Civilian Civilities - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Civilian Civilities

Re: Charles G. Kels’ Generals Behaving Badly:

As an E-5 in the US Army (that’s a Sergeant for all you civilians), I met Wes Clark in Europe. As a civilian, I met Don Rumsfeld in The States. I wouldn’t follow Don to the john (in the Army, we call it a latrine). I would follow Wes Clark and John Kerry into battle. I could care less what any of their ranks are — including the USAF Captain who wrote this editorial. Civilians are civilians and military men and women are military men and women — regardless of perception. If you are so worried about perception (or confusion), then tell our President to stay out of uniform, out of planes and off aircraft carriers — in uniform and in planes. And tell the Secretary of Defense to start listening to retired military CIVILIANS who know enough about decorum to speak up when democracy is at risk.

The title of your article should have been “Civilians Behaving Honorably.”
Dave Pechman
Denver, Colorado

Finally, someone gets it!! CIVILIANS control the military, not the other way around.

I’ve long suspected that these “perfumed princes” were mad at the current SecDef because he didn’t kiss their collective nether regions and that their rice bowls were cracked by his proposed reorganization of the military.

Retired flag officers have a hard time adjusting to life after the service. They wake up one morning and no one really gives a damn about their opinion. No one snaps to when they enter a room, and the only reserved parking space they have is next to the disabled slots at the PX/BX.

Most of this sounds like a temper tantrum from several retirees who miss having power.
M. McClain
San Antonio, Texas

Generals Behaving Badly by Charles Kels is hardly worthy of the space you set aside for it. Unless, of course, this is typical of The American Spectator‘s content.

To simply dismiss all criticism from retired staff officers as being the result of bruised egos is an easy cop out. And not true.

No mention of the status of our conflict in Iraq. Nor of the lack of planning on how to proceed once the mission was accomplished. Nothing about equipment that should have been available but wasn’t.

Nothing about too few troops. Nothing about any of the substantive issues. Just a few guys with big egos who’d been offended by another guy with a big ego.

Please spare use such smug nonsense. Rumsfeld does not seem to know what he’s doing but that doesn’t stop him. Come to think of it, doesn’t stop Bush either.
David Brown

It’s interesting to see how many people have broken ranks in both the military and state departments. Add that to the growing national and international chorus of criticism of the Bush administration. Gosh. It almost makes you wonder that something could even be wrong. Nah.
Richard Bentley
Tucson, Arizona

I have spent the last 35 years of my life working with the military, 27 years on active duty and as a support contractor. Back in my active duty days, we had a saying that the one star flag officer was still a warrior but after that they were pure politicians. Since most of these protesting generals were promoted during the previous administration, I would take a lot of their criticism with a jaundiced eye, especially those from the Army. The fact that the SECDEF passed over all of these generals and their colleagues when making his selection for a replacement Army Chief of Staff would seem to be a relevant point also. These generals were groomed by General Shinseki whose most notable achievement seems to be putting the entire Army into French looking berets, adding a touchy feely element and neglecting the needed warrior craft.
Tom McGonnell
Alexandria, Virginia

Mark Stewart
Jacksonville, Florida

So a mere Captain, without “Ret’d” affixed to his name has come out in support of Rumsfeld. Please tell me how this can be — is he a relative of that wet noodle Pace, or some other officer? If not, it certainly seems to be a career move.

Re: Quin Hillyer’s A Matter of Coarse:

Once again, as is so often the case with civilized, thinking, adults you have given too much credit to the incipient fascistic, totalitarian left. For, therein lies the utmost irony, so typical of the ilk or breed, that they, always and everywhere, are tyrants, if not would be tyrants. Witness every single one of their prescriptions for the betterment of mankind, oops humanity. And, yes, always and everywhere, the prescriptions are predicated on force, coercion, and restrictions on the human spirit which culminate in slow spiritual death at best and actual physical death (in untold millions just in the 20th century) at worst. The underlying premise of these foul-mouthed, unthinking, party-line hacks is no respect for the individual despite protestations and posturing to the contrary. The socialist or egalitarian disease is toxic at every level and leaves no room for virtue — none. The use of foul language merely signifies basic immorality of the underlying premise, not to mention the absence of any rational thought.
P. A. Melita
Charlottesville, Virginia

It seems as if the entire Left side of the political sphere now thinks of themselves as neo-Hunter S. Thompsons, meaning that they do not need to resort to any kind of thoughtful analysis, just spew some dirty words to get some attention. (As a former Leftist and fan of Mr. Thompson’s, it is pretty evident that they are all reading from the same playbook.) Also, I have seen and signed the Euston Manifesto, and I am very glad to see some sanity showing itself among self-proclaimed “progressives.” Please spread the word about the Manifesto, as I know there are plenty of Classical Liberals (to use Tammy Bruce’s words) who read the Spectator, and I think it will do wonders for the future of our political debates.
Joel Natzke
Kansas City, Missouri

P.J. O’Rourke once referred to this tantrum-throwing profanity party as “Toddler Liberation” — the demand to be allowed to run nekkid into a cocktail party shouting “poo poo head!” Anybody who watches “Supernanny” knows what happens to a family when the Toddlers are running the show.

In the REAL Sixties, the grownups allowed the toddlers to define civilization, and now they are reaping the whirlwind as the Toddlers they gave way to are now in command.

Be careful what you wish for. You may get it.
Kate Shaw
Toronto, Ontario

Mr. Hillyer’s piece concerning Leftwing blogs had a “Money” paragraph, as Jed Babbin would no doubt say, when he wrote:

Unfortunately, if civil discourse and societal norms can’t be observed even in the public square, the entire republican (small “r”) experiment is at risk. When compromise and coalitions aren’t possible, aren’t even considered desirable, then all that remains is the quest for unbridled power.

That seems to me to be nearly the whole situation not just with the extreme left-wingers, but with the main power heads of the Democratic Party. George Bush has certainly disappointed and depressed me with his willingness and even his pushing to compromise positions. Whether from signing McCain/Feingold or the Farm Bill, to his stand on illegal immigration and border control to his willingness to try to begin a resolution of the Social Security problems, GWB has NEVER drawn a line in the sand with critics or anyone in disagreement with him and look where it has gotten him, if not us. The spending bill issues are a mute point it seems to me, it is just about a given Congress will go along with more spending no matter how the lipstick looks on the pig. But try to reach a compromise in our “republican” form of government, as Mr. Hillyer points out, even when the President did that, McCain/Feingold, Steel Tariffs, and other poor choices, there is, and apparently cannot be, any reciprocity from the Left when another problem or issue is addressed, a la Social Security Reform. Does any conservative in the room actually think the President would not have settled for far far less than he proposed when trying to jump start the national conversation on that issue? I doubt it. Mr. Hillyer is unfortunately correct, compromise is becoming nearly impossible and since it seems so the only way to get the ball moved in any new direction is to have complete control and no need for compromise. It seems pretty depressing to me.
Roger Ross
Tomahawk, Wisconsin

There aren’t enough mental health workers to deal with the Angry Left. Such mental conditions or repressed emotions will have one of two possible outcomes if left unresolved.

The first and most likely is that this kind of hostility will be internalized to the point that it has serious emotional consequences on the individual and those around them. People carrying this much emotional baggage are not happy campers to be around and will typically associate with like minded people therefore reinforcing the intensity of the problem. There is nothing good to come from this condition over the long haul and self-destructive behavior is not out of the question.

The second and more serious outcome of this internalized anger is that this anger will be externalized into violence against others as well as themselves. People that can’t cope with the “imaginary” world they create for themselves are the type that walk into a public place or business and start killing people for totally irrational reasons and then turn on themselves. Some of history’s most notable butchers and dictators could not cope with the world as they imagined it to be.

While my liberal friends don’t act this irrational, they do parrot the same irrational beliefs minus the profanity. Rational thought or critical thinking is a foreign concept to people driven by their emotions and unable to cope without being “control freaks” to everyone around them. We all have our “cross” to bear at times but the Angry Left seems intent on having everyone else carry theirs for them 24/7. Many have said Liberalism is a mental disorder and the evidence at hand supports that. My concern is if we ignore it because it is vulgar Adult Child behavior we may come to regret that because from such behavior on a mass scale comes some of the world’s worst outcomes for humanity. I prefer to call it what it is and not just excuse the source for acting like a child. Our elected political class is a little timid in responding to such rude behavior. I think that is a mistake.
Thom Bateman
Newport News, Virginia

Yea, I agree with the left-wing ranters. But I try not to curse. However, they are right, Bush is a sociopath and is as bad as, maybe even worse than, any other tin pot dictator of another country. He has ripped up our Constitution and Bill of Rights by appointing himself the “decider” of who is a terrorist, who gets tortured, who gets spied upon and all these things are very “Un-American” as I understand our values. So, yes the Bush cabal is awful but that might be a compliment, because they could not be doing a better job of dismantling America, since that seems to be their goal in wrecking the economy for the rest of our lives and starting multiple unnecessary wars that they expect to go on for years. Why? What IS their agenda besides being vicious lying wanna-be dictators?
Carol Sturm

Mr. Hillyer makes an excellent point on the profanity of the left. I have come to the conclusion that this profanity is just a symptom of what I call “Bush-Hate.” You can see Bush-Hate everywhere, every day. The left wing blogs are a good place to find it, but just read your local newspaper’s letters to the editor. Half of the letters are full of raging hatred for George Bush. They are not rational, they do not present or discuss facts. Their hate has warped their personalities. Every time I read a Bush-Hate letter, I just shake my head out of pity – they must be very miserable, wallowing in their own hate. I wonder how much fun these miserable people must be to have around.

I know a lot of the Bush-Haters think they are just getting even for the right’s disappointment with Bill Clinton, but they are confusing disgust over his behavior with hatred of the person. None of my right-wing friends actually hated Clinton. In fact, we all kind of liked the fellow, flawed though as he is (as we all are). Both Clinton and Bush are very friendly, likable people, and I think either one would be enjoyable company. Bush-Haters need to separate the personal from the political, and then we could all have civil conversations with each other again.
Mike Spencer
Midland, Michigan

I know Rush Limbaugh didn’t invent the saying, but that’s where I heard it first: “You can’t define happiness without limits on behavior.” The ranting left-wing blogs, their spokespeople, and their creeping influence into the mainstream of political discourse is simply anti-establishment. They’re just flippin’ the bird” at anything that represents; “the rules.”

When the Right proffered thoughtful arguments against Hillary-care, lying under oath, or the FBI file scams that the Clintons perpetrated upon America, the mainstream press attempted to paint us in the same way. Our arguments were disregarded as: just being a “sore-loser,” or that we: “hated the Clintons.”

Yeah, we “Righties” were mad we lost in ’92 & ’96, but we know why we lost. What we “hated” was the way this same contingent of media and their Clinton allies tried to explain away rules and truths that were inconvenient to them.

What’s ironic is that The Constitution is the left’s ultimate enemy. The one thing that protects their right to be idiotic and obnoxious is the only thing that saves them from destruction.

These “lefty cabals” have no cogent thought(s), thus, they have no argument. They have forsaken one’s right to own property, intellectual or otherwise. To “own” an argument, means accepting its premise, reason and the eventual result of following a particular line of thought-to-purpose. That requires a structure and adherence to “rules.”

They can’t stay mad forever, so enjoy it while it lasts. One can just hope that the ‘Right’ maintains a sense of history, mortality, and a Constitutional moxie to keep their arguments relevant to American principles.
P. Aaron Jones
Huntington Woods, Michigan

I was going to comment on the “nutgraph” and the psychological concept of transference, but then I clicked through the link to My Left Wing and saw the photo of the blogger. I have to ask if she is a.) in her pajamas; and b.) in her basement?
Reid Bogie
Waterbury, Connecticut

Certainly do not disagree with the essence of Mr. Hillyer’s piece but I do feel that, as an editor, he could have found the way to boil it all down to, say, three or four paragraphs.

Enough is enough even in so righteous a cause.

What Quin Hillyer illustrates in his article “A Matter of Course” is the potential birth of 21st century American fascism. The paranoia that is the foundation of today’s Democrat/liberal/Copperhead movement is symptomatic of the beginnings of fascism in post-World War I Europe. From history and observing Muslim extremism we find a key ingredient fanatics use to promote their ideology is to demonize those who are different or oppose their agendas. This rabid denunciation of “enemies” justifies whatever “the enlightened” or “chosen” do in the name of their “god” or “philosophy.”

The near hysteria following Al Gore’s failed coup and John Kerry’s political defeat is an illustration of how unhinged the left is becoming. Following the 2004 elections the editorial pages of their yellow journals (so-called mainstream media) were replete with attacks disparaging the intellects of red state voters, evangelical Christians, Roman Catholics, ignorant Hispanics, etc. who dared vote for Bush and Republicans. Secession was in the air and being contemplated by New York and New England liberals and bloggers (one is tempted to bid these Copperheads and “lower Canadians” adieu).

In 2006 the left through its media outlets is doing everything it can to downplay America’s booming economy, success in the GWOT (specifically Iraq) and America’s steady shift to the right on social and moral issues. They’re hoping to so discourage the country through their yellow journalism as to hand political power over to their extreme and paranoid cohorts.

Sadly, despite the successes too many conservatives are buying into the gloom and doom of the left. When so-called conservative readers of The American Spectator hearken back to the “good old days” of the Carter and Clinton (gag) it reminds me of President Reagan’s second term when conservative were belittling and denouncing him and gave Democrats unlimited control of Congress (giving us Kennedy and Souter). The problem is that the Democrats are more extreme and yes dangerous than they were 20 years ago.

Conservatives need to recognize political defeat in 2006 is not an option and the weakest and worst Republican (yes even John McCain, Chuck Hagel, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins and Arlen Specter) is better than the best Democrat.
Michael Tomlinson
Crownsville, Maryland

Mr. Hillyer, you have to understand that these are the people that love Bill Clinton and this was the President that seemed to me if his lips were moving he was lying about something. I say just let them spew their profanity, the majority of Americans are turned off big time by them.
Elaine Kyle

Re: Lisa Fabrizio’s Flights of Fantasy:

When the trailer of United 93 was traveling around the Internet amidst a worrying “too soon” mindset, I decided right then to go see this movie. There’s not much we can do these days to support the war effort, not much patriotism allowed in this country, so this will be my small contribution to both. I want to feel the anger and the sadness. I want to see the planes hit the twin towers. I want to watch with horror as people jump out of windows. Not because I’m some ghoul, but because the past four and a half years have been like some traumatic dream. But most of all, I want to believe that Americans are still brave and strong and united instead of mean and partisan and cowering. And, I want the rest of the country to remember what so many want to forget: We are at war and our survival as a nation is what we’re fighting for.
Deborah Durkee
Marietta, Georgia

I’ve been ready for movies about “that day” for quite a while. Shortly after 9/11 I downloaded a short memorial video to play as a reminder of what I saw unfold on TV. I had expected that many movies would have been made within a year or two of 9/11. When that didn’t occur and Hollywood started their leftist rant I feared that Hollywood would do a Michael Moore or Oliver Stone style leftist propaganda film. The reviews I’ve seen so far of United 93 look promising. I’ll give it a chance and if it rings true buy the DVD when it comes out. There are a wealth of stories out there from 9/11, Afghanistan and Iraq. Telling them truthfully would be good for Hollywood’s business but bad for it’s politics. So far they have found politics more important. I hope that is changing.
Geoff Bowden
Battle Creek, Michigan

Re: Andrew Cline’s Tax Day on Holiday:

I share most of the thoughts Andrew Cline expressed in his column today entitled “Tax Day on Holiday,” but I think there is a very depressing explanation for the results of a Gallup poll that was cited finding that 60 percent of Americans think their current income tax burden is fair.

I believe these results are directly a result of the fact that according to recent IRS data, the top 50% of income earners pay nearly 97% of all income taxes — meaning of course that the other 50% are paying only 3% of total income taxes.

It is therefore not surprising at all to have a majority of Americans say their income tax burden is “fair” when they pay little to nothing at all in income taxes relative to what their fellow citizens are paying.

This data illustrates in my view that any meaningful tax reduction or substantive tax reform like a flat tax is unfortunately very unlikely anytime in the near future because it would have either a minimal or negative impact on the bottom 50% of U.S. taxpayers.
Todd Gentry

Re: Tom Bethell’s The Fed Has Lost Power:

Here are my two bits on gold and the dollar:

1) The value of gold isn’t fixed. As with paper money, an increase in the supply of gold relative to goods and services will cause prices to rise, a decrease will cause prices to fall, even when gold is the only money. Excess gold production partly explains the low price of gold during the 1990s. The recent increase is due partly to decreased production and partly to increased demand in India and China. So the relationship of gold to the dollar and inflation is fuzzy at best.

2) Inflation isn’t the only driver of long term interest rates. According to the Austrian school, the two major factors are the time preferences of savers and business profits. Time preferences change slowly, if at all, but businesses will only borrow money at rates that their expected profits will cover. If businesses have low profit expectations, they will borrow only at low rates. So the low long term rates could be caused by a savings glut, but more likely the cause is that businesses aren’t borrowing due to pessimism.

3) Productivity increases can hide inflation. During the last decade of the 20th century, productivity increased in the US at blistering rates. When that happens, the fed can inflate at horrendous rates and we’ll not see increases in the indexes.
Roger D. McKinney
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

Mr. Bethell wrote: “The Fed’s job is to keep the dollar on an even keel; neither diminishing nor increasing its value by expanding or contracting the money supply too rapidly.”

An inflation calculator set to 1913 and 2005 will estimate that inflation has caused the value of a dollar to be 1/19 of the 1913 value. It seems to me that this is evidence that the Fed has no power to control inflation in any meaningful way.
Danny L. Newton
Cookeville, Tennessee

Re: Ben Stein’s Greetings From Rancho Mirage:

First of all Mr. Stein, I think you’re prejudiced, Oprah has done more her millions than you ever will. Second, I do not think it’s our place to police the world. The same people that our young sons and daughters are dying for will elect some [bleep] just as bad as Hussein or however you spell his name and kill us in a heartbeat just because we’re Christians, ten years from now.

I DO NOT believe you have to put on a uniform to be a hero, BOTH my sons are heroes, one is in the military and one is not. Yet they are both heroes, they are good Christian husbands and Dads. They get up every day and go to work, even days they really don’t feel like it because they have bills to pay and mouths to feed. I could go on and on about what it takes to be a real hero but what’s the use you just don’t get it.
Rose Woods
P.S. My wonderful husband is a retired fire fighter and fire chief but my Dad, God rest his soul, was a hero too. He went to work 6 days a week at 1 a.m. to work at a bakery.

Thank you, sir, for those kind words. Wish more Americans would show their appreciations instead of bothering loved ones at funerals, upsetting families in their time of grief when they are trying to say their last goodbyes to their fallen heroes and heroines. I hope that they all could understand the sacrifices that those brave men and women, including myself, make every waking moment to do an unpleasant and unrewarding job. Again, thank you very much.
SFC O’Neil O. Jr.
United States Army

I am the OIC of a Fleet Surgical Team (sea based medical/surgical unit that supports Marines at sea and sailors of a 6 ship expeditionary strike group) returning from a 6 month deployment to CENTCOM. My previous Chief, Stacy Terry, now retired, emailed me a copy of Mr. Stein’s article “Greetings from Rancho Mirage” with the subject: Ben Stein gets it right.

The extensive negative press coverage of the Iraq War, prisoner abuse, etc tends casts a bad light on those serving in the military. Military life is not easy for these young men and women and I know the press coverage impacts on their morale

I truly believe that the kids serving in our Armed Forces are doing us all a great service and no matter what they do with the rest of their lives will have made a difference. I am very grateful for Mr. Stein’s words and will share them with all of my team.

Very Respectfully
Steve Archer

Just wanted to thank you for publishing a truth and a wonderful and gracious thanks from Mr. Stein.
Jeffory C. Gabrelcik, SMSgt, USAF
Pentagon, Washington DC

Thanks, Ben. We appreciate you, too!
Patrick G. Dreer, Sr., CMSgt, USAF
Chief, Force Requirements Policy
Directorate of Air Force Reserve Personnel
Pentagon, Washington DC 20330-1150

Re: “The Speaker, Reconsidered” letters in Reader Mail’s Advisor in Chief and the “Newtsayers” letters and Kendall Eskew’s letter (“Remember the Contract Fondly”) in Reader Mail’s Good as Gold:

Your correspondents are unfairly critical of Newt Gingrich. The guy not only never had to meet a payroll, he was never on a private business payroll, being an employee of government for his entire working life. It’s unkind and, worse, absurd to expect him to understand the business world.
Paul St. Pierre

To learn from experience it is more necessary to pay more attention to our defeats than our successes. That is why I thought it necessary to consider why the brilliant Newt failed. Not only may it help us see notice that he does not seem to have learned the correct lessons, it may also stimulate thought by those who would aspire to follow him. Judging by the two responses I received, I succeeded.

First I want to thank Mr. DiPentima (“Newt Naysayers”) for reminding us of Newt’s “wonkishness,” which is a great summation of one of his main problems. Newt loved to go on the talk shows and analyze his own political calculations for everyone. When the magician explains to his audience exactly how he does the trick before performing it, he destroys his own magic. Newt never seemed to learn, perhaps because he was more interested in flaunting his intelligence than using it, unlike Reagan and GW Bush, who were quite happy to be taken for fools by those about to be outsmarted. Newt got so wrapped up in his Poly Sci exercises that he forgot his real purpose was governance.

And I thank Mr. Kendall Eskew (“Remember the Contract Fondly”) for reminding us of the score on the Contract, and thereby helping me make my point. Seven of the items may have been approved by the House within the first 100 days, but only two or three of those ever became law, and as soon as an item was stymied, Newt pushed it away like a stale hors-d-‘oeuvre instead of fighting for it. We ignorant yokels from the provinces had the strange idea that getting the laws passed was the idea, not diddling some wonkish legislative win-loss tally, and making token gestures to appease a restive base. If Newt really believed those ten Contractual items were important, he could have continued to hammer them during the succeeding 630 days of the congressional term. When the Democrats lost a vote during the Great Society and Civil Rights crusades, their response was to demonize the individuals in opposition and to return to the issue again and again till they won, all the while emphasizing the moral urgency of their cause rather than its “wedge issue” qualities. Instead it seems all was just “boob bait for the bubbas”.

But it seems it was my mention of Mr. Clinton that really bothered Mr. Eskew, who appears the one unable to accept the fact that Willie was, after all, successfully impeached. I actually grant the Democratic point, at least in part, that Mr. Clinton’s perjury was an issue that justified impeachment only in a legalistic sense. I listed the other, more substantive grounds for impeachment, which seems to have served as a disturbing reminder to those with an eskewed vision. Had Newt taken action on those serious charges earlier, when Clinton’s support was at low ebb even in his own party, he would have been more thoroughly and properly discredited, and there would have been some reconciliation amongst the general electorate afterward, much as was the case with Nixon. There seems to be a uniting theme to Newt’s failings, and Mr. DiPentima sums it up with his word “wonkish”.

And yes, John Kerry is the only Democrat nominee I can imagine who could persuade me to vote for newt; my anti-Kerry animus is personal and transcends his politics. In a race between Newt and Hillary, I would probably sit it out, or write in a vote for a third party.
George Mellinger
Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Re: Ken Shreve’s letter (“American-American”) in Reader Mail’s Good as Gold:

I have to agree totally with Mr. Shreve, hyphenated Americans are what is keep the racial wars alive and well. Unless you are an American Indian we could all be hyphenated. Don’t come to America unless you want to BE an American and that includes learning English.
Elaine Kyle

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