Reader Mail

Jamie and Janet

Ashcroft triumphs. Press loses. More Moyers. SLG unretires. And more.

4.15.04

Send to Kindle

UP AGAINST THE WALL
Re: Wlady Pleszczynski's Gorelick Licked:

A great article, as usual. Cheers for AG Ashcroft! The "independent" panel wanted memos declassified (the Aug. 6, '01 PDB, for example). It was great to see that the tactic works both ways. President Bush has placed some highly competent people at the top levels of his administration, and Mr. Ashcroft stands tall among them. It is frightening to imagine the damage to our society that a Kerry cabinet might inflict.
-- Rich Renken
Ballwin, Missouri

Today's piece about Gorelick was grand; what a farce that enterprise has become. Keep punchin', Wlady!
-- Dick "Dickie" Sheppard
Jersey City, New Jersey

I normally have to make an effort to steel myself to endure the vaudeville that the 9-11 Commission hearings have become. It has from the start been a flawed vessel, a reality TV farrago focusing on the hindsight burning into its eyes like bright headlamps from behind on a dark highway. The subplot, of course, has been the quasi-sub-rosa efforts of two members, Jamie Gorelick and Richard ("Call Me Pit Bull") Ben-Veniste, to deflect attention from Clinton administration fecklessness onto the Bush administration, which, because of post-election confusion and confirmation delays, barely had time to become fully operational by 9-11.

My fortitude was rewarded, however, when AG Ashcroft quietly and politely placed a suitcase bomb on the table in front of him and in a most genteel way, calmly reached over, finger extended, and detonated it. No suicide bomber, Mr. Ashcroft had carefully selected an incendiary device designed to disable only the guilty. I hadn't seen such a priceless moment of hearings theatre since Mr. Butterfield revealed the Nixon tapes at the Watergate hearings.

How charming it was to see two attack dogs neutered. Ban Veniste's encounter with the charter aircraft tar baby was indeed icing on the cake. Bravo to you, Mr. Ashcroft. You have done your President, the commission, and the American people a great service.
-- Frank Stevenson
Williamsburg, Virginia

Thanks for the article. I didn't get to watch the testimony, and I try to stay away from the nightly news. But I do read the papers, and didn't see anything about that memo anywhere. Keep up the good work.
-- Russ Bader
Lincoln, Nebraska

Bravo, Mr. Ashcroft! Score one for our side.

Now, if someone could blow Mr. Bum-Veniste out of the water in similar fashion, we might just get somewhere!
-- Jim Bjaloncik
Stow, Ohio

Gorelick was more responsible than anyone for 9/11 because she was the one who put the "wall" in place between the FBI counter intelligence unit and the investigation units.

Her membership on the commission is a disgrace.

She must be cross-examined under oath to determine who ordered her to issue the secret memo which Ashcroft declassified. I suspect a big story here!

Also we must find out who pushed for her appointment on the commission , as it seems to me that this is a hideout from cross-examination.

Gorelick's role in the Clinton Justice Department needs to be examined in great detail if we are to get to the bottom of 9/11.
-- J.C. Anthony

Why did Gorelick raise the legal wall between the CIA and the FBI? You should consider the possibility that Clinton and Gorelick did not want the FBI and CIA comparing notes on people such as Marc Rich or Johnny Chung. Did Richard Ben-Veniste or any of the partners in the Washington law firm of Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw have communications with Gorelick during the drafting of Gorelick's Wall? Have any of the clients of Ben-Veniste's law firm benefited by the existence of Gorelick's Wall?
-- Warren H. Potter

Now that Gorelick has been identified as the author of the memo that tied the hands of those who would have benefited from sharing information developed in the course of criminal and counter-intelligence investigations, the 9/11 commission ought to ask her at whose direction was she working when she wrote the memo. Chances are there were a few people involved in the creation of this directive and we have every right to know who they are and why they thought it was necessary. Anyone care to guess where the trail might lead?
-- Dick Melville
Ozone Park, New York

I'm beginning to wonder whether Democrats still think stealing the
Missouri Senate seat for two years was worth it.

Couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch of buffoons.
-- William M. Macfadyen

RENO REDUX
Re: George Neumayr's Reno Cure:

Mr. Neumayr is correct in his memory of Reno playing head nanny of the Nation in the name of justice. But also and mainly, don't forget Reno and Clinton had the nation's law enforcement in a constant tizzy over "right-wing extremists," their guns and their "hate." So while the Islamists were busy setting down roots of their terror operations, Clinton and Reno were running around the nation re-educating police through seminars and training manuals to be on the look out for NRA members and white males who listen to "hate" radio. As Reno went around the country laying out this "terrorist" profile of white male gun owners, they drilled the police that it was a crime to suspect or stop -- profile -- brown-skinned "peoples."

Everything was political with these guys. They couldn't care less about the security of the Nation or crime.
-- Jo Thompson
Boston, Massachusetts

As angry as I get reading the "Vast Liberal Media" version of events occurring at the 9/11 commission hearings, this article propelled me at high speed into raving lunacy. Of all the misfeasance/malfeasance/nonfeasance that took place during the Clinton administration, perhaps the most egregious act was the appointment and retention of Janet Reno as Attorney General of the United States. That anyone within shouting distance of the land of rational could assess her tenure as "bold" or even competent is analogous to praising Jeffrey Dahmer's skills as a meat cutter. Please wake me when this "commission" has finished its faerie tale hearings.
-- Joseph Baum
Warren, Ohio

THE ONE AND ONLY LOSER
Re: John Tabin's Bush Among the Lowing Herd:

Mr. Tabin raises some interesting questions, if they are posed to the Republican or Democratic base. Neither of which changed their opinions based on the President's performance. But what about independents?

President. Probably neutral to the independents. A marginal positive based on the 17 minute lead in. A minor negative based on his response to the press corps' questions. Bush's stumbling on the "mistakes made" question was really not that damaging. Why would anyone need to offer an apology for what is the horrific actions of the terrorists?

The Press. Here is where the rubber meets the road. It was clearly evident that the Press was looking for two things. 1) Admission that Iraq is a failure. 2) Admission that Bush could have done something about 9/11. The mindless pursuit of those two objectives will most likely lower the standard of the profession to below that of car salesman. Appearing overly adversarial was probably not in their interest as well. The fact that Bush stayed on point did not help their cause. On balance, the Press lowered its own effectiveness to the voter.

Bush did not "win," the Press "lost." Independent voters will most likely not look to the Press as the source of answers when it comes to this year's election. It was clearly evident that the Press had a clear agenda to fulfill not in alignment with seeking rational clear choices of reasons to vote Bush or Kerry. Or any sort of search for truth in the facts leading up to 9/11. So the Fourth Estate drops yet another notch in the minds of the American public.
-- John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

MOYERS' MODELS
Re: Tom Bethell's The Living Hell of Bill Moyers:

Wow, you have hit the nail on the proverbial head. Many a Friday night I switch to PBS with great anticipation to view how horrific we have all become. It does seem Mr. Moyers has also been sinking in his great funk for quite some time. Your article has me wondering if Bill Moyers is the Emma Goldman of our time. Both were blinded by their copious levels of intellectual puffery. One wishes Mr. Moyers would do a story on Mrs. Goldman. Perhaps an epiphany would occur. Keep up the fine work.
-- Darren Robertson

Great read! Really! You've nailed Moyers to a tee. Glad I found your site through chapination.blogspot.com.
-- Shane Swing

Hmm. Either you have no Muslim readers, or those who read passages such as the following from Tom Bethell's "The Living Hell of Bill Moyers" figure that protesting its appearance or trying to reason with the author would be tilting at a windmill:

"Allah, as Muslims view him, is omnipotent, above logic and reason, unrestrained by natural law. He can decree at any moment that evil is good and that two and two make five. People are subject to his arbitrary and tyrannical rule and can do little more than plead for mercy. Nations who worship such a God, it turns out, are themselves governable only by a tyrannical ruler. My guess is that democracy is about as likely to establish the rule of law in Araby as it is to achieve the egalitarian communalism of Moyers' dreams."

Point 1. Bill Moyers is indeed a fool.

Point 2. Islam arose in the early seventh century, a fair while before what might be called Christendom's golden age, that of the great cathedrals, Saints Francis and Thomas Aquinas, and so on. If Bethell is talking about the rise of radical Islam, an increasingly secularist travesty of Islam, that is another matter. While Christianity may be undergoing a "modern decline," with traditional Islam to a minute extent filling the void -- if one's eye be trained on conversion statistics in the West -- this has little in concert with the rise of radical pseudo-Islam, which probably has more to do with colonialism and its aftermath. After all, what does Osama bin Laden hate the most? The presence of American troops on Arab soil!

Point 3. As regards Allah (Arabic for "God," the one and only God, fundamentally the same God who allows Christians to view Him as triune, or Jews to refer to Him as YHWH, Adonai, etc.), Muslims do not see Him as "above logic and reason," in the sense of capricious arbitrariness implied by Bethell. He is seen rather as the source of logic, reason, and natural law, while being eminently greater than these. (What is a miracle, with which Christianity's history is replete, other than a supra-logical suspension of physical law?)

If you want an easy way to see how Muslims traditionally view God, then study the famous litany of the Ninety-Nine Names of Allah. Among these you will find the Merciful, the Compassionate, the Peace, the Generous. (From the revelation of the Qur'an: "Call Him Allah or Rahman [the Beneficent or Compassionate, by extension the Good as such]. It is the same whichever you call. His are the most beautiful names.")

You will also certainly find "names of rigor," certainly, such as the Avenger ("Vengeance is Mine, sayeth the Lord" -- right?), but nobody in his right mind would reduce Allah to just one of His names/qualities, or would accept only those of rigor, while denying or forgetting those of mercy. (Correction: maybe your crazed Islamist radical, or your Manichaean, or your Puritan, would do so.) In any case, God Himself said to the Prophet Muhammad, "My compassion/mercy takes precedence over my justice/wrath." Remember, too, that a Muslim who says all his daily prayers is reaffirming with every cycle of prayer precisely these qualities of God -- i.e., His merciful, compassionate nature.

Point 4. Now if I were smart, I would just leave in the dustbin Bethell's silly "evil is good…two and two make five" remark; but I can't resist. No -- God being the Sovereign Good ("ar-Rahman" -- see above) He cannot make Himself un-good. His omnipotence does not extend to being able to change His fundamental nature, i.e., who, what, and how He Himself has told us He is in the Islamic, as well as preceding revelations. He cannot cease being the Compassionate; nor could your stupidest of Muslims imagine his prayers being changed to read "In the name of God, the uncompassionate, the unmerciful."

If Allah may be questioned about the evils He permits in the world, the same criticism may be leveled within the context of any religious tradition. Atheists and agnostics, or the plain stupid, have always taken issue with a "supposed merciful, just God who permits evils in the world such as death, sickness, poverty," but this is another issue entirely. Christian apologists themselves have been wrestling for centuries over these questions. In any case, it is up to mankind, and us alone to be the ones to call "good" that which is evil, and vice versa. Liberals are particularly good at this; but all of us get better at it with each passing day.

With his positing of a "two and two make five" law, Bethell reaches the pit of absurdity. To say two and two make four is to state a certain rock-solid, entirely banal principle or concept, independent of language. One may refer to the "concept" of a pair of objects however one wants, language being relative, malleable (how about "green" instead of "two"?) One may call the sum of the addition of a pair of objects to another pair of objects whatever one wants. (How about "green plus green makes blue"?) What Bethell is saying is that Muslims imagine that God could suddenly enact a law that says that a pair of objects plus another pair of objects no longer makes two pairs of objects. Now, your average Muslim may not be a college-educated, opera-going, brandy-sniffing sophisticate, but he or she is just not that stupid. Sheesh.

If the political history of Islam is peopled with tyrants, and if democracy does not exactly seem yet ready to stick to "Araby" (nice colonialist word, that one), there are plenty of reasons for this other than God's or His religion's imagined defects. But that's for another day.
-- Jeffrey S. Erickson
Davidson, North Carolina

TERM LIMITS EXTENSION
Re: Wylie Merritt's and Greg Barnard's letters ("Let's Negotiate") in Reader Mail's A Delicate Phase:

The continued diatribe by those who would no longer allow "choice" begs for one more reply; this will be a wrap, regardless. While I certainly have no problem with Wylie, and I agree that those so-called "partial birth abortions" are terrible, he seems to be pretty much open-minded. Great. A Deist myself, I comprehend and appreciate his opinions.

But poor ol' Greg presumes too a tad much; several tads maybe. I'm for school vouchers, social security privatization, and have "retired" again. For the record, no "fence sitter," I'm more of a Libertarian who dislikes Dubya's caving to Kennedy, jumping the education budget a bunch, the increase in PBS/NPR, the lack of border protection and similar weaknesses. Sure can't call myself a Republican when they're as "pork" committed as Byrd and the Democrats, and they failed to block the Dems' filibuster and destruction of judicial nominees. Oh yeah, they folded on ANWR too.

But, back to essentials. The word "choice" means exactly that -- and, again, my wife was Pro-Choice, and we/she chose to have our kids. Only a complete idiot, zealot, or someone trying to rewrite/redefine the English language, would suggest that "pro-choice" means "pro-abortion" -- look that up in your Funk & Wagnall.

Still, it bears repeating -- as most "Pro-Life" people also believe in the death penalty, perhaps they aren't really pro-life? They're Pro-BIRTH.

Or, one might consider an item I came across a few years ago: that "babies," per se, are not destroyed by abortion; embryos or fetuses are. There's a considerable difference between a potential baby -- a protoplasm-of-potential, and a viable being. A beating heart does not mean "life." That's why many adults sign Living Wills. The freedom to choose abortion means that hardship -- the prolonged suffering of unwanted children, and extreme emotional stress (of both mother/child) can be eliminated.

And we didn't even get into the huge percentage of poor babies born out-of-wedlock. That could open up the subject of adoption, and how many are willing (or unwilling) to adopt the offspring of druggies, drunks and other unwanted kids -- maybe another day...

Remember, an estimated 100,000 women have died in Romania alone by illegal abortions since they were outlawed (and I'd wager that some of the anti-choice persuasion are saying, "Good, they deserve it...").

Gotta repeat it one final time: I will not accept the idea that anyone -- man or woman, president, congressman or judge -- would presume tell my daughter what she can or cannot (should or should not) do with her body.

It all goes back to my initial premise: As long as a woman can choose to have an abortion, she can also choose NOT to have one.

So much for strurring-the-pot, 'ay?

That's it. Period.
-- SLG

IF YOU PLEASE
Re: Nicolas Ziener's letter ("Resumed Talks") in Reader Mail'sA Delicate Phase:

In response to Mr. Ziener's comments: Mr. Ziener, we were not, "beaten to the ground" by the Viet Cong, unlike the French. We were beaten by a liberal Congress that refused to let the military do its job. The Kennedys, the Kerrys, and the rest of their ilk were the ones responsible for the communist take over of southeast Asia. According to Vietnam's commanding General, we had them beat, but our own Congress's refusal to fund the war anymore is what led to their takeover. Yes, Mr. Ziener, the French helped us in our fight for independence. That was probably the last brave thing your government ever did.
-- Greg Goff
Casper, Wyoming

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article