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On the Lighter Side

The heaviness of being at war. Clintonite thoughts. Falwell fallout. Sleepy little people. Ex-Jimmy. Plus more.

10.17.02

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NOBODY DOES IT BETTER
John Corry writes, in "The Best of All Seasons, that "[Carl] McCall, the New York State comptroller, ...used official stationery to recommend some family members and friends for jobs. Many politicians use their stationery to do similar things, of course, and so, for that matter, do many people in the media."

I can't speak for the laws regarding this sort of thing in New York, but, as a former Federal employee, I can tell you that, had I ever done any such thing while on the Federal payroll, I would have been sacked on the spot. Using public office for private gain is (rightly) considered an abuse of the trust under which public officials are supposed to operate.

I also find it interesting that this behavior is defended using Clintonian "everybody does it" ("many politicians") and "apples and oranges" ("people in the media") defenses. I need hardly point out that any Republican or conservative caught with his hand in the cookie jar in this way would immediately be hounded into resignation.

Very respectfully,
-- David G.D. Hecht

WHY NOT THE WORST?
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Canoist Without a Paddle:

"He was the worst president of the Twentieth Century."

I'd certainly phrase it differently, at the least.

Carter may well have done the worst job as President in the 20th century, but IMHO [in my humble opinion] no President ever came close to doing the damage to the country that Clinton did. That includes Carter awarding the Panama Canal indirectly to Communist China's control.

Clinton advanced the nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology of Communist China by 25 years. They are our most direct military threat and one that not only intends to be, but intends to become an even greater threat by the day. Perhaps only Truman had a like opportunity [with the Soviets], but didn't do so. No earlier President could have multiplied the risk to America as Clinton did.

I believe we may be 30 years, and possibly a Sino-American war (I won't go into the many possible variations on that theme here), before we undo or get beyond Clinton's shadow.

Respectfully,
-- Bud Link

VAGUE PRO-RELIGIONISTS
Re: George Neumayr's Falwell Was Right:

One problem is the vague pro-religiosity of moderate conservatism (e.g. G. Washington and L. Strauss). I'm not sure they are wrong, but content-free promotion of religiosity is choking on this nut. Falwellian statements will always ultimately be retracted or revised. Our unwritten Constitution requires it. Possibly, we are at a crossroads on this, but so far we've put off the reckoning.
-- John C. Povejsil
Forest Lake, MN

This was an excellent article. I have not checked the literary references, but just the actions and reactions of today support his position. What more can be said? "Don't call me violent or I will kill you!"

What a crock.
-- Howard Myers
Santa Clara, CA

SPEED ALSO KILLS
Re: Jed Babbin's Speed Saves:

I can appreciate how you would think that a "lite" operation in Iraq would be preferable to a "slow", "old," non-flashy heavy method. Before you flush this email understand that I have no dog in this fight just 27 years of experience. Let me give you a few facts:

1. Light Infantry are not light in anything except firepower. (The heaviest Division in the US Army to deploy is the "lite" 101st Air Mobile Div. and in theater they move slower tactically than a heavy division requiring more support with less firepower// Same for a Marine Div w/o Armor) You got a country 3 times the size of Afghanistan how are you going to move things around? Helo's ? Think again.

2. Air power works great except when your life depends on it. (See Somalia.)

3. Precision ammunition isn't. (Check the friendly fire casualties from the 1st Iraq war.)

4. There is no Northern Alliance in Iraq. (Don't even think about the Kurds).

5. What are you going to occupy with if you are successful?

Also when considering the benefits of lite vs. heavy suggest you read up on the Battle of Jutland WWI 1916. It seems the British had chosen lite vs. armor it cost them the battle and very nearly the war.

"A battlecruiser had the speed of a cruiser and the striking power of a battleship. It was Admiral John Fisher, the First Sea Lord, who first suggested the idea of battlecruisers [Fisher's famous dictum was, "Speed is armour" -- sound familiar?]. The first three battlecruisers, Invincible, Indomitable and Inflexible, were completed for the Royal Navy in 1908. Fisher argued that if a battlecruiser could not destroy a battleship it was attacking, it would always be fast enough to escape. Events in the First World War revealed that although battlecruisers could be impressive in attack, they had defensive weaknesses. Inflexible was badly damaged by a mine at Gallipoli and Invincible exploded and sank after a hit from a German ship during the Battle of Jutland. Queen Mary was also sunk at Jutland with the loss of almost 1,300 lives." Bottom line: armour is armour.

Lastly, please consider that Strategic Deployability does not equate to Tactical quickness.
-- Hilary H. Evers III, LTC, USA
Deputy, MLT Moldova

Jed Babbin replies:
Col. Evers is a thoughtful correspondent. I hope this is a thoughtful response. First, as to the "lightness" of "light" infantry. He makes a good point, but misses one as well. The problem with "heavy" infantry is not its great firepower, but the doctrine that our army operates it under. My objection is to the practice of stopping -- every few dozen miles -- at pre-arranged "staging lines" at which the force halts for hours, even days. If the heavies had more speed and flexibility (not à la Franks) I would agree more with their use.

Air power works. Period. Somalia? The problem there was not with airpower, but the lack of it. In the "Blackhawk Down" engagement, the Rangers and Delta guys asked for AC-130s as cover, and it was denied them. If it had been present throughout that operation, our casualties would have been far fewer, and Aideed could have been captured or killed. Air power doesn't work if you don't use it.

Precision ammunition is just that. The First Iraq War is over. Check Afghanistan.

The Northern Alliance analogy is correct; there is not one in Iraq. But we have good reason to believe that free Iraqis in Iran and those in Saddam's army who choose not to die for him may well form a core we can deal with. Also, let's not forget the INC. They -- and the former kings of Iraq -- could also play a good role in the new Iraq.

Occupation forces will, in large part, be a heavy force. But that can be brought in later, after tactical surprise is achieved. In sum, our initial force will be a mix of light infantry and Marines, air power, and special operations. It will be followed, as quickly as possible -- and long before the operation is over -- with some heavy forces that can be deployed in time. The mix is important, but speed is essential.

PETA, WHERE ARE YOU?
Re: Jed Babbin's Speed Saves:

Mr. Babbin's story of the killing and torture of animals in the Kuwaiti zoo brought to mind a question I have had for the last few months. Shouldn't the left in this country want Saddam ousted purely for the ecological damage of his scorched earth policy when he left Kuwait? Think of all the greenhouse gasses emitted by those burning wells! Tales of animal cruelty should have PETA and their fellow travelers marching on Washington for swift action.
-- C.S. Patton, MD

Jed Babbin replies: Dr. Patton raises an excellent point. Saddam is bad for the environment. Shouldn't we take the cost of the war out of the EPA's budget?

SPOCK MARKED
Re: Francis X. Rocca's Bedtime Story;

Mr. Rocca needs a copy of Dr. Spock. At the age of 9 months my son, Henry, had made going to bed an Olympic event. Reading, walking, rocking ... It was then that I happened upon the wisdom of 1950's American baby guru Dr. Spock. Dr. Spock recommended a short bedtime ritual -- brush teeth, pajamas on, read a book, in bed, lights out. Henry would have made Spock proud for just as the book states he cried for successively shorter periods for 3 nights and forever after just went to sleep. I now have three children who all go to bed and go to sleep. I think it is one of the best gifts I have given them -- a lifetime of issueless sound sleep.

By the way Mr. Rocca, Dr. Spock has some down to earth advice about potty training. It is just around the corner!

Sincerely
-- Kay Kaminga

HOW RIGHT?
Re: Peter Hannaford's Getting It Right in South Africa:

Peter Hannaford seems to have missed the recent legislation transferring the mineral rights of the South African gold and diamond mines. One issue seems to be the absolute requirement of at least partial ownership by black partners, the other the complete transfer of these valuable assets. Is this an indication of the Afrikaners and the blacks "getting it right?"

Best regards,
-- Stephen J. Guthrie
Mantissa Corporation
Birmingham, AL

EX MARKS THE SPOT
Re: Enemy Central's Jimmy's Peanuts Prize:

Even Carter fans know they can't defend his presidency, so they have invented the big lie that "Jimmy Carter is our best ex-president." The big truth is that the creep has been meddling in our foreign affairs in an almost treasonous fashion. He also gets the Benedict Arnold award.
-- Jack Hughes
Chicago, IL

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