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Boat People

Kerry under fire. Making Bush follow through. Flight 327. Tyson's beef. Europe's choice. Plus more.

8.9.04

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F WORDS
Re: Lawrence Henry's Flinty?:

I think that flinty is a perfect way to characterize John Kerry. Flint, the rock, not the place that Moore says he's from, is a rock that flakes, if used against steel it sparks, but that's about it.

John Kerry is flakey. His comments frequently show that he is flakey. Look at his wimpy start at the Democratic convention: "I'm John Kerry, and I'm reporting for duty." If I was his commanding officer, and he approached me in that way, I would have had a hard time not laughing in his face. He paints himself as this great war hero then rips all his fellow veterans by his actions after his abbreviated tour of duty. He is a flake.

He talks a good game then blows it. How about his approach to the war on terror, he would fight a more "sensitive" war. How, by getting the terrorists around a camp fire at Camp David and sing Kumbaya, pass the joint, and stick flowers in our hair? He said he has a plan -- spark -- but he wouldn't show it unless he's elected. Poof! No flame.
-- Jim
New York, New York

Unlax, Doc, as the wily carrot cruncher would say. I would be willing to wager Mr. Henry that it was nothing more than an innocent typo, easily corrected by replacing the "n" with the more accurately descriptive "t."
-- Russ Vaughn
Lakehills, Texas

KERRY, QUITE CONTRARY
Re: George Neumayr's How Does It Feel?:

George Neumayr does a nice job of spelling out the cognitive dissonance of Kerry's claim that his service in Vietnam somehow qualifies him to be Commander-in-Chief. He really shouldn't be allowed to get away with the two unreconcilable positions that he both "served honorably" and "committed atrocities." If he served honorable and bravely, why did he spend so much time and energy after the war disparaging that service? If he committed atrocities, why is he so proud of it now?

It's Kerry's decision to make the "war crimes" claims that screws up his story. It's completely plausible for someone to go to war, serve honorably, and then work to bring his fellow soldiers home. It is not plausible at all for someone to go to war, serve honorably while committing war crimes, return home and accuse your fellow soldiers of committing war crimes, and then parade your medals and fellow soldiers around like its the best thing you've ever done. It's completely schizophrenic!
-- Tracy M. Fitzgibbon
Sedro-Woolley, Washington

You got that right Mr. Neumayr: Raising taxes isn't going to affect the (really) rich. Congress would never pass a tax on itself without an escape route. I'm not complaining about it you understand, but it is a fact of life. I find myself (a retiree with an average of $75,000 per year) paying a higher percent of my total income than people making much more than me because I have no tax shelters!

Kerry has the perks and advantages of the Heinz fortune of several billion dollars and yet he arrogantly talks about raising taxes "on the rich," ignoring the fact that he, a kept man, is the epitome of "the rich." The trial lawyer Edwards, who has tried to present himself as in poverty in his youth, because his father worked in a garment factory (maybe in some sweat shop), has neglected to mention that his father had a supervisor position and his mother was a professor. Edwards, poor guy, has raked in multi-millions using his innocent stare, junk science, and the predilection of juries to make the plaintiff filthy rich with outrageous awards against people they believe to have deep pockets!

The two "Johns" are by far the richest pair of candidates in history. They are also in a very weak position when it comes to taxing others. Why doesn't the GOP "pan this gold"?
-- G.B. Hall
Marietta, Georgia

"I used .50 caliber machine guns, which we were granted and ordered to use..." -- J. F. Kerry, 1971

Listen closely to the tape. What he says is not exactly as written here. Kerry was saying "we were granted" then he pauses and resumes, saying "ordered to use..."

Kerry's original statement was apparently to the effect that his superiors, in the form of rules of engagement (ROE), allowed use of .50 caliber machine guns under prescribed circumstances. He then hesitated and stated the matter somewhat differently, as though his superiors seemed to order the use of these guns under all circumstances.

Here, Kerry is shown in his penchant for nuance to the point of completely changing the meaning of a statement. If he is given permission to use the .50 cal guns, the burden falls on him if they are used; if he is ordered to use them, then the burden is on the evil military leaders of the Vietnam War.
-- Walt Johanson
Yonkers, New York

The Democrats overdid the Vietnam hero line. The Swiftboat Veterans' anti-Kerry statements testify to that. A Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts in four months while taking one's own homemade movie reenactments and then "shipping out" is enough evidence of manipulation. Making this a cornerstone of Kerry's campaign raised the ire of vets. Many with and without medals were far braver and more trustworthy to take command than Kerry.

None of us liked the Kennedy-Johnson war in Nam. But calling Kerry's criticism of the war "bravery" or "patriotic" is nonsense. It was aiding and abetting the enemy during an active war. At the time, Kerry was running for Congress in an anti-war district and he placed politics before patriotism, as he does now.
-- John Davis
Thorofare, New Jersey

John Kerry can thank his "good friend" John McCain. The groups that fund these type ads are a byproduct of McCain's idiotic attack on free speech, also known as, campaign finance reform. And hey, at least they didn't compare him to Hitler.

Wouldn't it be nice if Kerry had to face the same hostile press about these allegations in the manner that President Bush had to face with respect to his National Guard service?
-- Cathy Thorpe
Columbus, Georgia

SKULL AND BONES
Re: David Hogberg's Bush's Opportunity:

David Hogberg reflects President Bush's "Stay the Course" strategy. Does this mean that we continue to pursue democratization in Iraq without securing the peace?

I would rather hear about a strategy for winning in Iraq. One example: recently we heard of an operation to attack the security holes in the border with Syria. You mean the border is not sealed yet!? You mean that Syria has not been quietly notified that if they don't seal their side of the border, they will be next!?

Many of us supported President Johnson (thinking it was the patriotic thing to do) while he refused to win in Vietnam. Are we making the same mistake with President Bush?

And it is interesting how often you read commentators putting words in President Bush's mouth. Could this be because he has not periodically explained to the American people where we are and where we are going, i.e., providing leadership? And campaign trail speeches are not what I mean.

There is simply too much criticism of Kerry (I know it's easy) and defense of Bush (I know it's reflexive) in The American Spectator. We would be better off analyzing Bush's failures, forcefully asking the right questions, and advocating alternatives. In other words, if President Bush does not give a speech containing a version of David Hogberg's words, how should we react?

How about giving President Bush more words to say at the Republican Convention about what needs to be done at home and abroad and after the convention holding him accountable if he fails to come even close? At the very least, the Bushies might notice that their base needs some more bones.
-- Mike Rizzo

David Hogberg may be right about Bush's failure to properly explain the terror problem, but he might be underestimating the American appetite for the simplistic. Gore presents the idea that our problem is a gang of thugs. While that may be partially true, eliminating the Mafia, Crips, or Bloods has little chance of eliminating long-term crime. Fighting an idea is a thousand times more difficult than all of the simplistic cut-and-run alternatives that the Left proposes. To act on the problem as Mr. Hogberg suggests creates fear in the Left that their version of Utopia will be delayed or will not thrive without the political power to enforce the required sacrifices.
-- Danny L. Newton
Cookeville, Tennessee

CANDID CAMERA
Re: Clinton W. Taylor's Rashomon in the Skies:

Can Mr. Taylor give us a read on using a digital camera on these "sons of the desert" (with all due apologies to Laurel and Hardy)? I ALWAYS carry my pocket Canon A80 wherever I go. As a concerned civilian -- catching suspicious activity on Compact Flash Memory seems to be a way of getting these recon scouts back to their seats and building a photo database for posterity.

Even the TSA's most powerful X-ray machines can't fog the image - and if the bozos back at the home office lose your report/complaint under their lunch -- oh well -- clog their e-mail one more time! If the incident has no substantiation, hitting the delete button simply changes the state of the electrons in the camera at no expense to the user.

Will the ACLU come after me for "stealing the souls" of these folks by taking their pictures -- or will they sue me for not obtaining a model release? Imagine the future utility of a terrorist scout after having a camera flashed in his/her face. After a change of underwear --will probably be on the first airplane back to Bakka Valley, Lebanon, Dayr az Zawr, Syria or (if you're a Michael Moore fan) -- Israel.

I seem to remember this being done to great effect when I was a Lieutenant in uniform so many, many years ago. The bigger the camera and flash the more powerful the message. YOUR COVER HAS BEEN BLOWN. See ya'!
-- Mike Horn
LTC, Military Intelligence, USAR, ret
Tracy, California

Out of interest I have been monitoring the situation of Flt 327 and observe the following:

• A task force of the FBI, TSA were dispatched and waiting for the Syrians when they arrived. Now that is not a normal task unless an alert had been issued. And at 30,000ft who is going to make that request but either the pilot or copilot? So that puts the comments from Elie Harfouche at odds with professional crewmembers. She either does not know what she is talking about or is lying.

• The members of the band were traveling with expired visas. Ms. Malkin has confirmed this fact. She also has confirmed that by sheer irony the task team though they looked as the passports did not realize that the visas were expired! Granted one can request an extension on a visa, but considering that these band members hail from a state on a terrorist watch list boggles the mind. Their I-94 should have been examined by BCIS and if found wanting should have been detained. By the way there was not a BCIS representative as part of the task force team which I would consider malfeasance.

• There, since this incident, seems to be a concerted effort to not come clean as to the findings of the task force. Granted one reason might be due to disclosure of security procedures. But considering that the band members were released without further incident I conclude that the real reason is that there is an effort to sweep it under the rug because it was bungled.

So now the U.S. government wants to install a cabinet level Director of General Intelligence. Before we do that We the People should insist on a Director of Common Sense first. Of course the solution to this whole affair could have come from NW itself. It only requires an enterprising pilot. "Ladies and Gentlemen, due to weather conditions over Detroit we will be required to detour to Toronto overnight. Please accept our apologies." The Syrians step off the plane, expired visa, invalid I-94, no reentry, NO problem.
-- John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

Why are we giving these people the benefit of the doubt? Yes, in a free press we are allowed to respond, but their country HAS NO FREE PRESS so why do they bother to respond to us? Oh, and when did suspected terrorists begin to TELL THE TRUTH?

This racial thing is ridiculous. A grandmother of six didn't blow up the twin towers with her bridge group, we aren't looking for children or even women for the most part. Sorry, the terrorist that we see most is a twenty to forty-something Middle Eastern male. We are going to lose a lot more than our civil liberties if we don't all get on the same page!
-- Karen Holt

Has anyone noticed how skilled the enemy has become at gaming the system they want to destroy, especially playing the victim? For my money, any one of these characters claiming victimhood is an automatic suspect.
-- John Ortmann
Fort Collins, Colorado

TYSON BEEF
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Down and Out:

Boxing does not need an ethics commission for I don't think it would have helped Tyson out of his current dilemma. He needed true friends who would have steered him straight, but he fell prey to the likes of King. However maybe the best thing you could do is maybe introduce Tyson to George Foreman at the business level. I bet you have the contacts.

I would much rather see Tyson pitching the latest Grill Master than lying dead in an alley somewhere.
-- John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

THE OLD WORLD'S CHOICE
Re: Doug Bandow's What Have You Done for Us Lately?:

Doug Bandow's essay raises some important issues. Many foreigners seem surprised and puzzled by the hostility of the "American Street" to their recent criticisms of the U.S. After all, foreigners have been criticizing the U.S. with impunity for generations. "Yankee Go Home!" is a time-honored slogan rich in hallowed tradition and ritual. It never got much of a rise out of the Americans before. Why does Yankee-bashing generate a backlash these days?

The obvious answer, as Mr. Bandow alludes, is that Americans are seeing that the anti-Americanism so oft and openly expressed is, in fact, genuine, not superficial griping that will go by the wayside when the chips are down, when Americans call for help from those they have helped. Now we see that when we do ask for help -- and really need it -- it will not be forthcoming.

Americans can probably shrug that betrayal off from any number of non-European countries, although they will not forget it. But what really hits us is the European countries who turn their backs on us. Without American help, Europe would be a hellhole today, and, considering the potential threats facing Europe -- from a massive Muslim influx to a resurgent, autocratic Russia -- it might yet become so in the future without U.S. help.

Europeans should not forget for a minute that it was only a catastrophic failure of the European state system that has compelled American intervention in Europe for nearly a century in order to restore peace and ensure stability. Yet as Europe moves toward historic unity -- a process the U.S. has applauded -- an unnecessary, uncalled for, anti-Americanism of a very real kind is developing.

This new, active anti-Americanism seems based not only on non-cooperation, but also on opposition to U.S. goals with the aim of defeating them, of defeating the United States. It would not be a problem, or even all that remarkable, if the history of U.S.-European relations had been different during the past century. After all, China, for example, has its own agenda in the world, part of which involves thwarting U.S. intentions and rivaling it, even eclipsing it, as a world power. Americans understand that, and, since we enjoy competition, rather like the challenge the Chinese pose.

But Europe is different. We see ourselves as part of the same family, largely ethnic European, our culture entirely derived from European culture -- which we respect and admire. We spent our blood and treasure in massive amounts in the 20th century to save Europe from disintegration, to save its civilization, to restore it and guard it as a special and very dear treasure.

Yet now that Europe is back on its feet, prosperous and strong, preparing for a new era of potential influence in the world, Europe rejects us; tells us in no uncertain terms that we are not European, we are not part of the same civilization and are, in fact, fundamentally different and growing increasingly different. Many say they look forward to the day when China, a civilization in its own right, which owes no cultural heritage to Europe, supplants us as the world's superpower.

Such hostility is baffling to Americans. What did we do to you that deserves such rejection? Franchise some fast-food restaurants? Europeans should think carefully about the harm they are doing to what has been a very long and valuable relationship, one of particular value to themselves. Are they so sure, considering their long history of diplomatic disaster, state failure and endemic warfare that their present unification experiment will prove successful, and if successful, lasting?

By mid-century, the demographers predict that Europe will have lost 100 million in population, while the U.S. will have gained 100 million. Russia will be facing a population crisis of unprecedented proportions, while the Muslim nations surrounding Europe will have enjoyed substantial population increases. Europe over the next few decades is going to be facing a series of major challenges as it tries to adapt to its new political integration, deal with an imploding Russia, absorb millions of Muslim immigrants into a culture that, unlike the U.S. has no track record of successfully assimilating the foreign.

Is it wise for Europe then, to alienate the greatest power in the world -- and also its greatest friend in the world? History has not ended. It is murderously alive and enemies of Western civilization see a chance to sweep aside its few hundred years of dominance soon, very soon. As Bernard Henri Levy has said, America is Europe's paladin.

But that is not a guaranteed fact forever. Europe seriously needs to consider what it would be like should America come to be indifferent to its fate; indeed, Europeans need to think about what their world would be like if America actively disliked Europe and worked to see it fail. It was not so long ago that Franklin Roosevelt described Europe as an incubator of wars. As historian John Lamberton Harper has noted, as a result FDR aimed "to bring about a radical reduction in the weight of Europe," to effect "the retirement of Europe from world politics."

Does Europe want America to once again see it as danger that must be decisively dealt with? If not, Europe needs to stop pushing America away. More, it needs to demonstrate to America that it is true ally, willing to burden itself to help America, burden itself seriously, as the U.S. has done since World War I, with everything from troops in the hundreds of thousands to favorable trade policies that will help keep the U.S. economy strong.

Merely toning down the anti-American rhetoric won't work, won't stop what is not a drift, but an active turning away from Europe, especially by young people who don't feel any ties to its culture. Europe will have to take action, strong action, to prove to America that Europe cares about the fate of America and wants to not only preserve America, preserve its relationship with Europe, but see America prosper and its ties to Europe grow even stronger.

But if Europe truly disdains America, looks forward to a day when the ties between us are severed, dreams of a time when some other world power dominates the globe, then all it need do is keep on as it is. In a generation -- perhaps less -- the two will have gone their separate ways, so that when, once again, as it surely will, Europe turns to America for succor, it will not come.
-- Chris Mark

NOT WAITING TO EXHALE
Re: John Schneider and Chuck Lazarz's letters in Reader Mail's On Standby Alert:

I wholeheartedly agree with John Schneider's comments on what's wrong with the current Democrat Party, but he missed something important beyond his comment of, "Clinton survived by being lucky enough to follow twelve years of economic prosperity." He forgot Clinton was also lucky enough to get a GOP Congress sworn in January 1995 that literally forced him to give us welfare reform, lower capital gains tax rates, slower rates of growth in government spending and a balanced budget which he now takes full credit.

But I have to chastise Chuck Lazarz for simply proving he hasn't been a Spectator reader very long or knows much about movie critics. It is Mr. Lazarz that should lighten up and learn to have some fun after writing:

"Government agencies and large corporations have been cast as antagonists in films, not because of some anti-American, anti-Capitalist agenda, but because of the tremendous power those entities wield. This is just interesting story telling, nothing more."

No sir, this isn't just story telling. It's a message sent by the left that is prevalent among the population that consider ALL corporations evil, etc. If it was just a simple plot, then why not a few about the discrimination of conservative actors in Hollywood or how narcissist the winners of Academy Awards are or have the hero be religious without being a total nut?

I won't hold my breath.
-- Greg Barnard
Franklin, Tennessee

"GOOD LETTER"
Re: P. David Hornik's The Neocon Flap:

Poor maligned "neocons." Of course the "quagmire" is not the "fault" of any group except that darn UN messing things up again, delaying the matter by five months. It's so clear to me now! Without that five months, any insurgency would have been crippled, a wan imitation of the current strife. The current crisis in Iraq is just further proof of why we should go it alone whenever possible. I count on the Spectator to clear these things up for me.
-- Rebecca Wait

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