Dangerous Liaisons

WITH ALLIES LIKE THIS
Re: Christopher Orlet’s Axis of Allies:

Christopher Orlet asked for a neologism for America’s worthless allies. Why not call them chocolate allies, because they melt and run at room temperature and can’t take any heat.
Christopher Holland

Christopher Orlet writes: “Genuine allies share goals, values, an interest in outcomes — they are those nations you can trust to get your back. Britain is such an ally, Australia, Canada, Poland too.”

I’m afraid Mr. Orlet is too optimistic. The correct name for the ally he calls “Britain” is “Tony Blair,” and once he’s gone, so will be that ally. And how much of an ally Canada is these days is open to debate.

In fact, I suspect that the only true ally we have in all this is the one nation we’re loath to have come to our aid — Israel.
Brad Bettin

Mr. Orlet asks an interesting question in his article. Should a different word be applied to those nations with which we work in a given circumstance? I would suggest, sir, that the word ally is quite sufficient for the purpose of describing our relations with nations like Pakistan, or Afghanistan, or Turkey, or Saudi Arabia, etc. One must only contemplate WWII to find a situation where one of our “allies” was cutting our throats behind our backs. Do you not know or remember the history of the relationship between Joseph Stalin and FDR, the U.S. and the Soviet Union? Winston Churchill was certainly under no illusions regarding brother Stalin.

My point is simply that an “ally” has always referred to nations that temporarily find a confluence of interests on the world stage at a given moment in history. When the national interests diverge, the allied relationship dissolves or is significantly altered. History shows that international relationships have never been permanent, and “ally” has never meant allied in regards to all things, at all times, forever. As Saint Ronald of Reagan might say, “Trust, but verify.”…
Ken Shreve

Of course this sort of double-crossing on the part of Musharraf and the Pakistanis (and for that matter, virtually all Arab nations) has been and is occurring. Such behavior is not only consistent with their religion, culture, and ethics; it is laudable according to them! Just look it up in their literature or ask any one of them. From our standpoint, conducting business, executing contracts of any kind, relying on them as allies: All are futile. This is not meant as hyperbole, but stone cold truth….
Francis Dillon

Excellent article. “Who are our real allies?” I concur with you list at the end… with one glaring exception: Japan.

And who knows..with the recent nuclear activities in North Korea, we may see the Japanese develop into a military world power again.
Jim Cadden
Endicott, New York

“Allies” is a typo. The accepted spelling is “all lies.”
David Govett
Davis, California

POUNDING OLBERMANN
Re: Jeffrey Lord ‘s Olbermann River:

Thank you Jeffery Lord. I was beginning to think I was the only person in America who witnessed Olbermann’s tirade last week, as yours is the first comment I have seen. I caught it quite accidentally. I watched in stunned amazement as a cable “news” anchor spent what appeared to be an entire segment of his show denigrating President Bush and completely butchering American History. Honest dissent in a news commentary is one thing. It is quite acceptable and promotes debate. This was nothing of the sort. While watching this demonstration, I began to feel as though I was reading a crazed left-wing blog. What does this man have to say about the representatives and senators from both parties whom voted for this bill? Nothing! What of the weeks of negotiation to obtain the bill? Nothing! It appears Mr. Olbermann believes that President Bush is absolute Monarch of the United States of America. I never thought broadcast journalism could become so deceitful. It really is no wonder the ratings for MSNBC (which I have checked) are in the tank.
–Drew Evans
Greenville, South Carolina

What a wonderful, well-reasoned article about the history of the writ of habeas corpus. But do you really think Keith Olbermann could actually understand what you have written? He is the least intelligent “talent” at MSNBC, and I include the spittle-spewing Chris Matthews in that group. Keith is valuable if only for his nightly impressions of a supercilious troglodyte. We will miss him when NBC finally pulls the plug on MSNBC for its general ineptitude. Is anyone actually watching that network?
Judy Beumler
Louisville, Kentucky

Please let Mr. Lord know that we live in a representative republic, not a democracy. Fear that day that we do.

“… I love the President but this is a democracy,…”
Randall Cox
Huntsville, Alabama

Jeffery Lord wasted more words on Olbermann than he has viewers. Why bother with an Air America reject whose ratings are measured by a show of hands? (props to Anne Coulter)
–P. Aaron Jones
Huntington Woods, Michigan

That was good.

As an amateur historian and great admirer of Abraham Lincoln I am drawn to comparisons between the present day political situation and the one that existed during the early to middle years of the Civil War.

I think the comparison between Lincoln and our current president is apropos. Both are big game players willing to sacrifice short term, politically comfortable decisions to achieve big, long-term goals. Goals in which they strongly believe. Bush’s Second Inaugural will go down as a classic, just as Lincoln’s did.

The comparison between modern day anti-war personages like Olbermann, Kennedy, Pelosi, etc. and the Civil War era Copperheads is also apropos. The analogy is so strong, it seems as if history is repeating itself.

Anyway, excellent piece.
Doug Santo
Pasadena, California

In the 1860s the majority of Democrats were patriots (McClellan, Rosecrans, Hancock, etc.). Today’s Copperheads (the majority of Democrats) aren’t. It’s that simple. That’s why in November they have to be crushed. This election is about more than who is Speaker — it is about will we fight Islamic imperialism or appease it. Republicans will do the former and you can rest assured the Democrats will do the latter.
Michael Tomlinson
Crownsville, Maryland

FORD’S FOLLY
Re: Robert VerBruggen’s Playboy Party Affiliation:

What the article failed to mention was a TV ad that Ford, Jr. had done earlier, in which he was sitting in a church, with a cross behind him, talking about how gosh-darn religious he was. When it came out that he had boogied down with the bunnies he boldly proclaimed that he had never been to the Playboy Mansion–which no one accused him of in the first place. Ultimately he fessed up to going to the Playboy Super Bowl party, but who knows, maybe he was “witnessing” to the bunnies?

All joking aside, Mr. Ford has run an extraordinarily opportunistic ad campaign in which he claims that he will remedy all the problems that were on the news the night before. Apparently the religion issue came up in a focus group, so off to the studio to do a quick ad to try to fool the rednecks that show up at the small Pentecostal and Baptist churches that are at every crossroads in Tennessee. All the while not discussing his existing record as a congressman or what is stopping him from saving the world from his current seat in congress. It must be sad to be in ones middle thirties and already be a career politician, but you know, if you fail the bar exam what else is one good for? Maybe he should run on his family’s ability to raise votes from Memphis grave yards every November election day. The power to resurrect, even for just one night every other year, could be another theme for another ad with a cross in the background–you know, go for the faith healing demographic.
D. Lewis
Nashville, Tennessee

You’ve got to forgive Harold Ford. First, rural Southern white men are the only group that it’s still always okay to stereotype and ridicule (even in ads like the one for Dodges with “Hemi” engines). Second, Harold doesn’t know that the South has changed a lot since the ’70s when Harold actually lived here.
D. Duggan

An alternative ad would have Mr. Ford finishing his attack ad in church and then walking out to meet some Playboy bunnies and driving into the sunset with them.
C. Baker

SEIGNEURY OF SARK
Re: Hal G.P. Colebatch ‘s Lament for Sark:

Another wonderful and insightful article by Mr. Colebatch. As I read the piece I found that I was not simply agreeing with the shame of it all that when something ain’t broke, it don’t need fixin’. No, I found myself saying something like “Isn’t it always the case.”

So in this tiny piece of God’s world, where the folks were relatively content with their lot in life, here comes a wealthy liberal. Now said liberal cannot stand all this peace and tranquility and contentedness. No, he or she must stir up trouble amongst the populace and change the atmospherics forever. These rich liberals simply cannot leave well enough alone, there must be conflict amongst the inhabitants.

Now let us transfer these facts and enlarge them. Let us introduce George Soros into the American way of life. Now to be fair, all Soros really did was to bring a fresh infusion of cash to the table. Our hard core Socialists were already hard at work destroying our unity as a national group. Slogans like “Diversity is our strength” and “It’s for the children” were already totally ingrained into our psyches. We already had Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, Charles Schumer, John Kerry, and more firmly ensconced in our governmental system. We already had the NEA, and AFSCME, and etc. as organizational assets available to the hard core Left. We already had Ted Turner, and Warren Buffett, and others to finance the destruction of the very programs and beliefs that created their own wealth. Finally, we already had academia to ensure that a fresh supply of foot soldiers and ideologues for the cause would be trained and turned out on a continuous assembly line basis.

I have never been able to fathom why an at peace with itself (or relatively so) society is so intolerable to the wealthy limousine liberals? Why must they have constant conflict and enmity within a particular society for them to be happy? They invariably swear fealty to an anti-war philosophy, but they also invariable incite wars within the society at issue, instead of between different societies/nations as seems the natural course. Maybe I am wrong, but I cannot think of a single intra-societal conflict brought on by “the poor”, or “the disadvantaged.” Even the Russian and French revolutions were brought on by elements of the upper middle class denizens, in the name of the common folk, but not by the common folk.

I implore you, Mr. Colebatch, to tell us why folks like the Barclay brothers or George Soros feel this irresistible need to inject a violent Nor’easter onto a placid sea.
Ken Shreve

I am embarrassed to admit that I did not know that Sark still existed.

I am not embarrassed to express my sadness that this peaceful place may be no more.

A wonderfully written farewell.
John Bryk

FLAGS OF IWO JIMA (cont.)
Re: Yale Kramer’s The View From Mt. Suribachi and the “Flags of Iwo Jima” letters in Reader Mail’s Heroism Now and Then :

I am so thankful for this article. When this movie came out and the NYT loved it, I knew something was wrong! Thanks for saving me eight bucks and a lot of frustration.

With gratitude,
Margee Riggle

Thank you very much for publishing Yale Kramer’s spot-on analysis of what’s wrong with “Flags of Our Fathers.” I’m particularly pleased that he emphasized the positive role of the war bond drives in stopping the specter of inflation in WWII America.

Those who are familiar with the aftermath of World War I will remember how the specter of hyperinflation destroyed the postwar Weimar German economy and helped create a climate suitable for the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party. By preventing inflation from taking hold, the US Treasury helped prevent a repeat of the German experience and helped pave the way for the prosperity of the late 1940’s and beyond.

‘They also serve’ who keep the money supply sane – but in Clint Eastwood’s world of victims (the soldiers) and villains (the US government), there is no credit given for this vital work.
Mark Edward Soper
Evansville, Indiana

I saw the movie last weekend. My father was a WWII vet, and I literally have read more volumes (literally hundreds) than anyone I know. The one thing about the movie that I had a problem with was the way the portrayed the purpose of the bond drive. They claimed the government was just about out of money, and could not pay for all the bullets, bombs, bandages, etc. I have never seen any reference to this in anything I had ever seen or read. It made it sound like we were near economic collapse! I knew this had to be baloney. How could the U.S. be the economic and military superpower at the end of the war, when we were supposedly broke in early 1945? That was propaganda.

Of course it showed Ira Hayes as a truly troubled individual, but there were a lot of veterans of that war who had nightmares for years afterwards. Not all the vets who did have nightmares self destructed like Ira Hayes did. A sad story, but not typical. Audie Murphy was the first well-known vet to have combat nightmares, but he did not self-destruct as did Hayes. If you ever read The Old Breed by Eugene Sledge, he too had nightmares. However, he found that as he wrote down his dreams, and authored a book in the process, it was therapeutical. What did he do? After the war he led a productive life as a college professor. The list could go on and on with people who did not self-destruct.

I, for one cannot put myself in Ira Hayes place, but the point is, the majority of the vets had productive post war lives. I had a former neighbor who saw lots of action as a member of the 82nd Airborne. He had a full productive life, and raised 7 children in the process. I read the book Iwo Jima, by Bill Ross years ago. I never had the impression that Ross, who was on Iwo, was anything but a productive member of society.

My father told me about fifteen or so years ago how he was not on the battlefields of Europe. When my father entered the service, he was given the standardized tests that they gave to all new inductees to the U.S. Army. He was selected to go into the Army Air Corps, based partially on the fact that he had two years machining experience as a civilian. He was than selected for the ASTP (Army Specialized Training Program). In 1943 during the buildup for D-Day, these schools were eliminated. He and many others like him, were transferred to the infantry. One day the his first sergeant said he wanted to see several individuals after morning mess call. The first sergeant wanted to know if he went over his head when he first joined his unit. My father said no, he simply stated his qualifications for the record. His qualifications included training at three different factories that specialized in the manufacture of propellers. The first sergeant was satisfied with his reply. However, there were pilot trainees, who were as little as two weeks away from getting their wings. The irony is in the fact that there was a surplus of pilots, and a shortage of propeller mechanics! From there he went to Tampa, than to Oklahoma City, and eventually to an air base in India. I asked him how soon his unit was from shipping out to England? His reply, one week! How is that for fate! His unit would eventually be part of Patton’s Third Army.

I did have one comment as we exited the theatre. I just wish films like this, and others (Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers) would have been made in the ’70s or ’80s. Maybe then the members of the greatest generation were still alive so the baby boomer generation could have seen what these vets did for our country. Maybe if these vets would have been able to share their experiences this would have been the case. Given what they went through, no one can blame them for not sharing these experiences, but far too many people have no idea what they did for us!
Dave Vascek
Cleveland, Ohio

It’s always amazing to me how many people will agree with a book or movie review without bothering to read the book or watch the movie. Mr. Kramer certainly knows how to strike at raw nerves.

Personally, I think Kramer writes about wartime heroism like a man who has never been shot at or shot back, and I think I’ll see the movie and decide for myself if his take is one I with which I agree. As for your readers who are so exercised about it, I suggest lightening up a bit and avoiding those urges to get bent out of shape over Hollywood films or TV, especially when we aren’t going to bother watching. It’s just entertainment, a way for some people to wile away a few hours and for others to make a buck more or less honestly. I can look back at my own life and discern numerous life changing-events, none of them involving movies or TV shows, though one or another may have been reported on TV or been reflected in movies. It seems to me there is a big difference between the one and the other that is good to keep in mind.
David Sciacchitano
McLean, Virginia

CHECK YOUR EVOLUTIONIST’S ID
Re: Logan Paul Gage’s Best Explanations:

I recently read a number of critiques of intelligent design. Most were attempts to refute the concept of irreducible complexity which Michael Behe popularized in his book Darwin’s Black Box. One by one naturalists proffered what they considered to be reasonable alternative explanations for the existence of biological systems which ID scientists maintain could not function if any of their component parts were missing. Most of them claimed that these systems in their incomplete stages served other useful purposes prior to their assimilation into one of these molecular machines. All these “scientific” narratives had one thing in common — they were based solely upon the conjecture of the author, no empirical evidence for their existence was ever cited. Not a single unambiguous example was given to augment their arguments. It was really quite entertaining to read what these defenders of naturalism concocted as explanations in their efforts to plug the holes in their beloved theory. Without exception these renowned scientists criticized ID because they maintain it is not science, yet the best they can come up with to counter ID’s claims are speculative stories about how the evolution of these systems conceivably could happen?

Perhaps these exercises in wishful thinking satisfy those committed to preserving the reigning orthodoxy, but the rest of us need a better explanation. An unwavering faith in the random forces of nature alone does not provide sufficient proof that the incredible complexity evident in the world around us happened by chance. It is time evolutionists are held to the same standard they demand from those who do not equate science with their dogmatic belief in naturalism. We require more substantiation than that. A good starting place would be to provide step-by-step documentation of any ongoing process within a now living organism capable of producing a complex system without the input of an intelligent agent. Please include actual samples from within the same family of organisms that exhibit the necessary intermediate characteristics. Also, cite evidence that these modifications satisfy the requirements imposed upon them by natural selection, namely, that they enhance the creature’s chance at survival in future generations. We will no longer accept specious circular arguments that begin by declaring that because naturalism is true, complexity must have evolved.
Rick Arand
Lee’s Summit, Missouri

GIVING POLLUTION CREDIT
Re: G. Tracy Mehan, III’s These Lands Are Your Lands:

Pollution credits by any other name are still a tax. They may be the kinder and gentler version of taxes. The process can still be abused. I would be interested in hearing from the author about a similar attempt to control carbon dioxide. One estimate puts the incremental cost of electricity at the generation station to be 40%. Is there still flexibility at such high fractions of costs? If the primary benefit of the pollution credit becomes permission from the government to exist, then the balance between costs and benefits may be weighed on false scales.

I suspect that environmentalist versus environmentalist clashes to become more common in the future. For instance They want more cargo carried by trains but they don’t want that cargo to be coal, gravel, chemicals and clear-cut timber. Without the bulk cargos and the revenue streams they produce, the trains are not economically self-sustaining. Eventually failing to decide means that the market will make the decision for them.
Danny L. Newton
Cookeville, Tennessee

RUSH TO BLAME BUSH
Re: Faith McDonnell’s Blaming Bush for Darfur and Kelly Cleaver’s letter (under “Gotta Have Faith”) in Reader Mail’s Heroism Now and Then :

I get irritated every time I see those ads because that is what they are doing: blaming Bush for Darfur. Is everything the fault and responsibility of the United States? Cleaver states: “the United States actually has an immense amount of power, more than any other country in the world.” Now, that might be true, however, what does she propose we do? It was the Bush administration who got the African Union soldiers in there to do what little they can. Does she suggest we use our military power to invade another country while we are in the middle of two wars and once again let the rest of the world get off the hook?

The fact is, we are one country, and the only one, apparently, with any moral values whatsoever. Unfortunately, we can only do so much. We are already providing hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to help those fleeing the country. The U.S. has made illegal any transactions with the Sudanese and has frozen their bank accounts here. The U.S. is leading the way to get a NATO force into Sudan to support the African Union forces, but the Sudanese are blocking that force, which shows you how worthless it is to do anything through the U.N.

From Bush’s September 19 speech at the U.N. to the people of Darfur: “The Security Council has approved a resolution that would transform the African Union force into a blue-helmeted force that is larger and more robust. To increase its strength and effectiveness, NATO nations should provide logistics and other support. The regime in Khartoum is stopping the deployment of this force. If the Sudanese government does not approve this peacekeeping force quickly, the United Nations must act. Your lives and the credibility of the United Nations is at stake. So today I’m announcing that I’m naming a Presidential Special Envoy — former USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios — to lead America’s efforts to resolve the outstanding disputes and help bring peace to your land.”

Bush is working the diplomatic channels, which is rather like herding cats. Why is it when the U.S. does something in its own interests (invading Afghanistan and Iraq, which was also in those countries’ interests), we must get the approval of every nation on earth in order to legitimize it, but when some decide that the “world must act” to fix a problem, they really mean “the U.S. must act.”

This president has had more on his plate in the past six years than any other president since Truman and FDR, so you really should cut him some slack. And, yes, you are blaming him. Where were you when Clinton was watching the genocide in Rwanda during this country’s holiday from history? And, as Faith McDonnell says, the genocide in Sudan has been going on for decades. Why are you now coming out of the woodwork when this administration is the only one that’s done anything about this problem?

It’s clear that Bush is doing everything he can right now, but the rest of the world is either totally irresponsible or coming apart at the seams. Is that Bush’s fault too?
Deborah Durkee
Marietta, Georgia

GETTING BURNED
Re: Quin Hillyer’s Coming Home to the GOP? and Mark Fallert’s letter (under “The Crystal Ball”) in Reader Mail’s Heroism Now and Then

It is clear from Mr. Mark Fallert’s letter that he has been, as they say in the current vernacular, “dissed” by Bush and the Republicans and by God, he’s not going to take it anymore. No sir, Mr. Fallert is going to show them. He’s going to punish his less than perfect allies in the Republican Party, by subjecting himself and the rest of us to his version of hell. Mr. Fallert tells us that two years of Democrat control will not only be relatively harmless, but will have an additional “remedial” effect on those wayward conservatives. Unfortunately, Mr. Fallert and those who share his disfranchisement forget that they are not mere spectators in the reversed gladiatorial battle Mr. Fallert hopes to witness over the next two years in Washington. What has gotten lost in the anger and sense of betrayal is that we, the folks in fly over country, will be the ultimate losers here, not the pols in Washington. If John Conyers becomes head of the House Judiciary Committee, sure, the current Republican chair will have been taught a lesson; but tell me Mr. Fallert, will Conyers’ impeachment quest of President Bush really assuage your pain? Will Speaker Pelosi, with the help of John Murtha, as they pull the rug out from under our troops and send Iraq into chaos, make you feel more safe in Pittsburgh? Is voting for Bob Casey over Senator Santorum, or not voting at all, really going to be your proudest moment two years from now? You say that the “Republicans need to have their feet held to the fire”, Oh, but Mr. Fallert, it is you and I and the rest of the country that will have gotten burned if you and others like you continue on your present course of action.
A. DiPentima

A VOTER’S WOE

Oh woe is me, oh woe, oh woe.
To vote or not, I just don’t know.
To stay at home would really show
Those idiots in Washington where to go.

But go they would, then where would I be?
Between ‘”you know who” and the deep blue sea,
Swimming upstream helplessly,
The world going “you know where” speedily.

I can’t be Pelosied. I won’t be out-Foxed.
I will not let the country I love be boxed
Into a corner by the muling bleats
Who’d sell “you know what” for some nice new suites.

I may fuss with Republicans. I can always find
Fault with each one, but I’ve set my mind
On the larger picture, won’t see us in tatters.
On November 7th I’ll vote for what matters.
Mimi Evans Winship

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