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Earthy Language

Re: Doug Powers’s Al Gore’s Hot Flick:

Having written of liberal “acumen that can only be acquired by earning a Master’s Degree in tarantula dentistry,” Doug Powers admonishes, “Global warming? Sorry, Al, but I demand a recount, and from someone with weather, rather than political, experience.”

A similar thought struck me some years before Al penned Earth in the Balance or rather typed up the copious notes his Clintonista muse, EPA Administrator Browning, provided. My illustrious Harvard classmate, then Senator from Tennessee, materialized, as was his wont, in the closing hour of the last day of a climate modeling seminar at Virginia Tech, to tell us what was to be done, albeit he hadn’t bothered to actually attend the argumentative event. So here for the benefit of Mr. Powers and his readers is a link to text inspired in part by Al’s performance in the Early Formative Period of the Climate Wars, an epoch so remote that rising global temperatures had scarcely dried the ink of Ronald Reagan’s signature upon The Montreal Convention. (It appeared originally in the National Interest.)

I hope it may cast some light on Mr. Powers’ novel hypothesis as to the experiential relevance of tarantula dentistry to modeling radiational forcing of climate change. Though no master of that black art (I mean tarantula dentistry), I have witnessed an operation, ably performed.

Raising my gaze from a Pipil Maya potsherd embedded in the edge of a test pit at a Honduras archaeological site, I saw a fine pair of Mandibles working sideways in indignation, but before I could utter a word of apology, there came a swishing noise followed by a metallic clank. It came from the surgically sharp machete of Solomon Rodriquez, the preeminent tarantula orthodontist of Roatan, whose combined cleft palate and lobotomy procedure must be ranked as a milestone in painless tarantula dentistry. I unqualifiedly recommend Sr. Rodriquez and both halves of his patient as Assistant Climatologists of Tennessee in the event Al’s untimely return to high office places them in range of his patronage.
Russell Seitz
Cambridge, Massachusetts

I need to bill you for a new monitor because I kept spewing coffee all over it and it fritzed out (just kidding). Thank you for not only the truth, but the humor that presented the truth.

I believe in cleaning up after ourselves, but I also believe that God made this earth too well for it to be thrown into a tantrum over a few gaseous episodes, some spills or hairspray.

Thank you for the good laugh.
Anastasia Mather
Staten Island, New York

This reminds me of The Hellstrom Chronicle. I laughed when the narrator’s voice started shaking with emotion (when I wasn’t cringing at all the creepy bugs that were going to take over the planet). I thought to myself, “This guy’s unbelievable! He’s about to cry!” Anyway, great column.
Eileen Jarrett
Cave Creek, Arizona

Doug Powers didn’t mention another great moment in Global Warming Hysteria. I forget the year, but I recall Al Gore giving a speech on global warming in Manhattan on the same day that it was subzero outside and the wind chill factor on Broadway was in the -40s. The good folks who came to hear him and drove their Yugos were encountered with frozen engine blocks and dead batteries at the conclusion of the speech.
Daniel McNamee
Somerville, New Jersey

Re. G. Tracy Mehan, III’s Have a Sunny Earth Day:

I agree with G. Tracey Mehan, III’s “sunny” attitude towards the environment in the United States. The data clearly show that no country in the world can match our improvement in the environment along with our population and economic growth. The only way the United States cannot be placed at the top of the environmental efficacy list is to make carbon dioxide a pollutant. Carbon dioxide is no more a pollutant than is oxygen. Oxygen is necessary for (almost) all animal life on the planet, and carbon dioxide is needed for (almost) all plants to survive. Both gases exist in equilibrium, and the earth’s biomass controls the ratio between these two life-sustaining gases. Analysis of air bubbles trapped in amber has shown that both gases naturally deviate fairly widely compared to any deviations we have seen in the 100 years. If earth can maintain this “delicate” balance of life-sustaining oxygen / carbon dioxide ratios for hundreds of millions of years, despite catastrophes far worse than man’s tendency to burn fossil fuels for energy (such as giant asteroids and massive volcanic eruptions), then I am not going to get too worried about it.

When speaking to the Mother Earth crowd, we can just say that Gaia is very powerful, and she will take care of us. There are enough burdens in our daily lives, we do not need to have and “Atlas complex” — the weight of the world is not on our shoulders. For this you can thank Mother Earth, Gaia, or God’s great wisdom — take your pick. Or you can say that earth’s balance of life, even though it is just an accident created by random chance in an incomprehensively gigantic universe, is very powerful and stable. Don’t worry, be happy. Life is good. Enjoy it while you can…and if you’re feeling depressed, hang out with optimists — they are a lot more fun.
Mike Spencer
Midland, Michigan

Re: Shawn Macomber’s Mighty Mitt Romney:

Religion has little or nothing to do with Mitt Romney’s run, unless it will sway the substantial Mormon vote within the Republican Party to vote for him on merely religious grounds. That doesn’t seem too likely. LDS voters seem to be as inclined as anyone else to vote based on a range of issues. I wish people would quit bringing it up. We are better than that sort of religious bigotry, now. (Aren’t we?)

Mitt Romney is one of the worst possible candidates to even consider for POTUS. Why?

He is a Northeastern (adopted but the there is little stretch from Soviet Socialist Michigan to the People’s Republic of Massachusetts) RINO. Well, maybe a better term would be: Yankee Establishment Republican (YER). YERs differ from RINOs only slightly. YERs will usually vote pretty loyally on a bare majority of Republican issues. Don’t push them, too hard, but they are nowhere near as perfidious as RINOs.

YERs are generally socially “moderate” meaning they ignore the abortion issue, tend to make excuses for idiotic theories like global warming, and generally try to stay away from most controversy. Fiscally they believe in “responsibility.” This means that they will raise taxes instead of cut the budget to balance the books. The do, however, insist that the books be balanced. YERs are very used to being the minority, and are very good at begging for table scraps from their Democrat “betters.” Their operative phrases are “Yes, but…” and “No, but…” in that order.

In short they are socially mushy, tax-raising “Not Democrats.”

The Republican Party cannot afford to nominate a YER to the ticket in 2008. Frankly, YERs should remain a regional oddity of the Blue states. When they start showing up in the Red regions of the country, Blue stains appear. Romney should not be taken as a serious candidate for the Presidency. But the chattering class, being fed by the Blue state table scraps will continue to tout him as the new “Golden Boy.” Mitt can run for Senate against Ted “The Swimmer” Kennedy. Anything there would be an improvement.
John W. Schneider, III
Bristow, Virginia

Shawn Macomber’s column touting the presidential aspirations of Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was delusional.

The Washington, D.C. conservative weekly Human Events included Romney in its Top Ten list of RINOs (Republicans in Name Only), ranking him at number 8 in the nation with the following entry:

Has said, “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country.” Supports (homosexual) civil unions and stringent gun laws. After visiting Houston, he criticized the city’s aesthetics, saying, “This is what happens when you don’t have zoning.”

Romney should have ranked even higher on the list of RINOs. He famously likes to tell conservative audiences in Iowa and South Carolina that being a conservative Republican in Massachusetts is like being a cattle rancher at a vegetarian convention.

I attended last fall’s GOP conference in Michigan, where Romney continued his masquerade as a “conservative,” even daring to tell the assembled activists: “I am pro-life” — knowing full well that he does not mean by that term what those listening would think he meant.

Romney’s ten-year political career has occurred from his late 40s to his late 50s, yet he asks conservatives to naively believe that he’s just now in the “formative” years when he’s still figuring out his core beliefs.

During that decade, he has insistently supported legal abortion-on-demand: “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I have since the time when my Mom took that position when she ran in 1970 as a U.S. Senate candidate. I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years that we should sustain and support it, and I sustain and support that law and the right of a woman to make that choice.”

Not surprisingly, this clear pro-abortion position earned him the endorsement of the pro-abortion Republican Majority for Choice PAC.

He was also endorsed by the homosexual “Log Cabin Republicans,” twice.

He believes the Boy Scouts should allow openly homosexual Scoutmasters: “I feel that all people should be allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation.”

He endorsed Ted Kennedy’s federal “gay rights” legislation. He endorses taxpayer-financed same-sex benefits for the homosexual partners of state employees, even attacking some Democratic legislators for not supporting such benefits.

According to the Associated Press, he has appointed at least two openly homosexual lawyers to state judgeships, one a board member of the Lesbian & Gay Bar Association. Imagine how that will fly in Republican presidential primaries in the South, the prospect of a president with a record of appointing homosexual activists to the court.

In 2002, he denounced a proposed state Marriage Protection Amendment prohibiting homosexual marriage, civil unions, or same-sex public employee benefits as “too extreme,” after being advised by the media that his own wife and son had just signed a petition to place it on the ballot.

These days, Romney travels to Iowa and Michigan and South Carolina to claim he’s “pro-life” and brag about fighting homosexual marriage, saying that at age 58, his position on such issues has suddenly “evolved.”

It’s my experience that pro-family voters reject the theory of evolution. Especially when the evolution is conveniently timed to produce political benefit.

Social conservatives won’t vote against Romney because of his faith. Social conservatives — including, and perhaps especially, his fellow Mormons — will vote against him because of his pro-abortion, pro-homosexual record.

Gov. Romney can tell all the cattle-rancher-at-a-vegetarian-convention jokes he wants about Massachusetts. But they’re going to fall flat when social conservatives learn — and they will — that his record on abortion and homosexual activists’ political agenda is that of Vegetarian in Chief.
Gary Glenn, President
American Family Association of Michigan

Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.’s The American Circus:

R. Emmett Tyrrell’s onslaught against animal advocates is nothing less than mendacious hyperbole typical of the knee jerk tactics taken by those not in the know. As one who is in the know, but who promotes education not confrontation, I am saddened that you completely distort the plight of animals in entertainment, laboratories and factory farms. In the words of Joseph Welch who railed against another arrogant bully, “have you no sense of decency?” I would be happy to invite Mr. Tyrrell to lunch sometime to have an intelligent conversation on the subject of unnecessary animal suffering at the hands of man. I’m sure his heart is somewhere to be found if he can get his poison pen to cool down.
Gary Kaskel, president
United Action for Animals
New York, New York
P.S. Suggested reading: Dominion by fellow political conservative Matthew Scully

Loved your article on PETA and circus animals. I have pet tigers but I also help with training tigers for FERCOS magic shows and yes, we all love our animals, they are our babies, we often think of them as our friends that just happen to be tigers.

Animal in entertainment have great life with lots of enrichment and love. They don’t want to sit bored in cages with nothing to do. They thrive on human interaction and having a “job to do.” Some trainers still take their retired animals on the road with them as the animals love their old routine.
Zuzana Kukol
Las Vegas, Nevada

R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is so caught up in his own jaundiced rhetoric he’s not recognizing that the world is leaving him behind (“The American Circus,” April 20). Informed people are making their opposition to the cruel treatment of animals widely known, by staying away from animal circuses in droves and speaking out unequivocally against testing on animals.

The number of animal-free circuses has exploded in the past decade, a clear indication that most people no longer support whipping and beating animals and keeping them in chains and tiny cages solely so they can be used in traveling shows.

When PETA released footage of animals being slapped, choked, thrown, and being left to die in a Covance laboratory, our phones rang off the hook from outraged people wanting to take action. Countless caring consumers have made the permanent switch to household and personal care products that aren’t dripped into the eyes of immobilized rabbits or forced down the throats of mice. As Dr. Joshua Lederberg, Nobel laureate in medicine, stated in 1981, “It is simply not possible with all the animals in the world to go through chemicals in the blind way we have at the present time, and reach credible conclusions about the hazards to human health.”

Readers can visit and and decide if they include themselves in Mr. Tyrrell’s “sensible” world.
Jennifer O’Connor
Staff Writer
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
Norfolk, Virginia

My husband and I have lived in a rural area of Virginia for that last 12 years and one of the most upsetting things I first noticed when we moved here was the way hunters keep their hunting dogs. Mainly beagles and blue tick hounds are kept in pens for 50 weeks out of the year, only to be let out during deer and rabbit season for 2 weeks. The dogs are not loved or treated with respect. Some are not fed on a regular basis and are so thin when they are let out that it’s no wonder they will run the deer right into gunfire. Herds need to be thinned out, but the dogs could be treated in a much more humane fashion.
Stephanie Ruff

Re: Charles G. Kels’ Generals Behaving Badly:

The kerfuffle over the back-stabbing, ankle-biting retired flag officers who want Rumsfeld’s head on a pike recalls an experience from my time at the Pentagon, and for several years afterward as a fairly senior consultant. For the better part of a decade, I and others had attempted to improve force structuring and logistic planning. Both are highly complex subjects on their own, but each is made more difficult when they are divorced from one another. In those days, there was too little cross-coordination. In large part, that was why the build-up to the first Gulf war took so long. Operational planners had to wait for the logisticians and the force providers (the independent services) got their ducks in order. But, I digress.

A particularly galling incident was when a retired four-star general published an opinion piece in the Washington Post within weeks after hanging up his stars. He had been in critical decision-making positions since 1980, when he got his first star. On the army staff all the way up through his Joint Chiefs appointment to his four-star command, he opposed nearly every recommendation we made as simply “unworkable.” His typical modus operandi was to pat people on their backs throughout long and tedious staffing projects, only to recommend “No Action” to his superiors.

Imagine my surprise, and that of the scores of people I had worked with throughout the years, when his article appeared! His was an invective against no one in particular, rather; his complaints were scatter bombs against the whole system — a system he had the power to change, if he’d only used it instead of subverting it. Each and every point he raised was one of ours that he had vetoed in his previous incarnations. I must have talked to dozens of guys over the next few weeks calling me and asking, “Can you believe this idiot?” We all agreed, “What a shame, but the good thing is that it did bring us all together again.”

Update: Flag Officers. Much is made of Supreme Court appointments, but too little attention is paid to senior appointments within the military services. The “hissy-fit” generals are all Clinton appointees, as was Wesley Clark, who had to be removed by SecDef Cohen, because he had Napoleonic delusions of grandeur in the Balkans. Most of the Clinton military appointees needed to be expunged, because they were accomplices in the “Era of Great Neglect.” It’s a miracle that we have both Rumsfeld and Cheney to bring the generals back in line, get the most out of them, and to assert civilian control. Yet one more reason to oppose any appeaser for the CINC job.

From My Undisclosed Location,
I Remain,
Truly Yours,

While I disagree with the whole premise of the article, I would like respond to the following part of the article:

One of the more surreal moments of the 2004 presidential campaign came when retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, then a candidate vying for the Democratic nomination, derided Sen. John Kerry for only having attained the rank of lieutenant while serving in the Navy. Kerry responded to the rank-pulling in an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes, calling Clark “dismissive of lieutenants, who bleed a lot in wars.” What he could have added is that privates, corporals, and specialists bleed even more.”

That is totally false. General Clark made no such statement. Following the Iowa caucuses in which Kerry and Edwards placed first and second, respectively (Clark did not run in Iowa) General Clark was interviewed by Larry King who also had as a guest Senator Bob Dole. After Mr. King finished his interview he asked Senator Dole if he wanted to say anything: Here is the exchange:

KING: General Clark, we have another veteran with us tonight, Senator Robert Dole. You may know Senator Dole.

CLARK: Hello, Senator.

KING: Bob, do you have a question for the General?

DOLE: No, I think, you know, it’s a tough — you indicated it’s a tough business you’re in. Looking at it from my perspective, it seemed to me that John Kerry is a big winner tonight, not just in Iowa but also New Hampshire. I know you can’t worry about Kerry’s campaign but just as an observer I think he’s going to benefit a great deal in New Hampshire. Somebody has to lose. Now, of course, you don’t want it to be you but I think it may be you.

CLARK: Senator, let’s be honest about this thing. The American people want a change in leadership. They’re looking for a candidate that can lead on all of the issues. I’m the only person in this race who has ever done foreign policy and I know all of the domestic issues, too. It’s one thing to talk about it, but if you think of foreign policy it’s like major league baseball. I’m the only person who has ever played it and I pitch a 95 mile an hour fastball. I’ve negotiated peace agreements, I’ve won a war. I’m prepared to help the country that’s why I’m running. I’m not worried about John Kerry or anybody else.

DOLE: We’re not — we’re discussing here as friends but I think just politically you just became a colonel instead of a general…

CLARK: Well, I don’t think that’s at all — Senator, with all due respect, he’s a lieutenant and I’m a general. You got to get your facts on this. He was a lieutenant in Vietnam. I’ve done all of the big leadership. I respect John Kerry and I like him but what I’m going to say it’s up to the voters of New Hampshire, South Carolina, New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma, all across this country, and that’s what democracy is about. It’s your job to handicap the race. It’s my job to go out here and do the best thing I can do for the United States of America and that’s what I’m going to do.

I watched this exchange on CNN and at no time was General Clark disrespectful in how he responded to Senator Dole or in referring to Senator Kerry. Senator Dole being a veteran should have known better than to make that kind of a disrespectful comment to General Clark. It was obvious from the beginning that Senator Dole was trying to provoke him. His remarks were taken totally out of context and perpetuated by the media.

The remarks as to who bleeds the most (is this really necessary???) during wartime are reminiscent again of Bob Dole who said the following re John Kerry:

Three Purple Hearts and never bled, that I know of. They’re such superficial wounds. Three Purple Hearts and you’re out. I think Senator Kerry needs to talk about his Senate record, which is pretty thin. That’s probably why he’s talking bout his war record, which is pretty confused.”

In a 1988 campaign-trail autobiography, here’s how Dole described the incident that earned him his first Purple Heart:

As we approached the enemy, there was a brief exchange of gunfire. I took a grenade in hand, pulled the pin, and tossed it in the direction of the farmhouse. It wasn’t a very good pitch (remember, I was used to catching passes, not throwing them). In the darkness, the grenade must have struck a tree and bounced off. It exploded nearby, sending a sliver of metal into my leg — the sort of injury the Army patched up with Mercurochrome and a Purple Heart.”

For your information, General Clark shed his own blood (I hope it was red enough for Senator Dole) while serving as a Captain in Vietnam. After all, he wasn’t born a General.
Irene West

Re: Ben Stein’s Greetings From Rancho Mirage:

Thank you from a mother whose son is graduating next week from Ft. Benning, GA. It is one thing for we parents to be proud of our servicemen but public recognition in the face of all we see on television news casts is always appreciated.
Mary Holmes

Thank you, Mr. Stein, for supporting our military. I am a military wife of 14 years, my husband is getting ready to go to his 5th tour in a combat zone, and we would have it no other way. Our only regret is the time lost together with each other and our precious children. Knowing Americans are mindful of our sacrifices and ever-praying for our well-being makes it easier. Keep voicing your support for those in uniform. May God bless you and may God bless America!!
Jen Owens

Amazing how few people get it. Thank you for the thoughts and encouragement! It’s our honor and privilege.
Craig Taylor
Capt, USAF, US Central Command

This is nothing more than a note of thanks. As a military member you develop a tough skin when it comes to dealing with the public at large, because criticism is much more common than praise. As one of my favorite poems “The Final Inspection” puts it, “…they [people] never wanted me around, except to calm their fears.”

It is uplifting to hear someone speak in a manner that says that you understand, that what we do is important, that you are praying for us, and thankful for what we do.

In your column you asked, “Do you know that if you never do another thing in your lives, you will always still be heroes?” The true answer, from my perspective at least, is “no.” All throughout history it has fallen to the few to protect the many. There has always been people one have stepped forward, and said “This is what I am meant to do.” That is all I am, a simple man, doing what I was meant to do, to defend the ones I love.

I don’t expect everyone to understand why I do what I do, I don’t understand it all myself. All I truly know is that it must be done, and I must be there to do it. The perspective was put simply by Edmund Burke, “All evil needs to thrive, is for good men to do nothing.”

Again, I thank you for your support and for your prayers.

(I must ask one thing. You will notice I did not sign this letter. Regulations prevent me from making statements without the approval of Public Affairs. Although I have not said anything offensive or untrue, I can’t say that my words reflect the sentiments of my entire branch of service or the military as a whole; therefore, if you want to print this I ask that my e-mail address not be printed. Thank you.)

I just wanted to say thank you. I am a Nurse in the Army and you email is very touching. Thank you again
CPT Seghorn

My husband is an officer in the United States Air Force. He works in the space and missile field so is not as deploy-able as others. There is a chance that he will go and fight. I would like to know why I had to read this in an e-mail. Every time I read a magazine or watch TV there is some idiot (Jane Fonda) faking an intellect bashing the war, bashing our President, always saying, “Pray for our troops.” I wish I could have seen Ben Stein on TV saying this or read this on the front page of a newspaper. I commend him and wish more people had his views. Thank you, Mr. Stein
J. Schraeder
Vandenberg Air Force Base

My name is Rick Courtney and I am a Disabled Vet who was medically retired in 2002. Like you I am a writer but not for any magazine — I put my feelings into songs and a lot of them are for our vets- I have attached a song called “Fight On American Soldier” that deals with exactly what you wrote about in this article.

I just wanted to say it was a pleasure reading your article and you are right on the money with all of it.

Thanks for the encouragement of our troops. God Bless you and your writing….

Enjoy the Song!!
— ITC (SW/AW) Rick Courtney (USN- DAV April 2002)

Re: Thomas E. Stuart’s letter (under “Ill Mannered”) in Reader Mail’s Three Rings:

I simply must respond to Thomas E. Stuart’s letter bashing every baby boomer like we are all the same, did the same, think the same, look the same. From one lonely baby boomer to Mr. Stuart: We aren’t, we didn’t, and we don’t.

I am from a family of eight children, Midwestern, Catholic, hard-working father and mother. My oldest brother (of the earlier Vietnam age) was career military (USAF). My next brothers were both Vietnam vets — just before the cutoff age of baby boomer. The rest of the eight — three girls and two boys are boomers. Of those, only one was old enough to be even considered the right age for the “dawning of the age of Aquarius.” The rest were in high school and elementary school during the late sixties and early seventies.

If you’ll recall, most of the revolting going on was done by college age students and those older. Since the only way most of us went to college was by GI Bill or starting at junior college first, there was no opportunity to be among the elite throng at the more prestigious schools where most of this took place. So, please one and all, stop painting “Baby Boomers” with a broad brush. Most were like my brothers and sisters — too young to be part of the problem and watching with horror the street revolts of the 1968 convention.

By the way, those in charge of the revolution during those days were much older than the boomers. Go look up Jane Fonda, John Kerry, Abbie Hoffman, the Chicago Seven, Dan Rather and any of the other big names from that era. You’ll find that they are from the generation between “the greatest” and “the boomers.” Perhaps they were mad when their fathers went to war and left them to grow up without them.

There was a cultural explosion going on during the ’60s and ’70s — you certainly can blame the boomers if you want, but there was much more going on than a large generation coming of age. Red diaper babies, communist sympathizers — these were not inventions of a generation, but things the adults in charge at the time didn’t want to deal with.
Deborah Durkee
Marietta, Georgia

I just read Thomas E. Stuart’s letter in Reader Mail. Whew! That was humdinger! After my side recovered from laughing so hard, I had to wonder: would it be too much to ask that you consider offering Mr. Stuart a position on your staff?
R. S. Trotter
Arlington, Virginia

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