Reader Mail

Sagebrush Is In

A Wyoming state of mind. Also: The authority of James Bowman. Plus: Anyone for a peace filibuster? And more.

3.4.03

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PRICELESS
Re: Bill Croke's America Comes to Town:

Someone recently commented that most of Wyoming was "worthless sagebrush," which smacked me upside my head when I read it. I suppose I needed a cold dose of reality as I had been sitting here in Upstate NY daydreaming about fleeing to Wyoming. CODE ORANGE!, the coming war, will Turkey or won't they?, a flatline local economy, not to mention a dead-end retail job waiting on yuppies, can do that to a girl. Through it all, Bill Croke's columns on the wonders of Wyoming and its residents had been fueling some powerful fantasies ... that is until the "worthless sagebrush" comment. Worthless? Say it ain't so!

So I began checking out the webcams around the state on major thoroughfares which the Wyoming Dept. of Transportation had installed in order to monitor road conditions. Okay, so maybe Wyoming appears to be desolate and dry. But worthless?

I was thinking about re-evaluating my daydream destination when I read BC's column today about seeing Michael Martin Murphey in concert. "This got an exuberant round of applause from the cowboy-hatted Wyoming audience. I sat there and thought about all those rabid anti-American, pro-Saddam 'antiwar' rallies of late, the clapping driving home the point that there are indeed two Americas." I read that and realized that it wasn't the state per se as much as it was its people which are the attraction for me, tumbling tumbleweeds and all. Now that's priceless.

Thank you once again, Bill Croke.
-- Kitty Myers
Upstate New York

THE TRUTH WILL OUT
I must apologize.

Some time ago, James Bowman reviewed the movie The Four Feathers, and was rather scathing in his disappointment. At the time, I had recently read the novel by A.E.W. Mason, and sent in an email that TAP posted in its Reader Mail section, with a few minor crits of Mister Bowman's review.

I believe I said the following:

"So, at least in the lack of grand battles and historical filigree, there is nothing wrong about this newest film version of The Four Feathers at all."

I now wish to add: but in every other respect, there was -- from the miscasting of Kate Hudson as Ethne, to Jack's blinding by rifle misfire instead of exposure, and the complete lack of the "homefront" storyline between Jack and Ethne that took up half the book. Oh, and the omission of the key scene from Harry's youth that occurs as a preface to the book, and tells us all we truly need to know about the man he will become....

What is my point?

I will never doubt Mister Bowman again. And neither, dear reader, should you.
-- Alexander Craghead
Portland, Oregon, USA
(Where the Ninth Circuit says our kids can't say "under God" in the pledge anymore....)

ABOVE THE BLUE AND WINDY SEA
Re: George Neumayr's The San Francisco Creep:

And true to the hearts and actions of the inhabitants of the land of fruits and nuts the good (albeit not bright) citizens of San Francisco will re-elect Terence Hallinan just as they did Gray Davis.
-- Marilyn Jameson
Pittsburgh, PA

WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?
Re: The Washington Prowler's No Losing With Estrada:

No wonder the Republican party is called stupid. The Democrats are willing to commit suicide but the Republicans are letting them off the hook. If the Republicans force the Democrats into an old fashioned filibuster, the resulting publicity will cause the nation's largest minority to forsake the Democrats for a generation. By old fashioned, I mean make them hold the floor. Let them read from Shakespeare and the Bible and the N.Y. Times, but don't give in. The millions of Hispanics that would become aware of the attempt to stop a Hispanic judge would become infuriated. Politicians think everyone is watching but they are not. Forcing a real filibuster is the way to get attention. Even the liberal media would have to cover the story and explain what it's all about.
-- David Moshinsky

WITHOUT A PRAYER
Re: Reader Mail's Gunning for the Theologian and George Neumayr's Divine Decadence:

I found Stanley Hauerwas specious arguments to be quite offensive. It amazes me that pacifists can always find justification for their views in places that overwhelmingly endorse and support the opposite viewpoint. The professor and his cohorts in the "deconstruct Christianity" movement ignore the innate parasitism of their position, just as did the peaceniks of the '60s. Tsk, tsk, tsk,
-- Joseph Baum

TEACH OUT
Re: Greg Barnard's letter in Reader Mail's Gunning for the Theologian and Enemy Central's Breaking the Ice:

Tennessee's own Greg Barnard echoes my own sentiments fully -- please list those demented teachers' phone/e-mail/snail-mail addresses. Their conduct, unfortunately, will no doubt be defended by the teachers' unions and "progressive" folk everywhere; a very sad commentary!
-- Geoff Brandt

NATIVE ARABIANS
Re: Jed Babbin's Sharon's Choice:

Nowhere in Mr. Babbin's article does he assign any relevance to a Palestinian homeland. Certainly Israel has a responsibility to work towards defusing one of the most sensitive issues in the world. Instead they feign exasperation towards Palestinians who give their young lives by saying, "They attack us because we're Jewish!" American Indians revolted and attacked settlers not because they were white but because they were taking their land....
-- Don Smith

FILIBUSTERER AT PEACE
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell's The Dean of Democratic Lying:

It is not my intention to defend Congressional Democrats, or anyone else, whose positions have flip-flopped in regard to their supporting the War Powers Resolution. Congress should never have granted this president, or any president, the ability to wage war on his own say so. I'm sure that you are aware of the Unconstitutionality of such action; the Founding Fathers were pretty clear about that.

Why do you specifically target Howard Dean? You complain that there "was wide support among Democrats for removing Saddam Hussein" and that now "the peace movement of 2003 has grown rampant among Democratic Party activists." The problem with this argument is that it is categorically untrue. Howard Dean has been publicly opposed to Bush's preemptive war plans from the very beginning. Furthermore, Lieberman, Kerry, Edwards and Gephardt were -- and still are -- in support of the President's war plans. John Kerry, after signing the War Powers resolution, did subsequently reverse his stance and come out against the President's hubris. Certainly, he should be forced to clearly define his ambiguous position. But you chose to target Dean. Why?

"Of all the Democratic hopefuls to address members of the Democratic National Committee at their winter meeting, it was Dr. Dean who elicited the loudest applause." What is your point? Most rank and file Democrats oppose Bush's plan to attack Iraq, why shouldn't Dean be applauded for having the courage to speak his mind and stand by his convictions?

Now I would like to speak to your accusations regarding the "peace movement" and call your attention to some gross misrepresentations.

First and foremost, the majority of Americans who oppose preemptively attacking Iraq are not anti-American. We're neither anti-Bush nor are we pro-Hussein. We believe that the President has not made a clear and convincing case for war and, until such time as that case has been made, we will not stand idly by without protest while our "President" launches a military campaign in our name that will kill tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians. This stance is not anti-American. Rather, it would seem that your choice of rhetoric is deliberate and provocative. To date, there is not a credible threat to our security or the stability of the region posed by Saddam Hussein that could not be sufficiently contained by a rigorous inspections program, enforced when necessary by an allied military presence. If Saddam, under the conditions I've described, continues to thwart the inspections team, then an allied military campaign might be justified. Right now, Saddam is cooperating. Let's let the inspectors finish their work. No one is suggesting that we pull out of Iraq and leave Hussein alone.

"Saddam Hussein has remained defiant of United Nations Resolution 1441." Is this sufficient reason to launch an unprovoked attack on a sovereign nation? Lobbing 800 cruise missiles in 48 hours into a city five times the size of Boston seems a tad harsh for violating a UN resolution. This attack will not punish, nor will it likely eliminate, Saddam; Iraqi civilians will take the beating for him, as they've been doing since the end of the first Gulf War. Will we eventually launch similar attacks on North Korea? How about Israel? If the only requirement is violating a UN resolution, we are opening up a potentially infinite list of targets, no?

"Truth be known, the President has a score or more countries lined up in support of war against Iraq." Could you please name these for me? England? 75% of Britons are opposed to this war. Turkey? Even forgiveness of debt and the promise of future loans proved insufficient for the Turkish Parliament. Israel? No comment. Bulgaria? The point is that attaining the support of leadership from dependent nations is not usually difficult for a super-power like the United States; where is the support of the citizenry, or don't they count?

Two questions:

Do you think that tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians should die so that we can "liberate" them from their oppressor?

Do you think that the United States is at all motivated by the prospect of having at least partial control over the 400 billion barrels of oil a day that Iraq is capable of exporting?

The first question is, I hope, somewhat rhetorical. However, it harks back to the speculation that we think we know what is good for the people of Iraq and we intend to force our idea of democracy upon them. With bombs. We cannot deny that civilians will perish in our attack. Is our violence, American violence -- manifest in our willingness to raze the city of Baghdad and those civilians that have not fled because they have no safe place to go -- any less violent than Saddam Hussein's ferocity? It is also appropriate to examine the violence being carried out by our current allies:

Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Israel, to name a few. Human rights atrocities carried out by these nations are as heinous as those carried out by Saddam. Where is the outrage against the systemic, genocidal killing carried out against Kurds in Turkey? I think the existence of other "evildoers" in the world does not excuse Hussein's actions in Iraq, but a little consistency in the application of foreign policy (especially with the prospect of "preventive" action) would lend some much needed legitimacy to Mr. Bush's crusade. Why do we extend foreign aid and sell weapons to brutal dictators (as we so recently did in Iraq) but only intervene when it serves our economic and political interests?

It is precisely Saddam's ruthlessness combined with his narcissistic tendencies that makes his forceful removal a deadly proposition, not necessarily for Saddam but certainly for his people. We simply cannot predict with any certainty the consequences of a "shock and awe" blitz on Baghdad. We do agree that Saddam Hussein is a madman. Therefore, we put ourselves in the dangerous game of Russian roulette -- how are we so sure this attack on Iraq will pan out as presumed? We know thousands will be bombed along with, or instead of, Saddam. Is this the price we as Americans -- Republican or Democrat for that matter -- are willing to pay when we have not yet exhausted all alternatives to war, as strongly proposed by the U.N., the majority of the Security Council and millions of protesters all over the world? A report issued by the CIA states that the only plausible scenario in which Saddam would actually use any weapons he has at his disposal against the United States is: if he is attacked. The Bush administration has not yet proven case that Iraq poses a threat to our security. Saddam understands the concept of deterrence. To Bush's credit, our military presence is certainly influencing Saddam's cooperation with the inspections team. Saddam knows that if he used any force against the United States that he and his State would cease to exist. Baghdad would not only be bombed, it would be annihilated.

"The steady drift of Democratic activists away from war with Iraq, despite the President's every effort to accommodate their concerns, is another demonstration of a phenomenon of American politics that I only became aware of in the Clinton years. The phenomenon is this: a sizable proportion of the politically committed in America today are not propelled by principle or by fact but by the deep emotional satisfaction, indeed the peace of mind, that they derive from beating hell out of an opponent."

What efforts has the president made to "accommodate" concerns? A "steady drift of Democratic activists away from war with Iraq" intimates that there was a time when "Democratic activists" were overwhelmingly in support of said war, but we know that is not true.

Finally, it is deplorable that you would accuse "Democrats" (so, about half the country) of leading a national movement against an unjust war merely because of a personal dislike for George W. Bush and some of his colleagues. Many who protest the war (myself included) do not define themselves as Democrats and a growing contingency define themselves as (gasp) Republicans. Opposition to the war has nothing to do with a general like or dislike for George W. Bush. It is also mildly ironic that, after making sweeping and exaggerated generalizations about Democrats, and how "they" are all anti-American elitists, that you would condemn these alleged "prejudices" as a source of identity.

Hello, kettle? This is the pot.

Profoundest regards,
-- John McDonough

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