THE TWO AMERICAS
Re: The American Spectator:
I read the articles each day on TAS but it’s the letters that I enjoy most. It’s good to see the differing viewpoints to some of the articles and it gives me something to ponder about also. Of course, I have my own distinct opinions about things but ever once in a while, a letter or two will make a point that will change that opinion some. This give and take, this edifying of points, this open discussion of issues, is what gives us the edge over the liberals every time, because we don’t indulge in profane name calling or end of the world histrionics, but logical, spirited, representation of fact backed with opinion. This is true democracy in action and the real meaning of freedom of the press.
— Pete Chagnon
Mine is but one opinion, but wow, do your writers ever offer their own. For a group that consistently paints the left as a bunch of whining crybabies, I can’t believe the nonsense I have read on your website. For years conservatives have accused the press at large of being of liberal persuasion and non-objective. At least you all are blatant in your lack of objectivity. Good to see you all are making great strides in bringing back respectability to the press.
— Gustavo Lizarranga
Finally, someone notices our campaign to put the “opinion” back in “opinion magazine.”
STILL CLINTON’S CIA
Re: Jed Babbin’s Val for DCI:
The CIA’s real problem is that it has become a political organization wrapped up in policy concerns that are not its mission. The CIA’s mission is to provide intelligence to the Executive branch so that the president can make policy. Bill Clinton and most Democrats believe every organization within their grasp should be political and answer to them. The Clinton administration appointed political loyalists to the State Department, Defense Department, and the CIA, as well as those agencies that are expected to be political. The result is that the CIA wound up with a bunch of political operatives who are now more interested in getting Democrats back into power than doing their job of providing intelligence. President Bush was forced to move his intelligence account away from the CIA whom he could no longer trust, to the new National Intelligence Organization headed by Ambassador Negroponte (Director of National Intelligence). He wants Air Force General Hayden to be the new CIA chief because he wants to continue cleaning out the politicos in the CIA. Porter Goss was moving too quickly, creating stories in the mainstream media unbecoming to the administration before the 2006 elections.
The general is not only competent and an expert, but he knows the proper role for the CIA. President Bush respects military officers, as their more than 200 years of loyalty to the country and respect for the Constitution demands. In contrast, President and Mrs. Clinton thought the military had great uniforms and could be useful as waiters in the White House. Mr. Babbin used the wrong adjective, Praetorians, to describe CIA brass. He should have said Democrat activists.
— Howard Lohmuller
Mr. Babbin is too kind. It is very definitely already too late to save CIA. The agency ought to be treated like the brain tumor it has become. Inoperable, perhaps, but surely the thing’s blood supply can be routed around it, with the budgetary equivalent of grafts, to new and healthy organs. Bypass surgery. Since we cannot, I’m told, fire the mandarins, let’s at least not feed them new acolytes. Let CIA die a natural death, out to pasture and counting clover.
DoD is doing what it has to do to prosecute the war, but let’s not get comfortable with a Defense monopoly on the serious work of intelligence. Our military is wise and good, but its perspective is, necessarily and peculiarly, military. Competition is a good thing for intel as for nearly everything else – there’s some blessing here from the inter-service rivalry within the Pentagon, but a vital civilian intelligence service, one that is actually on our side, is essential.
After all, we are not Spartans.
— Paul Kotik
Sadly for this country, your article and analysis is right on target. Since 9/11, we have watched as our government created new layers of bureaucracy to “enhance our security.” We have the new Director of National Intelligence, and the Department of Homeland Security.
Both these new creations have done nothing more than create new bureaucracies where finger pointing and a new circle of blame ensures that, if something really bad happens, no individual or agency will ever really be found responsible.
Net result: This is a country which won’t even protect its own borders, can’t spy on its enemies, and can’t rebuild the World Trade Center in less than a generation. The transcontinental railroad was built in less than three years, and the Empire State Building in a little over a year.
The military gets criticized for holding enemies of the country in a POW facility in another country, according them full Geneva Convention rights, instead of shooting them as out of uniform partisans, as allowed under the convention. Now, Bush wants to be rid of Guantanamo, thinking it is causing a problem. He has been reluctant to initiate trials by military tribunal, with the guilty being swiftly executed.
When will this country get the leadership it needs to defend itself? Will it ever? Are such leaders willing to step forward? Would the country elect them if they did step forward?
Those in power in Washington are not serious about protecting the country. Furthermore, it’s not going to happen in my lifetime. Our leaders are calculating, politically correct cowards, when brave men are needed. If this country had such politically correct leaders in 1776, the country would have never been born.
Color me nauseated and disgusted.
— R. Goodson
Vero Beach, Florida
Once again, Jed tells it like it is. I thought that the game was truly lost when Porter Goss did not get the DNI post. Instead, Bush gave it to Negroponte, the very epitome of the bureaucratic Praetorians. Another good man is now a casualty of the bureaucratic wars and the timidity of their leader, George Bush.
Once again, at the end of the article, Jed brings attention to the fact that the Emperor is buck nekkid. Perhaps Jed could give us a good, tightly reasoned, logical article delineating how and why Bush so often comes up with just exactly the wrong appointments and then, not only stands by them, but gives them awards and medals. Has there ever been an administration that has reached such a high point as this one did on and immediately after 9/11, and such a low point on virtually everything else? Even the so-called War on Terror decisions coming out of the White House have been suspect ever since that stupid, egotistical aircraft carrier speech.
Our Southwestern border is not a border — it is a sluiceway to accelerate the intake of terrorists, drugs, and violent gang members. Thank you, George Bush.
AZETLAN FOREVER — VIVA LA RECONQUISTA!!!
— Ken Shreve
From reading Jed Babbin’s article: “Val for DCI,” we’re reminded of the Libertarian Party’s motto: “No matter who you vote for, the government gets elected.” In this case, whatever “reforms” Congress claims to legislate, it simply creates more government to buttress rather than root out the lackluster, or inept bureaucracies congress attempted to do away with.
Why is it that no one in government service simply gets fired for being worthless or harmful anymore?
Yeah, it is hopeless.
— P. Aaron Jones
If the CIA is a dysfunctional organization, then perhaps a new 12-step program is in order. Maybe we could get our country’s Big Book — that is, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence — to its members for a fresh review.
And maybe the need to come to the realization of Step Two is that, indeed, there is a power greater than them. It has many names: president, Congress, citizenry.
For certain, though, if they don’t have the best interests of us and our security in their hearts and minds, then we’d best replace them with some group that does.
Easier said than done, I know, but we’ve got to stop pussyfooting around and exercise some meaningful, immediate control over what appears to be an insulated group whose ego jeopardizes national security.
— C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia
I fear George W. Bush is not a capable leader. A strong president wouldn’t allow these battles to occur under his watch. The CIA should be surrounded by the military and put on lockdown. Every employee should be interrogated and if found to be bureaucratic pinheads protecting their turf instead of protecting the country they should be prosecuted for treason and, if convicted, shot.
Then drive over to the State Department and wave at them. They’ll get the message.
I’m afraid our country is doomed and our enemy comes from within. It is definitely “us.”
— Greg Barnard
THE STANDARDS OF HYANNISPORT
Re: Enemy Central’s Resigned to Mediocrity:
I often wonder, if John and Robert had lived longer, would they have become drunken buffoons like the rest of the Kennedy’s.
— Jack Hughes
I had to laugh when I read this about Patrick Kennedy, “I think he wants more than anything to earn his father’s respect.” Gosh to get that he would have to drive off a bridge and leave a woman to drown.
— Elaine Kyle
It is surely legitimate to consider how a man who cannot remember getting out of his bed, leaving his house and driving his car into a collision near the Capitol, has suddenly been able to recall that a female friend, who happened to be at his apartment on the night of the incident, unsuccessfully attempted to dissuade said man from leaving the apartment in the first place. Of course, if this man happened to be an elected congressman, one can but wonder why said female was not sufficiently alarmed or concerned to accompany said man on his somnambulant journey, or even alert appropriate authority or first responders.
Of course, in fairness, if I am invited to accept the freely offered admission that the poor man has for many years suffered from clinical depression and addiction to prescription drugs, and who has previously and (self evidently) unsuccessfully sought rehabilitation, I must conclude, as one who also battled and subsequently overcame depression, that said man is probably not mentally or morally competent to occupy a seat in Congress.
— Albert Ross
Oxford, North Carolina
“We think John Kerry should resign — he really never has explained why he chose to celebrate Christmas in Cambodia, a country that does not even observe the holiday.”
Nor has Kerry made good on his twice-repeated pledge to Tim Russert on Meet The Press some 18 months ago to sign DOD Form 214 authorizing the release of all of his military records. On that program, Kerry not only pledged to do it, but to do so within a few weeks’ time. We’re still waiting.
— Chuck Vail
NOT FOR THEIR EARS
Re: Patrick O’Hannigan’s Teach Your Children Well:
In the middle 1950s in our two-room rural school two hours outside New York City, we sang a version of “La Cucaracha” that would cause modern Helicopter Mommies to drop dead in their Birkenstocks.
“La Cucaracha, La Cucaracha, ya no puede caminar; porque no tiene/porque le falta/marijuana que fumar!” For those of you who have been living on Mars, that means, “The poor Cockroach can’t walk, because he has no marijuana to smoke.”
I have no idea what that poor cucaracha is doing in the wilds of elementary music, if he’s even permitted inside the door these days, but I bet it has nothing at all to do with smoking pot.
— Kate Shaw
Re: The Prowler’s Pelosi Bluster:
The GOP better darn well hope that Steny Hoyer does not take over for Pelosi after the upcoming elections, because he would be an immediate serious upgrade to the Dem leadership. He actually is ’bout half smart and more than half effective. Personally, I credit Pelosi with maintaining the GOP majority in the House despite the serial blunders by the stupid party.
— Ken Shreve
Despite the hallelujah chorus in the media that Democrats might retake Congress in 2006 the orgasms may be premature. Why? The Democrats are still Democrats with a simple agenda in 2006 — raise taxes, stall the economy, surrender to terrorists in Iraq, return to a 9/11 national security mind set, civil liberties for terrorists, immediate citizenship for illegal aliens, unionized national health care, homosexual sodomy equated as marriage, abortion on demand safeguarded in federal law, Bill Clinton’s face on Mount Rushmore and impeach President Bush. That’s my interpretation of the Democrat agenda, plain and simple.
— Michael Tomlinson
Here’s a conspiratorial thought:
Democrats win a majority in the House and Senate in 2006. Pelosi cranks up the impeachment machinery going after the President (“Bush lied and people died”) and VP Cheney (stooge of the oil companies). Democrats, being such independent thinkers, vote impeachment to a member, and the new president would be… House Speaker NANCY PELOSI!! Take that Hillary!
BETTER THIS CREW THAN THE LAST
Re: Lawrence Henry’s Rumsfeld and the Generals:
What is the body count right now? Very sad when good people die.
I watch Atlanta news. Several times a week a good person dies from gunfire: a baby asleep in a house, a bystander, and sometimes a person is in a car going about his business when he is T-boned by an idiot. He dies anyway. Just wandering around Atlanta appears to be much more dangerous that Iraq and it is only one city in a large country of many cities.
What are the numbers for people being killed in car wrecks while we pile up stats about this war, what are the number of people killed by a member of his/her own family? We need to keep these figures in perspective. This war is going ok. It ain’t great, but what war is? Leaders have to make quick decisions and don’t have the luxury of hindsight.
I was a Republican, now a Libertarian, but still am glad we have Bush instead of what the Dems keep putting up as presidential material. And the sad thing is that there are good, honest, leaders in the Democratic Party. They just can’t get near the top to get elected. What principle is it that you sink to the lowest common denominator? I may have that wrong but that is what I see in the Dems. I am so glad they were not in power on 9/11.
The author slights two major issues that are also factors here. Firstly, it must be realized that to sacrifice a broad range of military capabilities for the universal adoption of any one single capability is dangerous folly. In this case, it is the creation of light, highly mobile military geared to spec-ops — at the expense of other functions, i.e., “colonial policing,” and the ability to fight a protracted, intense conflict along the lines of a world war. Issues pertaining to the organic animosity between elite spec-ops troops and the conventional armies are so old as to be just another fact of life to be dealt with; The Regular British Army was notoriously antagonistic to the existence of units like Ferguson’s Rifles and the 95th Rifle regiments of the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as units of colonials and irregulars, up until about the time of the Great War. For the U.S., this goes at least as far back as the days of the Union Army in our own war against rebel treason. It is perhaps even a necessary antagonism, provided it is not permitted to be destructive or obstructive.
Secondly, by definition any political appointee, whether SecDef, FEMA director, or lowly local public works director, is without exception, a hapless dilettante. This honest, well-meaning dabbler or sinister poseur has one of three general options in how he/she decides to lead and manage. 1) Recognize his shortcomings and honestly assess his own strengths/weaknesses, and listen to the expertise within the ranks that he has access to. From this, he can use his own insights and arcane knowledge to logically synthesize cogent policy. 2) Realize his ignorance and defer to the whims and opinions of his underlings who possess their own arcane knowledge, exhibiting weak leadership, and refusing to look to other sources of knowledge or apply his own ideas/insights in an objective fashion. 3) Refuse to consider the intelligence or talents of his underlings, dismissing them as careerists and bureaucrats who are to be loathed and abused at every turn. Some actually believe in their own infallibility and superiority, others simply fear the expertise and knowledge of those underlings. A small matter, really, as the end result is the same. Usually, the political appointees who choose the latter course of action are really not good at anything but self-promotion, which is what got them where they are.
I do not know which of these categories best fits Rumsfeld; only history will tell. Media spin often obscures such warts-and-all portrayals to all but those who work in the agencies under such appointed heads. I do not think it is very becoming of the generals to criticize the SecDef as they have done, but us honest conservatives should not unconditionally assume that Rumsfeld, or any other appointed official, is necessarily a brilliant or even competent manager in every respect. History may well reveal him to be the intellectual heir to Robert McNamara. Somehow, I don’t think that will ever be said about Caspar Weinberger.
— Bradley E. Foster
OVER THE FLAG
Re: David Holman’s There He Goes Again:
As a Yankee son of the South I stopped waving the Confederate flag years ago. I’m just old enough to remember Jim Crow, as a child I rode the bus from Manhattan to Virginia throughout the ’60s and saw many things that left me uneasy.
I know the Stars and Bars. I used to display it beneath Old Glory on Flag Day. But now that I have an African American niece, a beautiful child who I can’t imagine hurting, I no longer display a symbol interpreted by many among us as an insult. It’s just a flag, no more. And as a true southern gentleman I was raised to respect the feelings of other people.
The Stars and Bars mean many things to me, but my feelings for my family of Americans mean more.
Let it go.
— M. Andreasen
A UNION JOB
Re: Eric Peters’s The Sky Is the Limit:
Back when Saturn was just starting and the ground was being broken in Spring Hill, Tennessee (35 miles south of Nashville), GM contracted the hotel in Nashville I work at to house and transport the hundreds of new dealers coming from all over the country for training. This program lasted months during and after the factory was built.
In the beginning Saturn was “a new kind of car company” and General Motors was quite specific and strict with us that no mention of GM be seen or heard. We were to exclusively use the Saturn logo on all of our correspondence with the dealers.
The local newspapers and broadcast stations were inundated with Saturn propaganda. You see, they were going to things totally different than any car company before them. They made promises, dealers were spending money on new facilities and the people of Spring Hill were ready for the scripted booming of their economy with all those new jobs. Saturn promised new schools, parks and infrastructure to help the city absorb those coming to the area to supply the factory. The new Saturn cars were to be inexpensive, in the $11-12K range, and they’d offer just two or three models.
Then the UAW flexed their muscle. You see, Tennessee is a right-to-work state and unions don’t go well with our workers and GM was trying to take advantage of this. They lost the battle unlike Nissan (they build the majority of their cars sold in the United States just east of Nashville). Instead of a “new kind of car company,” the same old unionized model was instead installed. All those promised local jobs were gone and filled with union workers coming from Flint and Detroit. Sure, they bought homes and sent their kids to the schools, but the numbers of jobs talked about never materialized. Neither did those supply companies bother to show up in Spring Hill.
Then the actual product was marketed and built and that $11-12K simple car was gone and the price tag was closer to $15K in the end. Sales were slow so they started changing models. They must have had, what, a dozen different cars since inception?
General Motors is too big and too unionized and too bureaucratic to have pulled off a “new kind of car company.” It was all hype to start and ended up in nothing but broken promises. But those I know being “laid off” are getting huge severance and attrition packages and will stay living in the area instead of going back North.
— Greg Barnard
WORTH 39 CENTS
Re: Larry Thornberry’s Listed For Life:
I have an even better use for the return postage that the RNC and the other associated committees put on the letters they send me and want returned. Tear the corner off the return envelope and throw the rest of the package in the trash. Soak the envelop corner in water for a couple of minutes until the stamps come loose. Then take a glue stick to the back of the stamp and apply it to the envelope for the next bill I have to pay. That way the RNC saves me postage costs for mail I do have to send.
The USPS doesn’t care who paid for the stamp. All they want to ensure is they have been paid in advance.
— David C. Waltz
BACK TO VIETNAM
Re: Jason Strakes’s letter (“Film Historiography”) in Reader Mail’s Demographic Desires:
Jason Strakes gives us no basis to judge his background and expertise on the history of the Vietnam War, (not even his location). This does not stop him from making sweeping statements that apparently in his mind can not be contradicted, such as: “…commentators will engage in the avoidance or distortion of historical fact in order to promote the assertion that such anti-war activities caused the American public to malign Vietnam veterans as “war criminals.”
I was called a baby killer and spit on by “protesters” at the airport in Seattle upon my return, most were very young around 16-17. This “protest” was covered intensely by the local media who made it clear I had it coming. I was threatened with arrest if I responded. These youths and I use the term loosely, were responding to the same media reporting. The same is happening today with those coming back from the sand box. History repeats.
Winter Soldier was a total farce that even John Kerry tries to hide from today, witness his attempts to censor his own book and not allow it to be published including threats of legal action against those that reprint copies. However as Jason seems to think it is/was true then why is he (Kerry) not been put on trial as the war criminal he admitted he was? Or Hanoi Jane…oh never mind…
“…conventional scholarly interpretations of the war” Done by whom? Oh them.
Jason needs to read the scholarly interpretations being done by the retired generals of the North, who among other things thank people like Jason for saving them from total defeat at the last minute. They (the generals) admit that had not Kennedy and Kerry stopped all aid to the South after Tet they would have lost the war as the vast bulk of their fighting forces had been destroyed. They (now) have the honesty to admit that they lost on the battle field but won the media war in the U.S. No bones made about it, deal with it!
As to a kindler and gentler government in time of total war, this type of reasoning is only viable to those who have never been there and those who are “pacifists behind the guns of the fleet.” My opinion, for what its worth, is Iraq is a replay of Vietnam if we allow the media to program the population for defeat as it successful did 30 years ago. It is THE main factor in the return to pre 9/11 thinking in the US as we try and fight WW III and survive.
Jason needs to walk away from “conventional scholarly interpretations” and maybe talk to some of us who lived it.
— Craig Sarver
Behind Enemy Lines, Seattle, Washington
In regards to the (I’m assuming here) Ph.D. chemist Stanley Leavy’s letter to your site on May 4:
Just to be generous I’m going to assume that Dr. Leavy’s chemistry degree was accomplished in some new field, i.e., neo-alchemism or some such, and that he may have just forgotton his roots — you know, about the periodic table, umm, and carbon monoxide (CO) being a different compound (molecule) from carbon dioxide CO2).
People kill themselves in their garages with auto exhaust due to carbon monoxide poisoning. (Oh, and the occasional fire-arm that jumps off the table and starts firing.) CO is a by-product of combustion and not any type of product for a good oxidation reaction.
Dr. Leavy may have since learned this, and this would explain why he has not had the inclination or ability to answer the responses in May 5 Spectator.org reader mail from his hospital bed (they usually have high-speed wireless these days, but not at the morgue, so maybe it’s 50-50 we’ll get a response.)
Anyhoo, I liked your other readers’ experimental suggestions for Dr. Leavy. Get well soon, Dr. Leavy (not talking about the carbon monoxide here) — you, sir, are the Carl Sagan of the chemistry world. We love you, man!
— Jimmy Antley
WORK IN PERSPECTIVE
Re: Ben Stein’s Greetings From Rancho Mirage:
Thank you for your article, “Greetings From Rancho Mirage.” It means a lot to service members to see things like this and helps remind us why we do what we do.
— GySgt. Wilner, A.J.