Reader Mail

Batting Around

Massachusetts plays alone. Halftime entertainments. Philosophical pursuits. A clarification from the left. Plus more.

1.12.03

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EXCUSE ME?
Re: The Washington Prowler's John and Jeanne:

While I find the general thrust of your story on John Kerry's New Hampshire moves believable, I must object to the dagger you inserted:

"In reality, if Kerry doesn't win there, his campaign may be toast. This, after all, is a primary in a state that is basically a suburb of Massachusetts."

"Basically a suburb of Massachusetts"? Have you examined the difference in the makeup of the state Senates and state Houses of Representatives in New Hampshire and Massachusetts? Have you compared the congressional delegations from the two states? Are you aware that more and more New Hampshire high tech workers are working in New Hampshire, not Massachusetts?

The truth is, most New Hampshire residents would shudder at your characterization of our state. Have you ever been here?
-- Tim Mark
Goffstown, NH

THE SPORTING LIFE
Re: Francis X. Rocca's Buy God:

Though I agree with Francis X. Rocca's observation about shopping , one can't help use his arguments to point to a bigger American idol: sports.

Sports is a great filler for life of course because there's no serious threat from it. We can't offend someone the same way we would if we talked about politics or religion. Moreover, besides the occasional Colombian soccer player or English hoodlum, no one dies being a sports fanatic. The same can't be said of Chinese democracy workers or practicing Christians in some Middle Eastern countries.

Show up at any sports event (I call them services) and you realize it's amazingly like a large church, where a friendly audience gathers to cheer on the home team. All you need is a short 15 minute sermon -- which sports commentators gladly provide. As a friend's shirt pontificates, people love to "Eat, sleep, sports".

Of course there's nothing wrong with playing midnight hockey or catching the finals on TV. However, when a culture devotes much of its time to filler, the rest of life, including God, becomes halftime entertainment.
-- Jose Ruba
Ottawa, Ontario

ENEMY OF THE WEEK
Re: Enemy Central Among the Philosophers:

You could not pay me enough to miss this. It almost always makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time. The real question is should I bless you or damn you. With respect,
-- Dick Lambert
Eagle Rock, VA

Re: "Among the Philosophers" this evening, LOL!!! I'm glad I took the time to read it Sunday evening when I have the time to savor it, and not Monday morning when I'd be in a rush. Keep up the good work!
-- Gail

NO KIDDING
Re: Manhattan Stealth:

I really enjoyed Paul Beston's description of his life as a Conservative in Manhattan. I daresay I share some of his experiences as a Conservative in Seattle. I never fail to be amazed, and amused, by the groupthink that passes for political opinion here, especially when it comes to the idea of diversity -- of utmost importance except when it comes to diversity of opinion, which simply shall not stand. As my (Liberal) wife often says, "You're the only person I know who thinks _____".

While walking my dog, I saw a display on a house near mine. It consisted of two lighted signs. The first read "Peace on Earth." Fine. The second read "No War." Leave it Liberals to politicize Christmas.
-- Ron Finch
Seattle (Baghdad's sister city), WA

DARKER SHADES OF GRAY
Re: George Neumayr's Our Public Scofflaws:

You are right as far as you go, but you missed Davis's monumental cynicism: he promoted Bill Simon's candidacy against Richard Riordan, thinking correctly that Simon would be beatable. Davis even went so far as to say, in effect, "I'm the one who screwed it up (I am nobly taking responsibility) so re-elect me to fix it." Simon's campaign was so awful that the S.F. Chronicle's token conservative Deborah Saunders reluctantly endorsed Davis because he at least had some degree of competence. Not enough people believed that Simon did, allowing Davis, with a 62% unfavorable rating in the polls, to win. (I voted for Simon since I loathe Davis so much, but I did so with great trepidation.)
-- Peter Borregard
El Cerrito, CA

BIG HAND FOR THE LITTLE LADY
Re: The Washington Prowler's Patty Revisits Osama:

Patty, we just love to hear you talk about the wonderful things Osama has done. Keep at it. Never mind what your party and virtually everybody else is saying about how you are committing political suicide.

Sarcastically yours,
-- Jeff Schicke
Wharton, NJ

FROM THE BARRICADES
I am writing about the article "What Big Business Is Really Like" by Lawrence Henry, published by you on 11/5/2002.

In the article, Mr. Henry states:

"At a 'teach-in' on the Cornell University campus, according to an October 24 account on Frontpagemag.com by a graduate student there, Joseph A. Sabia, 'Dr. Chip Gagnon, assistant professor of politics at Ithaca College, charged that the Gulf War was fought so that Dick Cheney's former employer, Halliburton, could get rich off oil deals.'"

Despite this report, I did not say any such thing. What I did say was that following the Gulf War, in the period when Dick Cheney was CEO of Halliburton, that company did $72 million dollars worth of business with Saddam Hussein. Here are my sources:

"A discreet way of doing business with Iraq," by Carola Hoyas, The Financial Times, November 3, 2000.

"Halliburton's Iraq Deals Greater Than Cheney Has Said -- Affiliates Had $72 Million in Contracts," by Colum Lynch, The Washington Post, June 23, 2001.

In no way did I even imply that the Gulf War was fought so that Cheney could do oil deals. I did not address the motivations behind the Gulf War in that talk. The focus of the talk was the dealings that the Reagan and Bush administrations had during the 1980s up to August 1990 with Saddam Hussein's regime, as well as their efforts to prevent the U.S. Congress and the U.N. security council from condemning Saddam for using chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers as well as against Iraqi citizens. These are facts that are very well documented in mainstream media sources.

As you can see from the above-cited sources, it is a fact that Cheney's company sold oil field equipment to Saddam Hussein when he was considered an enemy of the U.S. in the 1990s. My point in mentioning this fact and others was that Cheney and others who now paint Saddam as the epitome of evil are hypocrites; moreover, their previous dealings with Saddam showed extremely bad judgment on their parts.

Unfortunately, Mr. Sabia's report on my talk is extremely distorted and does not reflect what I actually said, what my main points were, nor the sources that I used in preparing the talk I gave at the October teach-in at Cornell.

Thank you for your attention.
-- Chip Gagnon
Ithaca, NY

LATE HITS
Re: "Games Teams Play" letters in Reader Mail's Taxing Times:

With all due respect Mr. Shaver and Mr. Britain, but please consider the following:

Steve, your much ballyhooed Oklahoma Sooners were trounced by Texas Tech -- who themselves were previously trounced by The Ohio State Buckeyes. And Pete, The Ohio State Buckeyes could beat Washington State -- what's USC's excuse for not doing the same?
-- Michelle Heisler
Columbus, OH

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