Not meaning to sound like an isolationist, but we have our own problems.
-- Urleana Wilson

THE WINDS OF WAR
Re: Jed Babbin's No Torquemada, He:

During WWI, my father-in-law was a BAR gunner with the 2nd Infantry, all the way from Normandy to Bohemia. As was routine although not officially admitted, his unit had two sets of orders for prisoners; one, "take them back to the trucks" when there was time to accept small-scale surrenders, and another, "take them down to the end of the road," when there wasn't. The latter ended with a couple of bursts of automatic weapons fire, which is why my father-in-law got picked for it.

Nobody liked it but there were times when you just couldn't spare the time or personnel to take a couple of Germans back without endangering the mission or your buddies. Germans who surrendered in large formed units were safe, as were any who made it back to the rear echelon; those who gave up in small numbers up at the sharp end had a 50-50 chance of being shot. Field interrogations were also often quite rough, involving beating or sticking a gun in their ear and telling them to talk or die.

It was a war, not a tea party or even cops conducting a criminal investigation.

So now we learn a few female soldiers in Iraq are roughing up prisoners and doing other naughty things. So what? The operative word here is "soldiers." Why is it worse for women to do this stuff than men? They're citizens, with a citizen's rights to vote and hold office and own property; hence they have a citizen's obligations, one of which is fighting for the country in time of war. And this group all volunteered, knowing what they were getting into, for which all honor to them.

War means fighting, and fighting is not a nice activity; it means killing people and breaking things, and a risk of death and mutilation. So unless you're a pacifist, which I'm not, I really don't see what you're getting your knickers in a twist about.
-- S.M. Stirling

Indeed, Mr. Gonzales is no Tomas de Torquemada, the First Grand Inquisitor of Spain. Neither was John Ashcroft. But that's irrelevant to the Democrats, liberals and leftists who wish ill to our country and who remain stuck to -- and most comfortable with and unthreatened by -- the Clinton administration's serve-our-enemies-with-legal-papers approach to the war on terror.

It would appear that they would rather sacrifice the public health and welfare domestically, as well as that of our soldiers abroad, rather than embrace that we are fighting a war unlike any other in American history.

Too, it seems they wish to aid and abet our enemies to the fullest through their naive and non-productive political gestures.

For them, whatever occurred at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay is their own flavor of junk-science-founded global warming used by the enviro-wackos to attack America and cause her as much trouble and embarrassment and economic damage as possible.

They have cast themselves as America's enemies.
-- C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia

UNION LABELS
Re: Jay D. Homnick's To Form a More Perfect Union:

Jay Homnick's article describes a union that already exists. Iron workers and most construction unions work on a principle that if our employer doesn't make money with us on a job he doesn't need us (non-union labor). As a conservative union worker who earns every cent he makes in a very dangerous job it always ticks me off that every conservative publication I read lumps all unions together as useless. Government unions and their leaders are portrayed as what unions are all about, when nothing could be further from the truth. Private sector unions are about work and pride in a job well done so in the future you might want to distinguish between the two.
-- Brian Gorham
Ironworker in New York

No, sir, we don't have to put up with what we put up with (I was one of them) over the holiday "sick-out" by baggage handlers. I, for one, am going to ship my normally-checked bag by Federal Express next year and carry on enough to make sure I can live if I have to camp in an airport again. I will have no baggage to handle from now on, except by people who don't believe in that old Canadian motto "the public be damned."
-- Kate Shaw

SUSAN'S SONG
Re: Mark Goldblatt's On the Death of Susan Sontag:

After hearing the echoes of the rapturous obits of Ms. Sontag, and with her heinous words after 9/11 still clear in my mind, I knew I had to read Mr. Goldblatt's piece. I was not disappointed. I venture his short comments are likely the fairest, truest, comments upon her life that have been made. I did not know that she stuck up for Mr. Rushdie, I'll have to factor that in to my future opinion of her. Excellent article, far more well thought out than the lady could have managed on her own behalf. Thanks for publishing this.
-- Jessica O'Connor

Susan Sontag always seemed to me to be the classic, radically chic "liberal" who detested both her country and its mildly conservative society, but who wouldn't live anywhere else for love nor money.
-- Joseph W. Holmes
Cedar Park, Texas

Mr. Goldblatt's piece is generous and gracious, but I think his original characterization of Sontag as a pseudo-intellectual was correct. Sontag was a parasite who drew upon the richness of her culture to develop the argot of intellectualism, and then injected ideological toxins into her host -- which, fortunately, has outlived her, and gives signs of having developed an immunity against, at least, Sontag's particular kind of poison.
-- David Carter

PSEUDOCON HIMSELF?
Re: Justin Obodie's letter (under "Among the Pseudocons") in Reader Mail's Intended Consequences:

Mr. Obodie's recent letter/diatribe was "worthy" of the insight (incite?) often found on Democratic Underground and other raging left-wing sites. Indeed, just as with the lunatic-left in this country, Mr. Obodie never lets facts and reason get in the way of a hearty philippic. While such bile often can be quite entertaining, the complete detachment from reality and logic can be extremely puzzling. The routing of the Taliban and al Qaeda from Afghanistan is counted as a victory for bin Laden? Bin Laden "has achieved his goals."? (If Osama's goal was to be hunted like a dog, with 80% of his operation in tatters, then yeah, I suppose so.) As for the claim that our "economy is in decline..." this is nothing less than infantile wish-projection by the international hate-America crowd. True, as Mr. Obodie states, some $200 billion of our money has been spent on the Iraq project, and no doubt more will (regrettably) be required before the job is done. However, unlike an economy in decline (Old Europe, anyone?), we in the United States can afford it, along with the hundreds of millions more that we will spend to relieve the suffering and devastation of the Indian Ocean tsunamis. Our free economy creates unlimited wealth in unlimited ways, a fact that constantly irks and befuddles Socialists and Democrats (but, I repeat myself).

In the final analysis we, the people (and government) of the United States will do what we believe to be the right thing. Powerless to do anything to stop us (and too intimidated or feckless to help in the good fight), the EUnuchs and ankle-biters such as Mr. Obodie will be left to their only option: carping from the side line as the heavy lifting is done by others. Carp away, Mr. Obodie! Your words are nothing more than "...sound and fury, signifying nothing."
-- Mark W. Tinder
Bridgewater, New Jersey

How clever of Justin Obodie to not identify the country he lives in so that we are unable to critique it as harshly as he has the U.S. He must be on the dole in his own country, affording him the time necessary to determine exactly how wrong the U.S. has been/is in dealing with the myriad concerns of our country. How wonderful to be blessed with such extraordinary perception. Perhaps much of his ire can be attributed to the fact that we haven't recognized his genius and placed him on retainer. I wonder what the price for gasoline is where he lives. Right now it's $1.79 per gallon where I live (in one of those benighted RED states). Mr. Bush's machinations must be failing miserably at enriching the oil companies.

I am not concerned about President Bush implementing any program to take Social Security away from me nor do I believe that Bin Laden has achieved his goals. Further, I am a Christian who doesn't feel a need to explain our actions in Iraq to Jesus. He is already well aware of our actions and our motivations and He is our judge--not the court of world opinion, thankfully.

Channeling Ben Stein, let me say that I am gainfully employed, and live in a warm, safe, comfortable home in a safe, comfortable and beautiful country. I'm eternally grateful to those intrepid ancestors of mine who left all they knew behind and made the hazardous journey so many years ago to safe harbor here in the US. I'm not sure I would have had their courage. I'm sorry Mr. Obodie doesn't appreciate how blessed we are, wherever he may be.
-- Jenny Woodward
Bloomington, Indiana

Justin Obodie's comments are priceless -- The American Spectator couldn't have a better straight man, or the Left a better spokesman. The United States has indeed exposed itself for the entire world to see: The world can see that the United States is guilty of acting in support of her ideals, in removing an evil regime in two countries, and in trying to give the benefit of democracy to a part of the world that has known only repression and tyranny for the past two thousand years. The United States is also guilty of believing that freedom is a gift from God to all humans, and that governments derive their power from the people and not the other way around. Finally, America is guilty of making actions speak louder than words-something we have been guilty of for the majority of the 20th Century. It is easy to make a speech (as did President Kennedy with his "Pay any price" speech), but it is much harder to act on ideals, especially when belief in the ideals costs the lives of our young men and women.
-- Paul Melody
Gainesville, Virginia

ONE SHOT ATTICUS
Re: the "Atticus Finch in Hollywood" letters in Reader Mail's Intended Consequences:

I must correct the correctors correcting the incorrect account of Atticus, Scout, and Jem Finch (and Dill Harris, the child-avatar of none other than Truman Capote!) discussing To Kill a Mockingbird, book and movie, the Maycomb jail, and a death sentence for a rabid dog.

The last shall be first-the rifle used in the movie (which I rejoice to own on DVD) is not a Springfield 1903, sporterized or not, it is a Krag-Jorgensen, most likely the government issue carbine, but perhaps a sporterization, the rifle of the Spanish-American war and the Filipino insurrection, in which it largely gave acceptable service, but the Springfield 1903 which replaced it loaded faster. The loading gate on the side of the weapon is unmistakable; its caliber is .30 U.S., now known as the .30-40 Krag, quite accurate and powerful. Sheriff Heck Tate (one of the heroes of the book, an honest, decent lawman with the priceless virtue of flexibility) bade Atticus take the shot since it involved the use of a high-powered rifle on a street with a great many civilians within range of the rifle's bullet. Atticus lived up to his "One Shot" sobriquet and Tim Johnson (the dog) never knew what hit him.

Neither Atticus, Dill, nor Scout knew of any firearms present at the jail that night except in the hands of the mob that came for the hapless Tom Robinson-Atticus made a call, not the worst call, that he'd be better off without a rifle than against a mob armed with several such and shotguns. Heck Tate would doubtless have defended Tom with all the means at his disposal-it was not uncommon to find a Thompson submachine gun in police armories of the time-but he had been lured away by a false report of trouble, duty confounded by duty. Scout recognized in the mob Mr. Walter Cunningham, a decent man helping to lead a lynch mob based upon the horrible idea that lynching a black man accused of raping a white girl was the decent thing to do. Scout greeted the man, a client of her father's, with friendly affection, not realizing that the mob was at the point of doing violence to her father-and suddenly, the mob wasn't, and went home.

THEN comes the point that Hollywood did indeed omit, most wrongly, I agree, from the movie. Atticus remarks to Tom, "They won't bother you any more," and from a window across the street comes, "You're d**n tootin' they won't! Had you covered all the time, Atticus!" And who is the wielder of the double-barreled shotgun in question? Not Sheriff Heck Tate.

It is Braxton Bragg Underwood (ah, evocative name!), editor of the Maycomb Tribune, wielding not his namesake typewriter, but buckshot instead. Mr. Underwood despises Negroes, Scout tells us, and yet principles matter to him enough for him to be ready to rain lead upon his subscribers should the right of trial by jury be taken from Tom Robinson and Atticus Finch. Or -- in other words -- the account is of a man who makes his living by the 1st Amendment employing his rights under the 2nd Amendment to ensure the preservation of the 4th!

No wonder Hollywood couldn't stomach it.
-- Dr. Rob S. Rice
NRA Life

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