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On-Site Experience

Re: Peter Hannaford’s Borat the Soft Bigot:

At best, Kazakhstan is a very backward place. I work in Kazakhstan and saw very little indicating any movement toward democracy. This is shown by the housing riots in Almaty that were put down Soviet style (as was reported by the Economist and elsewhere). Recently there was a major oilfield riot where thousands of Kazakh workers attacked all of the Turks on site resulting in over 300 injuries requiring medical attention. Very many of those injured had to be evacuated back to Turkey to get adequate medical care. One of the injured was in a coma for several weeks afterward and at least one other was sodomized with scaffold pipe. This made the Turkish national news and was shown on the news for many days afterward. In the weeks following the Kazakh workers then went about intimidating the Indian and Filipino workers, resulting it half of them leaving. The Kazakhstan police have shown minimal interest in catching and punishing any of the workers responsible.

Kazakhstan has two cities that are reasonably presentable; Astana and Almaty. Other than in these two cities Kazakhstan is a backward place and is not dramatically more advanced than suggested by Borat. Kazakhstan President Nazerbayev was not initially a “good sport” about Borat and called for him to be censored in the free world, much as it would be in Kazakhstan and is in Russia.

I am withholding my name because I intend to continue to work here. Because of the terrible conditions salaries are good.
Name Withheld

Thank you for your article about the real Kazakhstan. I lived and worked there for a year and found it to be a very remarkable country with deep and rich heritage. The people are friendly and not backward as Borat portrays them. I was fortunate to be able to travel across the country and see the wide diversity from modern cities like Almaty and Astana to rural hamlets where life is still slow and colorful. Most American do not know that Kazakhstan is home to the Russian space center. The native food is delicious and is centered on meat, especially horse meat and lamb. I do find it appalling that a British Jewish comedian (who lives in California) decides to ridicule and make fun of a nation which has more culture and sense of pride than he will ever have.
Ron Hallmark
Banner Elk, North Carolina

Let me the first to say this:

The Emperor Borat Has No Pants.

There, I’ve said it and I’m glad.

Borat is nasty, which is different from funny, or at least once upon a time it was.

Perhaps this could be called a Garden of Eden Moment: when the collective congregation takes a good look and, despite the utter terror of Being Different, says “Hey guys, we’re nekkid!”

Or, since I have never thought Borat or anyone like him was funny, let me say “Hey guys, y’all are nekkid!”
Kate Shaw
Fully Clothed and Not Amused in Toronto

Re: Mark Tooley’s Lutherans and Mighty Fortresses:

While your contributor is a bit more nuanced, your headline lumps all Lutherans together. I was a pastor of the ELCA until about seven years ago when I could no longer square my ordination vows with the apostasy which the ELCA expected of me. I served as a pastor in a German parish for six years right on the border to East Germany. I could see East Germany from my living room window. I too am appalled by the statements of those who hijacked a church which had nourished my faith. There are many Lutherans who in good Lutheran manner do not confuse a Marxist political agenda with the mandate to preach and rightly distinguish between Law and Gospel. This is one Lutheran who saw the fence which divided Germany for the barbarity it was. I also see the Israeli fence as an attempt to humanely preserve a semblance of civility in the Middle East. Other Lutherans and I refer to the ELCA as ***A since it is no longer evangelical, Lutheran, or a church. Please don’t lump us together with our persecutors.
Michael Zamzow

I suppose most denominations have the same thing: a general disconnect between the average believer in the pew and the leadership at headquarters far away. Indeed, while the average Lutheran is more concerned with his parish, the milieu of the ELCA leadership is at the university level where they cruise with the leadership of other denominations as well as breathe in all the enthusiasms and vapors that occupy the minds of higher education. Nothing is so embarrassing as having your denomination out of step with the latest bells and whistles of your cohorts.

As such we are bombarded with the high, almost mystical imperative to promote pathways of simultaneous peace and justice. No one explains what this is to look like. Moreover, there is little recognition that, this side of the Day of the Lord, we often can have either peace or you can have justice; but not both. For when we talk about justice, we should ask ourselves just how much can we afford? We really aren’t prepared for the costs of radical justice among us. Justice is a jealous bitch-goddess that unleashes the hounds of war and demands misery, suffering, and rivers of blood.

There is also unrecognized the long record of failure in the promotion of “peace”. There is an over weaning faith in the “broken telephone” theory of human conflict which believes that the peoples of the world just don’t dialogue enough. If they just sat down, talk and listen to each other, all would be well. The fact is most people hear each other pretty well already and it is not helping things at all.

Lastly, one deeply suspects that if Israel for one adopted all the measures the ELCA advocates and Israel ceased to exist our enlightened leaderships would not be bothered at all. This is why a bus could blow up inside Israel killing any number of innocent people and there is no mention of it in the church organs. But the fact that a young boy or girl simply can’t step over the border and buy a pack of gum because of the wall is the cause of great outrage and hand wringing. It seems the cost of peace in blood is of little importance. One would think Lutherans of all people would think three or four times before they issue any criticism of the Jews. The shadow of Hitler and the “camps” has not left Lutherans to this day. They would do well to mind their tongue and keep their counsel to themselves.
Michael Dooley
Indianapolis, Indiana

Two things to understand about Lutherans and the ELCA:

1) Lutherans are Congregational creatures. This means that while the ELCA exists as a organizational structure, it does not have the authority to proclaim dogma on binding on its members. I as a Lutheran through prayerful reflection can find my own path to God and do not need a church to act as intermediary – kinda why we had a Reformation;

2) The ELCA does not have a Bishop of Jerusalem — it is the Evangelical Lutheran Church of AMERICA. There is no Munib A. Younan rostered in the ELCA.

Further, any conference in Berlin would most likely be conducted with the EKD (Evangelische Kirche Deutschlands — Lutheran Church of Germany) which is a notoriously liberal organization. Thus, don’t be fooled if liberal result occurs.

Lutherans as a faith group (vs. as an organization) do have a tradition of opposing totalitarianism — it was our faith group that spawned Bonhoeffer and Niemoeller.

I agree that the ELCA tends to me liberal but many of its members are not. We are faithful believers who work hard and pray for God’s love to shine. And many, like myself, support border enforcement.
Charles Garman
Omaha, Nebraska

Re: Lawrence Henry’s Holiday Dinner Reconsidered:

Holiday Dinner Reconsidered? Lawrence Henry has removed the “glut” from “gluttony” and we are left with a very tony sounding menu, completely devoid of anything to give thanks for. If his turkey stuffing is gluey, he’s got the wrong recipe, or is taking “stuffing” too literally — it doesn’t mean packing.

Also, you start out with bread “crumbs,” you are going to wind up with soggy, wet crumbs.

After his entire family has turned on him for that Mexican rice dish substitute, he would be well advised to look to a good Southern stuffing recipe.

As for his backing off starch — rice is a starch, plantains are starch and sugar peas, too.
Diane Smith
South San Francisco CA

Congratulations on trying something new for the holidays. I also have done that on occasion. I found this recipe for a very light and delicious cranberry relish… it’s great and deserves a try. Very simple to make.

2 bags fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup grand marnier liq.
1 orange zested and juiced (perhaps a little more juice)

Process all items together until a fine chop. Let sit at room temp at least 30 minutes. I think you’ll love it… enjoy.

A fan for quite a while now, keep up the good work.
Gene Hauber
Meshoppen, Pennsylvania

So rice is better in the meat juice?

I think not.
Phyllis Boyko

Re: Philip Klein’s Deadly Foes:

I have not read John Mueller’s book, but based on the title and the quote provided by Mr. Klein, I believe that can safely say that Mr. Mueller is a complete fool.

To equate the threat faced by the radical Islamists with the Cold War is either naive or willfully ignorant. Neither choice is flattering. Despite the many obvious dangers posed by Soviet communism, we could still rely on the Soviets to offer a rational response based to a crisis based on self-preservation. The Soviets wanted to conquer the world for Communism, but they didn’t want to die while trying to do so; this cannot be said of our current foes, who have proven time and time again that they are more than happy to kill themselves (and their victims) in the name of their religion.

The fact that Iran possesses a military that is miniscule compared to that of Nazi Germany, as discussed by Fareed Zakaria in Newsweek is also absurd, and utterly irrelevant. A nuclear-armed Iran is far more dangerous than Hitler ever was because Hitler never got the bomb. To imagine that a Iran would ever be a reliable member of “the nuclear club” is a dangerous pipe-dream that must not be allowed to happen.

Yes, these Islamists are pernicious, deadly foes, but they can be defeated. Unfortunately, their complete, utter defeat (and it must be “complete”) may not be attainable unless this nation recaptures the character and determination that allowed us to crush the world’s two mightiest armies between 1941-1945. If three-thousand dead Americans on 9/11 was not enough to stir our passions and sober our view of this dangerous enemy, what will? Must we suffer a nuclear disaster before people like Mr. Mueller and Mr. Zakaria realize the true nature of our current enemy?

I fear the answer.
Gavin Valle
Peapack, New Jersey

Philip Klein notes that, “al-Qaeda may have limited resources, but it still managed to kill 3,000 civilians on American soil — something neither Nazi Germany, nor the Soviet Union, managed to do.” He might have also mentioned that Imperial Japan was likewise unsuccessful.

Of course, when this nation was faced with those threats, it responded with vigorous and effective countermeasures, including, of course, close monitoring of the borders and resident aliens. Indeed, Japanese-Americans were interned. It’s worth noting that all of that was accomplished without the need of decimating the Bill of Rights across the board, or in the case of the Soviet Union, mounting an invasion and taking Moscow.

By contrast, at least some of the 9-11 hijackers were known to be here and engaged in suspicious activities, but the Keystone Kops intelligence bureaucracy was dismissive, at best, about that intelligence. Our delicate sensibilities can no longer seem to tolerate hurting the self esteem or bogus “rights” of our millions of illegal alien residents to the point that they can collect government benefits and drivers’ licenses without serious fear of consequences.

The merger of political correctness and national security is a schizophrenic thing. We spend enormous amounts of blood and money thrashing around in Iraq, while as much as inviting terrorists to set up shop right here. Mr. Klein seems scornful of our “old defensive strategy of fighting terrorism.” He wrongly associates that strategy with “increasing frequency, boldness, and sophistication” of terrorist attacks.

No, the defensive strategy worked quite well, as witnessed by the reference to the lack of success experienced by the Germans, Soviets and Japanese. It was only when the solid core of that technique was eaten away by the absurd influence of political correctness in its many guises that terrorists gained a foothold here. Unless and until we regain our will to protect ourselves, and illegal aliens be damned, there will be no real security, and I don’t care how many grandmas are strip searched at the airport.
Mark Fallert
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Philip Klein writes of an “increasingly popular reaction … that the Iraq War is unwinnable … that America must disengage from the conflict … that fighting terrorism is not worth the cost.” With keen insight he also notes “the debate over the last few years has been about when to withdraw from Iraq rather than how we can adapt our tactics to more effectively fight an asymmetric threat.”

It is not our FORCES that are bogged down in Iraq, it is our RHETORIC.

In this context I would respectfully suggest there IS a road to both peace AND victory in the region. This road goes through Damascus and Tehran. To journey down this road will take fortitude, credibility, persistence and resolve. The first step in the journey is to open a back channel to both Syria and Iran. This will be used to inform executive decision makers in each country — quietly — what is headed their way.

Syrian political leaders must be made to understand that U.S. — and possibly additional coalition forces — intend to make armed incursions through Syria into the Bekaa Valley, especially Baalbek, for the purpose of eradicating the foreign policy instrument of Iran lodged there, Hizbollah. If Syrian leaders balk, they will be given 96 hours to evacuate Damascus before it is leveled by way of hinting it is unwise to hinder a nation who early on adopted a battle flag that said “Don’t tread on me” just before taking on the best army in the world 230 years ago.

Iran’s cat’s-paw in Iraq, Muqtada al-Sadr, as well as the politico-religious leaders in Tehran must be given to understand that a series of air strikes is in the works. A modest number of carrier launched sorties flown against vulnerable targets at such sites as Bandar Abbas could readily eliminate Iran’s ability to recover, process, transport and ship crude oil. We might even gently suggest that their days as a functional member of OPEC are numbered — and the number may well be in single digits — if they do not quickly come to their senses and realize where their true self interest lies. The U.S. would also have to give an advance, back-channel heads up to Japan and the EU so that their contingency plans for scarcity of petroleum derivatives can be dusted off. If Iran persists in thwarting the democratization of Iraq and thumbing a nose at Uncle Sam, they may soon find Persian carpets their only exportable commodity. Iranians must be given to understand we Americans are a patient and generous people, but not endlessly so.

With a determined and finely tuned application of U.S. force concentrated in time and space, wisdom and enlightenment may yet bloom in the desert, some long needed tranquility prevail, our troops now in Iraq return home in triumph as legendary peace makers … and we can NEXT turn our attention to the antics of the last remaining member of the axis of evil in Northeast Asia and its Gilbert & Sullivan comic opera “dear leader”.

It might help to keep an old ditty in mind as a reminder we need to WIN this war comprehensively, one step at a time: “Yard by yard, life is hard. Inch by inch it’s a cinch.”

We CAN do this if we WILL do this.

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.

Thomas E. Stuart
Public School Teacher
Kapa’au, Hawaii

Blue state liberals principally congregate in the cities. Red state conservatives principally congregate in rural areas. Blue state liberals are going to prevail and violate the first rule of a boxer, and will drop their guard. Blue state liberals are asking for it, and they are going to get it, right smack in the kisser. Conservatives who live in the cities or nearby suburban areas who do not desire to endure the same smack in the kisser should leave those cities and nearby suburban areas, a la Lot and his family (and don’t look back).

Most people understand, after just once touching a flame, that touching a flame is a bad idea, not to be repeated. Blue state liberals have a congenital incapacity to learn that lesson. Since there is no way to enlighten these people, the only rational alternative is to leave them to their fate.

Move to the country. Upwind. Soon.
Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey

Re: Carol Platt Liebau’s Bad Girls Go Out:

Well said, Ms. Liebau. I would venture to add the following:

Men gained the most from the sexual revolution when looked at in the larger perspective. That is, even though young women can, for a period of time in their lives, use a kind of sexual power, in the end their very promiscuity will ruin them. Look at the statistics. Women suffer more disease, more poverty, more unintended pregnancies, raise more children alone and generally end up used, abused and discarded more often now than in the good old days of sexual morality. Some men are quick to blame women for the state of things today — and they are right. But young women today are masculinized. After constantly hearing people complain about men being emasculated and feminized no one talks about our girls being conditioned to act like men. Our society has completely devalued femininity. We want our women to kickbox, dress in black leather and shoot submachine guns in the movies. We want them to have careers and make lots of money. We want them to eschew motherhood for more rewarding pursuits. No wants to be “just a mom.” After all, the world values masculine accomplishments and does not comprehend the special gifts of womanhood.

It’s a losing battle (ultimately) as the woman grows older she will have a tough life to sort out. Her male confreres, however, will bumble through their young and reckless years, as men have always done, and somehow end up on the other side of them just fine.

Thank the playboys of the world that cheap sex, easy abortion and slutty women are all celebrated. Keep going to the strip clubs, guys. Meanwhile, watch as your daughters begin to emulate what it is that they think is most highly prized.
N. Peralta

Re: G. Tracy Mehan’s Charlie Rangel Wants to Draft My Daughters:

Respectively, men are needed just as much to have those vibrant families of which Mr. Mehan speaks.

The potential conscription of women became inevitable with the unchallenged rise of radical feminism. Its adherents wanted to act like men, be men — well, welcome to the club. Perhaps we should speak with the Israelis about the drafting of virtually all young men and women into the IDF. In it, women serve in about 80% of the positions and can volunteer for combat units.

As for mothers in uniform, a little more than a decade ago, I did work as an engineering consultant for the Air Force’s Air Combat Command at Minot AFB, Minot, N.D. In-processing there the first day, I had an opportunity to chat with a senior airman — actually, senior airwoman — who told me she was being sent to Turkey soon thereafter. Her little child, meanwhile, was heading to grandparents. The woman seemed distraught, said she didn’t want to leave her child at home. Heartbreaking as that was to hear and visualize — and it was — I couldn’t help but think, “You volunteered. Didn’t you understand your obligation? Didn’t you understand that you might be separated?”
C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia

Re: Jorge Amador’s Lopez Obrador’s Election Fraud:

“The irony of Lopez Obrador’s claims of fraud is that they are themselves fraudulent. Starting on the very night of the election, AMLO has issued a steady barrage of charges, each of which has been proven false or groundless, only to be replaced by further and more ludicrous allegations. Yet incessant repetition of such assertions about nonexistent shenanigans has kept his supporters in sustained angry mode, undermining confidence in the country’s democratic institutions among broad swaths of Mexican society.”

Does that not sound like the Democratic Party today? Like a typical Bush-hatred-obsessed Democrat talking about how Bush or any other Republican got “selected” (think, say, Howard Dean, John Kerry, or whichever Dem Party functionary gets selected to trot out the accusations of Republican voter suppression attempts a month before every primary and election)?

This year, several American Democrats in the media suggested that if the Democrats didn’t win a Congressional majority, it would be ipso facto proof of Republican electoral fraud, and it would justify violent action to take back the country. Al Gore didn’t take to the barricades. But his month-long legal siege and coup attempt is what made Obrador’s persisting attempt possible and, in fact, inevitable. Leftists worldwide emulate Gore’s “count every vote” putsches.
David Stewart
Auburn Hills, Michigan

Re: W. James Antle III’s Marital Problems:

I am a resident of Arizona. Prop 107’s defeat was not because it banned same-sex marriage but because it also would have banned domestic partnership benefits (even heterosexual):

“…Arizona State University analyst Bruce Merrill told Reuters that in rejecting the ban in Arizona, voters were more likely showing disapproval of outlawing domestic partnership benefits, rather than implicitly approving gay marriage.”
Sedona, Arizona

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