Reader Mail

Don’t Forget to Duct

Name that tape. Plus: Republican Catholics. Russert's Clark potato. The roots of French anti-American brutality and lawlessness. And more.

2.17.03

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SCOTCH THAT TAPE
Re: Reid Collins's Gaffer's Tape:

Reid Collins wrongly suggests that duct tape and gaffer's tape are the same thing. They are not.

The primary difference between the two is the adhesive used; gaffer's uses a less strongly adhering glue. That is because gaffer's tape is usually used to secure cables to floors and rugs for short periods of time, after which it must be removed, without damaging the underlying rug. In contrast, duct tape is intended to longer-term use, sealing ducts (as in air conditioning ducts), where once installed, it will generally stay installed. A stronger, more long lasting adhesive, is therefore required.

Gaffer's tape is also usually black or brown (the better to match the color of rugs) whereas duct tape is usually gray or silver (the better to match the color of ducts).

If you use duct tape to secure cables to a hotel's rug, you can reasonably expect the hotel's ire for the damage you do to their property. If you use gaffer's tape to secure plastic in your safe room, you can reasonably expect the system to fail prematurely.

Use the right tape for the right task.
-- Richard White

A "dirty bomb" is an undefined term, but is essentially an explosive device combined with some readily available radioactive material (probably industrial waste or industrial X-ray source). There is no history of this having ever been done, but it is in the terrorist literature. The result would be damage from the explosive plus some contamination from the dispersed radioactive material, plus as much hysteria as the media can generate.

There would be more radiation hazard to whoever handled the concentrated material (the terrorist) than to whoever had to clean up the same, but widely spread material following an explosion.

The threat to the thyroid is radioactive iodine, which is a fission fragment of a nuclear reaction. Any iodine ingested ends up in the thyroid, and a radioactive isotope will be hazardous. The suggestion of a "dirty bomb" means no nuclear explosion, no nuclear reaction, hence no fission fragments, and no iodine, radioactive or not. The author is starting the media hysteria sequence, but maybe just out of ignorance.

I will personally volunteer to assist in the cleanup/decontamination following any use of a terrorist "dirty bomb," anyplace in the country, and I will do it in street clothes as long as an industrial respirator mask is available.

I was chief engineer of one of the early Polaris nuclear submarines in the 1960s, and I worked in the nuclear industry until I retired.
-- Richard Soderholm

Great stuff, but that tape in a prior lifetime was also known as, in the AAF, as 100 knot tape, and in the Navy as ordnance tape, presumably to secure arming wires to bombs on their bombracks.

There you go. Keep it up. I love your stuff.
-- Gene Hauber
Meshoppen, PA

RUSSERT'S LATEST POTATO
Re: The Washington Prowler's Clinton's Generalissimo

I saw the Meet the Press appearance of Wesley Clark and one thing that struck me was his concern with the need to cultivate the good will of our allies in the decision process. He was set up for this by Tim Russert, who wondered if the anti-Americanism expressed by some European countries might not be pay back of some kind. Clark said it was just that and was due to the heavy-handed attitude of the present administration over the last two years. Talk about leading the witness.

I think if Russert were really good at what he does he would have asked Clark to explain why there are so many more European countries with us than against us. That he didn't speaks volumes. There was also a distinct difference in the way Russert queried Clark and Condoleezza Rice, who preceded Clark on the broadcast. He was much more aggressive and persistent with Rice while with Clark he seemed to be providing something of an infomercial similar to what he did for Sen. Kerry a few weeks ago. It looks as though Meet the Press is turning into another outlet for the DNC.
-- Dick Melville
Ozone Park, NY

Wesley Clark can join up with the other Vichy Americans led by Marshals Clinton and Carter.
-- Jack Hughes
Chicago, IL

THE CATHOLIC VOTE
Re: Agnes McDermott's letter in Reader Mail's Addicted to the Democrats:

I am an Irish-Catholic; all my childhood friends are Irish-Catholic --none of us are Democrats nor were our parents who lived through the Depression. Our socio-economic bracket was/is upper-middle class and I suspect this is why our families were and still are Republican. Our religion has little or no influence on how we vote; our economic viewpoint a great deal.
-- Margaret O'Neil

In my Catholic family my father, sister, and I were staunch Republicans, which ticked my Mom off to no end. I am raising my children to respect other people's property, values which I don't believe the Democrat party respects. My three children are all looking to be fine young Republicans and Catholics too.
-- Frank Gaines
Santee, CA

IS BIOLOGY DESTINY?
Re: Frederick W. Larsen, M.D.'s "Artificial Fertilization" letter in Reader Mail's Addicted to the Democrats:

I have no desire to dispute any of Dr. Larsen's points but to introduce one of my own.

Evolutionarily speaking, when we artificially produce offspring of couples who are naturally infertile, are we not creating another generation of people who will tend to have the same problem, and who will in turn require (to greater or lesser extent), the same assistance? Ignoring for a time the emotional side of the issue, are we not thereby inadvertently increasing the occurrence of genetic flaws?

Or to put it more popularly: If your parents didn't have any children (by natural means), is it not probable that you won't have any?
-- Richard Donley

THE BLOODY BRUTAL FRENCH
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s The Entente Non Cordiale and How Very French:

Americans conservatives appear incredulous and amazed by the negative response of European countries, led by France, to American efforts to disarm Iraq. The French anti-American response is rooted in a unique past that bears little resemblance to the American path to power as the world's most powerful democracy. The following comments capture a few of the differences between American and French experiences as democratic societies that help to explain the vociferous French opposition .

The French fought in Vietnam for nearly a century before the Americans arrived in force. They built a colonial administration upon the labor of French expatriates, who monopolized the civil service. Their repressive laws outlawed opposition parties, radicalizing the body politic. Their exclusion of the Vietnamese people from administrative positions was a policy that stood in stark contrast to British colonial policy that consciously prepared native populations for democratic self-government, and shaped ideas concerning the limits of opposition and legitimacy in democratic states that emerged once colonialism was no more. The legacy of French colonial policy left behind a depth of popular animosity that the Americans attempted to overcome; and although the American attempts were well received in the South, our policy was rejected by North Vietnamese divisions that proved to be trump, and thus was unsuccessful in the end. The American strategy shaped by JFK was known as Counterinsurgency that opposed anti-colonialism, nationalism, and communism with nation building, democracy, and freedom that sold well, but perished in the genocidal war waged by our opponents.

What of the character of French soldiers -- the French Foreign Legion -- who fought with élan and valor, but little restraint that foretold the tactics of the Viet Minh who would follow one day to conquer and unite? Both the French and Hanoi fought with tactics that were beyond the pale of the Geneva Conventions, unlike the Americans who shaped a strategy that honored the people and tactics that protected the innocent. The intent of American tactics was to protect the lives of the innocent and required the clearance of an area with the District Chief before fire could be brought to bear upon a target. We called them rules of engagement with free fire zones, and restricted fire zones, and no fire zones; which were well known by our opponents who exploited the American rules for the benefit of their own combatants who gave no quarter and waged a class war of great violence (see Andy O'Meara, Jr., Accidental Warrior, Elderberry Press, LLC).

Another aspect of the French Foreign Legion deserves our acknowledgment. They used torture to break their prisoners. They recognized no limits in the quest to retain power and the methods used colored those who bore arms and led to the OAS and the path of horror that followed in North Africa. So what? So I have no blood upon my hands, although I was an intelligence officer in an American regiment that fought long and hard in South Vietnam. We fought differently. We treated prisoners well and they normally cooperated willingly in telling all, especially the young men from distant North Vietnam, who felt little loyalty to communism and its legions. So what of My Lai? It was a crime, and an exception. Those guilty were charged, tried, convicted and punished. The mass murders of Hanoi reflected tactics of their predecessors in power, as well as Marxist doctrine that incidentally emerged from ideas and techniques engendered by the French Revolution. The genocidal policy of Hanoi was ignored by the Western media and the murderers now hold power in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

The point is that the lack of restraint of the French shaped their wars; and it was symptomatic of French thinking, that emerged in the terror that spawned modern French society. They, the French, are different from Americans and their sins have not been paid for yet. True they fought with courage and élan, but they also fought with a brutality that shaped their opponents, who championed a tradition of violent warfare that is beyond the pale of civilized nations.

The French call themselves a democracy, but it is one that has a pedigree that is drenched with blood. French law, built upon the Code Napoleon, was fashioned by a dictator; and its methods of conducting warfare are less than legal in light of the Geneva Conventions. And today the French oppose the Americans on the question of waging war against those who sponsor terrorism and develop weapons of mass destruction. The French have to answer for their actions and their history; we do not.

Many speculate upon the reasons for the highly emotional French opposition to the American led war with Iraq. I would caution that it is too soon to tell. Let us look for French finger prints on the weapons of mass destruction, when the guns are silent. Let us ask who provided the technology for the weapons outlawed by the Law of Land Warfare. True, the French economy needs the business, and operating beyond the pale has a long tradition in their ranks. The image of France that emerges when we look at their methods is not the France we like to visit or photograph on shaded boulevards in Paris; and neither is it a society that is comfortable with American understanding of the rule of law nor the use of restraint in the pursuit of national interests. They are different. And their hands are bloody, but you wouldn't know it by reading the liberal media in America.
-- Andrew P. O'Meara, Jr.
Colonel, US Army, Retired
Fredericksburg, VA

BUT OF COURSE!
Re: Enemy Central's Duct Tape:

Any military man unwilling to play for Rumsfeld, a finer man would be hard to imagine, are probably Clinton-era appointees and as such should be summarily dismissed as being pretty stupid. Somehow Clinton should have been barred from ever passing judgment on military people. For having permitted that we should forever be shamed.
-- Gene Hauber
Meshoppen, PA

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