Reader Mail

In Recovery

Post-Debate postmortems. Plus: Raunch country. Blogaloney. An Old European Canadian writes. And more.

10.4.04

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ALL TALK
Re: George Neumayr's Kerry's Global Warming, Wlady Pleszczynski's From Lambert to Treblinka, David Hogberg's His Own Worst Enemy, and John Tabin's Why Bush Won:

Mr. Neumayr writes, "[the Dafur discussion] revealed Kerry's view of the U.S. military as nothing more than a humanitarian errand boy for the United Nations." Just what in heck does Neumayr think Bush is doing with the U.S. military right now in Iraq? We won the invasion more than a year and a half ago. We got Saddam's sons last year and him last December -- why are we still there and why can't we defeat the insurgents!? Oh, because we're bringing freedom and democracy to the Iraqis. And Bush keeps bragging about how we are building schools and hospitals and whatnot. How is that not humanitarian? I thought conservatives weren't supposed to be nation builders. I thought the U.S. military is for breaking stuff and blowing stuff up. Why couldn't we have just taken Saddam out, leave Iraq, and on our way out tell the Iraqis that they can kill each other or do whatever they want but if they threaten us or our interests again, we'll be back?

Why are we stuck there fighting house to house? … Because Bush lacks the moral courage and the backbone to do so, plain and simple. One thousand fifty men have lost their lives and thousands more have been severely wounded -- not because our enemy is a comparable one on the battle field, but because the commander in chief lacks the vision and courage to do the right thing. Bush is afraid of an uprising if we fight too hard, so he is NOT letting our troops fight as fiercely as they are capable of. Bush blinked twice in Fallujah and three times in Najaf. Bush's restraint over the past year has been nauseating, and he will not get my support this time. Yeah, so we decided to get a little tough today in Samarra. TOO LITTLE; TOO LATE. Kerry may be no better, but Bush does not deserve a second term.
-- unsigned

Thankfully George W. Bush wasn't caught looking at his watch, as happened to his father -- but I sure was! As a Bush supporter, it pains me to say that Kerry did, indeed, come off better last night. But thank you for pointing out the verbal gaffe Kerry made -- I didn't catch it -- but did catch the fact that Bush failed to mention Australia's John Howard as he singled out allies.

But consider -- Kerry thought it more important to have a manicure before the debate, while our President was off encouraging Florida hurricane victims.
-- Cathy Thorpe
Columbus, Georgia

Not only was it past his bedtime, but Bush had been out in the Florida sun visiting the disaster areas -- that is draining.
-- Alan Freemond Sr.

Jim Lehrer was President Bush's other debate opponent, through what Lehrer failed to ask John Kerry.

There was no question to Kerry about his 20-year Senate record of voting against defense appropriations and systems. Lehrer also did not ask the senator about his voting for cuts in intelligence funds, notably the $6 billion from the CIA. Nor did the PBS newsman ask Kerry about how it was that he opposed Ronald Reagan during the Cold War.

Nor did Lehrer take the opportunity to query Kerry about his law-enforcement approach to dealing with terrorists and why he thought that was superior -- especially in the face of Kerry's new-found hawkishness he displayed.

Finally, given that the French and Germans, days prior to the debate, said they would not be sending troops to Iraq, regardless of who's elected president, Lehrer could've asked Kerry specifically which coalition of nations he would seek to build.
-- C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia

Sen. Kerry has finally presented his "plan" for Iraq. It consists of expanding the U.S. military and Special Ops forces but not using them anywhere. Calling a summit to convince more countries to become part of the "coalition of the coerced and the bribed" so they can join us in fighting the "wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time". Their role will apparently not be for achieving victory since that last time we depended on non-American allies - they screwed up in Tora Bora in the search for Bin Laden. Apparently they will join us solely to correct the imbalance of the U.S./Ally 90/10 casualty ratio.

That is not a "plan." That is a series of politically expedient positions created to offset a previously created series of politically expedient positions that had been necessary to offset an even earlier series of politically expedient positions.
-- Martin Tagliaferro
Ann Arbor, Michigan

I am writing to suggest from a great distance (as I live in Belgium) that perhaps a useful "nickname" for Senator Kerry and his policies would be "Senator Hindsight" (note not Heinzsight, though that might have a certain appropriateness too) -- because every suggestion he makes for policy whether internationally or domestically is done 'after someone else has made a serious decision' and acted upon it.

Hindsight is a great pleasure and is a gift which comes with leisure, but you can not run any organization on that basis. Anybody can be right with a hindsight of 20/20, but It is looking backwards and walking with 'one's back facing the future'. And that seems to be Senator Kerry's only method and approach to any topic -- and oft times even his hindsight glasses seem to be dirty since he changes his view frequently.
-- Philip J. Sandstrom

While there are many who are criticizing the President for what he didn't say in the debate, he is the clear winner because he is not being criticized for what he did say.

On the other hand, Kerry lost the debate precisely because of what he said, and said, and said. He said that he would invoke a global test before using preemptive force to protect America. Such a policy will make our national defense and the protection of our people subject to the political whims of others, most notably the U.N. He said he would provide nuclear capability to Iran, presumably for peaceful purposes rather than military uses. However, this approach did not work for the Clinton administration with North Korea, and will not work with Iran, a country that supports terrorism, harbors terrorists, and seeks to destabilize the democratic efforts underway in post-Saddam Iraq. He said he would unilaterally disarm by stopping the development of a tactical nuclear weapon intended to destroy terrorist bunkers, thereby lessening our ability to more effectively fight the war against terrorism and to eliminate future Osama Bin Ladens.

Kerry clearly said all these things. Clearly, none of them would aid in the war on terror. Clearly, all them would make that war more difficult to fight, and, equally as important, would make the defense of our homeland more difficult to protect from terrorist attacks. Clearly, Kerry lost the debate.
-- Don Kornreich
Frederick, Maryland

Mr. Hogberg writes: "But soon the John Kerry emerged that we have all come to know and dislike. He started mentioning his time in Vietnam -- did you know he was in Vietnam by the way?"

Do I ever! Don't you wish that a merciful God could wipe away Kerry's memories of that service -- so that he wouldn't be reminding us every 5 minutes?
-- Dan Martin
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

One major difference: Although Iraq was a major topic of conversation during the presidential debate there was little difference between the candidates on the subject. They both had the same opinions regarding Hussein before the war and they both have the same remedies after the war. Train troops, secure borders, have elections and be committed to doing the right thing in terms of bringing democracy to Iraq.

The clear difference between the candidates was the discussion on North Korea. Kerry asserted that Korea gained nuclear weapons on Bush's watch and that as president he would immediately begin bilateral negotiations with Korea to address the proliferation issue. Bush responded that this was a clear mistake. China, South Korea, Japan and Russia all had major stakes in the issue and ought to continue be involved to a great degree in these talks. He also stated the obvious in that China has influence with the North Koreans. Its no secret the Chinese saved the North once before.

Kerry misses on this one in a big way. We need only go back to the bilateral talks and agreements that the Clinton administration reached with North Korea to see the mistake in ever pursuing that strategy again. Clinton had concluded an agreement that allowed for tons of food aid, light water reactors and many tons of fuel oil as payoffs to the North Koreans to keep them from building nuclear weapons. Guess what? They enriched uranium and built them anyway. It was the Bush administration that called them on this deception.

North Korea is a very dangerous character and they are most dangerous to the well being of the Chinese. The Chinese are well on their way towards modernization and realizing tremendous economic gains for their population and can ill afford to have that derailed by regional instability. These two countries along with Japan have a long history of dislike for one another and since North Korea has limited delivery capability, the people who are threatened most by the North's weapons are in the neighborhood.

If the North Koreans continue to be belligerent and continue to be a threat, how long do you think it will be before Japan understands the need to have nukes as well? Do the Chinese want a nuclear powered Japan to have to deal with? Make no mistake about it, from a technology standpoint, the Japanese could go nuclear in a heart beat.

Kerry harped on the idea of building alliances and agreed that nuclear proliferation is the major challenge facing the world yet when faced with an effective alliance working on the North Koreans he wants to go with a unilateral approach by the United States.

China and Japan are the major players and this problem is directly in their sphere of influence. Its time for the US to take a back seat and let the nations that have most to lose begin to sort out the solutions. Bush is clearly right and the Kerry solution was already practiced and proven a distinct failure.
-- Phil Gallagher

Kerry lied continually in last night's debate:

1. He lied when he said he made the now infamous 87 billion statement late at night. It was 1:20 in the afternoon. He knew very well when and where he made that statement and thinks we are fools for not calling him on it.

2. He lied when he said the subways and tunnels were closed in NYC during the RNC convention. He made it up out of thin air because of the rhetorical point he wanted to make.

3. He lied when he said resources from Afghanistan were shifted to Iraq to the detriment of our troops in Afghanistan. General Franks, the commanding general, said so.

4. He lied when he said he had one consistent position on Iraq. As everybody knows, he's had almost one position a day for the last few months.

5. He lied when he oxymoronically said he would take preemptive action against a potential aggressor, but such an action would have to pass a "global test."

6. He lied when he said, as President, he would tell us the "truth." He can't stand the truth, even as a candidate.
-- Richard L. Newcomb

Just an observation about the debate and Kerry's position(s) I have not seen elsewhere.

Kerry is for developing coalitions (must include France and Germany to be a true coalition) and is critical of Bush for only having 30 for the war in Iraq. However, when it comes to North Korea, bilateral talks are better than a coalition of five countries.

Just another example of lack of consistency.
-- John R. Leeper

I have to wonder how the debate viewers who stuck it out till the end and then sat for the commentary felt when their screens were again filled with the images of Bug-eyed Joe Lockhart and Mike McCurry.

Did they, like me, get that stomach wrenching sense of deja vu, of "Oh God, not these guys again!"
-- T.C. Rider
Apex, North Carolina

CARING COOL
Re: Patrick Hynes's Hate Fatigue

It's hate only if you are so benighted as to remain Republican. Liberals exhibit strong concern, but only as the cool splash of a fountain in a hot summer garden.
-- PacRim Jim

RAUNCH RULES
Re: Christopher Orlet's The Triumph of the Swill:

Orlet's article witnesses the success of the Frankfurt School which translated Marxism into cultural terms. The enemy was capitalism for the old Marxists; for the new Marxists of the Frankfurt School, the enemy was Western culture. Victory would come only after Christian beliefs had died in the West. It would happen only after the institutions of culture and education had been captured and conscripted as allies and agents of the revolution. There are no absolute moral standards that are universally true for all human beings outside of a particular historical context; rather, morality is "socially constructed." Whatever advances the revolution is moral; what obstructs it is not. Equality is achieved through the lowest common denominator. Depravity becomes the great equalizer. Liberty defined as license is the key to paradise for libertines.
-- John Navone

I had a pretty good idea that the half-time show would be pathetic and tasteless. When entertainers can write about nothing but sex and dancing, it gets old very quickly. We spent the half-time watching the new KISS DVD of their performance in Australia with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Talk about wholesome family entertainment, compared to just about anything else on TV these days! With all of Gene's gyrating pelvis moves, there was no crotch grabbing, no vulgarity, and nothing but a lot of fun suitable for all ages. I remember how my grandfather worried when I wanted to buy one of their albums when I was still just in my teens; "they're not obscene are they?" Kind of makes me yearn for the days when KISS was actually a bit risqué.
-- Bill White
Great Mills, Maryland

BLOGALONEY
Re: Lawrence Henry's What Blogs Can't Do and Reader Mail's Blogarithms:

Lawrence Henry is certainly accurate in his assessment that "the public wants to know some certain things on a regular and predictable basis."

Unfortunately, with respect to every he cites, the "old media" is woefully inept: If I want to know if a storm is coming, the Internet affords much more accurate sources of information, on demand, than firing up the idiot box. If I wanted to find out whether the local schools are open or closed (largely irrelevant to me, as my children are home-schooled), the local schools have hotlines that allow me to phone in rather than waiting through commercials for Viagra and Green Nazi PSA's on local radio. Similarly, the Internet is a much better source of information regarding "what time the baseball game comes on, where the candidates are, what's happening in Iraq, what the government (local, state, national) has got itself up to, and so forth". In each instance in which I have had first-person knowledge of the facts of an event, our local television, radio, and print media have been flat wrong in their reporting of material facts. I learn more by getting out and talking to my neighbors than I could ever find out by relying on "mainstream" sources. If I want to hear Michael Moore or Hillary Clinton interviewed, I suppose I could tune in Good Morning America. We don't have a local cable show to tune into on the kitchen TV while the kids eat breakfast, but I can't imagine that the Wayne's World rejects I've seen on local cable in other places would be terribly enlightening on any subject.

It may well be that bloggers and other new media sources are "sideshows", but at least we can choose to see the spider baby for ourselves. When you go to the Midway, even though the money's there, you know you're going to get taken for a ride.
-- Patrick Burkhart
Whitefish, Montana

Mr. Henry is absolutely correct with his points in the first half of his article. In the second he makes an assumption that can not be proven at this time. That is, that the people who write the blogs have no desire to become reporters. All I can say to that is, time will tell.

Now, I happen to agree with Mr. Henry that Internet "blogs" will not replace traditional media. This is evidenced by the forays of the "traditional" media; newspapers, television and radio news; into cyberspace. The commercial press is not stupid and will not allow itself to be shut out of a new market.

That having been said, it is entirely possible that, absent the cyberspace incursions of traditional media outlets, blogs could take the place of these media outlets. With the increased use of Personal Communication Devices (cellphones), it is now possible to hold the score of your favorite sports team or the current traffic report in the palm of your hand at anytime. It will be possible to do a great deal more in the near future. So it is "possible," though unlikely.

The importance of the blogosphere at the moment is that it represents an alternative to the traditional media outlets and their ingrained biases. When television news expanded into the cable market, we were treated to CNN, MSNBC, Headline News, etc. These outlets merely mirrored the exiting mainstream news outlets, except they invaded your home, office or dining establishment 24/7. Then Fox News appeared on the scene. Though still a "traditional" news source having paid reporters, commentators and advertisers, it was an alternative to the existing media with its monolithic attitude and bias with regards to the type of stories presented and its manner of reporting on them. Now it has outstripped the viewer-ship of all other cable news media, combined.

Could the bloggers replace the traditional media? Yes. Will they? No. They will continue to evolve and offer an alternative to the reporting of the traditional media and a sometimes exciting new format.

But that is another story for a later time.
-- Michael R. Tobias
Oakland Park, Florida

I believe Lawrence Henry is missing the point of what the Bloggers do. Blogs aren't trying to destroy the daily news organizations or become an alternative to daily news. They are pointing out an obvious and insidious illness within daily news organizations; journalists that report imagination as fact and write every story as if it were an opinion piece. Attention is the cure for that illness and Blogs are that attention.

Daily news organizations will survive the Bloggers as long as they don't resist the cure.
-- Bryon White

The reader responses to Mr. Henry's attack on the Pajamahadeen were mostly pretty good. I would like, however, to try to articulate a point that was not explored in any specificity. (Of course I can not even begin to touch Mr. McGinnis's excellent letter, nor am I foolish enough to even try.)

There is one area or subject around which the most extreme Liberals and Conservatives in the MSM will join in solidarity with their brethren in the moderate middle (the fence sitters). All paid or "professional" journalists will circle the wagons when anyone DARES to criticize anyone in or anything concerning the workings of the MSM. Mr. Henry and his normally Conservative comrades remind me of what happens when someone suggests that teachers should actually be tested to see if they know their subject matter or what happens within the legal community when someone suggests that jury awards in lawsuits should be limited and bear some relationship to actual damage done or common sense or some other outmoded idea.

Mr. Henry, your defensiveness is on open display for all to see. You remind me of Sen. Lieberman standing in solidarity with Sen. Kennedy against a charge of mean-spiritedness and uttering lies about President Dubya.

PAJAMAHADEEN -- UNITE AND JOIN THE JIHAD AGAINST THE MSM.

Oh yeah, and have a good day.
-- Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

BAY OF WEAKNESS
Re: Shawn Macomber's The Ted and the Fury:

"I thank God that President Bush was not our President at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis," Kennedy said.

Perhaps if Bush was Prez the Cuban population would be free and the country would be prospering.
-- John

Ted is thankful that George Bush was not President during the Cuban missile crisis. It took special weakness to get into the Cuban missile crisis. Nixon won the kitchen debate with Khrushchev; JFK lost his face-to-face confrontation with Khrushchev, according to Richard Reeves and told Dean Rusk there were problems ahead. (Reeves says Khrushchev knew that JFK had skipped economics classes and made a fool out of JFK on the subject of economics.) Perceiving JFK's weakness, Khrushchev was emboldened to put missiles into Cuba. Reeves also says that JFK sent signals to Khrushchev that building the Berlin Wall would be an acceptable solution to what JFK saw as an untenable situation for Russia, whereby good people were leaving East Germany for the West.
-- R.L.A. Schaefer
Dubuque, Iowa

QUICK STUDY
Upon cursory review, your publication is difficult to digest (perhaps I'm a Canadian with a short attention span). Petty arguments backing up an illiterate President who is incapable of expressing himself without a teleprompter. The leader of the free world is embarrassing, not so much for who he is but for who and what is propping him up. Neo-cons are akin to intellectuals on anabolic steroids. Artificial stimulants to the economy and society with no clue or interest in the long term effects. As long as the next quarter on the Dow pays off all is well, the devoted can pocket the dividends, then build and hide behind gated communities, hire a few million security guards and watch the disenfranchised fight a losing battle for the scaps (on Fox no less). As one with so much admiration for what America has and could accomplish, it is disheartening to realize that I slowly lose respect for America's leadership, direction and by default the country as a whole. We are all experiencing the decline of the American empire (and sadly Canada will be dragged down with you). And I'm an optimist.

Surprise the hell out of me and publish any relevant materials that will meet the challenges of an America with an aging, technology-based (as opposed to labor-based) society that will only need the productivity of a minority of its population to sustain economic growth (by traditional measures). Just a Canuck looking for reassurance on the other side of the 49th.

Ideas, structure, process. That's what its all about. But I digress.… Well got to go brush up on my Chinese. This century is Asia's anyways. Unless…
-- Easton Phidd
Toronto, Ontario

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