- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 23, 2006

American mettle

The clash over civilization, as opposed to the clash of civilizations, is a very good one and needs to be waged louder and clearer. The increasingly nasty rhetoric of ignorance spewing from the political left has infected otherwise rationally minded people of both the right and the left, who are questioning the need for the Iraq war, and indeed our involvement in it on all fronts, as if we could somehow retreat to the safety we imagine we have between our own shores.

This illusion of safety is false as false can be, and the Tim Robbinses and Susan Sarandons of the left, by their constant harping and ignorant spouting of socialist platitudes, are, through the press they control, emboldening the barbarians of Islam. We cannot simply withdraw from this fight, because it was brought to our shores on September 11, 2001.

If we stop the fight now, there is a better than fair chance we will see a lot more September 11-type attacks in the United States. To go the way the leftists desire is to choose the way of chaos and loss of liberty in more places than just America. The whole Free World needs us to stand tall and firm, reassure it we will be in the fight to the end and show the mettle that has made America great. As we used to say in my youth, “Give ‘em steel.”



The Democrats’ propaganda machine

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid once again demonstrates his fundamental dishonestly by declaring that a protracted conflict in Iraq “… was never contemplated or approved by the American people” (“Bush commits until 2009,” Page 1, Wednesday).

When Americans in large numbers supported the liberation of Iraq in 2003, they did so with the full understanding that this would not be a short conflict like 1991’s Operation Desert Storm. Americans knew this war would not be easy, but they recognized that it was necessary to forestall the likelihood of another September 11-type attack.

Now, three years after the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, President Bush’s poll numbers have declined, largely because of incessant pessimistic propaganda from the press-Democratic Party complex. Americans may be uneasy about our efforts in Iraq — after having been told time and again that this war is an unwinnable quagmire. But when the war began, a large majority of Americans were fully committed to a protracted conflict in the name of protecting the homeland from a second terrorist attack. For Mr. Reid to suggest otherwise is unconscionable.



A soldier challenges the Hollywood left

I was fascinated to watch the exchange between actor Richard Belzer and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (“Into the lion’s den,” Inside Politics, yesterday). I have completed four combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. I participated in the initial invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and parachuted into Iraq three years ago this month. Most recently, I had the privilege of leading an infantry company in Mosul, Iraq. I use this as context, not authority, because, according to Mr. Belzer, participating in a conflict indicates a lack of understanding.

When I was younger, my father made me read a book by James Michener, “The Bridges at Toko-Ri.” When I finished, I told him the book was about naval aviators during the Korean War. He looked at me a little disappointed and told me I had missed the point. The book to him was not about pilots or the Korean War — it was about the bravery of men. At the end of the book, the captain of an aircraft carrier is watching his men suit up for yet another mission when he asks himself out loud, “Where do we get such men? Why is America lucky enough to have such men?”

Today, while actors and talk-show hosts see fit to broadly characterize the men and women of the armed forces as “19- and 20-year-old kids who couldn’t get a job,” we should be asking the same question.

I wish Bill Maher, Richard Belzer and the young adults of my generation who comment from campuses and talk shows all over the country and mistake knowledge for understanding could see what’s really happening over there. I welcome their right to disagree, but I wish they would educate themselves well enough to disagree intelligently.

They should see a 22-year-old spend two hours sitting on a hard concrete floor negotiating an electricity contract or generator plan only to hit an improvised explosive device emplaced by the very people he seeks to help; a 19-year-old female medic advise a 19-year-old Iraqi mother on how to treat her child’s ear infection; or men still dazed from a bomb blast that killed a friend and wounded seven others return from a mission and roll up their sleeves to give blood for the wounded, then clean the blood out of their vehicle to do a night patrol.

They do it without ceremony or formality; they do it because it is their job and they are driven by sense of purpose few in other professions can understand.

“Where do we get such men?” From all over — not just America, but from many other countries, but I know for sure the dedication required to do what they do every day is equal to the demands of any “real job.”


U.S. Army

Fort Lewis, Wash.

Taxing congressional rewrites

I have read with interest and some confusion the column “Tax reform by another name” (Commentary, March 5). It did whet my appetite when the writers, Ernest Christian and Gary Robbins, mentioned the report “Correcting Dumb Tax Rules That Make America Poorer.”

They mentioned the errant idea of “repealing the personal deductions for charitable giving and home mortgage interest.” They also spoke of the excess “of denunciations of the current tax code” and of “confusing academic jargon” — these two as presenting a “distorted picture.”

No one can refute the overload of “academic jargon.” In fact, the tax code is one of the best examples of this excess in modern politics. That brings me to the question: Why would they suggest that the best place to accomplish a fix for our tax woes is “in the workaday world of Congress’ tax-writing committees”? Has Congress not already created the greatest monster of all — the present tax code?

Won’t a new set of tweaks just make permanent the most recent exemptions, which negated a broad array of additions that had closed a former perceived set of loopholes that had been created to ease the burden on a previously overtaxed segment of investors … ad infinitum?

All of the above jargon would be removed by the institution of a simple, transparent consumer tax on new products.

Several of the corrections the columnists mentioned in a more positive note would automatically be part of such a tax reform. Of course, I am speaking of the FairTax.

No more federal taxes on businesses; expensing capital investments would become a moot point. The “fancy-pants niggling” by accountants would end; accountants would be used for what accountants do best, helping businesses make good business decisions. Contribution caps on IRAs would not be up for discussion because all savings accounts would be as good as IRAs, only better. Income tax would not just be deferred — it would never be collected.

As mentioned above, the FairTax would remove the taxes on businesses that cause the sale of American goods overseas to be penalized by higher prices. It would automatically collect taxes on foreign goods sold in the U.S., creating an equal playing field. The helpful base-broadening you mentioned would be extended to illegal residents and profiteers from the underground economy, possibly creating trillions of tax dollars.


Fern Park, Fla.

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