FRAGILE AND REVERSIBLE
Re: G. Tracy Mehan, III's This Pause Won't Refresh:
For the state of the current Iraq war debate, we can thank the inability or unwillingness of the Bush Administration to articulate and defend the many valid reasons we went into Iraq and the many, many additional regional and geopolitical reasons for the U.S. to stick with the project until the country is able to properly function. That is yesterday's topic and almost yesterday's administration. Thanks to Senator McCain we see the beginnings of a rational debate on this very important-to-our-future effort. Mr. Mehan appears to join the many Democrats and foreign policy Know-Nothing Republicans who are hell-bent on flinging their petticoats over their heads and running, willy nilly, for the nearest exit; damn the consequences. We are not debating whether to go into Iraq; we are already there. How we leave the country is as important to our future as why. Let's all take a deep breath, please.
Doubtless the author had a stellar career at the EPA. I wonder at his qualifications and abilities, however, to elucidate on foreign and defense policy, much less on geopolitics. It might prove salutary for him to unroll a map of the region and take a good look at what used to be called Persia and is now called the Islamic Republic of Iran. Take a gander at the Straits of Hormuz; it's that narrow body of water that separates the Gulf of Arabia from the Gulf of Oman. Over 30 percent of the world's oil supply transits this 21-mile wide strait, and Iran's navy is stationed right there. Looking upwards and slightly to the left, Iraq (of all places) comes into view. Next to Iraq lies Sunni Saudi Arabia, keeper of the Holy Cities; an ally of ours and no friend of the Shia Iranian mullahocracy.
Oh, yes. Add the fact that Iran has been hostile to us since the overthrow of the Shah, sponsors terrorism (see Hizbullah) in the Levant and other parts of the Middle East and world; committed an act of war on our embassy in 1979, is hell-bent on developing nukes to put on its missiles, etc., etc., and so forth.
Senator McCain wants to finish the job in Iraq. The Iraqis appear to be working on their part, having fulfilled 12 of the 18 benchmarks and working to curtail Iranian backed Shia militias. Yes they've been slow, but they are working on their end of the bargain and seem to be picking up speed. General Petraeus has snatched progress from the jaws of irresolution. We appear to be on the right track at last. My question to the faint of heart continues to be "What besides wishful thinking does anyone other than Senator McCain offer?"
-- Frank Stevenson
Mr. Mehan's essay resonates on so many levels, it is difficult to make a single subject comment.
I think Mr. Mehan illustrates the most important mistake President Bush has made during his Presidency. The first is as we all know, to spend like a liberal. That is to say wasting billions of dollars of our money doing things very badly that ought not to be done at all.
Fighting the war in Iraq like a Democrat is the second and the worst error. When Democrats fight wars they incorporate three components as their strategy. First, we must not get Americans in any numbers hurt or killed. Second, we fight to maintain the status quo, not to change things, though this is an unspoken understanding. Finally we must have no plan. We just charge in and expect things to work out.
FDR was the last Democrat to fight to win and accept the necessary consequences of that overweening goal. Truman accomplished nothing in Korea; JFK the same in Cuba; LBJ and a Democrat Congress worsened the situation in Vietnam. Mr. Carter did absolutely nothing when Iran attacked the U.S. and took our embassy workers hostage. (At least he was intellectually honest. He knew he wouldn't win because he wouldn't try to, so he did nothing to get the same results as previous Democrats: none.) Mr. Clinton, of course, sent troops to Bosnia and Somalia. Where there was actual combat in Somalia, he completely abandoned those troops and we lost some of our finest for no purpose what ever.
No we have left wing George Bush who is doing the same thing. No thought. No plan. And Americans being killed and maimed to no purpose.
-- Jay Molyneaux
If Mr. Mehan is going to regularly report on events in Iraq, he might consider using terms a little more descriptive of war than the panty-waist "troubling," as in Basra. Troubling is when you look in your checkbook and discover you didn't record the last three checks. Or when you are in the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge and your gas gauge shows Empty.
His statement that "death and carnage had stopped" was a redundancy, considering the locale. Death is death and carnage is slaughter. What can the man be thinking? Besides filling the required space, I mean?
As for the rest of the article, the first four paragraphs were simply Mehan telling us what General Petraeus said, indicating he saw the hearings. And referring to another article, which proves he read about it somewhere.
Did anyone read this article and come away wondering just what of his own thinking went into it? Save the last gloomy prediction harking back to WWI.
On the other hand, maybe it is just that I am wondering how serving in the EPA qualifies one for much. I added a 12'x12' room to my house years back. It could not be seen from the street and yet I had to conform with EPA regulations you would not believe. Studies as to what impact this additional living space would have on the environment. Thirty five copies of my blueprints sent to neighbors. Would it cast a shadow on my neighbor's house? No. Would it obstruct a view? No. Still, if any one of them had objected, scrap the plans. They tangled with the wrong private citizen, though. I played their game through endless Planning Commission meetings and got my addition.
Two years ago I had an unfortunate experience of a toy in a toilet, courtesy of 4-year-old grandchild. Upstairs bathroom. Niagara ensued. It's called Grey Water and will kill an entire village. How much "grey water" has the average housewife mopped up. Herself, in a lifetime of children putting an entire roll of toilet tissue in? Necessitated removing vinyl flooring and replacing. Men came out in HazMat suits, taped the bathroom door shut, put up warning signs of DANGER. This was "in case" asbestos had been used in the construction of the sub-floor. If it had not been covered by insurance, my husband could have replaced the floor for under $500. But with all the EPA rules followed it ran into several thousand dollars. I am staying away from those curlicue light bulbs.
Anyhow, when I got to the end of this non-article and saw EPA, I said to myself, "That explains a lot." It gets in the bloodstream. A lot like grey water. He's got it. Heck, I've got it. Maybe it was the grey water. The symptom is: writing without saying anything.
-- Diane Smith
G. Tracy Mehan, III has a typically American attitude regarding the war in Iraq: it has taken too long, ergo it was never worth it. And it is equally interesting that Mehan said the Basra operation "looks like a botched job from the get-go" on the very same day Washington Times columnist Tony Blankley warned Americans that the news coming out of Basra was "almost complete guesswork" due to a "lack of reasonably reliable reporting."
One could make a reasonable case that the entire war has been reported -- and commented on by people like G. Tracy Mehan, III, et al. -- much the same way.
-- Arnold Ahlert
Boca Raton, Florida
When Julius Caesar said that all Gaul was divided into three parts, I think that he was referring to classes.
-- Paul Nelson
G. Tracy Mehan, III replies: Nonsense. The division of Gaul was not based on classes. Here's a map.
Re: Ryan L. Cole's Tough Crowd:
This is one Hoosier who voted for Mitch Daniels once and will be happy to vote for him later this year. Yes, he was elected promising reform and to put Indiana on a competitive edge for attracting new business. Yet after voting for Mitch because of his promise to change the way Indiana does business, one interest group after another began to line up against him.
There has been a long standing argument in Indiana about whether the state should be on Eastern or central time. At first, one may think "who cares? What difference does it make"? The difference was basically economic. Indiana does major business with Chicago in the West and Cincinnati and Columbus in the East. Much of the argument was over which city/state would Indiana be in sync. This was no small matter. The time difference of one hour with either Illinois or Ohio throws a wet blanket on commerce. Once Daniels took office, the time zone argument flared up once again for the nth time in the state legislature like clockwork. This time, however, Daniels insisted that the state senators and representatives come to a conclusion. He promised to sign any decision the legislature came up with -- and he did. It was a no win situation, remaining in limbo was hurting the state's economic development, "choosing" one side over the other earned Daniels lasting resentment from the losing side.
The most puzzling grievance against Daniels has been the leasing the state's toll roads. Early in his administration, Daniels and his teems found out that it cost the state more to collect the tolls than the tolls brought in themselves. In what has to be a stroke of genius, Daniels leased the operation of the toll roads to a foreign consortium which would also be responsible for the care and upkeep for the roads while the Indiana kept ownership -- with $3.8 billion upfront going to the State. Highway projects which had been languishing for years for lack of funds were quickly revived and set in motion. Immediately, however, Democrats became enraged and charged Daniels with giving away a cash-cow. As baseless as the complaint against Daniels was, Democrats were able to make it stick with some Hoosiers.
Daniels has flown all over the world -- particularly in Eastern Asia -- to bring new factories and distribution centers back home. By any score, Daniels has been extremely successful. Yet in a peculiar way many Hoosier see things, we tend to focus on the closing of old factories and jobs lost -- especially jobs lost and going over seas. (We are talking about thousands of jobs gained to hundreds lost.) Thus many in the state believe Indiana is the big loser among the heartland states.
The property tax plan Daniels crafted was a response to a crisis in which the latest increase in property tax bills threatened to put thousands on fixed and limited incomes out of their homes. The Democrats brilliant plan was to collect the taxes and then give homeowners a rebate latter. Democrats thought they had a great plan; but, as the Republicans pointed out, you have to collect the tax in order to give some back latter -- the tax many cannot afford now. After stubborn resistance, Daniels passed a formula which reduced property taxes by increasing the sales tax by one cent.
While not a perfect governor, Daniels has changed the political landscape and solved several persistence issues. He has drawn the ire of many who profited under the old arrangements. And, of course, he has run afoul those Hoosiers that can't stand change in principle.
The poll in the Indianapolis Star which showed 37 percent of those polled said they would vote against Daniels in 2008 is essentially meaningless. The poll pitted Daniels against an unnamed, imaginary someone. Now we have two opponents we can contrast with Daniels. Jill Long Thompson is a known politician who has been rejected by the voters several times for several different offices. Her track record is not promising. Jim Schellinger is largely an unknown except perhaps to the business community in Indianapolis. How well he will do with the rest of the state which has a love/hate relationship with Indianapolis is at best 50/50.
How well Daniels will do in November may in the end have more to do with the fate of the Republican Party. Leave it to those who have lead the party so poorly. Daniels may be defeated because of the (R) behind his name more than anything else. Naturally, pundits and party officials will draw absolutely the wrong lessons.
-- Mike Dooley
DEFENDERS OF THE CONSTITUION
Re: Lisa Fabrizio's You Say You'll Change the Constitution:
Ms. Fabrizio submits an interesting column. One is tempted to uncritically agree with her thesis and simply move on to the other columns. I find myself unable, however, to do that. Ms. Fabrizio ends her missive thusly; "It's not the U.S. Constitution that has been found wanting; it is those who have sworn to uphold it."
No, Ms. Fabrizio, that is precisely the wrong conclusion to reach. Those who are sworn to uphold the Constitution, i.e. the politicians, are merely playing by the rules of the game as they find it. Surely, one can not blame the standard issue pro or college basketball player if fouls for traveling, charging, palming the ball, hanging on the rim, etc. are not called. They are simply playing the modern, obscene version of the game as the referees are administering the game. Also the referees are only calling the game the way that the various leagues and ruling bodies dictate. The leagues are only responding to the modern basketball fans and the ghettoized version of the game that they demand. The rules will be enforced, or not, in direct accordance with the wishes of the fans, as expressed by their purchase of tickets and their tuning in on their TVs, and their various messages to the league offices, however delivered. Similarly, if baseball fans voted with their dollars to reject the obscenity of a designated hitter and actually make pitchers play the entire game, the designated hitter would be gone in one season. If the fans actually took effective steps to demand that batters NOT come to the plate wearing all kinds of body armor so that they can hang body parts into the strike zone, AND if the umpires actually refused to award first base to a batter who gets hit by a ball delivered actually in the strike zone, as the rules call for, then batter's behavior and mechanics and positioning would change in a NY minute.
So it is with our politicians. If the majority of voters actually voted to punish those that make a mockery of our Constitution, then the politicians would change their tactics in the blink of an eye. Politicians simply respond to what gets them elected and re-elected so that they can pull down significant salary and benefits without having to actually work for a living in a respectable job. The majority of our American society totally agrees with the TV ad that intones that, "I want it all, and I want it now." Politicians legislate by earmark because that is what their constituents demand. You have another column in this issue relating to the trouble that Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is in. What is his sin? Why it is injecting some economic discipline and good government principle into the government of the state. That is NOT what the "I want it all, and I want it now" crowd wants or will accept.
Ms. Fabrizio, we get EXACTLY the kind of government that we demand. No the kind that we SAY that we want, but the kind that we vote for every election. Who cares what we SAY that we want? It only counts when you determine what we will actually vote for on Election Day. When it comes to our egotistical, arrogant, semi-criminal politicians and bureaucrats (and that is a whole other essay), the problem is that we have met the enemy, and he is us."
-- Ken Shreve
I am positively delighted to actually hear someone actually say out loud & in print what I have gnashed my teeth at for so long. To see in your recent article these words: "the noxious 17th Amendment," did me good. It is such a sad commentary on the demagoguery & ignorance in the public sphere in these United States that this wretched amendment ever got passed in the first place, and it is even more so that hardly anyone these days is even aware of the fact that our federal Union was effectively ruined by this one amendment.
As Lisa Fabrizio rightly stated, the men who wrote the Constitution really did know what they were doing. Benjamin Franklin, when asked what form of government the Constitutional Convention had given us, famously said that they had given is "a Republic, if you can keep it." They gave us a Republic, not a democracy. They knew that democracies are innately self-destructive, both to the body politic & to public morality. I believe that it was Aristotle who once observed that "Republics decline into democracies, and democracies degenerate into despotisms." With the 17th Amendment the key check on Federal power (namely States jealously guarding their rights through statesman Senators elected to represent the state governments) was stripped away. Thus, what was once the greatest deliberative body since the days of ancient Rome has been peopled by demagogues? And where demagogues lead, despotism cannot be far off.
It's too bad that this & other reckless & ill-conceived amendments to the United States Constitution will never be repealed. And thus goes the Republic.
-- Austin Olive
I think that it is a great idea to encourage people to channel their energy into changing the Constitution. It would make them feel as if they were on some great crusade. Given how divided a nation we are, there is slim to none chances of it happening.
Lisa Fabrizio makes perfect sense, except for this:
"..the Constitution was set up to loosely govern a federation of smaller governments; those of the individual states."
I doubt that many of the founding fathers envisioned a federal government that was even as large
as the smallest of the state's governments.
-- Dan Martin
HOME ON THE PLAINS
Re: George Neumayr's Big Love on the Prairie:
Can Texas provide for the total safety for all of these children in foster homes? How about in the public schools, on the school buses, play yards and other venues where children are often attacked by bullies, predators and misinformed "do-gooders?" Fostering these children will not be easy, nor consistent with any specific "childhood ideal." The trauma will continue throughout their lives. Life is difficult and no one can say that the state "village" can provide a better grounding for dealing with those difficulties than can a family. I don't condone polygamy, but neither do I condone forced removal of children from their familiar environment no matter how bizarre we may believe it to be. I will believe that the state cares about "the children" when abortion becomes an extinct public policy, two-parent families are celebrated, and public schools stop sexualizing our grade-schoolers.
-- Rose Storey
Re: George H. Wittman's Where the Rattlers and Scorpions Play:
As you say, Mr. Wittman, "The Mexico/U.S. border has been an area of contested dominance going back to before the Civil War." Today's Mexican citizen seems to think history began in 1848, when in the sting of defeat, that dispute was practically and legally settled the way a lot of disputes between nations are settled, by war and treaty. That they took the land from Spain, who took it from the original inhabitants, who took it from each other, seems to elude their memory. Now, they want it back for "liebensraum." But, Mexico's treaty with the U.S. is just as binding as Mexico's treaty with Spain, etc. The problem was, is, and will always be the Mexican government. This "border dispute" will continue ad infinitum unless their puerile government grows up, and our government is willing to tell them they can't have the car keys until they do. Even the Iraqis have a better prospect at self governance than the Mexicans.
-- Mike Showalter
Re: Robert VerBruggen's Barack and Load:
I find your political biases hilarious. This is the reason my father quit the NRA: due to blind faith in Republicans. I have stuck with the NRA even though I am a Democrat. Let's be honest were a nonpartisan organization. If the NRA is not let us declare our selves Republicans and be over with it. As a Democratic and a NRA member I supported John Edwards, my second choice was Obama. I find it ridicules that the NRA is saying the Republican is a better choice when it is JOHN MCCAIN WHO IS ANTI GUN. He supports ANTI gun show legislation as well as sides with Lieberman on anti-gun legislation. Let us call it as it is. There is NO candidate currently still in the race with our core believes at heart. Backing a candidate that does not believe in our fundamentals only WEAKENS our organization as a whole, and has us labeled as a gimmie for one party.
I will this election vote for Barack and if he is not the candidate for the party I will stay home. The Clintons have been proven to be anti-gun pro large federal government (Wako). Personally they would be a better target for our organization as a whole than Obama while his voting record is questionable is it any more than John McCain?
This is the Quote I Found offensive enough to write about. From the article "Barack and Load:"
"Only as November approaches are non-Democrat Second Amendment supporters likely pay any attention, because only the Republican candidate has made any serious effort to earn their votes."
-- Kaz Long
NO MERCY FOR OLD MEN
Re: W. James Antle III's Barr Fight:
It really is not a rational choice to vote for McCain to keep Obama (or Hillary) out of the Presidency. With McCain in office, there will be no Republican opposition to his eccentric nonsense. It will be the Nixon
administration all over again (including in temperament). At least with Obama/Clinton, there will be some conservative Republican opposition, and possible vindication in future elections. Although I could never pull the lever for a socialist, I intend to leave the selection of the President in the hands of those who can be at least somewhat enthusiastic for one of these three deeply flawed candidates.
I will probably either vote third party or blank the Presidential line. I will not vote for Bob Barr, although I consider myself libertarian. Today's libertarians have a totally unrealistic view of the world and of the dangers presented by Islamofascism. By the way, my opposition to Barr has nothing to do with his pro-life position. I continue to be amazed that any libertarian (who supposedly opposes the initiation of force against others, and agrees that government is instituted to protect against such violence) could possibly support the murder of developing unborn children.
Pro-life is not a "religious" view of competing moralities. It is a natural rights view of the primacy of existence.
Republican conservatives and libertarians: Do not vote for McCain! Focus your electoral activism and funding on national legislative races, and on building up the party at state and local levels.
-- Stephen Zierak
Kansas City, Missouri
Re: Exeter's letter (under "Libby on the Lable") in Reader Mail's Shooting Blanks:
Reader Exeter commented on Mason and Felder's "If Spitzer, Why Not Clinton?" with:
"If Clinton, why not Scooter?
"Such blatant, unabashed hypocrisy and double standard.
Let's see if there are any significant differences:
1. Clinton and Spitzer were elected Chief Executives, Libby was an appointed staff member.
2. Clinton sexually abused a young woman in his charge and betrayed his wife. Spitzer paid a vulnerable young woman for sex and betrayed his wife.
Libby did not.
3. Clinton and Spitzer were principal actors in their offenses. Libby was merely a bystander and had nothing to do with the actual offense, the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity. Exeter cannot make these distinctions.
-- Paul DeSisto
Cedar Grove, New Jersey
ALL THUMBS UP
Re: Jeffrey Lord's The Culture of Lincoln:
Bravo to Jeffrey Lord!
"The Culture of Lincoln" is simply the finest summation of politics and race in America today that I have ever read.
Somebody should make a movie/documentary with this article as a basis.
-- Paul Durkin