Reader Mail

Tax Attacks

Oregon dodges a big one. Iraq-N. Korea nuke talk. Birthday favors. Plus more.

2.4.03

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PARTY FAVORS
Re: Editorial Note, We're Number One:
Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday "my favorite gang." Happy birthday to you. If I was there I would offer Adult drinks. Still the best site on the web!!
-- Mary Krik
Braidwood, IL

I can't get through a day without reading your articles. I enjoy your perspective, the diversity of opinions and authors, the witticism, just everything -- even when I don't agree with a perspective. Wishing you a long, healthy, and prosperous life.
-- Louise Stanley
Pollock Pines, CA

FIRE AWAY
Re: Patrick Basham and Chris Edwards's Oregon's Anti-Tax Trail:

Your article on the defeat of Oregon's Measure 28 is spot-on! The editor of Oregon Magazine, a lonely conservative voice in our state, notes that few commentators talked about the impact of conservative talk radio, local and national, on these tax-rise schemes.
-- Margaret Whitcomb
Salem, OR

The local press/media outlets were deeply involved in attempting to scare Oregon voters into supporting more taxes. Anything looking like a public-services loss, due to the pending revenue "crisis," was on the front pages of the only major daily newspaper, the Oregonian. The same stories were pushed on each local nightly news broadcast. The last reports from most media outlets, just before the vote, were "positive" regarding the public supporting the tax increase. Huh? Says who? They were polling at the colleges again, I guess. Note: Most local/regional topics on this area's TV evening news is reported in the daily morning paper -- a bunch of crack investigative reporters & super sleuths! They must like to "speak with one voice'.

The public-funded schools, especially higher education and community colleges, were deeply involved in the push to raise taxes with active campaigns to get adult students/voters to pass the increase. As an example, one of the state-funded colleges in downtown Portland and the area's largest university, Portland State University, helped the "raise taxes" cause by putting out pink slips for ALL part-time instructors. That would be a cut of 25%, or more, of classes underway. Oh, by the way, they were to go into effect on January 31, that is, unless the tax increase was passed on January 28. Hmmm. That press release came out right after January 1, which is just about the time the vote-by-mail ballots started arriving in homes. I don't expect many follow-up stories on exactly how many of those part-time professors actually were let go. The local community colleges buzzed within the e-mail users group, sent to all staff members, of the need for the new taxes and the drastic cuts pending if taxes were not raised.

Thanks for publishing the other side of this story, as it was, since it has not been accurately expressed through the local media sources. After seeing the one-sided press reports I doubt we will see them compare the threats vs. outcome in much detail. There are now reports telling us that the drastic cuts will not be "as bad as expected." Surprise, surprise, surprise.
-- Dave Grasser
Portland, OR

NUKE TALK
Re: Jed Babbin's No Nukes Is Good Nukes:

Thanks to Jed Babbin for shedding some light amidst all the smoke concerning possible U.S. use of nuclear weapons against Iraq. To have read William Arkin's piece in the Los Angeles Times several weeks ago one would have been led to believe that there was some news here. As Mr. Babbin rightly points out, this country has never forsworn the first use of nuclear weapons, preferring instead a studied ambiguity on the issue vis-a-vis Jim Baker's warning to Saddam on the eve of Desert Storm.

In point of fact the U.S. has long had so-called mini-nuke bunker busters to possibly go after hardened, subterranean targets and according to the left-leaning Center For Defense Information even considered use of them during -- guess when -- the Clinton administration.

"Proponents claim these weapons could destroy deeply buried facilities used in the production of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons and would thereby dissuade people like Saddam Hussein from developing such weapons in the first place. Opponents claim creating such weapons would threaten international law and might accelerate the proliferation of nuclear weapons without giving the United States much added bunker-busting capability. Little noted in this debate is the fact that the United States has been at work on similar weapons since the mid-nineties and already has a bunker-busting nuclear weapon, the B61-11, a nuclear gravity bomb.

"The Pentagon began developing the B61-11 in 1993 and deployed it in 1997. Treading lightly around its obligations under the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which the United States observes but has never ratified, American nuclear scientists billed B61-11 as a spin-off of an existing weapon. By putting an iron casing around the nuclear warhead, the design theoretically allowed the weapon, released from an aircraft, to burrow through earth or concrete to destroy its target -- the same mission officials at the Department of Energy envision for weapons currently being studied.

"In 1996, the United States even threatened to use the B61-11 against Libya. When American intelligence learned that the Libyans were building a large underground plant to develop chemical weapons, Defense Secretary William Perry stated publicly that the United States would consider its whole range of weapons to stop construction -- an implicit reference to nuclear weapons. One of Perry's assistants, Harold Smith, departing from the administration's script of calculated ambiguity, later explicitly mentioned to reporters that, since the United States lacked the conventional capability to destroy such targets, the B61-11 would be the "weapon of choice" for this role. Although it is unclear what factors influenced their decision, the Libyans eventually halted construction."

So there is very little "news" here, although you would not necessarily know that from reading some of the more hysterical accounts in the press.
-- Bill Harrison
Arlington, VA

The probability of the U.S. employing nuclear weapons in Iraq is slim. U.S. forces are trained and equipped to fight in a chemical environment. If Iraq employs chemical weapons, the poorly equipped Iraqi troops will be most at risk. At Khafji, during Desert Storm, the Iraqi PWs captured there had lousy chemical protective gear or no gear at all. I doubt the Iraqi Army is better equipped today. If Iraq employs biological weapons, the civilians in Iraq and surrounding countries who are not inoculated (and that means most, except in Israel) will be at risk and not the U.S. Armed Forces, which are supported by a medical establishment that is second to none.

The U.S. is more likely to employ nuclear weapons against North Korean targets than any found in the Middle East. The Israeli nuclear deterrent is alive and well and may be used if Saddam attacks Tel Aviv with WMD. This deterrent provides high cover for U.S. forces in the region. Sharon is the wild card Saddam has to worry about. If the U.S. crosses the nuclear threshold in the coming weeks, months, or years, we will do it in Korea in response to North Korean aggression. U.S. and ROK casualties (mostly ROK) will easily exceed 1,000,000 people in the opening weeks of the next Korean War, if the U.S. doesn't end it quickly with nuclear strikes on NK leadership and its stocks of WMD. Additional millions of NK civilians will starve once the U.S. naval blockade goes in effect and the bridges spanning the Yalu are downed. The early use of nuclear weapons in the event of the Korean War going hot again (remember, an Armistice was signed, not a peace treaty) would save lives in the short run.
-- Mike Slater

TENURE OR PERISH
Re: John R. Dunlap's Tenurabilities:

Yes, you are right: many of the uses of tenure no longer apply. But some new ones do:

1. Electoral politics. As one who never concealed his votes for Ronald Reagan, I'm certain I would have lost my job long ago had I not had tenure. You're right, I could have gotten another job in another field, but what a loss my loss would have been! Think of those poor students! The deprivation!

2. A very mildly conservative colleague of mine, falsely charged with sexual harassment, was stripped of his responsibilities in advising students and in teaching big courses a few years ago. There is no doubt he would have been fired had he not had tenure. I don't know the underlying reason for the attacks upon him. Maybe he was just too popular. We'll never know.

3. Politics aside, tenure protects people from being fired from positions that could be more advantageously filled by spouses of various descriptions.

Thanks for your very fine article. I particularly liked your exposition of the term "collegiality."
-- unsigned

RIGHT CHOICES
Re: Geoff Brandt's letters in Reader Mail's Religious Differences and Speaking of the Dead:

Mr. Brandt seems to be fine with his daughters choosing to abort his
grandchildren. Personally it is not my business what his daughters do, but I have told my daughters all about choice. Choose wisely who you bed. Hopefully it will be a responsible man that you have chosen in marriage. Guess what, I have 3 daughters, no abortions, 4 grandchildren, all conceived after marriage.
-- Mary Krik
Braidwood, IL

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