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Total War

Re: G. Tracy Mehan III’s What “Other Wars?”:

Regarding McCain’s almost offhand remark about “other wars,” I too have wondered about the specific coming wars he has in mind. What bothers me most about McCain is that there’s a lot of unresolved conflict within him and it probably stems from his dark days in Vietnam. We have the “war hero” side, but I fear there’s much more we don’t know — his instability and vicious streak give me the impression he’s full of unleashed rage. If he’s given a position of unchecked power, I personally question his ability to use it judiciously. His tendency to fight cantankerously against “right” and then turn stubbornly to align with “wrong” in order to gain the political points which give him power, is also disturbing. This trait began to show itself publicly during the Keating Five affair. Face it, McCain’s an enigma, who we definitely can’t trust and seriously wonder how he’s gotten this far in the race earning the trust of others. It’s as if people prefer to be blind about him and not ask the tough questions; such as, what makes Johnny run? Is he really as altruistic as his image is being portrayed, or is he out to get some sort of sick revenge on his “enemies”? Maybe these are the “wars” ahead to which he was referring. Whatever, I’m sick at heart knowing that McCain appears to have been “chosen” as the GOP standard bearer before I’ve even had a chance to vote. Very sad.
Barbara Haugen
Cedar City, Utah

G. Tracy Mehan was hitting every ball into the back rows of the center field bleachers until “does strategic success flow from tactical success, if what we want to do is win over Muslim and Arab cultures?”

A straight albeit unwanted answer to Mr. Mehan’s question is absolutely positively “yes,” and the more complete the tactical success, the more likely the strategic one. The dominant society that Mr. Mehan and the readers ofTAS call home is contemptuous and denigrating of the power that can effect tactical success on the battlefield, but worships the power that is a means to the ends of the all encompassing welfare state. That is not how most people of the world think, and is certainly not how the Muslim and Arab cultures think. They and their countrymen respect power. They even respect mercy, but because they understand that mercy is the decision to not apply power, it is necessary to first establish the irresistible nature of the power.

American irresistible power has not been asserted in sixty-three years. That is not living memory for most Americans or for the world. Patton’s War As I Knew It or Eisenhower’s Crusade In Europe or Bradley’s A Soldier’s Story might as well be Caesar’s “Commentaries” are far as the NEA’s schoolmarms are concerned and even less relevant. Even the Republican presidential candidates tiptoe when specific questions on the application of force are raised. Witness the debate some weeks ago, when the candidates were asked whether the incident in the Strait of Hormuz, Iranian naval speedboats threatening U.S. Navy warships, was properly handled. Not one candidate was willing to state that either the ships were operating under rules of engagement that unreasonably endangered the vessels, or the commander failed to act under his rules of engagement. Either way, the jihadists were reassured that the potentially most power Navy in the history of the world was more afraid of the contempt and denigration of its own countrymen than the speedboats and the mines they pretended to lay.

The late Civil War historian Shelby Foote noted that only those who kept the memory of the Confederacy alive knew what it meant to be the vanquished in a total war. 9/11 momentarily inflicted a similar sense. But the very security that this totally demonized administration has affected has coincidentally empowered those who claim there is no threat that deserves violent suppression. Their mistaken conclusions will haunt them sooner than they know.
Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey

“What other wars are being contemplated by John McCain?” asks G. Tracy Mehan lll. Perhaps a better question would be, “does the United States want to be proactive or reactive with respect to Islamic terrorism?”

I guess the answer to that question would depend on how “sensitive” one is to having two of the largest buildings in the country blown to pieces with 3000 Americans trapped inside, and whether or not one
believes in giving mass murderers yet another “freebie” for the sake of moral “superiority.”
Arnold Ahlert
Boca Raton, Florida

Re: Philip Klein’s Leadership Shrugged:

It is an axiom of politics that a winning campaign is guided by singular genius while a losing campaign is crawling with nincompoops. Count me as one of the nincompoops who tried to help Rudy in Florida and consider two things before the conventional wisdom hardens that he pursued a flawed strategy. First, given that Rudy was a pro-choice, pro-gay, anti-gun, thrice-married urban Italian, where exactly in GOP-ville should he have chosen to make his stand? You can debate that question for several months, as Rudy and his people did, and you will almost surely come up with the same answer he did. Yes, his was a flawed strategy, but it was somewhat less flawed than all of the alternative strategies. It is sad but still true that not every boy can grow up to be President. And second, once he took his long-shot swing at the nomination — not a swing at being veep, or being tapped for the Cabinet, or smelling good for 2012 — Rudy got out with speed and grace. As he taught us to say, what’s not to like?
Neal B. Freeman

What makes you think Rudy actually wrote that book?
Ken Kalis

Re: The Prowler’s A Clinton Goldmine:

McCain should certainly meet with Fred, but if he wants to solidify his campaign he needs Fred on board as VP. Fred on the ticket would bring along many Romney and Huckabee followers. In addition to his conservative credentials Fred brings likeability, pseudo star power and a connection to the Federalist Society. It is reasonable to assume that McCain would listen to Fred, not necessarily buy his ideas, but the right would be comforted that Fred is “looking over the man’s shoulder.”

Fred is credible to a substantial portion of the evangelical community, right to life community, and Southern-Western and border state constituencies.

If McCain and Thompson could reach a meeting of the minds, the conservative revolt would end overnight. Ongoing consultations should continue, however, no public statements should be made for a few weeks, after the “Rush” folks stew for a while over the reality that the nominee is going to be McCain and he will go up against either the #1 liberal democrat (Obama) or #12 democrat (Clinton) (from National Journal). Rush and Sean need to take their eyes off the microscopes and take a look at the big picture.

These two would be a formidable team to go against either of the Dem “teams.” Most independents would relate to either McCain or Thompson, especially once they realize the very palpable danger on the left. Although Obama is now a bit of an enigma, they would totally blow away Hillary.
Steve Heine
Cambridge, Ohio

I don’t care whose blessing McCain gets. I still don’t trust him or like him. He’s a bitter, petty maniac who prefers the liberals and the media over his own party. Even the thought of Hillary in the White House is not a good enough reason to vote for McCain.
Kitty Myers
Painted Post, New York

Hillary’s rookie mistake: She hung onto Bill’s coattails too long, thank the deities.
David Govett
Davis, California

Re: Shawn Macomber’s Jimmy Carter’s Covenant:

The left wingers that claim the mantle of Christianity in their “good works” always leave out one salient element: Christ never suggested that Christians should support forcibly taking the resource of one group, dispensing it among another, and taking a cut. Not to mention using those same resources as a method of vote buying.

Christ’s message was unambiguous: You give of yourself or promote giving by others through the church or personally. Let us not forget the staggering charitable contributions of Algore and J. French Kerry — $500 each or thereabouts on incomes in the millions. Libs are more enthused about giving the resource of others.

The arrogance of this twerp, after what he and his bunch did to America, is truly breath taking. Were there a superlative for unctuous, it would apply…in spades.
Bruce Karlson
Navarre, Florida

I am a member of a very large church in the fourth largest city in the United States. Having said that, I would like to state in simple terms that there is no ‘Evangelical Left’. Christians see through this dialogue and feeble attempt to categorize people politically. We discuss these things every Sunday. In fact, there are no “Evangelicals.” Just Christians.
John R. Collins

Mr. Macomber should have nailed Jimmy Carter on the blasphemous assertion that listening to the suggestion of Satan would have been a better course to follow than that of Christ. What arrogance Carter displays to think he would be a better author of the Word than Christ!
Gary Maher

The one point you made about some Christians being promised health and wealth can be summed up well with two names. Both Joel Osteen and Kenneth Copeland preach what we call, “Name it and claim
it,” and it may be close to scientology, but there are quite a few Christians including the owners of Trinity Broadcasting Network that ascribe to it. So just a point I wanted to make. Your article was good.
Charles N. Panarella

Re: Patrick J. Michaels’ Corn on the Mob:

Patrick J. Michaels is an extremely gifted writer and a senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute. Despite this, his American Spectator article, “Corn on the Mob,” misses the mark when calling for the government to abandon energy reforms aimed at increasing ethanol production.

Mr. Michaels correctly states facts which are hard to dispute. The price of commodities linked to ethanol production and the livestock which otherwise would consume them have skyrocketed in price. I don’t eat much steak, and probably far less since the price per pound has nearly matched my weekly take home pay. Cereal has become somewhat of a luxury in my house, similar in fate is nearly anything else made with corn.

President Bush has pushed hard for wide increases in ethanol production, and is calling for even greater expansion in the future. There is no argument that the displacement has caused definitive economic change. We are in agreement right until this statement, “Displacing 20 percent of gasoline consumption is probably impossible.”

To his credit, Michaels meticulously calculated the ethanol produced from every kernel of corn produced in the United States and arrived at what he feels is a 40 percent shortage of the president’s long term production goals. I don’t even know where to begin in finding the data on how many kernels of corn we grow every year so I’ll take him at his word. Think what a hamburger would cost at this point? I have no arguments that using all of our corn for fuel would be a resource disaster. In fact, I believe that Bush’s energy goals require a substantial amount of future ethanol to come from sources other than corn.

Where he misses the mark completely is in his statements that follow, “To get there, we would have to find an economic way to make ethanol from cruder plant materials — so-called “cellulosic” ethanol. No matter how much money governments throw at this (including a lot from the 2005 energy bill), no one has figured out how to do this economically, and people have been at it for decades.”

Two weeks ago, an article ran in the Detroit Free Press which makes these statements somewhat misinformed. I am sure Mr. Michaels missed the article, as did most Americans. An ethanol startup here in Illinois claims to have the technology to do the cited impossibility, cellulosic ethanol at a production price which is quoted as “less than $1 a gallon.” Coskata Inc. has a powerful ally in their venture with General Motors who recently unveiled a partner deal with the small firm at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Kevin Brook, an energy industry analyst with Friedman Billings Ramsey, may have doubts in the miraculous technology. Brook is quoted by the Detroit Free Press as saying, “It would be an incredible story if it’s true.” Coskata Inc., a Warrenville, IL firm, says it is more than true and their first plant will be up and running by the end of the year. General Motors will use the fuel at their proving ground in Milford. To bolster their credibility a notch or two, a press release by the company drops the names of a few research institutions they have been working with; Oklahoma State University, The University of Oklahoma, Brigham Young University and Argonne National Laboratory. “Our technology and proprietary process have been validated by some of the world’s most renowned research labs, universities and energy companies,” said Bill Roe, CEO of Coskata.

Coskata engineers seem to have leaped years ahead of the competition and outlooks for second generation biofuels. “Using patented microorganisms and transformative bioreactor designs, Coskata ethanol is produced via a unique three-step conversion process that turns virtually any carbon-based feedstock, including biomass, municipal solid waste, bagasse and other agricultural waste into ethanol, making production a possibility in almost any geography.” They do so by using an old process, once used to power gas streetlamps and add a bacterial mix to the process to achieve their product goals. To that effect, they do so rather efficiently by having “the ability to generate 7.7 times as much energy as is required to produce the ethanol.” Currently, corn ethanol generates 1.3 times as much energy as is used to produce it.

Cynthia Bowers, CBS News, covered the GM announcement from the Detroit auto show. In that coverage, she alludes to corn based ethanol as possibly being old news. After a brief mention of Coskata, the broadcast cuts to a clip from “Back to the Future” showing a car being powered by garbage picked from a can along a street. Coskata is looking to just that, using landfills as a source of fuel for American cars within three years. A fuel with a price tag which could make both filling up and eating steak a lot more enjoyable and affordable for all of us.
Scott A. Marth

Re: Doug Bandow’s There Goes Kosovo:

The hypocrisy of the Vietnam Protest generation still galls me. They called for peace in Southeast Asia, but said nothing during the Cambodian Holocaust. They said it was not America’s duty to be the world’s policeman or to get involved in other countries’ civil wars. Then when they achieved political power in the 1990s, where did they steer American power? Into involvement in other countries’ civil wars and to be the world’s policeman. The timing of President Bill Clinton’s 1999 “NATO” bombing campaign of Serbia, during his Senate impeachment trial, was purely happenstance also, right? The fact that it violated both the NATO Charter and the 1974 War Powers Act was irrelevant too, I guess. Does disrespect for the rule of law by Yale Law School graduates bother anybody?
David Shoup
Augusta, Georgia

Re: Andrew Cline’s The Unmaking of John Edwards:

Read “The Unmaking of John Edwards” by Andrew Cline. Good article, but I would add that what may have also angered people was his decision to run while his wife is fighting cancer. He is vacuous if running for office was a higher priority than spending time with and taking care of his wife and children during her struggle. Don’t think many women would vote for a jerk like him.
Mary Murray

Someone observed that, with Edwards’ departure from the race, the Democrats did not have a white male candidate running for the office of President in 2008 and hence had no candidate which white male Democratic voters could support. After reading appraisals of John McCain from liberal media and mouthpieces (read Susan Estrich’s accolades for McCain in Fox News Online) I’m not sure that is true.
Rick Venema

Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.’s He Let Me Down:

Yes, Senator Obama is a person of color, but he is of East African heritage of a generation of immigrant vintage as recent as my own. If anything, Senator Obama’s identity-politics appeal should be to people like me rather than to those whose ancestors suffered through the Middle Passage followed by hundreds years of the American black experience.

I always thought that Bill Clinton had a natural affinity to blacks whose votes he sought, and that was reciprocated by enthusiastic support for both of the Clintons. Blacks have every reason to distrust many strains of American politics, much as I distrust the people associated with Bill Clinton for letting my uncle suffer in old age from vascular disease without medicine on account of sanctions and do this in the cold on account of the bombing of power plants. But blacks trusted Bill Clinton in the way that I trust Barack Obama not to drop bridge spans into the Danube River.

I really though that Senator Obama’s appeal was restricted to white liberals and that Hillary Clinton would command the black vote based on the Clinton brand identity and the accrued political capital of the Clinton team. That Senator Obama did so well among black voters in South Carolina is to me evidence of his trans-racial appeal. But why Bill Clinton would abandon a positive message regarding the Clinton brand to black voters and burn his bridges the way he did remains a mystery.
Paul Milenkovic
Madison, Wisconsin

Re: Quin Hillyer’s Arise, Ye Favorite Sons:

I love Quin Hillyer’s idea of a brokered convention. I have been quite disengaged this entire election, because of a lack of candidates who bring enthusiasm.

Personally, I would love to see John Kasich brought forward as the consensus nominee in Minneapolis. He is a conservative’s conservative and would bring a relative youth and energy to the campaign that we haven’t seen in a while. With the potential nomination of John McCain, I am concerned that it will be a repeat of 1996, and the Republican Party will look old and lose badly. Worse yet, he might win and the Republican Party will be without a true standard bearer for the conservative cause.

A ticket of John Kasich and JC Watts should be on everybody’s minds as they approach the convention. Youth, energy, ideals, and eloquence: What a combination!

It’s not too late, a brokered convention might be what we need. What better way to increase media coverage and public attention, than to have an actual contest. This would give us the perfect platform to enunciate our conservative positions and why they work for the American people. It would also be the perfect platform to launch the Kasich/Watts ticket.
Michael Schumacher
Yankton, South Dakota

Re: R. Phillips’s letter (under “The Second Black Insult”) in Reader Mail’s Santorum Comeback:

R. Philips asks: “Does Obama have a set of balls?”

Of course he does. The real question is, are they bigger than Hillary’s?
Dan Martin
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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