Reader Mail

A Delicate Phase

Mind-numbing Moyers. International treaties vs. the Constitution. How stuck in Iraq? Plus much more, including renewed communications with M. Ziener.

4.14.04

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COLLECTOR BILL
Re: Tom Bethell's The Living Hell of Bill Moyers:

I am so thankful there are people who are able to watch (and report on) the depressing, mind-numbing, and endlessly pessimistic drivel that comes out of PBS and Bill Moyers, so that I do not have to become depressed, mind-numbed and pessimistic.
-- Anne Linehan
Spring, Texas

Just wanted to compliment Tom Bethell for an insightful article about Bill Moyers. Behind his spectacles and quiet demeanor, Moyers has an insidious political agenda that is excellently summarized. With so many great insights and quotes, it's hard to choose just one, but my favorite has to be, "but the socialist dream didn't work out and he knows that".

Now if we can just convince Hillary and the others that socialism doesn't work, we can turn our energies toward what someone in these pages once said is the "real debate," libertarianism vs. conservatism. Unfortunately, the modern-day liberal and other socialists never really go away. Hence, a free society is forced to expend its social and political capital in fighting off its constant assaults (i.e., environmental activism, multiculturalism, etc.). Great article exposing this PBS icon for who he really is.
-- Regis Dansdill

Your article about Bill Moyers was right on the mark. His focus on the miserable is endemic.

Moyers brings back memories of a psychology professor who taught us his own brand of diagnostics. One of the symptoms of mental disorder, he maintained, is "Injustice Collecting." Some people collect injustices the way others collect baseball cards. According to my instructor, those folks are mentally disordered.

People like Moyers, Ron Kuby and Al Franken seem to be programmed to counter every defense of the good in America with a denunciation (often based on twisted reasoning) of America.

And they appear to be unable to react in any other way.

I wonder often about their mental health.
-- Leonard A, Schneider

Bill Moyers may have started out a Baptist, but he is now a Unitarian Universalist.
-- Bob Curlee
Virginia Beach, Virginia

TREATY TRICKS
Re: William J. Watkins, Jr.'s Keep U.N. Justice Out of the U.S.:

I would offer that Americans have not had any real view of the treaties that its government has been signing around the world. The number is enormous, and their impact grave and expansive. Especially in the area of copyright and patent law.

But one thing is clear, if we were to opt out of the international community and fail to conform our laws and comply our courts to the treaties our government has signed, particularly those that deal with or impact on human rights of foreign nationals within our borders, then we should expect Americans to be similarly treated abroad.

No way can I support trumping international treaty law with domestic law, by constitutional amendment or by congressionally generated statute. Change the treaty, or don't sign it, but do not change the American Constitution to block out the impact of treaties our nation has signed.

The problem here is agreeing to treaties, without first putting them to the scrutiny of the people in America. Congressional review of treaties is very limited most of the time, and public review in the media is even more limited, in fact constitutional treaty activities are many times confined to the executive until time to sign or approve them.

Personally, I think treaties are so important that they should be approved not by the Congress, the executive, the court, or even a highly skilled team, but by the people in a general election.

The answer is not to amend our Constitution but to do better and more careful consideration of the domestic impact of international treaties before they are signed.

If the Constitution needs to be amended to correct this type of problem then amend the powers of the executive and force that branch to submit to a much broader domestic interest review before they sign off. Do not alter the operation of the Constitution to ignore worldwide law and treaty commitments which our leaders have penned.

I am afraid the international community is gaining on nation states, and soon the international community will develop its own supremacy policy, so even if the Constitution is amended, it will still be trumped. Our world has changed and so too must our view of it.

Thank you for the review article of the situation.
-- Sterling

JOINT COMMAND
Re: Jed Babbin's A Day in Grootland and Anthony Mirvish 's letter ("Aye, Aye, Sirs") in Reader Mail's Stuck in Iraq:

When I served aboard the USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19) 1981-83, our X.O. (Executive Officer) was promoted to Captain, but retained his position for several months. And our Chaplain was promoted to Captain. Two, three Captains on board is not unusual.

On a ship like a Nimitz-class carrier, I wouldn't be surprised if the Laundry and Morale Officer was a Captain. ("Captain Pulver, report to the after-brow.")
-- Seaman (retired) Paul Austin

AMERICA'S BURDEN
Re: William Tucker's Call It a Democracy and the Hell With It:

Mr. Tucker has a very interesting take on the role of marriage in the Moslem world and how this very primitive form of sexual relationships will defeat Bush's attempt to bring a sliver of Western Civilization to that region. It would be ironic if the pro-family Bush, who has been impugned by the Left both for his vision of the family here, would suffer defeat in Iraq for being blind to the facts of the family over there.
-- Richard Cross
Leominster, Massachusetts

William Tucker's article is brilliant. I'm going to memorize that Kipling poem and recite it to every one I can, at every opportunity. Great job.
-- Paul Doolittle

It seems as though this Tucker is a glass-half-full kind of fellow, interpreting every setback as complete failure.

It would be tedious to attempt a thought-by-thought refutation of his whole thesis but let me hit a few high points. The Athenian attack on Syracuse eventually failed because the Syracusans and their allies managed to build a navy superior to that of the previously (maritime-wise) unchallenged Athenians. That's not too likely to happen to our navy in the Middle East.

Tucker claims that the vision of Iraq as "a peaceful, free-market democracy" is an illusion -- "a romantic illusion." He appears to believe that Muslim Arabs cannot hope to obtain the goals that both the West and Far East have realized. Might be true, I suppose, but wasn't this the same thing that was said (by some) about the Nazified Germans, the Imperial Japanese, the Communist Russians? I imagine that an earlier Tucker would have claimed that "Everything -- absolutely everything" demonstrated the illusory nature of our hopes that those totalitarian societies could become free and stable.

He makes the seemingly obligatory comparison with Vietnam, but this is a false equivalence. Our effort in Vietnam is better compared to the freeing of Kuwait, different in detail though it might be; the liberation of Iraq can be matched against the invasion of North Vietnam, the capture of its capital, the destruction of the Northern Army, and the de-Baathification -- excuse me -- the removal of its Communist cadres. That never happened, of course, because the Johnson/McNamara regime decided to play for a draw rather than victory. Still, that is what we are in the process of accomplishing in Iraq.

As for his rather mystical ideas regarding the excessive number of wives monopolized by rich and powerful Muslims preventing a stable society, let me point out that some early Christian societies had a similar -- albeit not as widespread -- situation (check Charlemagne's marital arrangements), as did the patriarchal Hebrews, among others. Indeed, we have a similar -- if informal -- situation today, as certain of the rich and notorious manage to accrue multiple mistresses and groupies in addition to their one legal wife, leaving some low-status men without steady female companionship. I don't suggest this is a good thing, you understand -- only that it exists within a reasonably stable society. Furthermore, it is not beyond belief that a secularized Muslim nation might legislate against multiple marriage.

Tucker's absolutely worst idea is that we should throw in the towel, thereby strengthening the lessons of Vietnam, Mogadishu, and even Kuwait: that we should again demonstrate that Americans lack the staying power to overcome determined third world resistance. Well, that would certainly be an aid to minimizing terrorism! And he fails even to consider the Kurds -- a success story if there ever was one --necessarily abandoned in his scenario, another fatal example to potential American allies. Sure, some day we will need to leave Iraq; I don't suggest we stay any longer than we have in Germany or Japan, maybe no longer than we did in the Philippines -- but certainly longer than we did in Cuba.

While we're at it, let's counter his Kipling with a bit of our own:

Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, tho' they come from the ends of the earth!

The conclusion that jumps out of this article is that the poor guy is just terribly pessimistic. But I've got to believe that there are some strong Iraqis out there to match the strong Americans, British, Australians, and Poles who freed them, and that mutual respect can and will eventually develop between our cultures.
-- Richard Donley

A WAYNE TO REMEMBER
Re: Larry Thornberry's The Duke Goes Postal:

"Right neighborly of you pilgrim."

I would hazard one only has to watch three films -- Stagecoach, The Quiet Man, and The Cowboys to understand what a John Wayne movie is about. An enterprising movie theater might be smart to run the current Disney version of The Alamo and the Wayne version of the same film, of which he was actor, producer and director, and let them cast ballots. Considering that the Disney version only garnered $9m at the box office last week, many viewers might be relieved to see the 1960 classic again just to recoup their investment. But I have no doubt who the winner would be.

"Excuse me, Pardner, I have to mosey down to the Post Office."
-- John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

LET'S NEGOTIATE
Re: "slg"'s letter in Reader Mail's Stuck in Iraq:

I know we've heard the last from TAS's "Sweet, lovable Geoff," but I can't resist throwing in my $.02.

I'm a right-wing, conservative Christian, so it goes without saying that I am adamantly "pro-life" (and yes, I support capital punishment for capital crimes -- forcing murderers to face justice, thereby preventing them from ever killing again, IS "pro-life"). BUT, I'm certainly willing to negotiate the abortion question.

I recognize that, in the present legal climate, my side is at a distinct disadvantage and therefore in the weaker negotiating position. Up until this year, the law of the land was that any pre-born child could be killed anytime, anywhere, for any reason and at any stage of development. This is manifestly NOT the way the majority of Americans would have it, had they any say in the matter, and the NARAL Nazis know it. That's why they were fighting the partial birth abortion ban like crazy, because they recognize it as the "camel's nose in the tent" of a shift towards a more rational approach to regulating the abortion industry.

Here's a few of the regulations that I'd like to see "on the table" for the abortion lobby to hysterically oppose as the second coming of Spanish Inquisition:

Insuring that all abortion clinics are required to meet the same health, safety and insurance regulations that govern any minor emergency clinic or other medical facility that performs procedures of a similar complexity and risk.

Insure that all patients that are to receive an abortion are fully aware of all the future health ramifications of the procedure, especially when performed multiple times. This should include, but not be limited to, future reproductive and emotional health issues. After receiving said information, there should be a minimum 24-hour "cooling off" period before the procedure is performed.

All minors must have the permission of their legal guardian before receiving an abortion, just as they do for any other medical procedure of similar or lesser risk/complexity i.e. getting a tattoo or piercing.

All potential "abortees" that are beyond, say 6 months of gestation (2nd trimester) should get their picture taken (sonogram) so their "mom" can see the person whose (potential?) life they are about to end.

I don't know that all of these are great ideas, but I'd like to see them put before the public for discussion and potential enactment as either legislation or new regulations. I'd love to see them all in force, but I'd be tickled pink with only one or two. Any of them could potentially save thousands of lives a year (and for all you free-spending liberal politicians out there, the lives of potential taxpayers and Social Security fund contributors).

Any "pro-choicer" out there care to negotiate?
-- Wylie Merritt
Norman, Oklahoma

It's no wonder "slg" isn't doing an interview/call-in/talk show on the radio any longer. Hosts like him that sit on the fence and think discussing the "middle" is prophetic are usually boring and so wishy-washy they can't make a decision if their lives depended on it.

Also, with canards like, "They called themselves 'pro-life' although a disproportionate number were for the death penalty -- go figure," it's no wonder he goes through life confused. Anyone that doesn't understand the term pro-life and pro-choice in relation to abortion obviously thinks they apply to all other subjects. The death penalty is a punishment for crimes committed and has nothing to do with being a proponent of unborn children.

If he really wants to be confused, he should wonder why the overwhelming majority of those, like him, who call themselves "pro-choice" don't extend that idea on school vouchers, Social Security privatization or Medicare Reform.

Given his middle-of-the-road thinking, I'd have thought "slg" stood for Seriously Lazy Gamut.
-- Greg Barnard
Franklin, Tennessee

RESUMED TALKS
Re: "Vive La Différence!" in Reader Mail's What Makes Us Different:

I would like to address the letters of Bill Proctor / Chicago, Illinois, USA and Dr. Peter Phelps / Canberra, Australia:

Your mails, MM Proctor and Phelps, were very interesting, but I beg to disagree.

Just for the record, I have been to the U.S. a couple of times and criss-crossed the place in most every direction.

I think Americans can be justly proud of their nation and I, personally, have much admiration for America's achievements in its institutions, science, industry, literature, music etc. --you name it.

But -- but -- what really drives me up the wall, are preposterous assertions like yours, Mr. Proctor :

"… one of the unique qualities of my country is that we've always acted with and within a national conscience that abhors terror, tyranny, injustice, and attacks on freedom."

And also:

"In dealing with situations that require a choice between life and freedom, or death and tyranny … my country has always tried to do 'what is right.'"

Well, that's quite a mouthful.

Sir, you seem to have, let's say, a very selective memory. Let me refresh it for you:

• Do you really think it was "right", to actively support Saddam Hussein, with finance and weaponry, all through the eighties, just because he played nicely in the hand of American interests vs. IRAN?

I mean the torture chambers and rape rooms were there all right, but it didn't seem to bother the American government very much, at the time. (And don't tell me that the French were doing the same thing. I know that, it's exactly what I'm driving at)

• Do you also, really think it was "right," to prop up the bloodiest dictatorships ever, in South America, during the sixties and seventies (more than 20 years ...) ?

Just ask Argentineans, Chileans, Bolivians and Brazilians (to cite a few), what they think about it. As far as torture and killings go, they were quite performing, don't you think ?

OK, American interest at the time was fighting Communism, so the end justified the means -- period.

• Do you really think it is still "right" to prop up the Saudi regime (for the last 60 years !!!)? They are not quite a beacon of freedom and democracy, as far as I know. (I spent two years there, I know what I'm talking about.), What about oil .... ????

• Do you also think it "right" to actively support regimes in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and other former Asian Soviet republics which are just bloody and looney dictatorships?

Just a coincidence, probably, that they are sitting on huge gas and oil reserves.

Just a last thing about acting "right," what about the extermination of the original American population, for land, gold and power ?

Do you think it was "right"?

OK, I'm stopping there, listen, have the courage to look at yourself in the mirror and assume what you are, the best and the worst .

Of course there are always wheels within wheels. Unfortunately that's just the way this world works. Just look around at your workplace. Do you really take at face value everything you are told there? Why the hell should it be different at a higher level?

Just one more thing. You keep bringing up WWII, certainly a stain on French history, OK we were beaten to the ground by the Germans in 1940, but we still left 200,000 dead in the process, please have respect for those dead.

America too, was beaten to the ground by the Viet Cong in 1975 and nobody is building a case of cowardice against the American people, as far as I know.

By the way, if we go down that line, we saved your hide, in the first place, in 1776, didn't we?

You would never have had your independence without (very) heavy French intervention, both navy and infantry.

At least not at that moment, maybe later -- maybe like Canada.

So please, please, come down to earth.
-- Nicolas Ziener
Grenoble, France

SOUNDS SUSPICIOUS
Re: The Washington Prowler's In Communion With Kerry:

It truly sounds as though the "Paulist Center" is rather heretical. Kerry is not Catholic. He is another "fallen away" ex-Catholic.
-- Anne Shuster

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