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Desert Leave

Re: Ben Stein’s How Was Your Weekend?:

Another great one by Ben! One request: Could Ben share the article he mentioned by the historian about terrorists paying people to “witness” crimes? Thanks!
Roger D. McKinney
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

I want to thank Ben Stein for a wonderful column. I also want to thank him for giving these three good, no, great men an opportunity in Palm Springs that they probably would have never had on a serviceman’s woefully inadequate salary. (Unfortunately, the one of the first buildings you see when you drive on to most bases and posts is the W.I.C. and food stamp application center.) As a fourteen-year U.S. Army veteran, I can greatly appreciate your thanks to these men. Your column brought tears to my eyes not only because the candor of these men concerning their jobs and families, but their willingness to face the worst and unwillingness to ask for anything in return. My first to the reaction to the early allegations was that there are always a few bad eggs. I too have become troubled about the number of accusations against our troops in recent days; it has appeared to be all too convenient. I know the matters handled under the UCMJ are quite different than those handled by our civilian justice system. However, with our knowledge that the terrorists will force people to lie and of the acts of the three suicides in Guantanamo Bay we must give these soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen the benefit of the doubt until precise conclusions can be drawn. These accused or suspected men deserve better.
Drew Evans

Ben Stein ought to come up with a new formula for his TAS articles. I think the “I’m grateful and proud that these brave Americans are fighting to preserve our frivolous lifestyles back home” theme has worn rather thin. But I guess life is good in Malibu despite the neighbors, and he knows that the people who butter his bread wouldn’t approve if he started criticizing AIPAC lobbyists, the Bush Administration, proposed constitutional amendments, or other Republican red herrings. His heartfelt lesson of the week is that terrorists are bad people who lie about American atrocities, and that the Supreme Court offers them greater protection than it does courageous Marines. Never mind that al Qaeda had little relationship to Iraq, and that the Bush Administration has inadvertently fueled a much greater Islamist radical movement than existed before. Never mind that this is an all-volunteer military which would be at his club watching fireworks with him if they could afford it. Ben Stein’s credibility might be salvageable if he actually took a trip to Baghdad, where the action is, instead of to the Roves’.
Paul Dorell
Highland Park, Illinois

Ben Stein certainly had an interesting Independence Day holiday! Wealth and celebrity are not wasted on this man.

I’d be very interested and grateful if he could share with us a link to the “long article” provided him regarding ginned up stories of American atrocities. This is the sort of thing that needs to circulated as widely as possible.

Perhaps he could send a copy to the White House, which seems to be quite content to allow soldiers accused of crimes against Iraqis to languish in irons in solitary for weeks before even seeing a lawyer. I feel very sure that Mr. Stein carries some influence with our President, who, after all, is Commander In Chief and just might be able to effect some relief for those charged. He might even oversee harsh inquisition and punishment for their tormentors. After all, just look what he did when he was made aware of some Iraqis merely being made sport of at Abu Ghraib. Maybe he’ll even promise to tear down the prison at Pendleton and replace it with a new, multi-million dollar facility to erase the shame of this debacle?

My mind reels at the possibilities! President Bush, with all the power of the executive branch at his disposal, could even employ it to bring to the attention of the Supreme Court this travesty of justice. After all, even the Supreme Court still can’t decide issues not raised before them.

I fear that our President’s store of compassion, however, may be depleted. Aside from the aforementioned Iraqi prisoners, he’s spent it most generously on behalf of our millions and millions of illegal immigrants and those of us citizens who balk at doing the jobs those brave illegals do, not to mention their billionaire employers. His troubled heart can’t seem to be reconciled to the notion of vetoing the budget busting, pork-heavy budgets sent to him by his pals in the “Republican-controlled” Congress. The milk of human kindness flows from him even to those bent on his destruction, such as the NEA. How exhausting must have been his efforts on behalf of Arab “allies” for whom he labored so tirelessly to deliver control of our nation’s ports, when cruel naysayers stubbornly questioned their record? Is it any wonder that the poor man must abandon to a harsh fate those whom he’s sent into harm’s way, even in the face of conclusions by our allies that the charges against them are likely specious?

It may be that our own President fails to read TAS. If so, we must assume that he will remain unaware of this situation unless bold action is taken.

Maybe Mr. Stein can use his presumed influence to communicate more directly with Mr. Bush and alert him to the information he’s set out here, and report back to us the President’s response? It should be worth a try, if Mr. Stein would not waste the celebrity and other blessings for which he always gives such abundant thanks. He’d face no danger of disappearing into a “pink mist.” His droll influence might be just the thing the President needs to recharge his store of compassionate energy!

Maybe there are dangers in such a course that I can’t or don’t apprehend, since I don’t live in Mr. Stein’s world. However, in light of his frequent odes in support of our troops, I see this as a great chance for him to throw himself into the breach and take the risk. I hope he will, and Tyler Jackson and his mother will be grateful.

What’s the worst that could happen?
Mark Fallert
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

I greatly appreciate your focus on our American Heroes. The mainstream media has forgotten who it is that stands on the wall and gives them the Freedom of Press that they enjoy. I enjoy each and every one of your articles that gives honor to these great men and women who wear the uniform for us all.
Paul A. Hargraves
Woodland Hills, California

Just read Ben Stein’s article “How Was Your Weekend?” I heartily agree with him. Please give us more stories about our Fighting Men and Women! Pictures included, in depth portraits showing these folks as they were before they went to war, what they achieved there and what they have been doing since returning home. Obviously these stories would have to be about people who have been home more than a couple of years to have some perspective. Give us the uplifting stories, save the sad ones for another day, please.
Yvonne Wehr
Clackamas, Oregon

I don’t care what his detractors say or what they even think, Ben Stein has it pretty well dead center when he writes. This latest column has solidified my support of the war and our troops (whom I always supported). I’m getting tired of these whiners in this nation, who whine about everything unimportant, like Ben’s example of the housing. We are fighting this war with troops available and haven’t had a draft (which I believe in). It’s too bad some of these young people who are objecting to our actions to free an oppressed people and stand them on their own two feet, haven’t paid their dues like the rest of us did when it was our turn. It must be nice to sit on your butt, fat, dumb, and happy while others sacrifice to keep you free. Thanks, Ben, for helping those warriors out. You’ve done more for our troops than any lily livered detractor out there who claims to support the troops (but not the war).
Pete Chagnon

Re: Peter Hannaford’s Those Toddlin’ Toll-Takers:

All major road construction should be required to file a “traffic impact statement” along with a plan for remediation or lessening congestion caused by the construction. This could include changing signal timing, adjusting lanes, removing tolls. It would be amazing what could be done with a little planning.

If it’s good for the environment it’s good for drivers.

Peter Hannaford describes only the proverbial tip of the iceberg in the needless congestion on Illinois highways caused by the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority. Arrogant bureaucrats, poorly thought out lane closures by engineers, and disingenuous schemes to collect ever more money from toll ways users has been the norm.

One example has been the introduction of open road tolling whereby transponders in cars allow drivers to proceed under an “electronic bridge” and thereby pay the toll without stopping. But then engineers configure the lanes so that the backup from the drivers paying cash is so long that drivers with transponders can’t get to the lanes with the open road tolling.

As another example, a “deposit” is required to get the transponder. But the process to claim the “deposit” is sufficiently burdensome and inconvenient that the “deposit” is effectively a payment, as few drivers are likely to go through the process.

And of course, there was the never-fulfilled promise that once the original toll ways were paid for, the tolls were to have been eliminated.
Jim Jastrzembski

Re: Alvin McEwen’s letter (under “Not Buying”) in Reader Mail’s Coulter Design and Robert Seidenberg’s Gay Behavior vs. Public Health:

It is Mr. McEwen’s letter, and not my article, that is full of distortions. Like so many liberals, he has no facts so he resorts to the tedious cry of “bigotry.”

Extreme promiscuity among homosexual men has been documented in numerous studies. In a recent survey of 4,295 homosexual men from six U.S. cities, published in the June 2003 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, participants reported an average seven sex partners in the previous six months; 42 percent reported 10 or more sex partners during that period; and 25 percent reported 18 or more sex partners. These numbers readily correlate with the 1978 Bell-Weinberg lifetime numbers.

I cited the 1978 Bell-Weinberg study “Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women” because it is widely regarded as a “classic” study, is an official publication of the Kinsey Institute, and is frequently quoted by liberals. (So why is it “flimsy” if I use it?) Also, it correlates with a 1983 CDC study that was a factor in the development of the deferral policy. This CDC study of early homosexual AIDS victims found that they averaged almost 1,100 lifetime partners each. Harold W. Jaffe et al., “National Case Control Study of Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Pneumocystis Carinii Pneumonia in Homosexual Men: Part 1 Epidemiological Results,” Annals of Internal Medicine 99 (2[August 1983]): 146.

While there are surveys which find lower rates of promiscuity, the numbers are still huge in comparison to the general population. For example, a 2003 survey conducted by found that approximately one-fourth of the men surveyed had had 100 or more lifetime partners. The average number among the general population is 4.

I wonder if Mr. McEwen is not being disingenuous in his purported unawareness of gay promiscuity, since the subject has been openly discussed by prominent gay writers. I challenge him to find any study of the number of sex partners among gay men which correlates with the numbers among the general population.

With regard to my use of the term “gay bowel syndrome,” Mr. McEwen’s criticism conveniently illustrates the problem I am trying to call attention to: the fact that that the biomedical establishment has been so intimidated by gay activists that they fail to issue frank warnings about the dangers of gay behaviors. “Gay bowel syndrome” is not an “antiquated term.” It was widely used from the late ’70s till the ’90s, when it was made politically incorrect (as noted in my original manuscript submitted to TAS) by agenda-driven people like Mr. McEwen. But purging the term from textbooks and journals, does nothing to change the underlying diseases — including giardiasis, amebiasis, shigellosis, and campylobacteriosis — which are still seen predominantly among gay men (hence the origin of the syndrome). Among gay men, these diseases are a result of contact with feces through anal intercourse and anal-oral contact. In the general population, these diseases usually occur only among travelers to countries with poor sanitation.

As I said in my article, the literature on the dangers of MSM behavior is massive. Just google “shigellosis MSM” (without the quote marks) and you’ll get more than 900 hits. I urge Mr. McEwen to conduct some research on his own. If he applied his energy to providing people with factual information, instead of fact-free polemics, he might help save some young men from serious illness and death.
Robert Seidenberg

Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.’s A Terrible Battle:

In reference to “A Terrible Battle” by R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., I echo the author’s comment that there are indeed quite a number of us Brits who do indeed admire the U.S., what it stands for and its eminent position in the world. We have much more in common than some observers here would lead us to believe and there are better foundations for continuing our trans-Atlantic relationship than there are in respect of pursuing ever more closer ties with a Federalist and Godless Europe. The EU — now there is a contradiction in terms if ever there was one.
Graham Constable
Oxford, England

The carnage of WWI is lost on today’s students of 20th Century history. The appalling losses due to 19th century tactics against modern weaponry was learned by Americans during the Civil War. At the Somme the British troops still “charged” at a slow walk with arms at port into machine guns and the French believed in “elan vital” (sic) as they were chewed up at Verdun. At Verdun the French Generals said, “They shall not pass,” and the Poilus said, “Neither shall we.” The Germans were no better in throwing their troops into horrendous battles with no consequence. In the end the losses hardly justified the gains. The French suffered dead and wounded to 50% of the men of military age. None of the combatants have yet fully recovered. The loss of a generation was repeated in WWII and it is still with us. At the memorials in England and Europe and on the battlefields of The Great War the sense of loss and grief remain.
Glenn Strong

Re: The Prowler’s SWIFT Deposits:

I just wish the government Justice Department would act SWIFTly and arrest those in the NY and LA Times responsible for publishing classified information essential to our war on terror. Those who disclose the information and their sources hide behind the First Amendment for activities that sound traitorous to me and many others. Must every new administration, upon taking office, purge everyone in Washington with leanings towards the opposing political party in order to stop the leaks?

It is galling to see traitors that leak and publish classified secrets receiving awards and commendations from the leftist press and politicians; what they really deserve is prosecution and incarceration.
David Smith
Pearland, Texas

Dear Mr. Prowler: What’s the difference between a communist and a terrorist? Both govern by fear. Both leave no wiggle room for those who choose to dissent. Both bait their followers with lies. President Bush gave the world an ultimatum. Either with us or against us. That is pretty easy to understand. Even for a liberal. We have a very large bunch of folks that would like to see us cut and run. They would like to see us loose. They would like to see us stay home and leave the rest of the world alone. Now I admit, some of these folks are just plain dumb. They know not the difference between good and evil, nor admit the existence of evil. But there are those who seek to undermine and destroy America. And hide behind the Constitution while they are doing it. By now people working in matters of secrecy should realize that you can’t tell Congress anything, nor the media. For they are going to tell the world.

When do we get to see traitors labeled as such? When do we get to see them executed? I am not holding my breath. We lost the stomach to execute traitors during Vietnam. Now we have lost the stomach to even label them. Or even mention the standards by which they are accused. Absolute shame.
Martin N. Tirrell
Lisbon, New Hampshire

Were you aware that hawala received a brief mention in the 9/11 report? See page 171 and its accompanying footnote on page 498, note #124. I find it a bit curious that the 9/11 commission would reference something that exposes a financial method unless it was already useless to the terrorists by the time that the report was published. I could be all wrong about the significance of this, but I thought you might like to check out what was said by the 9/11 commission and decide for yourself.
Carol Johnson

Re: Paul Beston’s Ozzie Guillen: He’s No Carlos Delgado:

What Paul Beston misses is this: Delgado can’t bring himself to honor the troops for doing their mission if he doesn’t agree with the mission. Liberal politicians can somehow claim to honor those same troops while denouncing the mission. If you ask me, Delgado has taken the high ground of intellectual honesty (whether he knows it or not), while the politicians are torturing logic and reason. He doesn’t ask to have it both ways, but the politicians do. Delgado might be rude, an arrogant ***, and not so bright, but by comparison, consistent and understandable.
Bruce Brownell
Jacksonville, Florida

Re: Christopher Holland’s letter (under “Bump the Rump Congress”) in Reader Mail’sYou Can Go Home Again:

It’s interesting that letter writer Christopher Holland, in his letter about Jed Babbin’s “In The Name Of God, Go,” today cited Churchill’s friend and cabinet minister “Leo” (actually, his full name was Leopold Amery).

For Leo Amery’s son was one John Amery, who in 1946 was hanged by the Brits for his collaboration, principally via propaganda broadcasts but also as a sort of founding father to the “British Free Corps,” with both the Nazis and Italian Fascists. John Amery’s well-known acts of treason — he was doing his broadcasts as early as spring 1942, when WWII’s European outcome remained very much in doubt — naturally embarrassed his father and caused much grief to the Churchill government for a time. Yet if Leo Amery had obeyed his own citation of Cromwell and had simply himself departed in 1940 before his odious son became a full-fledged traitor (but was in France playing a sort of involved dance with the Vichyites and their Nazi masters until they could figure out an advantageous way to utilize his fascistic politics), Churchill himself might well have even survived the 1945 election which turned his government out. The fallout from the matter was that severe. And thus the turn to satisfaction of Communism’s ever-more-ravenous demands began with the political fall of Churchill.

History in this case, at least in part, depended on the hapless actions of a true wastrel son of a cabinet minister, one whose actions also forever besmirched the entirely honorable career of his father.
Richard Szathmary
Clifton, New Jersey

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