Reader Mail

Going to Kerry City

J.F. Kerry and his band of blues brothers. Plus: Under God… for how long? More U.N. negligence. Sim’s world. Bruined feelings, and much more.

3.24.04

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MISSING THE ACTION
Re: Paul Beston's Kansas City Kerry:

Thank you for "Kansas City Kerry," Mr. Paul Beston. The best part was the fact that both sides have agreed to keep silent. 'Course most minds won't be changed anyway. They would rather die than admit they were wrong. And turning their backs on their favorite news anchor would be a sin. Vietnam has never been settled, and never will. Brainwashing is very effective, unless you daily look for it, and deny it any roots. Americans have sat on their behinds and soaked in CBS, NBC, ABC, and the Jane Fonda Hollywood swill for years. Swim in a septic tank long enough, and you can't get the stink off.

But Vietnam is still being fought on the Internet. Thankyoualgore. Some of us refuse to be silent. We refuse to say Vietnam was a mistake. We refuse to agree to disagree.

So there you have it. Republicans, Democrats and Nam Vets. As for me personally: I go with Bush. Period.
-- Martin N. Tirrell
Lisbon, New Hampshire

If Republicans were the same as Democrats, we would just let this story die down, then on Friday afternoon before the election, media sources would be awash with an alarming allegation made by another Vietnam Veterans Against the War meeting attendee that "Kerry attended the meeting, and they proposed the assassination of a senator that may have been a powerful Democrat!".

The problem, of course, is that the story wouldn't be reported until the media fully investigated the impact on Kerry's electability, or if reported, denounced as a scheme to harm a candidate in the last moments before an election with an "unproven allegation" with no time for the candidate to effectively respond.

Nowadays, although, you could bank on the media fully covering a 30 year-old Kerry DUI immediately...right?

Play no favorites! Let the chips fall where they may!
-- John Carrigg
Downers Grove, Illinois

The Republicans ought to make an issue of Kerry's involvement with the VVAW and his antiwar activities which are reported to have been viewed favorably by North Viet Namese commanders. What he did amounted to giving aid and comfort to the enemy and may have cost some Americans their lives. At the time Kerry was under FBI surveillance for his war protest efforts he was a 27-28 year old former Navy Officer. He can't lay claim to the youthful exuberance of a college student. What he did reveals a lot about his character and how he would function as a Commander in Chief.
-- Dick Melville
Ozone Park, New York

You write in today's column that Kerry's Kansas City meeting will probably go nowhere as a political issue. I agree. But what about this claim? True or false, it's damning and more checkable:

"I have been to Paris. I have talked with both delegations at the peace talks, that is to say the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the Provisional Revolutionary Government." -- from Kerry's 1971 Senate Testimony, page 186.

Trouble is, I can't find any reference to Kerry's actual presence at the peace talks. So many questions.

1. Was Kerry making this one up too, pushing back the fossil record
30 years on his pattern of weird self-inflationary lying about meetings with "foreign leaders"?

2. Was Kerry telling the truth? If so, was he breaking U.S. law about unauthorized negotiations with same foreign leaders? Later in the testimony, he allows that he may have stepped over the line, but pleads lamely that Sen. Joe McCarthy did it too and didn't get caught. Oh? And what peace conference did McCarthy attend?

3. Finally, why hasn't anyone ever asked for Kerry's recollections of this fascinating brush with history? I'd love to hear what Le Duc Tho told Kerry. "You know, you gotta win this one" and replace that "lying crook" Nixon, etc.

All I can say is: "Pourqoi?" Sign me
-- A loyal reader and fan

Paul Beston's claim that all agree John Kerry did not participate in the Vietnam Veterans Against the War executive-board discussion at Kansas City in November 1971 of a proposed VVAW plan to kill seven U.S. Senators is flat wrong. In fact witnesses remembered that Kerry joined in the debate, voted against the murder plot, but later resigned from the executive board -- because he planned to run for Congress. There is no record that he resigned because of the assassination proposal or that he called a cop.

With all respect, how could your reporter have been so far off on this one?
-- Scott Stanley Jr.
Washington, D.C.

Paul Beston replies:
According to the Kansas City Star from March 20th: "Those active in Vietnam Veterans Against the War at the time stress that the suggestion for such a violent approach was angrily rejected. They say their memories do not include Kerry taking part in the radical discussion." There is no mention in the article that the plot was ever put to anything like a formal vote.

Nowhere in my piece do I suggest that Kerry resigned from VVAW because of the plot, nor that he "called a cop." I do question why he didn't and whether he may have been obligated to do so.

THERE'S MORE TO IT
Re: Jacob Laksin's U.N. Does It Again:

Although I am in general agreement with Jacob Laksin's analysis of the goings on in Kosovo and the utter failures of the U.N. and NATO, I wonder if he didn't fall victim to the general amnesia that afflicts the international press regarding the pogroms and wanton destruction of Kosovo's Orthodox Churches and Monasteries all under the "watchful" eyes of 18,000 NATO and U.N. soldiers. He mentions the outrage of the burning of a 17th century mosque, but is completely silent on the equally abominable bombing of 1,000 years old Christian monuments.
-- Kai-Welf J. Lerche
Chilliwack, BCV, Canada

PLEDGE OF ATHEISM
Re: Harold Johnson's Father Doesn't Know Best:

The opinion piece by Harold Johnson demonstrates the failure of logic that supports the position of those who wish to keep the words "under God" in the pledge, as amended in 1954. However, rather than argue the Constitutional merits, for which there is no rational basis, he argues the procedural measure of who has custody and legal standing to bring the suit on behalf of his daughter. To do this, he relies on the words that were overlooked in the Murga opinion, concerning who has the right to make ultimate decisions concerning a child's religious upbringing. Why is anything that relates to "religious upbringing" a concern of someone arguing on behalf of a public school district? Johnson admits that the pledge is religious indoctrination, or else it would have no relevance on the issue of "religious upbringing." If people would like to say the amended pledge on there own time, that is fine. But in school, we should not confuse children by placing the words "under God" in a statement that is otherwise in accordance with the Constitution.

The pledge affirms allegiance to the "republic for which the [flag] stands." This is the flag and republic for which many soldiers died, to defend the liberties of all Americans to express their conscience and not have the conscience of others indoctrinated into the youth. The republic stands for religious freedom; this freedom includes the right not to have children forced to swear allegiance to Judeo-Christian religion. If it is not an attempt at establishment of the Judeo-Christian faith, then let's let school districts substitute "under Allah," "under Buddha," or perhaps "under Wakan Tanka," who was one of the gods of America long before "God" ever entered the picture.
-- Tony Kullen
New York, New York

Ah, but Mr. Johnson, Mr. Newdow is correct. I have a solution however. Let's be truly free and have students who choose not to say "under God" remain silent as it is spoken, and then others can, in turn, remain silent as "under Allah," "Buddha," and other deities receive equal respect.
--Harold A. Maio
Fort Myers, Florida

I just have to comment on this:

God is not a religion, is not a church. Probably 97 percent of the people of the nation believe in a God of some sort. No one can identify God except as a power greater than man.

Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, Morons, Baptists, Methodists, etc., have a God and it's a God of their own understanding. God is not a religion.

I'm a spiritual person, I have no man-made religion or church, I simply believe in God as a spiritual God with absolute power and wisdom.

That any court would even entertain a suit by an atheist which is contrary to the will of the American people is illegal to begin with.

That this nation has evolved into a "Godless society" is the problem that needs to be addressed.…
-- Rick Warren

I was reading through the special report article on the Pledge of Allegiance this afternoon when I stumbled across this passage:

"The Banning brief urges that Newdow 'not be permitted to use [their daughter] as a surrogate for his own private agenda of imposing certain beliefs on the Nation's schoolchildren.'"

Based on the context, I'd assume that both the writer of the brief and the writer of the article think that it is not good for an entity to impose their certain beliefs on another entity. I find that strangely ironic, especially considering the fact that Congress did precisely that when first introducing the phrase.

I am neither endorsing or condemning the insertion of the phrase. That being said, insertion of the phrase was quite obviously a state-sponsored endorsement (i.e., by the government, Congress in this case) of the Christian and/or Jewish faith (i.e., those who generally refer to their divine being as God). It would seem to me that arguments to the contrary miss the point entirely.

Mr. Johnson should have evaluated his entire argument with the same rational criticism that prompted him to (correctly) state that the case shouldn't be in front of the Supreme Court because the father is not the custodial parent, and his right to sue contradicts the intent of the ruling in the cited precedent.
-- Richard W. Paules

BRUINED FEELINGS
Re: Elihu Yale's Gay Marriage, Hollywood-Style:

I will admit he's awfully good on the details. One might think … Oh never mind.

Unfortunately Mr. Yale seems to think that such a pattern of events could occur only between gay males. Do give us a break. A meretricious, philandering, heterosexual husband or wife could set the same chain of events in motion. In fact, I would wager that one would need not dig too deep (either in Los Angeles or elsewhere) to uncover such a lurid story.

Mr. Yale's tale does little than betray his swallowing whole every gay stereotype ever laid before his astigmatic and cataract plagued eyes. As I said, he's awfully good on the details -- probably because he lifted them from any of a number of media products he's consumed, which informed him of how life really is in big, nasty, queer Los Angeles. (Thank goodness he's safe at home in Scottsdale!)

"Now, class," he snidely asks, "what have we accomplished, other than a financial train wreck?" Oh golly, let's see: we've allowed two adults to do with their lives and their assets whatever they might choose; we've removed from an infantilized, three-fifths position an important segment of our society; we've respected the wishes of the Framers that the federal government allow a person to be left alone to do as he or she wishes as long as it does not bother another. Shall I go on?

If this is the best argument that gay marriage opponents can come up with, well, I reckon they've already lost the debate.
-- Geoffrey Murry
UCLA School of Law

ODE TO PIQUE
Re: Taki Theodoracopulos's Hillary's Gang of One:

Incurring Madame Hillary's pique
should not be endeavored by the meek.
Plus, that image has rendered my stomach weak!
"Nothing to declare," is all you speak.
Oh, Taki, you incorrigible Greek :)

-- Kitty Myers
Painted Post, New York

EPIC COMICS
Re: Brian Doherty's Requiem for an Earth-Pig:

I'm pleased to see someone notice the finish of the Dave Sim epic. I collected comic books years ago and I'm an admirer of the early Cerebus. "High Society" is still funny when you read it. The issues before "High Society" were drawn in many different styles, you need to read the comics themselves rather than the compilation book to get an appreciation of the many creative directions that Mr. Sim was exploring at the time.

An important point that the article missed was the amount of trail blazing that Dave Sim did. He started right at the beginning of the direct sale comic revolution, when unknown independent comic titles started breaking into the market. Before then independent comics publish by the artist were extremely rare, if any existed at all. He rubbed publishers and distributors the wrong way insisting that the artist should retain the rights to the characters they create rather than just being paid an hourly wage by the corporation who would then reap the merchandising rights. If you want a Cerebus T-shirt you have to talk to Dave Sim. Artists at the bigger corporations began to do the same, insisting on retaining rights to their characters.

I recommend everyone read "High Society" for what it is, good literature. Then enjoy picking out the parodies in the earlier "Cerebus" as you fill in the back story. If you want more story work your way through the series until you don't enjoy it anymore. The creative direction changes because it is the life's work of one man.
-- Jeffrey Ring
Lorton, Virginia

I must respectfully disagree with Brian Doherty on the subject of Dave Sim's epic comic book "Cerebus the Ardvark". The first fifty-some issues were brilliantly funny, but somewhere around issue 55 two things happened; Sim lost his sense of humor (possibly in his divorce), and came down with a bad case of Garry Trudeau. This often happens when a comic artist decides that they have something IMPORTANT TO SAY. (It happens to writers too, in which case it is called "The New Yorker Syndrome.")

Please don't mistake me; I have no objection to reading a comic book (or any other sort of book) that has a serious message. I don't eve need to agree with the message. I do object to being belabored about the head and neck with said message by someone who is rapidly becoming a self important twit. The last two hundred some odd issues of Cerebus were a slow motion train wreck -- the comic book equivalent of the kind of Independent Film that gives film students a bad name.
-- C. S. P. Schofield

WAHABBI WORLD
Re: Kenneth Ng's letter (under "The Clarke Affair") in Reader Mail's Watch Your Back:

Kenneth Ng shouldn't be so quick to blame the usual suspects (American foreign policy, Israel) for Islamic extremism. He could read any book on the Wahabbis and he would learn that they have been terrorizing hundreds of thousands of people for a time longer than Israel or the USA have been around. And while he's at it, he should look up the origin of the word "assassin." By the way, most of the victims of the Wahabbis have been Muslims.
-- T.G. Hoeborn
Concord, California

NICE WHILE IT LASTED
Re: "Permanent Separation" in Reader Mail's Watch Your Back:

Is it too late to give France back to Germany and Germany back to Russia? While we're at it, let's bring home our boys from the cemeteries in (pinch nose) France (release nose).
-- David Govett
Davis, California

Open Letter to all Europeans:

I am an American citizen and a law student at Creighton University in Nebraska. I also have lived in Europe for 17 years, mostly in Germany with visits to Grenoble, France.

Yes, I am a registered Republican and yes, I voted for President Bush in 2000. I read The American Spectator as often as possible even though I cannot afford to subscribe to the actual magazine. I am perplexed by the many foreign submissions to the Reader Mail.

America is not now or ever a perfect nation. America's past is littered with injustice and even today America has to deal with inequality and a plethora of problems. That being said, America is still the greatest nation and a beacon of hope. America has dealt with its past and addressed injustice. Yes, America used to support slavery, racism, and segregation. Since then, however America has also fought a civil war, the KKK (thanks to the FBI) and racist school systems (Brown v. Board of Education). America's greatness is not measured by its problems but rather its solutions.

In comes old Europe, a group of countries which has dominated the world for so long that the thought that American is rising is unbearable to them. Europe has had to deal with problems, too. Europe, however, is not finding any solutions. Both Germany and France have rampant racism (how is the Front Nationale doing in Grenoble?) and France and Spain have been subjected to terrorism. Europe is not adapting to the dangers ahead. A reasonable person must conclude that Saddam Hussein was evil. He attacked Iran, murdered women and children with painful chemical attacks, started to develop nuclear weapons, attacked Kuwait, and and and. Is there truly any question that Iraq and the word are better off now that Saddam is gone? America addressed the problem of Iraq by passing UN resolutions and insisting that Saddam be removed. How did Europe deal with the problem? They traded with Saddam, profited off oil and weapons contracts and then complained when America wanted to enforce the 17 U.N. resolutions Saddam was
in violation of.

Europeans have now written to the Spectator insisting that America simply wanted control over Iraqi oil and that the war had nothing to do with terrorism. Both positions are ludicrous and the authors should be ashamed. America is a capitalist nation and frankly, if we wanted the oil that badly, we could have contracted for it as France did. America, however, was unwilling to compromise on the issue of basic human rights and was quite unwilling to overlook the torture chambers, rape rooms and mass graves. We did not make these things up! Look at the facts! Before Iraq was liberated, Iraqis were taken off the street and raped or fed into shredders! Answer this Europe, is Iraq better off now that these acts have ceased? Saddam hated the west, particularly America. He met with Al Qaeda and assisted them to the best of his abilities. With Afghanistan no longer available as safe haven and Saddam more than happy to take over, the war had everything to do with terrorism.

Terrorism is a problem. For 30-40 years Europe has dealt with terrorism using law enforcement and appeasement, Spain being the most recent example. America's greatest fault in regard to terrorism is that it has not acted until now. But America now has acted and America has acted decisively to combat and destroy the threat of terrorism. Again, America has moved closer to greatness than ever before because America stands by its principles.

I do not know why Europeans have such contempt for America. We are getting the job done! I beg all Europeans to either support America or accept the alternative, support for the values of America's enemies (murder, torture, utter disregard for human rights).

Respectfully,
-- Charles B. Garman
U.S.A.

RELIABLE FORECAST
Re: "Permanent Chase" in Reader Mail's Watch Your Back :

If my purpose in declaring an opinion about Fox's anchorbabes, newsbabes, headlinebabes, and just-plain-babes had been merely to get my name featured on the Reader Mail page, I sure picked the right topic. Heck, I even got a direct reply out of Jed Babbin!

Well, as babe-alicious as the Foxettes are, I have to remind everyone that there are some nice ones over on The Weather Channel too...
-- Kevin McGehee
Coweta County, Georgia

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