Big Deals - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Big Deals
by

INDONESIA, INDOCHINA
Re: William Tucker’s Who Says We Lost in Vietnam?:

The Indonesian PKI’s attempted coup occurred on September 30, 1965, not in 1966. Also, the “Year of Living Dangerously” was from August 17, 1964 to August 16, 1965, not 1966. That phrase came from then-President Sukarno’s Independence Day speech of August 17, 1964 and it was in reference to his projection of what the upcoming year would offer as his country was being courted by all sides. That year did, indeed, prove to be dangerous, though not as dangerous as the following year turned out to be.

Perhaps because of this 1966 is often mistakenly given that designation. The phrase later gained widespread acceptance after C. J. Koch used it as the title to a novel set in that locale and time frame. (The novel was later made into a movie starring Mel Gibson and Sigourney Weaver.)

As for what actually occurred in Indonesia during that tumultuous and horrific time, there are as many theories as there are theorists. Not surprisingly, the same crowd that describes the U.S. government’s involvement in Vietnam as inept accuses that same government of being deviously cunning in Indonesia. We will likely never know the extent of what transpired. However, this much we do know: in Indonesia communism was stopped dead in its tracks after coming within a hair’s breadth of gaining control of the whole country.

Indonesia was then the world’s fifth largest county; it is now the fourth largest. It is rich with natural resources and it is the gateway between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. I shudder to think what Southeast Asia would look like today had Indonesia fallen to communism.

Indonesia has its problems, to be sure, and it is far from being a bastion of freedom. However, within the past few weeks it held its first-ever direct election. I don’t think any of the countries behind the bamboo curtain can say the same.

While the Soviets and Red Chinese were fighting us in Vietnam, they lost their grasp on the sweetest Southeast Asian plum of them all.

Fine article, Mr. Tucker.
R. S. Trotter
Great Falls, Virginia

Mr. Tucker’s piece on the ramifications of the War in Vietnam was very interesting and dovetails nicely with the world situation today. While I do not agree that the United States could not have secured a total military victory in that country given a less political and more enlightened strategy, history simply is. And that is why historical record must be studied and taken seriously.

This country is in similar straits today. In the short term, we are facing a semi-organized Islamic extremist movement that has proven that its aim is to dominate as much of the world as possible. And, similar to the Viet Cong and the Khmer Rouge, the movement is composed of quasi-independent agencies that are state sponsored and partially state controlled. Guerrilla fighters are entering Iraq from neighboring countries with the blessing of the leadership of those countries, the modern equivalent of the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

But the similarities end there. In the 1960s and ’70s, we faced a real and viable threat from the Soviet Union in Europe and Red China in Korea. These threats had to be contained using a large deployment of U.S. military forces which had to be positioned and held continuously. This is no longer the case. The US has the option to reduce troop strengths in Europe and Korea and re-deploy forces to the more urgent trouble spots. The forces of radical Islam are worldwide with no clearly defined “fronts”, which requires far greater flexibility than in the past.

Now, there is also an new wrinkle in the present world situation, nuclear proliferation. Ostensibly hostile, rogue states, Iran and North Korea, are expanding their nuclear potential and arsenals. Both nations now have IRBM delivery capability and in one case, North Korea, they have a functional nuclear weapon. This further destabilizes the world. Diplomacy is being used to attempt to contain and even mitigate these threats, but diplomacy is doomed to failure if it is not backed up by military might and the apparent willingness to exercise that might.

Our traditional allies during the Cold War are abandoning their unified stance due to internal political considerations. New allies, less encumbered by growing extremist Muslim populations or more enlightened as to the changing world situation, have taken their place. Again, this increases global instability. But it is not the fault of the U.S.

The global conflict, and the lesser one in Iraq, is not a “religious” war on the part of the United States. It is a war to curb aggression on the part of other groups and states that threatens the peace and stability of this planet. The religious affiliation of aggressive groups and nations is irrelevant. The only relevancy is their destabilization of the peace of the global community. The face of future Iraq, will be an Iraqi one. The people of that nation will elect their initial leaders in a representative manner. The evolution of the political system of Iraq will rest solely within the hands of the Iraqi people. The only interest of the U.S. should be that this is done in a peaceful manner.

Peace is the answer. It is more enduring if it is accomplished through mutual cooperation. But for those who would view the peaceful person as a weak person and seek to take advantage of others, force must sometimes be used to achieve peace and prosperity for all. This is one of the lessons of history which must not be overlooked. Such are the times we live in. This too shall be history and people will look back and, hopefully, learn from mistakes made today. In the meantime, historical record should be kept in mind. Great struggles are not short ones. They cost, but the cost is usually less if the potential problem is addressed early rather than late. Peace, and its attendant benefits, can be achieved, but only through a global stability that yields the highest possible benefits to the greatest number of people.

Stay tuned, folks. These are exciting times.
Michael R. Tobias
Oakland Park, Florida

We didn’t lose the war in Vietnam, we quit.
Pete Brittain
Sandpoint, Idaho

PUNK AS IN JUNK
Re: Andrew Cline’s I Wanna Be Sedated:

Good article overall, but let’s not kid ourselves here…

Punk started out as a mindless lashing-out against the status quo. Period, dot. Be they Carter, Sunny Jim, Maggie T., or our matchless RR, the “kids” were pissed off/mad/angry at the powers that were. Punk’s ragged little brother Grunge was born in 41’s day, and subsequently died an all too untimely death during Boy Clinton’s reign.

As I see it, punk has always targeted those of us who long for order, rules, sanity… anything that smacks of grown-upedness. That’s it’s attraction to those of us who may well hunger for order, but still harbor a large, soft sweet spot for anarchy in some form or other. This hunger crosses party lines on a daily basis, and therein lies the rub — no organized party can ever lay claim to punk. As soon as a “Green Day” leans Democrat, they lose credibility. The same could be said for our dear departed Johnny Ramone.

A thought still occurs: how much more surprised we are to learn which way Alice Cooper and Johnny Ramone lean than the vast majority of so-called punks? I guess that was your original thrust to begin with.

Dubya by 8+pts in ’04.
Jeff Kocur
Milford, Delaware

Great article on Johnny Ramone, a hero to punk artists and fans all over the world. There’s no shortage of political punk music, but I thought your readers might appreciate this one (uncensored) in particular.

Artist: Pennywise
Album: Straight Ahead
Song: My Own Country

Fools run the government sick foreign policy
Their words sound valiant but their hands are green
Unending quest for power Taxes that make us slaves
Don’t believe a word of it ignore the f—ed up things they say

I’m gonna make it on my own Dictator on a throne
Make my own philosophy U.S. of me
A citizen who’s really pissed United Anarchists
Give me death or liberty I am my own country
United States Confederate of Me

Old whigs in parliament play bedroom politics
Salacious stories make them look obscene
Spin on your nemesis fill up the news today
Don’t believe a word of it not all the f—ed up things they say

It’s all me No secret police

Judd Bourgeois
Las Vegas, Nevada

DEAL WITH IT
Re: Jeremy Lott’s Crisis Mismanagement:

Aw c’mon Jeremy, don’t paint my complaints as “Neocon Defender of Hudson Now Backtracks.”

As I made very clear on my blog again and again, I a) don’t know Hudson beyond a single phone call and hold no particular brief for him and b) was writing to defend “We believe in the forgiveness of sins” not “I believe in the sinlessness of Deal Hudson.”

What angered (and still angers) me about the National Catholic Reporter piece was that, by their own accounting, they were exposing a sin which had, from the evidence they themselves presented, been repented, confessed, and atoned for ten years ago.

If they had other facts that needed to be brought forward to make the case “And he’s still doing it” they should have done so. But instead, they wrote an article which exposed the sins of a (from all I could tell from the piece) a penitent sinner.

Had the Wanderer done the same thing to some ideological opponent (say, the publisher of NCR) I would be just as outraged, not because Fox or Hudson are ideological soulmates (they’re not), but because I deeply believe that there is no point of the Creed that is more reviled by both Left and Right than the clause “We believe in the forgiveness of sins.”

It was not the seal of the confessional I was speaking of when I spoke of the “satanic violation of the sacrament of reconciliation.” It was the spirit of the confessional I was referring to.

To dredge up a man’s past sins, give evidence that he has tried to repent and make reparation for them, give no evidence that those sins are ongoing, and then say, “Hey! Lookee here! We got us a sinner!” is utterly foreign to what the sacrament of reconciliation is all about and is an act of contempt for our profession as Catholics to believe in the forgiveness of sins. It’s contemptuous no matter who does it.
Mark Shea
Seattle, Washington

Your special report, Crisis Management (9/27/2004), by Jeremy Lott reads like the high school graduation punch make by an inept punch maker who, after placing all the ingredients in the bowl, picks up the bowl and swirls it around in an attempt to mix.

I assume Lott is not a Catholic. Or at least, not a Catholic who is read in moral theology. The sin of detraction flows much too easily off his pen. Yes, Deal Hudson appears to have a bit of a grating personality, and yes, maybe McInerny did threaten to resign from Crisis because he thought it was for the good of the magazine and was in no way a power play. But these things and the others mentioned by Lott are beside the point of whether Hudson’s fall ten years ago was so severe as to render him unsuitable to lead a Catholic magazine a decade later, or whether his attempts to save his job were so filled with deceit as to make him a reprehensible human being.

Hudson’s moral lapse ten years ago with a consenting student was sinful, but it is not infamous enough to prevent Hudson from performing duties at a Catholic magazine. It is this that Mark Shea spoke to. Shea’s thoughts appear to have been written in passion and his remark about Confession not well taken, but his instincts about the National Catholic Reporter are absolutely correct. It is the closest thing we have in the para-Catholic Church media to the demonic. Apart from the name, there is nothing Catholic about it. It is anti-Catholic.

Lott pays scant attention to Envoy magazine’s description of Hudson as a “fundamentally good man trying to do good things for the Church.” An assessment certainly worth exploring. Rather, Lott uses anonymous sources and the author of the NCR article to buttress the fact of Hudson’s unsavoriness, even after warning that “it’s hard to gauge the motives of anonymous whistle blowers with any kind of precision….”

It’s not hard to gauge Lott’s motivation. And it reeks.
Allan Wafkowski
Pompton Lakes, New Jersey

I am disappointed at the article by Jeremy Lott “Crisis Management” in The American Spectator‘s Online Edition. While I think Mr. Lott reports several important items concerning the recent difficulties of Deal Hudson, I believe the bandwagon effect has taken over this whole story and missed point altogether. Also, one of Mr. Lott’s characterizations of Fr. Benedict Groeschel and his analysis of the crisis of priestly sexual misconduct is misleading and inaccurate.

Despit the faults of Deal Hudson that led to his resignation from Crisis, I want to go on record saying that I think the loss of Dr. Hudson’s voice in the public square is a tragic event for faithful Catholics. In recent decades I can think of no other orthodox Catholic that has been as effective at getting the Catholic voice heard at the highest levels of government. As such, the Bush administration and all faithful Catholics tired of the politically correct Catholicism peddled in so many quarters, benefited greatly from his clear, courageous, and faithful voice. I admire Dr. Hudson and his efforts to speak clearly in season and out of season the truths of the Catholic faith to the powerful of our land.

While he did, indeed, make some serious mistakes morally, personally, and politically in his life and in his efforts in the public square, the overall net effect of his efforts have greatly benefited all Catholics who actually believe the tenets of the Catholic faith and think these truths make an important contribution to our national public life. For awhile, due to Dr. Hudson’s efforts, the President of the United States and his administration heard an authentically Catholic voice, clearly articulated, politically savvy, and faithful to Catholic teaching. No longer did the National “Catholic” Reporter and the New York Times Catholics have the corner on the market of the “Catholic” voice in public life. For once, the voice of doctrinal dissenters — those who consistently reject the most fundamental teachings of the Catholic Church and still call themselves Catholics in order to preserve their living — were effectively shut out. This feat alone deserves our praise and support.

No doubt, the temporary shutout of dissenting “Catholic” voices by Dr. Hudson’s efforts is the real source of the dissenting Catholic press’s zeal to report of Hudson’s moral failings. By contrast, one wonders where was the reportorial zeal and moral outrage of these Catholic dissenters when Archbishop Rembert Weakland was discovered to have had a homosexual affair and then engaged in a coverup financed with nearly $500,000 of Archdiocesan funds? And where was the outrage of these Catholic dissenters when Bishop Patrick Ziemmann of Santa Rosa, CA was forced to resign due to substantiated charges of gross immorality and criminal fraud? Both of these men were described by the dissenting Catholic press as “tragic figures.” In as much as the mystery of inequity can tear at the fabric of any of our lives, they were “tragic” figures, but it is important to remember that faithful, orthodox Catholics suffered greatly under the leadership of these men. Despite his failings, faithful Catholics benefited from Dr. Hudson’s efforts and we should mourn the fact that his sinfulness has undone his good work. And, of course, in solidarity with all of us who are sinners, we should remember St. Paul’s words — “there but for the grace of God go I…”

As to the characterization of Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel as “controversial”, I am just perplexed. What is controversial about him? He is a holy and prolific priest, whose retreats, conferences, books, and tapes have touched millions of lives. Having read his book on the crisis of priestly sexual misconduct and listened to his tapes analyzing this crisis — given at a forum hosted by Deal Hudson — it is quite unfair to Fr. Groeschel’s analysis to simply characterize it “as largely blaming journalists.” Perhaps Fr. Groeschel’s willingness to analyze the crisis from a truly Catholic theological, moral, and spiritual perspective, rather than from talking points provided by some public relations firm makes him controversial.

I believe the bandwagon effect is in play here — when Deal Hudson was at the top of his game, people pretended to be delighted to be in his orbit in public and then viciously sniped at him in private. Yes, he has made some terrible mistakes and committed grave sin, and maybe he is still struggling to come to terms with the harm he has done. Whatever the case may be, he did something no other orthodox Catholic in recent memory was able to do — get the ear of the powerful of our land and shut out dissenters who pervert Catholic teaching and call it progress. And for that I am grateful. Dr. Hudson, is truly a tragic figure — because so much of the good he has done and the faithfulness his positions embodied, has been tainted by the bad he once did. At least he acknowledges that what he did was sinful and hasn’t used this occasion — as the dissenters always seem to do — to call for a change in Church teaching concerning sexual morality. He deserves our prayers, because “there but for the grace of God go I…” Let us never forget that and let us mourn the loss of his voice in the public square.
Fr. Phillip W. De Vous
Blessed Sacrament Church
Fort Mitchell, Kentucky

WISEGUYS
Re: Sheila Monaghan’s Revenue Smoke Stacks:

Where is the trade-off? The liberal zealots wanting more politically correct money now — or the continued tax revenue over the next decades. This is not to say what the local and states will reap from their tax revenue. Just to be a wise guy, I, as a smoker of cigarettes would think the Government as cash strapped as they are should promote smoking so that we would die earlier, therefore saving Social Security funds. Who said Federal bureaucrats are so smart? Or is this a payoff for the trial lawyers.
L. Ruaine Riley

IN RESERVE
Re: Paul M. Weyrich’s How the Mighty Have Fallen:

In Paul Weyrich’s piece:

“Rather got caught in this current day hoax by a group of bloggers who put pieces of the puzzle together and who exposed this hoax for what it was.”

Rather should have been caught by the conservative press and media when CBS ran the first commercials advertising Rather’s “60 Minutes II” BEFORE the broadcast.

Why? Because W’s drilling records and his Not Observed fitreps prove that he pre-drilled (a word known to us Reservists, especially us pilot Reservists) and didn’t have to show up in Alabama, the 111th, Mars or Jupiter. He got his fifty points in ’72-73 and ’73-74 early, and was allowed to do his make-up drills early in each year (summertime was when W’s year started). He attended the required number of drills, getting the 2 points per day at the front end, allowing him to legally, officially, with the right authority, etc. miss the rest of the year’s drills in Alabama. This has been EASY to find out since 2000 as many of us unwashed Reservists have been trying to make known on blogs since then.

I am glad Rather got caught with fake documents and glad that a glimmer of hope exists that the MSM gets exposed. However, if a conservative journalist knew about pre-drilling, especially back in the early seventies when ANG units like W’s was winding down, getting rid of older aircraft, this preferential treatment nonsense would go away for good. Byron York in NR almost got it a few weeks ago but, dang it if he didn’t miss it too.

Someone in the conservative media, please learn how the Reserves works and stop asking Ollie North et al. who were NOT drilling Reservists. Find out how pre-drilling and makeup drills worked then and now. That will stop these left wing Chuckleheads before they get out of the box.
Ken Russell
Clarksville, Missouri

Please tell Paul Weyrich that I enjoyed his article, “How the Mighty Have Fallen,” (TAS 9/28/04) but was disappointed by his misuse of the word “whence.” Whence means “from where” or “from what place.” To put “from” before “whence” is unnecessary.

I see “whence” used incorrectly in print often, mostly by authors who wish to appear scholarly. Perhaps they learned to misuse the word from scholars before them.
Jon Gallinger
Orchard Park, New York

ACT GLOBALLY
Re: Sean Higgins The Other Media Scandal of 2004:

Both Paul Weyrich and Sean Higgins reports nail a couple more points about the delicious decline of the liberal MSM. As a guy who canceled his wife’s Boston Globe subscription yesterday, this is hopefully another indication of the slow death of liberalism after 40 years of suffocation.

It’s amazing to me when I enter into heated discussions with my liberal friends how limited their news sources are. After 3 or 4 years of starting my day with Drudge and The American Spectator, I have seen the light. All news is opinion. And those who still think reading the New York Times daily provides enlightenment are completely missing the counter-opinion.

I force myself to read Maureen Dowd and Krugman despite the angst it causes me. (In fact I’d like to see a debate this Thursday between Paul Krugman and Thomas Sowell-that’d be entertainment.) But what’s become obvious to those of us who have been painfully subjected to the one-way view of the MSM, is that the Internet and the blogosphere are here to stay and growing. One represents a tired old centralized institution, and one represents a fresh, new democracy.

We’ve seen it before, and we know who wins in the end.
William H. Stewart
Boston, Massachusetts

The Boston Globe, over the past couple of years, has been dropping off papers without request throughout the State. I would bet they are counting these free papers as readers in their circulation numbers. After all — the Boston Globe has their party’s “EVERYBODY DOES IT!” ethic. I hope the auditors are watching them. But I would bet the standards of the circulation auditors dropped and permitted the abuse of advertisers because of their cozy relationship with newspapers. The a newspaper without ethics is dangerous to any and all organizations they target.
Jo Thompson
Boston, Massachusetts

EXCELLENT COLUMN
Re: Lawrence Henry’s Regular Folks Know a Lot:

This is a great article. This article hits the bulls eye, great job!! This article confirms the way I have felt for a few years. It is nice to see that I am not the only one that can see & feel the heart beat of our country. The people in this country are changing & the blindfolds of the Liberal press has been lifted. Keep up the good work!!
Jason Telles
Selah, Washington

Mr. H: You are brilliant. It’s Occam’s razor, commonsense, but, most of all, an understanding that the word processor was, indeed, invented yesterday.
T. M. Comerford
Dallas, Texas

Just to add to your very good commentary. You might also have had to help a parent move out of the house and help that parent go though the contents of Dad’s document trunk and seen the thirty plus years of orders that had to be saved to make sure that his pension was correctly computed and paid. Military records have a certain look that is hard to forget.
Mary Wyss
Richmond, Virginia

THE LATE LIP
Re: Jed Babbin’s September Misfortunes:

As a former Brooklyn Dodger fan, I must correct his statement attributed to Leo Durocher, who said “Good guys finish last.” Before the Dodgers sneaked out of town en route to Los Angeles, all of us Dodger fans said “Wait ’till next year” annually. I have never forgiven the Dodgers for their fickleness.
Dave Smith
Pearland, Texas

Leo Durocher said, “Nice guys finish last.” The Borough of Brooklyn, more precisely King’s County, said “Wait ’til Next Year” every World Series until 1955.
Kevin Smith
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

FINISHING THIRD
Re: Shawn Macomber’s Third Party Utopia:

Shawn’s article on third party politics is essentially correct but he does miss some points. The first is that the two major parties today were essentially third parties in the political spectrum that basically spun off the major parties of their era. Both parties started out in objections to certain issues within the main party, eventually becoming main parties themselves. Having dealt myself with third party politics, I agree most of them are flashes in the pan. They tend to either disappear after a while or spin off into another form of protest politics. Further, most of the third party candidates want to start at the top and then work their way down the political hierarchy. That in itself is a good road to oblivion. There’s dues to be paid in the political process and that means working your way up the ladder. The Progressives in Vermont have been the most successful at that, considering Bernie Sanders is their congressman, but that is due more to Bernie’s personality than party philosophy, I think. However, the Progressives hold a number of offices from school board to State Rep., but tend to become Democrats for statewide offices. Most of these parties qualify for gadfly rather than party status. However, the ones with staying power and a message eventually become mainstream. American politics is dynamic. Who knows which one of the gadflies of today will become the major player of tomorrow. So Shawn, don’t write them all off.
Pete Chagnon

NEW SOLDIER DEMOCRATS
Re: John Kerry et al.’s New Soldier Current Wisdom:

“I will not go unless the threat is a real one and we all know it to be so.” Based on that, John Kerry cannot be commander-in-chief. He exhibits he cannot determine the reality of a threat. Also, we all will never agree.

Some of his most hypocritical statements in the “New Soldier” were these: “We will not quickly join those who march on Veterans’ Day waving small flags, calling to memory those thousands who died for the ‘greater glory of the United States.’ We will not accept the rhetoric. We will not readily join the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars .
. .”

His most infamous quote as a Winter Soldier? Before Congress, in 1971, he said: “There are all kinds of atrocities, and I would have to say that, yes, yes, I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed in that I took part in shootings in free fire zones.”
C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia

If I follow Mr. Kerry’s logic, and I use the word rather loosely, it seem that he is in favor of anarchy deciding if and when the country should take up arms. I guess if you are a liberal democrat, anarchy with everyone being “nice” to one another is the preferred form of government. Of course, when discord arises, there will always be the educated Brahmins to make the final decisions. Perhaps we should extend this idea of personal agreement before serving to other areas. How about: Traffic laws, Income taxes, Child support, and the list goes on and on. The infantile prescription recommended by Mr. Kerry is so utterly ridiculous that trying to argue him away from it can be likened to a parent trying to argue a 2 year old out of a super-market tantrum. And, intellectually, his argument may not be as mature as that tantrum.
Joseph Baum
Newton Falls, Ohio

GUIDANCE COUNSELING
Re: Sheila Monaghan’s Britney Blowback:

As the mother of a 21-year-old daughter, I have been witness to the Britney phenomenon. My daughter was a Britney fan from the outset (and a Christina Aguilera fan). She has watched in amazement as the two singers have taken what she calls the “ho” route. I think Britney and Christina are following the leader, however. Their “idol” Madonna started it all.

Any good mother will pay attention to what’s out there and limit their child’s exposure. However, it gets tougher everyday. There’s so much media that there’s no way to totally protect your child. I took to watching questionable television shows with my daughter just so I could act as a counterpoint to them. I think that’s the only thing you can do these days. You must be a constant voice inside your child’s head.
Deborah Durkee
Tampa, Florida

LEFT-COASTER
Hate to tell you this but the subject and content of your free, online articles has gone downhill in the last month. I don’t know what it is but I no longer look forward to 9pm PST. I can’t complain about what I am not paying for, but we are in an election season — there should be plenty of good stuff to write about. Sorry,
Curt Wojo

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