When the Going Gets Rough - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
When the Going Gets Rough

Re: Lawrence Henry’s Victory, Yes, But …

What is it about so many columns posted today where the writers have run up the white flag regarding Iraq? Baker/Hamilton and every other “has been” screw up must be breaking arms patting themselves on the back. The same goes for the vocal Bush haters, the NYT leading parade of “MSM,” etc. They’re congratulating themselves on still being “relevant” and calling the shots. Hmmmmm…even at the Spectator the beat goes on.

You scaredy cats from the D.C. area and along the Northeast section of this great country should really spend time in the West where the buffalo still roam and cowboys actually still ride the range. Many of us who live here still think a code of ethics is appropriate. Perhaps your frustration with our current President who seems to honor these, is that he has them at all. The sniping continues about his speech patterns and his “mental capacities”. Gosh, a President who says exactly what he means….think of that! A regional comment is “aw shucks, don’t that beat all?” Yup it sure does in the long run. Even the negatives coming out of the Spectator.
Edda Gahm
Diamond Bar, California

As you say, Mr. Henry, he (the President) is just not a talker. The one thing we need is the one thing we do not have. The press, however, especially the NYT, is full of talkers. As the comedian Henny Youngman might have said, “Take Frank Rich — — please!” Mr. Rich may be the least evolved lump of protoplasm on the planet, but he’s a talker. His latest, “We have lost in Iraq.” Whether we have or haven’t, how would Frank Rich know? Sure, he WANTS us to LOSE, but that doesn’t make it so. On the other hand, for those of us who want to WIN, saying so won’t make it so either. So, where does that leave us?

The President has the one pulpit from which not only SAYING SOMETHING, but DOING SOMETHING, makes a difference. He could, for example, SAY that he’s taken the Iraq Study Poop’s report under advisement and is considering the next best course of action. Then, he could DO SOMETHING, like order special forces to neutralize Muqtada al-Sadr by helping him accidentally slip in the shower (if he ever takes one), send 50,000 more troops in to quell the insurgency and secure Baghdad, have some B2s begin circling daily over Tehran just out of range of those nifty new defense missiles our friends in Russia recently provided, and send a message to Assad that it might be prudent for him to consider riding on a bicycle, instead of in a car, for the next several months.

What, pray tell, does the President really have to lose politically? We’ve already lost the Congress. His legacy? What kind of legacy is LOSING?
Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

Lawrence Henry does a great job collating the best recent articles on the present situation in Iraq. But I suggest the major point is missed. The fundamental mistake was the unforgivable hubris of assuming that a Middle Eastern nation should be rebuilt in the political image and likeness of the United States of America and that nothing else would do.

The United States was built by a group of White Anglo Saxon Protestant males, and please note this is a Mediterranean Catholic writing [and in grateful thanks]. The reason why it is called the “Protestant Work Ethic” and not Catholic, or Muslim, or Jewish, or Buddhist, or Communist, or Socialist, is because the Protestants of that era had the exactly right combination of respect for their Creator, and respect for their own initiative and constructive accomplishments. It is not a coincidence that the Rio Grande marks the boundary where everyone, white and brown, prefer to live. I love my God, and I love my Church, but the fact is my Church has always been more comfortable with absolutely everyone in a state of abysmal poverty than any effort extended toward the generation (not theft or confiscation!) of wealth, and the promise of nothing in this world and everything in the next world simply fails to motivate people in this world. Much the same can be said of Islam, the only religion in living memory that promises ultimate reward in the next world in recompense for mass murder in this world. That is also why, as Victor Davis Hanson and other great writers have noted, Muslim mass murders are reduced to using tools and weapons created and manufactured by “infidels” to serve the demands of their concept of Allah.

If there is one absolute and unavoidable law of history, it must be George Santayana’s “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. Mark Moyar’s Triumph Forsaken: the Vietnam War, 1954-1965 serves to remind all of us how when we cannot remember the past, we will always repeat it (well, not exactly, but as another historian has noted, history doesn’t repeat itself, it rhymes with itself). Iraq is not Vietnam, at least not in the sense that the Left would like to think, but it is Vietnam in the sense that almost identical political mistakes have been made, perhaps with the same fatal consequences. Most importantly, Moyar paints a picture of Ngo Dinh Diem, a man who unfortunately for all of us has no Iraqi equivalent, who was an ardent, incorruptible, extraordinarily savvy nationalist, who was ultimately murdered, and with him the future of South Vietnam, literally by the hands of his own people, but also thanks to the duplicity and hubris of almost every American of any influence. Moyar also paints a picture of an institution dedicated to the propagation of its own ideology and never the facts in context, the New York Times. And ultimately Moyar paints a picture of an America determined to mold South Vietnam in America’s own political image and likeness, even though everyone with any knowledge in-theater, whether Vietnamese or American, knew that to be a fatal mistake.

Read Moyar and weep. Weep for the mistakes of four decades ago. And weep for the repetition of the same mistakes in Iraq today. And shame on every American who blindly attempts to force liberal “democracy” on lands with no history of the rule of law, no history of a religious base that balances this life with the next, and no history of peaceful internal industry of its own people.
Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey

I am continually amazed at the change of perception in American minds. I read Lawrence Henry’s article this morning, after a long seven hour trip home to East Texas after caring for my mother, who broke her hip this week. It may seem rather churlish of me, and I ask forgiveness to TAS for even writing this letter, but I must ask, what do you think about sending our sons and daughters to fight for our freedoms when, we are feckless, ungrateful, most of all, easily surrender when things get tough? I knew in 2002 that when we began the war that if we didn’t get it done thoroughly and completely, using great force and rendering many lives, that the likelihood would be giving up too soon because we are an instant society. And pardon me if no one believe me, that is why we will fall in less than 18 months, if we don’t buck up and let the fighting me fight the battle and keep Washington congressmen, MSM, and other idiots babbling like mouthing monkeys, tell the military what to do.

As for this mother of a son who returns to his sp ops duties just before Christmas…. I am very angry. I am angry at an ungrateful nation. I am angry that we are foolish enough to not realize our enemies are within our borders, and angry that we are wimping out at every turn. And perhaps we deserve to fail….if we can’t muster enough resolve to say as a generation, as a country, we will not fail, we will not FALL, on our watch, then unlike the greatest generation, we will be determined to have been…..the failure generation. We thrived on loving failure, hating ourselves, our freedoms, our great country and a great GOD. We bred the generation of Vietnam veteran haters, who when given leadership later, turned our country over to the enemy who would kill and subdue us. Such has happened countless times in ancient histories, when countries became indolent, living in luxury and self absorbed and sex absorbed.

So, excuse me while I prepare to ready for the final assault on family….that of a feckless country sending my son to a war that it has already decided to lose.
Beverly Gunn
East Texas Rancher
Once Proud American, still a proud mother of serving pilot

Lawrence Henry’s agonizing observations and conclusions come close on the heels of his recent prissy indictment of speech habits of the Great Unwashed in America. It is clear that Mr. Henry believes if only George Bush spoke half as well as Henry’s son, Bud, he could communicate to the asleep-at-the-switch nation, who seem to have forgotten Bush’s one eloquent moment as he stood amid the rubble of WTC, embracing a wizened, weary firefighter. In fact, have forgotten the little we knew of the event itself — having had most of the horror of it sanitized for television viewing.

Wake up, Mr. Henry – -the audience has changed. If Franklin Roosevelt rose from the grave for a fireside chat and appeared opposite American Idol, I would put my money on American Idol for ratings. The oratory of Lincoln lives, but if Bush made a stirring speech today, it would be distorted by the press and parodied on late night TV. We have no honest reporters and few unbiased opinion columnists. One thing that never seems to change, though, is the carrion crow “journalist” who sits on a wire, waiting patiently for his “road-kill” story. Never has to actually work at his trade.

I hated to see Rumsfeld go for that reason alone — he was capable of skewering and serving his inquisitors up en brochette at every press briefing. Delightful.

I have an idea! Get yourself a temporary press pass. Join the cream of journalists at the White House briefing, rise and say “With all due respect, President Bush, your problem is you can’t talk.” And offer to tutor him. It would be a service to your country.
Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

Lawrence Henry is a prime example of a conservative catch-22 — mythologizing Ronald Reagan. By mythologizing Reagan they’re making it impossible for any conservative leader to measure up. The real Reagan cut and ran from Lebanon, raised income taxes twice to appease the Democrats and warmly embraced James Baker with open arms. The less than eloquent, but real George W. Bush is the only U.S. President to actually fight Islamic terrorism, has never raised income taxes and seems to be politely telling the “Iraq Study Group” and majority of cowardly Americans — “thanks, but no thanks” when it comes to surrendering to Islamic imperialism.

Face reality: the majority of Americans are bored with the war. Not even Reagan (who passed on the chance fight Islamic terrorism) or Lincoln (who was probably won reelection through Democrat methods) could motivate the American public out of its self-induced stupor. Sadly, far too many Americans in the Northeast and on the left coast with a sizable sprinkling in the Midwest are morphing into gutless Eurabians. Maybe in the next Clinton or McCain administration when the Muslims have nuked New York City or are killing lily white liberals in New England with suicide bombers we’ll finally appreciate George W. Bush who’s keeping America safe despite itself.

Finally, before swallowing all the BS on the war conservatives should talk to the Marines, Sailors, Coasties, Soldiers and Airmen doing the fighting. We’re winning, but despite the low casualty rate and the threat of Islamic imperialism Americans would rather complain than support their Commander-in-Chief and military. Fortunately for them the ineloquent George W. Bush isn’t Reagan and he’ll keep fighting despite the growing desire for national suicide.
Michael Tomlinson
Jacksonville, North Carolina

Jeff Jacoby partially nailed it when he said, “…I would wager that countless Americans are upset with Bush, not because he isn’t skedaddling from Iraq quickly enough, but because he seems to have no serious strategy for winning…”

Given that the Democrats and liberals seem to have only an exit strategy and are committed to losing and abandoning Iraq — consequences be damned — how is the Dems’ and liberals’ being the new Congressional majority reconciled to Jacoby’s assertion?

Regardless of an answer, as you say, it does appear that we’ve lost this one and a great deal more. Likely those yet-to-be-fully-calculated-and-felt losses will not only haunt us and the rest of the world for decades, maybe longer.

President Bush could’ve prevented that, I think, if he’d but told the truth about the war against Islamic fascists and terrorists, and about the real effort required for victory. But the snipers who constantly shot at him bear almost as much responsibility. To date, they seem to have hit their target and got the desired results, haven’t they?
C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia

I agree with everything you said in this article. I have long believed and stated that we are not killing our enemy brutally enough nor fast enough. We are at war, but you would think that we were in a ’50s rumble, with codes of honor at stake. Yesterday (Dec. 8) I saw TV footage of the aftermath of a firefight in which 20 or so insurgents were killed. The most impressive images that I saw were those of the children’s faces. Usually they are somewhat happy and jubilant just to be on camera, you know the scene, but these kids yesterday looked stunned. There was no joy in their appearance. The look was “jeez, did you see that ?..they [ the Americans] f****d those guys up real bad. They looked real serious about killing these bastards.” We will only win hearts and minds of the people in Iraq by being in bin Laden’s words “the strong horse.” If they truly want freedom they will follow us, but only if the seriousness of our commitment demonstrates clearly that we are the “strong horse” and we can only do that now by being dead serious in our will to kill to win.

You don’t see that much in this war, but it is what is needed. We have to get serious about killing, crushing, obliterating this enemy, without mercy because they are enemies of humanity and all that humans find decent in this world. We should condemn them to hell and the media and populace that supports them and never look back.

I am afraid that Mr. Bush doesn’t have the guts to do it and that saddens me. Our troops deserve better support that what they get from their generals and their commander-in -chief….this from a longtime Bush supporter. Shame, shame on us.

Thank you for listening,
Gene Hauber
Meshoppen, Pennsylvania

Re: Richard Kirk’s Exercise in Contempt:

Nice article.
Paul Brown

Those who love and hate religion are alike in that they are passionate about it, while a logical atheist would be coolly indifferent thereto. Whence Dawkins’ passion? What searing childhood deprivation did he endure? Or is it merely in his selfish genes?
David Govett
Davis, California

For people of faith, Richard Dawkins is a test of that very same faith. For people without faith, Dawkins is their Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. As a zoologist, obscure would best characterize Dawkins’ standing among practicing scientists, but this very enterprising individual found a way to parlay science and faith into a lucrative business.

The key to Dawkins’ success was a shrewd analysis of atheists noting that they needed the psychological comfort of faith in something beyond themselves, but something that everyone else didn’t believe. Sociologists suspect that atheism is an ancient belief rather than a recent phenomena coinciding with the rise of science. Even in the religiously dominated Dark Ages where every hamlet had its village idiot, there was also a village atheist in residence. With the rise of science advancing in lockstep with a rise in the world’s population, the increase in atheists wasn’t surprising. But, science could now provide the foundation for a belief in something beyond themselves.

Dawkins freely admits that evolution theory is the Book of Genesis for non-believers; it answers the universal questions of “how did we get here?” and “where are we going?”. Where faith provides comfort, hope and love, evolution is a cold, stark philosophy offering a vision of humanity as a cosmic accident, but a provable accident according to science. Ardent believers in the religion of science proudly point out how they readily accept a harsh picture of reality, unafraid and unashamed, unlike those weak individuals who need the emotional support of an imaginary being.

Other scientists have found Dawkins both an embarrassment and a source of inspiration. Eugenie Scott of the NCSE once testified before legislators that Dawkins was wrong, science couldn’t prove the non-existence of God, but she still defended Dawkins’ contribution to the advancement of science. Dawkins can say the things some scientists would like to say, but fear to say. He’s their unacknowledged champion, one who holds the reactionary forces of religion at bay. His teachings help perpetuate the monetary grants flowing to science from government coffers and provide the scathing rebuttals to those who question the validity of evolution.

Dawkins may not rank among the intellectual giants, but then prophets are often humble individuals who lack intellectual rigor and rely on commonality of belief to advance their arguments. In the future, the Church of Science will gratefully admit its debt to Richard Dawkins.
Patrick Skurka
San Ramon, California

Richard Dawkins has nothing but contempt for God.

Conversely, God has nothing but love for Richard Dawkins.

For Mr. Dawkins’s sake, I hope that he’ll understand this critical concept before it’s too late to change his very closed mind.
Gavin Valle
Peapack, New Jersey

If, as Dawkins believes, there is no Authority (God) and thus no certifiable right and wrong, how can Christian parents be “evil” and why all the zeal to stomp it out? Maybe there’s a biological/hormonal explanation for his inclinations, hmm?
Laurey Boyd

Regarding your phrase, “the enormity of the universe.” Really? I rather like the place.

Merry Christmas,
John McGuinness

But how shall Dawkins explain himself, a horse’s ass that somehow reads, writes and speaks?

It’s a miracle, isn’t it ?
Paul Kotik
Plantation, Florida

Re: W. James Antle III’s Last Rights:

Now I am not a professional political analyst or TV talking head “expert,” but the real causes of the most recent electoral swing seem both more complex and yet simple. There is a strain of “religious values” voter that does want significant government intervention, just intervention in favor of their agenda instead of the liberal secular agenda. There is a strain of libertarian “leave me alone” voter that doesn’t want the government doing anything at all. I believe you will find both of these strains infest parts of both parties, although more so in the GOP, perhaps.

I would argue, however, that the mainstream social conservative and the mainstream small government semi-libertarian are in basic agreement. Both believe in a strong, robust military, and using it to actually win any wars that we enter. Both seem to believe that our country’s borders ought to be pretty much sealed and that the Bush plan and the Dem plan are both amnesty, and the voters certainly don’t like that. Both seem to believe that government is too big and growing out of control, and that government desperately needs pruning. Both seem to think that the federal budget is in dire need of serious cutting, along with the taxes that support the spending. Unfortunately, the Republicans that were in office, including George Bush, do not seem to believe these things.

As one who has lived among so called “moderate” or “country club” Republicans most of my life, I believe that they are really the ones that most frequently cross party lines in the voting booth. It is most often they that finance and/or run an independent Republican to ensure the loss of a conservative Republican, usually by splitting the vote so that the Dem wins. I propose that, if you wish to identify the problem within the Republican ranks, you look to the Lincoln Chafees, and Christie Todd Whitmans, and the Olympia Snowes. Then check out the “I’m for me” Republicans like McCain, or Graham, or Hagel, or Specter, or Warner, etc.

But then what do I know. I am just one of those small government, Christian, conservative voters that has been voting with the Repubs as the lesser of two evils. Oh, yeah, I was active in the Republican party in a suburb of Washington, DC (Montgomery County, Maryland), but that was back in the day when the local Republicans were NOT indistinguishable from San Francisco Democrats.
Ken Shreve

If you have the award for 2006, might I suggest The Conservative Soul. Despite its ironic title, it basically calls for a return to secular values conservatives shed about the time Rockefeller failed to win the presidency.
Doug Gibson
Ogden, Utah

Re: Jay D. Homnick’s Studying the Iraq Groups:

Gravitas is certainly not what it used to be. My daughter is in a Model United Nations class at school. Her class would have come up with a more “realistic” way ahead than these cold war has beens.
Donald Parnell
London, UK

Re: Ilana Mercer’s Animals Gone Wild and Reader Mail’s Wolves and Alligators:

As a biologist and outsdoorsman, I too am bemused and occasionally frustrated by those who hold unreasonably warm and fuzzy views about wild animals. However, I would trade any on them for those who exhibit the flipside of such ignorance and naivete, namely Ms. Mercer and a whole host of overly-domesticated folks who saw fit to respond to her unhinged diatribe with any kind of hysterical agreement. I seriously doubt Ms. Mercer is a wildlife biologist, or has even so much had a single science class in what must have been a singularly unrigorous humanities-based education. Oh, you know who you are, those for whom every snake is a deadly “Copper-haid” or “water moccasin”, and every wee spider a Black Widow or Brown Recluse. Yes; those of you who prefer to run your nightly jog on the vastly more dangerous, well-lit streets than the more safe and relatively deserted woodland path. And of course, the woods are filled with deadly branches over which you can trip, and trees that may fall on you.

Yes, there are certainly critters which are fully capable of causing us harm if we antagonize them, and others which realize they are still at the top of the particular food chain in which they happen to reside; other tiny beasts like mozzies and ticks give us diseases that kill us, and a surprisingly large number of folks are killed each year by wasp and bee stings. But Ms. Mercer, not unlike the folks she ridicules, still seems to think that we humans are somehow “exempt” from membership in the food chain. Here’s news to indoors-folks of both stripes: WE AIN”T!!! Get used to it. That being said, it is still exceeding rare to be attacked, much less eaten, by a Shark, Bear, or Cougar. Furthermore, Jaws is not a peer-reviewed publication on the predator-prey interactions of Great White Sharks, nor is Roald Dahl any kind of authority on the Bionomics of Crocodiles.

The rash of Alligator attacks in Florida was not a “feeding frenzy”; certainly more people each year are killed by domestic dogs. Indeed, only 6 weeks ago, I kayaked and camped a few days in ‘gator country without even seeing one. I seem to recall only one or two human deaths from cougars in perhaps the last 50 years, and the one documented “possible attack” made by a killer whale on a human does not constitute any kind of predictable and ongoing pattern of behavior. By the way, if Ms. Mercer had done her homework, she would have found that those populations of Orcas that are pelagic are much more wary of humans and may indeed be somewhat aggressive or at least unfriendly; the coastal populations seem more conditioned to humans and don’t seem to pay them much heed one way or another. Sharks will also attack and even eat people at times, but this is also quite rare. Of all the people crowding beaches all over the world, very few succumb to sharks. It is most common in Australia, and measures are taken to prevent it.

Last time I saw any stats, I think Moose were the most likely wild animal to attack and kill humans, and attacks by other cervids like Elk and White-tail deer were also common and sometimes fatal. Of course, attacks by Brown and Black bear are well-documented, but still rare. Domestic dogs kill more people; feral and domestic dogs combined claim more livestock nationwide than do wolves in their fairly restricted ranges. I also doubt one responder’s assertion that ranches in the West are belong sold because predation by wolves is driving them out of business. That may be the reason given, but I doubt that open-range cattle really fit in with the more sophisticated business models of today. Why raise relatively few cattle on thousands of acres, when feedlots and confined feeding ops are so much more productive? I suspect many of the ranchers are simply blaming wolves for their own adherence to an outmoded tradition, though I freely admit to being only slightly less ignorant about this matter than Ms. Mercer is to predator-prey relations. For what it is worth, I have no doubt wolves cause economic damage to ranchers, but these losses are probably dwarfed by the dollar amount of Damages caused by r-selected White-tail deer other parts of the country.

My job requires me to spend a great deal of my time explaining to people why it is better to use insecticides to preserve human life and health by killing mosquitoes. But I honestly would prefer to deal with some greenie-weenie, anti-pesticide nutjob, than their counterparts who fear that every crawling or slithering beast is jonesing for human flesh and will not rest from it until wiped from the face of the Earth, which will then be rendered safe for the effete, pointy-shoed shoppers and their pathetic little strip malls. AmSpec would do well to explain little things like “Relative Risk,” I am thinking.
Bradley E. Foster
Medical Entomologist

Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.’s Foner Baloney:

One can only wonder how anybody but Buchanan can get the “worst president” assessment. Buchanan let the country fall apart. Polk, who made the country larger, and Andrew Johnson, who despite his many difficulties authorized the purchase of Alaska, are worse? Prof. Foner seems to dislike “corruption” yet he would feel better if Mexico, that model of probity and efficient administration, controlled most of the Northern Hemisphere west of the Great Plains? And if Tsarist Russia later the Soviet Union had maintained a large tract in North America, just in case they ran out of space in Siberia for the Gulag?

Bush 43, who is trying to prevent oil-rich barbarian warlords from dragging the world backwards into the middle ages, and who made an effort at entitlement reform to prevent the U.S. from going the route of Argentina, is the worst of all in Prof. Foner’s view?

But Carter, who presided over the worst economic deterioration since the Great Depression and allowed an act of war against the United States to go unpunished, was okay?

Presumably Prof. Foner is reserving his highest ranking to some future president who dissolves the United States entirely. Some future inaugural address will say, “We were a naughty country. We made unsuccessful countries feel bad, so now we’re going to dismantle our distinctive features and join the ranks of the also-rans.”
Tom Gelsthorpe

Re: George H, Wittman’s Time for Pundit School:

Just a couple more terms popular with pundits (or rubes trying to sound like pundits) to throw on the trash heap of bad language:

Co-conspirator; either your a conspirator or not — what is a co-conspirator?

Irregardless; if you can’t decide between irrespective and regardless, mashing the two together doesn’t make you sound any smarter.
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Re: Norm Allen’s letter (under “Free Inquiry”) in Reader Mail’s Aiming to Appease:

Mr. Allen, if you and your friends could just stick your oars in the water and start helping the rest of us row, instead of sitting around on your collectivist duffs all day and telling us that island in the distance is just a mirage, it sure would be appreciated.
Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

Re: Mike John’s letter (under “Thanks for Nothing”) in Reader Mail’s Aiming to Appease:

Surely you know that “Language” as a perfection isn’t forced upon our daily existence. Anyone who does not accept “for free” in common usage and understanding has a limited mind. Stop hectoring us and have a few martinis or what you wish and relax. Western civilization will rise and fall on the jerk knee reactions of 20% of the American Republic, not the bugger tight reactions of Ivory Tower narrow minded intellectuals.

Re: Diane Smith’s letter (under “Cache Niche”) in Reader Mail’s Aiming to Appease:

If I can claim no other enlightenment from my years of reading The American Spectator online, at least I now have a clear understanding of the difference between a pissant and a puissant. And in typing this letter, I gained some insight to share with Diane Smith. When you type “pissant” into a Microsoft Outlook email, it automatically changes it to “puissant.” Hope this helps.
Glen Hoffing
Shamong, New Jersey

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