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Try to Remember

A Talmudic lion's share. Mt. Rushmore's discoverers. Nixon and the revisionists. Unforgetting the forgotten. Plus more.

6.10.04

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SMART LION
Re: Jay D. Homnick's Is the Talmud Republican?

Perhaps the lion that is not satisfied with the handful is the government that has the power to take the rich man's wealth to use for its own chosen purposes.
-- Michael J. Lynch
Atlanta, Georgia

MOUNTAIN MAN
I still have on my bulletin board a small square promotion that The American Spectator issued to subscribers back in the late '80s that suggested a modification to Mt. Rushmore that included Ron Reagan's profile. What a fitting salute to the greatest modern day if not of all times President of the United States. Let's start the petition up again to put "Ron On The Rock." We will always remember what President Reagan did to boost our confidence as Americans and how he lead us to trust in God and the ideology of conservative principles.
-- John Allen

NIXON'S THE ONE
Re: David Hogberg's Instant Revisionists:

David Hogberg's excellent piece eviscerates revisionist theories on the nature and timing of the Soviet Union's decline, but it could have driven the point home further by exposing detente for what it really was: namely, Nixon and Kissinger's appeasement of a foe they perceived as stronger and ascendant.

Robert Parry's argument that "Nixon and Kissinger -- along with much of the U.S. intelligence community -- had recognized the systemic weaknesses of the Soviet system, which was falling desperately behind the West in technology and in the ability to produce consumer goods desired by the peoples of Eastern Europe," is simply incorrect. To understand why, one must understand the defining event in Nixon's political career -- the Alger Hiss case -- and how deeply influenced Nixon was by Whittaker Chambers' pessimism about the future of the West in the struggle against communism. Nixon, like Chambers, came to believe that although Western democratic capitalism was economically, politically and morally superior to communism, our system was "on the wrong side of history" and faced inevitable decline. As early as 1948, Nixon believed that communism would prove to be a more appealing ideology in Western Europe and, later, in the post-colonial Third World. Despite his pro-capitalist bluster as Eisenhower's vice president in venues such as the Kitchen Debate, Nixon continued to believe that it was only a matter of time before the West was swept aside by Marxism-Leninism.

As president, his fears were codified as U.S. foreign policy, especially in the areas of arms control. The ABM, SALT I and SALT II treaties were negotiated and signed by the U.S. from a position of perceived weakness, which was only reinforced by the worsening Vietnam and Watergate situations. Decades later, it can be difficult to grasp just how bleak things looked for the U.S. and our allies in the 1970s. Viewed in this light, Parry's statement that "the 1970s was the time for the West to accept victory and begin transitioning the Soviet Union out of its failed economic model" is absurd. If anything, détente was a strategic retreat by the U.S. that prolonged the life of Soviet communism by 10 years or more.

I believe that Nixon later came to understand the profound implications of this erroneous worldview -- one of his few core beliefs -- and it was a major source of his resentment toward Ronald Reagan, whom he viewed as a lucky simpleton. Nixon was completely baffled by the love and respect Reagan enjoyed and believed that his (Nixon's) policies paved the way for Reagan's success. Of course, he was wrong about this as he was about so much else he took credit for. Nixon was the victim of his own over-thinking, obsessive calculation and paranoid disposition. In the end, these character flaws undid him as a president -- and a human being.
-- Lawrence Delaney Jr.
Irvine, California
(Delaney was producer of the 90-minute PBS interview/documentary, "Richard Nixon Reflects," hosted by Morton Kondracke, which aired in 1990.)

The truly strange thing about these liberal commentators is that their utterings assume that we all have amnesia and remember nothing of the cold war. They seem to be directing comments to the young, the ignorant, and future historians. The desperate attempt to revise history seems very important to liberals, as if it justifies the failure of the international left to foresee the collapse of the Soviet Union and the capitalization of China.
-- Pat Childs
Lihue, Hawaii

MIXED SIGNALS
Re: Shawn Macomber's Satellite Killed the Radio Star:

Shawn fails to make the appropriate comparison. Satellite radio stands to regular radio as cable TV used to stand against broadcast TV. That particular rights war is still getting fought over -- remember the brouhaha of the Yankees not giving their local TV station the right to broadcast home games, while the cable equivalent in New Jersey did get those games, just a few years ago.

Plus, it'd be as well to research just how fragile satellite radio is. The two main companies, XM Satellite (XMSR) and Sirius (SIRI), have, as Shawn pointed out, only 1.7 million subscribers. More important, they are not yet making money, and they have to maintain very expensive infrastructures. Satellites aren't cheap. Last year, XM's stock collapsed under a looming insurance dispute over weakening satellite signals and their insurance consortium's unwillingness to pay for replacement birds.

XM and Sirius continue to make progress, notably in their agreements with car manufacturers like GM and Toyota. But I'm convinced they will not break through until they surrender what many consumers see as their primary virtue -- and start selling advertising.
-- Lawrence Henry

REMEMBERED
Re: Reid Collins' The Forgotten Generation:

Both my grandfathers were born in 1899, in the rural South. In the rural South, the Depression actually began in the early 1920s. One grandfather worked his way through college and became a high school science teacher because he couldn't get enough money together for medical school; a few years later, he went back to school and obtained a degree in engineering. My other grandfather came from a larger, poorer family, and, after working his way through school to an engineering degree, spent several years working as a laborer until he was hired by AT&T. Both grandfathers married comparatively late due to the economic conditions: one married in 1930 and the other in 1934, so both my parents were born in the mid-1930s.

Both grandfathers, having been too young to serve in uniform in WWI, were too old to serve in uniform in WWII, but the one who worked for AT&T did something mysterious at AT&T's labs during some of WWII, and the other one was a technical expert who helped out in the 1940s and 1950s. (Both are now deceased.)
-- Elizabeth Whitaker
Easley, South Carolina

Three cheers for Reid Collins for his comments on "The Forgotten Generation." "The Greatest Generation" got their grit from mom and dad. What puzzles me is how "The Greatest Generation" could have produced "The Worst Generation," defined as Clintonites and other hippie-scum.
-- Jack Hughes
Chicago, Illinois

Mr. Collins' views on the debt owed by the so-called "greatest generation" parallel my own initial reaction to Tom Brokaw's designation of the generation that fought WWII as being "the greatest." How can the generation that failed to safeguard and pass along the Judeo-Christian culture that they enjoyed while growing up ever be called the greatest? They raised my generation, the baby boomers, an utterly selfish generation that abandoned common sense in large numbers and still plagues us with their totalitarian schemes today. Was the WWII generation really great? That they survived the hardships of the Depression, fought and won WWII and then built the world's greatest economy certainly marks them as a truly great generation. I don't doubt that and I am profoundly grateful to all of them. But are they really the "greatest generation"? If passing along the fundamentals of freedom and liberty and the cultural habits that enable them is the key part of being the greatest, and I believe it is, then the WWII generation fails the final test for that distinction.

Yes, I know that the cultural rot started long before 1950, that the WWI generation foolishly bought the New Deal and that the Baby Boomers bear the ultimate responsibility for their flawed exercise of free will. But the WWII generation held the cultural ball in their turn, and they dropped it. The generation that can roll back the tide of history, recover our freedoms, drastically reduce the central government's power, return local authority and restore the habits of Judeo-Christian culture can justly be called the greatest generation. So, teen and twenty-something's, are you up to it? I'll help all I can.
-- Ed Burge
Centerville Ohio

TWO CHEERS FOR GORBY
Re: George Neumayr's Reagan's Useful Idiot:

Although I agree Reagan deserves credit for winning the cold war, I believe Gorbachev also deserves the thanks of the world. It is an irony that had Gorbachev fought to keep together the Soviet Union he would have gained respect and admiration over the bodies of millions. Instead he allowed the dissolution of the USSR peacefully. Think of Lincoln and the war to preserve the union. This cost many lives. We think of Lincoln as one of our greatest presidents. Perhaps the USSR was not worth saving, but Gorbachev could have tried, probably succeeded, (for a time), and the toll in human lives would have been great. Gorbachev would have gained honor and respect. He would not be called a useful idiot. This is one time we should honor someone who chose not to fight.
-- David Moshinsky

DONALDSON'S VERDICT
After waiting what seemed like days for the conclusion of Bill Clinton's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention when he was nominated the first time, I quickly surfed through the various news channels to see what the talking heads would have to say.

I was shocked to hear Sam Donaldson's evaluation which went something like this: "Former President, Ronald Reagan, held certain core beliefs and values before he became President. He carried them into the Presidency, operated by them through his Presidency, and left office with them intact. Frankly, I'm not sure I can say the same for Bill Clinton."

When Sam Donaldson makes such a comparison between Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, you know the chasm has to resemble the Marianas Trench.
-- Stephen "Doc" Watson

POTTER MOUTHED
Regarding James Bowman's review of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban:

Mr. Bowman trashes the movie. His final line is, "And what do you go to school for unless it is to learn how not to be a fool?"

Actually, Mr. Bowman, I went to school to learn how to read. I used that skill and read the five Harry Potter books currently in print. So did all but about three people in the known universe. We understood the movie quite well, and enjoyed it. I'm so sorry you did not.
-- Marilyn A. Turnbow
Lubbock, Texas

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