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Past Present

Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.’s Missing Nixon:

Very good article on Nixon and his resignation post-30 years.

I think that the passing of the infamous date went under the media’s radar simply because it’s no longer the story it once was, and also because Americans are simply exhausted by scandal and the aftermath of political hubris.

Nixon is remembered for many things nowadays, both good, bad and just plain ugly, but at present he gets a fair shake and history looks on his administration more kindly than many of his fellow former presidents.

I had the pleasure of visiting the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace on this past Sunday, the 9th of August. It was a small crowd throughout the day, with no media present whatsoever. Still, the visit was both educational and, at the same, time, strange and slightly uncomfortable. For, though Nixon created a powerful imperial presidency and a strong conservative base within the GOP, he also had the taint, as early as 1969, of being a president consumed with screwing his enemies before they (through his own perception) screwed him.

His downfall and the cover-up of Watergate by having the CIA back off the investigation, even in his own words (and the Liberia is full of his quotes and his ruminations on his accomplishments), is inescapable and inexcusable. Even his own loyalists and intimates at the time finally had no choice but to move him, as gently as possible, toward resignation rather than impeachment (which would have left him open to criminal prosecution for obstructing justice). Remember, by August 1974 he had lost almost all support amongst the GOP base and his conservative friends in Congress. People who had stuck by him under many conditions suddenly saw no way to stick by him once the June 23, 1973 tape was made available to Sirica and Jaworski, as well as his own insiders. When Pat Buchanan heard the tape (and Pat would have gone into quicksand for the man), even he had a hard time reconciling the evidence at hand with his loyalties and animosity toward Nixon’s enemies. In the end, he would not abandon Nixon, but helped convince the family (Nixon’s true stalwarts) and his lawyer James St. Clair, that there was no more battle to be fought: the war over Watergate was over, and they had lost.

Still, Nixon will be remembered for more than Watergate (his prescience on China as an eventual economic powerhouse, for instance) and his legacy will endure; however, the taint of his misdeeds in office will cast a shadow over that legacy for generations to come (much as Clinton’s misdeeds will certainly follow his accomplishments into the history books). Nixon remains a giant in the political pantheon and his status, warts and all, will continue to be writ large into our nation’s history.
Christian Hokenson

A careful examination of the available evidence (listen to Ford’s explanation of his pardon. The chief accuser of Nixon regularly lied under oath.) indicates that Nixon would not have been found guilty in a fair court of law. He was done in by public opinion.

There is great probability that the House impeachment committee knew the case against Nixon was weak.

Be that as it may be, why are after 30 years the Star Chamber preceding of the House Impeachment committee still secret?
William M. Selenke
Cincinnati, Ohio

Re: Thomas H. Lipscomb’s John Kerry’s Bodyguard of Lies:

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant, thank you very much.
Gene Hauber
Meshoppen, Pennsylvania

Indeed, it is time for the press to investigate and objectively report on, rather than attack, the allegations of the Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth. That dog’s not going to hunt, though.

The partisan press is rooting for and supporting John Kerry’s election. They’ve deep-sixed this story, just as they did with Juanita Broaddrick and the Arkansas state troopers during Bill Clinton’s presidential candidacy. The lady and the troopers raised unpleasant history-partisan-press-speak for legitimate, likely truthful issues-that was damning to Clinton.

As an opinionist said this week, if the partisan press gave one-tenth of the time it gave to Richard Clarke’s and Joe Wilson’s fantasies and lies — or even Michael Moore’s “9/11” fakeumentary — the public would know a lot about Mr. Kerry and his Vietnam service.

But, then, if the senator were just to release his entire service record and answer all the allegations-instead of engaging in his predictable attack-and-deflect, protest-way-too-much, bring-out-the-lawyers reactions-we’d know what he did or did not do.

That is, if he were genuinely honest and forthcoming, not nuanced.
C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia

You fail to mention the most troubling part of the SwiftVets accusations: Kerry’s claims to have been in Cambodia on Christmas, 1968, on a secret mission of some sort. The evidence has accumulated overwhelmingly that this is false. Thus far the DNC damage control on this issue is not convincing. What is most disturbing to me, however, is the June 2003 article in the Washington Post by Laura Blumenfeld describing Kerry carrying around a briefcase with a false bottom containing a cap given to him by a CIA agent during “a special mission in Cambodia.” Since all the available evidence that I have seen (and I have looked at tons) does not support his ever being there, this story, if true, causes deep concern that Kerry’s problem is not simply political opportunism but lies deeply in some sort of psychiatric disorder that cannot discern reality where his ego needs are concerned. I am no psychiatrist. But I do have common sense. And the above makes the current controversy alarming for all who love this country. He may have fantasized about his war heroism, inflating actual events and now these Cambodia questions arise. This needs to be seriously investigated and cleared up honestly for the sake of the country. This man wants to be our leader in a time of peril for us. Whether he is a fantasist, political opportunist, or true war hero should be determined as much as it can be. The consequences of blowing this off are too significant if these things are true.
Florence Schmieg
Wilmington, Delaware

Once again I’m indebted to Mr. Lipscomb for his clarity of insight. Back in May of 2001, the then Senator Kerrey of 9/11 Commission infamy was in the midst of his own Vietnam combat controversy. Lipscomb cleared away the brush and smoke with a very pointed analysis, “Saving Lt. Kerrey.” This proved to be the only pronouncement that I ever saw on the subject that actually addressed the important, underlying issues. His piece on the Senator Kerry of current interest and the indictment meted out by the Swiftvets is also probably the best you’re going to see regarding the current brouhaha. And I would venture that it’s quite unlikely Kerry or his Kerrymen, sorry, Kerrypersons, will ever provide a reasoned, factual refutation of the charges. Probably because they can’t. Look for nothing but smoke continuously emanating from every available Democratic political propaganda orifice.

Kudos to Mr. Lipscomb.
Dennis Sevakis
Bloomfield, Michigan

It was my understanding that this could all be cleared up if Senator Kerry released his military records. If he is telling the truth.

If it was that simple, wouldn’t he have done it?
Paul Cousineau
Escanaba, Michigan

Re: Eric Peters’ SUV Rollovers and Reader Mail’s Consumer Reports:

The rollover problem is not simply a matter of “don’t try to bend a Ford Explorer around a curve as if it were a Mazda sports car.” It is not even a matter of being more limited in making evasive maneuvers.

A vehicle can be “tripped” after the driver has lost control. Once the vehicle is out of control — it could be the result of cornering on an icy road or on gravel, a tire blowout, or a skid caused by a collision — the vehicle can go careening into things that can tip it over like a curb, a ditch, or other obstacle.

People shouldn’t drive Ford Explorers well in excess of the legal speed limit on tires they haven’t checked in who-knows-when without wearing seat belts. But once you have lost control of your vehicle for whatever reason, you are along for the ride, and a car is going to give a different ride than an SUV. This point was missing from the recent broadcast news piece as well as the Spectator discussion of this issue.
Paul Milenkovic
Madison, Wisconsin

Re: John McGinnis’s letter in Reader Mail’s Consumer Reports:

Since I publicly admitted to joining Mr. McGinnis in his quest for common sense and logic in government. An unheard of idea, I would like to invite the estimable Mr. McGinnis to enlist in my crusade to protect our great country from government. Please be aware of a slight conflict on my part. I was born just a tic before WWII in Washington D.C. and lived there until I managed to escape in mid 1971.

There are two reforms that need immediate implementation. First, all TV cameras must be removed from any and all properties of the federal, state, or local governments where politicians are or may from time to time be. Imagine with me a moment that there is nowhere a TV camera for Sen. Schumer or Sen. Kennedy, or Sen. Byrd to get in front of and begin an oration. I estimate that the number of speeches will be cut in half and the remaining half will be significantly shortened and toned down. Committee members will actually ask witnesses questions instead of “asking” self-serving speeches.

The second reform would be to enact, implement, and enforce an absolute and complete ban on air conditioning in any federal building within the confines of the greater Washington D.C, area and its suburbs. I, of course, would keep the current dress code for politicians of suits and ties for the men and dresses or pants suits for the women. Yes, I know what the weather is like in Washington in the Summer. That is precisely the point. Within about two years we will be back to the point where Congress recesses from the first of May until the last day of September every year. This will save uncountable amounts of money in air conditioning costs, salary for the pols and their staff, legislative costs associated with enacting laws, the forgone costs of new legislation, etc.

It really was not until the FDR administration that the Congress started staying in session virtually year round. Washington was virtually emptied out by May first at the absolute latest and stayed that way until at least the first of October or later.

Televising congressional business was supposed to let the ordinary citizen see his representatives at work. Instead it turned the politicians into the biggest ham actors on the planet. Less actual business gets done in three times the time. The only committees actually doing decent work are the ones like the military and intelligence ones meeting behind closed doors out of the spotlight. Of course there would be additional benefits in that Rather, Jennings, Brokaw, Wallace, etc. would be immediately surplus baggage on TV.

Think about it, Mr. McGinnis. This could contribute to the biggest return to sanity and common sense since at least the early 1900s. And some of the other fairly regular letter writers might want to join the cause also The more the merrier.
Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

Re: Kurt Schori’s letter (“Swiss Miffed”) in Reader Mail’s Consumer Reports:

I appreciate Kurt Schori’s response to Chris Mark’s letter (“The Old World’s Choice”) in Reader mail’s Boat People. From it one can see that he put a lot of effort into it. Nonetheless it contains numerous errors:

Mr. Schori assails the United States because “There are at least 50 major trouble spots and many smaller ones worldwide, and we don’t see YOU giving help in all of them.” So it must be our responsibility to be everywhere and to fix every problem in the world? Kind of unrealistic, don’t you think, even for a nation as powerful as the United States? I mean, can’t you Europeans handle anything by yourself?

He then follows with the example of Serbia, where Switzerland is building infrastructure. Well, that’s great, and I commend the Swiss Federation for doing it. But for Mr. Schori to resent us for not participating in every single foreign aid project is ridiculous. Besides, we’ve got thousands of troops in the Balkans keeping the peace, and in fact there would have been no opportunity for the Swiss to do anything in Serbia had the United States not stopped the fighting and ethnic cleansing there. The Europeans, he might recall, were powerless to do anything about it until we took the leadership role. As to the 50 trouble spots in the world, in may interest Mr. Schori to know that we have military forces providing security in over 100 countries across the globe. But I suppose Mr. Schori will glibly dismiss those efforts as Americans being “aggressors.”

Yes, we Americans do believe that we saved Europe from itself on several occasions, because it’s true. But to imply that we do not credit our British (or Canadian) allies is just wrong. We also give great credit to the Soviet people, notwithstanding the fact that we also had to later defend Europe from the Red Army and all the concomitant horrors of communism. But the fact is that Europe, despite its own sense of cultural and moral superiority, has a penchant for self-destruction characteristic of more primitive societies, and which it can only blame on itself. Perhaps as a Swiss, living in a well-run but small nation that is armed (properly) to the teeth to protect itself and has managed to avoid armed conflict for centuries, Mr. Schori cannot appreciate the responsibilities of a great nation the way an American or a Briton can.

To call us exterminators is truly beyond the pale. To make such an accusation without any proof is more than irresponsible, it is despicable. (Some left-over ordinance in Laos doesn’t quite come up to the level of “extermination.”) Again, what did the continental Europeans do when Hitler exterminated the Jews and Gypsies, and Milosevic “ethnically cleansed” the Kosovar Albanians and Bosnian Muslims?

I don’t know what Mr. Schori is talking about when he says our networks have been denigrating Europe’s achievements and industrial prowess. Which network is he watching? And when have we ever threatened Europe with our military power? That statement is simply absurd.

Our economy is wasteful? How is that? We produce over 25% of the world’s product with less than 6% of the population. Our productivity per worker is at the top of the heap. Again, another baseless claim that should be an embarrassment to anyone making it. And without our economy pulling the world along things would be a lot less pleasant in Europe, too. I mean, where would Mercedes, Jaguar, BMW, Porsche, Land Rover, Ferrari/Maserati and Audi be without us importing their gas-guzzling luxury sedans and sports cars, not to mention the huge SUVs that make Mr. Schori so angry?

As to Mr. Schori’s claim that we are unable to provide certain basic services to many of our citizens, where did Mr. Schori get the idea that we don’t have clean air and water? In fact the air is cleaner in this country than in much of Europe, where many countries have no emissions tests for automobiles and trucks. Our system of higher education is the envy of the world, and ALL children, regardless of socioeconomic background are afforded the opportunity of primary and secondary education. Sure, the system isn’t perfect, but I would venture that we spend more per pupil than any European country. As to health care, nobody goes without it in the United States. Yes, many people are without health insurance, but not health care. As to the wonders of government-provided health services, when I lived in Boston it always struck me as interesting the numerous Quebec license plates on cars in the parking garage at the Massachusetts General Hospital, even though Canada has a European-style government-run health care system. I suppose those wealthy Canadians didn’t want to wait several months for a much needed MRI when they could get one immediately in the States just by paying the freight. But too bad for the poorer Quebecois, right? No égalité for them, eh?

What we unquestionably do better than Europe is provide our citizens with a job, as our %5.5% unemployment rate contrasted with the continent’s nearly 10% rate clearly demonstrates. What Mr. Schori should try to understand is that in America most folks want to provide for themselves, and do not want to rely on government transfers other people’s wealth for their support. It’s called having self-respect, and that’s how we pursue our happiness, whether it meets with Mr. Schori’s approval or not.
Paul M. DeSisto
Cedar Grove, New Jersey

Kurt Schori accused Chris Marks of sloppy thinking. I refute that claim and instead aim it towards Mr. Schori himself.

“1. Many Americans are enraged because we do not support them in Iraq. Well, we are on the side of the USA on many fronts that make sense — fighting terrorism or stabilizing weak countries where your nation does not even care to look…”

Fronts that make sense? Sorry, Mr. Schori, but toppling an evil dictatorship that funds terrorism and denies basic human rights to its people makes sense to me.

“2. Americans like to think that they have saved Europe on several occasions in the last century. How about thinking that the Brits, the Continental resistance fighters (including your enemies the Serbs, by the way), and the Soviet Red Army drastically helped reduce the danger of Nazi troops ever landing in the USA? And how about thinking that the fourth or fifth assassination attempt on Hitler (which would have happened with high probability, as many high officers of the Wehrmacht were not at ease with affairs in Germany) would have been successful? You want to make the world believe that American soldiers died for Europe only. Well, many Europeans and millions of Russians died for America, too.”

I think the important fact missed here is that in no way did elite European military forces shield the weakling U.S. from a threatening Nazi Germany. Quite the opposite in fact, Europeans ignored Germany until it was too late, and finally faced them with drastically outmatched armies in a desperate attempt to stem the tide of death that was steamrolling its way into the heart of greater Europe. And the Soviets were not much better, they simply choose not to acknowledge that Germany had broken treaties before with impunity, and would not hesitate to turn on their comrades once their business in the west was complete. They too fought to protect their homeland, it was not, as Mr. Schori would like it to seem, a move to protect a country thousands of miles away.

“3. You want to see yourself as the great peacemakers. Have a look at your own history and make the long list of bloody conflicts in
which you were aggressors or even exterminators…”

Laos, Vietnam, WWI, WWII, Iraq, all conflicts in which the United States opposed dictatorships or communist advances. This snippet of writing makes it seem as if Mr. Schori is siding with evil. How can he criticize the U.S. for these conflicts when the people we were fighting against were and still are considered some of the most evil men on earth?

“4. You want the world to believe that Europeans are envious of your

This is laughable. This kind of statement is a lie that serves only to fuel the stereotypical conflict between the “Oh-so-pious Euros” and the “brash, wild Yankees.” It is really starting to become hackneyed.

The rest of this article generalizes Europeans as environment friendly sociological/economical geniuses, and accuses Americans of being gas-guzzling fools whose country is moments away from imploding. It is my humble opinion that Mr. Schori is either terribly misinformed or a liar.
Nicholas R. Lemoine
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Mr. Kurt Schori’s letter, in response to Chris Marks’s letter, is revealing. A few counterpoints:

1. Mr. Schori recounts that there are “at least 50 major trouble spots and many smaller ones worldwide, and we don’t see YOU giving help in half of them.” The United States does help in many of those trouble spots, but we can’t be everywhere at once. Mr. Schori seems to believe that we lack moral authority because we are not involved in “all” of those trouble spots. This reflects the illogical position that America should be involved in “all” trouble spots Europe believes are worthy of attention, and yet when we do become involved we get lovely letters from “better informed” and “smarter” Europeans such as yourself decrying our involvement.

2. The Swiss, I believe, sat out World War II, while making money off of the Nazis and their victims, Jewish and non-Jewish. The Red Army fought for Communism, although Josef Stalin made sure to present the Great Patriotic War to the Russian people as a fight for Mother Russia, so as to engender maximum support. It is a veritable fact that the United States did save Europe, particularly through the service of our military men and women and through material assistance to the French, British, Russians, and many others. Many soldiers from these nations died, and to state that the U.S. fought to save Europe detracts nothing from their sacrifice and bravery. No less a figure than Sir Winston Churchill acknowledged the role America would play in his famous “We Shall Fight on the Beaches” speech given in the House of Commons on June 4, 1940 when he said:

“…we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

3. Nations fight wars. This has been so from time immemorial. Look at the evidence. In World War I, President Wilson sought to achieve a lasting peace at Versailles, and it was the nations of Europe who fought against it and set the stage for World War II. The United States, under President Carter, negotiated peace between Egypt and Israel. President Reagan set the stage for peace with the former Soviet Union. President Clinton negotiated peace in the Balkans. In the Balkans, Europe stood by while thousands were slaughtered and moved not a finger to stop the killing or negotiate a peace until America got involved.

4. The United States enjoys many advantages over Europe because in general we have more economic freedom to allow markets to operate freely. We do have some subsidies, and we would do well to be rid of many of them. However, most Americans do not down talk Europe. To most of us, it seems you got it right backwards. Take a look at the European coverage of and general lack of assistance in Iraq, particularly from France, Germany, and Russia. Denigrating downtalk at every turn about the progress that has been made in Iraq.

5. Europe is facing demographic problems because they bought into the discredited Malthusian economic theories that ignored technical innovation and progress as tools to utilize resources, avoid resource scarcity, and create substitutes. They are now faced with a population decline that they would do well to address immediately.

6. To my knowledge, the United States has not threatened a European nation militarily since the fall of the Soviet Union. We understand many situations do not call for military solutions. However, many Europeans falsely believe that NO situations call for military solutions, such as in Bosnia. Our economy makes effective use of available resource. Our overall productivity is ample evidence of this. As for your disparagements of our culture, we are used to it, and it doesn’t bother us because we continue to produce movies, for example, which Europeans continue to buy, which sends capital to the United States for further investment which increases our productivity which accounts for our economic advantages vis-a-vis much of Europe which allows us to provide more for our weaker and less fortunate citizens… You get the idea. Or maybe not.
Andy Fuller
Washington, D.C.

In response to the above reader’s diatribe, which was seething with jealousy and distaste for America, it is hilarious that you, who live in a country that doesn’t have the intestinal fortitude to take a side and act in any international conflict, would have the nerve to condemn our country, which unashamedly takes the side of freedom and liberty wherever it is threatened. Our military, which you claim has inserted itself in a “long list of bloody conflicts in which you were aggressors or even exterminators,” has spilled its blood over 200 years so that many countries can drink from the cup of freedom and your country can be free to remain “neutral.” While your fathers and grandfathers were participating in “passive facilitation” of the Nazis through Swiss bank accounts, our fathers and grandfathers were spilling their blood on the beaches of Normandy. Don’t re-write our contributions to a free Europe. Our contributions, in part, are buried at Normandy American Cemetery, home to the graves of 9,387 Americans killed in the wake of the beach invasions of June 6, 1944.

Your attitude is typical of Europe. You hate how we feed you, clothe you, defend you, and keep you free. But when there is an international crisis, you implore us to act, whether it is in our national security interests or not. Then when we act, you claim we are shoving our form of democracy on others. Linguini-spined hypocrites!
Bill Kearney
Knoxville, Tennessee

Kurt Schori (a.k.a. the Swiss Michael Moore) is so full of it I don’t know where to start. I’ll just say this …Fine. We’ll take our infrastructure that provides for the European defense and go home (oops! 20 less weeks).
Tom Borchelt
Danville, California

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