- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Supporting war

The editorial “This is CNN” (Tuesday) references Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi’s defense of the network’s airing of footage of terrorist snipers shooting Americans: “Without a draft, it is easy for the rest of the country to tune out casualties.”

Actually, this is an exact reverse of the thinking behind eliminating the draft.

During the Vietnam War, anonymous draftees could die without causing much impact on the community.

The shift to a volunteer force and reliance on the National Guard was chosen so the military would not be put into the position of waging an unpopular war without community support.

When Guard troops are called up, wounded and/or die, the continued support of the community is a measure the military can see. When the local policeman or teacher is called up and goes to war, the community sees and remembers. The loss of that support is supposed to be a built-in tripwire alerting generals to start planning a stop.

Those discussing eliminating the Guards’ wartime responsibilities show a lack of understanding of the fundamental design.

R. LEMONT

Los Angeles

Satire or not?

I can only assume that Cal Thomas’ Oct. 20 Commentary column, “Long count … new minority,” is meant to be a satirical view of white supremacy as the true glue that keeps America strong. I do hope that people who feel an inherent sense of superiority become a vanishing minority.

It’s time we cease the assumption that white heterosexual people own America and that everyone else is to be treated as invaders who threaten civilization, morality and the survival of the human race.

Intelligent people take the time to treat other individuals individually. Assuming that same-sex couples fornicate, flaunt and have a common “lifestyle” is about as ridiculous an idea as assuming that all heterosexual married couples attend church regularly and are role models who deserve special rights and hold the exclusive key to morality.

My same-sex partner and I own a house in the suburbs. We go to work every day and mow the lawn on weekends. We celebrate holidays and birthdays with the kids and the grandkids.

The only thing we flaunt are the many wallet photos of our wonderful grandkids. The institution that allows people like Britney Spears to have drive-through weddings is not part of the “gay lifestyle” (whatever that mythical thing is).

I’m trying to understand Mr. Thomas’ understanding of that. Is he suggesting that heterosexual people don’t spread sexually transmitted degrees? Or do they get those diseases from homosexuals?

America is full of individuals, not groups of stereotypes making up the good tribes who “know the true way” versus the invading tribes who don’t. It’s time to stop depicting people by negative stereotypes that aren’t even worth debating, let alone repeating. It’s hateful and destructive. This is what’s dividing American people today. We are one nation. Let’s start acting like it.

JOHN DE LA ROCHE

East Lyme, Conn.

Agreeing to disagree

Although I agree with the conclusion of Michael Martin that we conservatives should not vote for a candidate simply to maintain our party’s dominance in Congress (“Will conservatives stay home?” (Letters, Monday) I could not disagree more with one prominent plank in his argument, that a candidate for federal office should be prepared to demonstrate “all he has done to support the president [and] the secretary of defense.”

That line of thinking does not wash when the president and secretary of defense, like those currently serving, have brought our nation into a disastrous occupation of a country in a misguided attempt to impose upon it a democracy that it does not want. At almost every turn in this conflict, from the planning stage (assuming there was any planning) to the current morass, President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld have chosen the path that causes the greatest amount of misery, bloodshed and financial cost and does nothing to provide any light at the end of the tunnel — nothing that would demonstrate that we are working toward someday being able to extricate our troops from this conflict and from their serving as sitting ducks for Iraqis bent on slaughtering themselves and our soldiers.

This conservative is looking for candidates who have demonstrated that they have challenged this president and secretary of defense on the myriad occasions when the two leaders have been wrong and when their actions have diminished the respect and prestige the United States enjoys throughout the world.

OREN M. SPIEGLER

Upper Saint Clair, Pa.

Pros and cons of diesel

I rarely agree with European economic or energy policy, but Europe got this one right (“Deep sell on diesels,” Commentary, Tuesday). I have never been able to understand why the diesel engine did not become the engine of choice for American car buyers.

The diesel thermodynamic cycle is inherently more efficient than the Otto cycle upon which the gasoline engine is based. As George Lesser points out, the diesel is mechanically simpler and has a much greater durability than the gasoline engine.

It could have been different. The federal mileage standards drove the family station wagon into extinction and gave way to the minivan, sport utility vehicle and monster pickup truck.

Rarely are these vehicles used as they were intended — as commercial workhorses. Instead, we have the majority of the population driving around in large vehicles with a high center of gravity and poor maneuverability. As a Rube Goldberg backfit to compensate for the poor handling, you add an anti-lock braking system and even active suspension control.

There even is a move to require strengthening the roofs for protection in the inevitable rollover. On top of all this, you add a hybrid power system, the Achilles heel being a very expensive battery; don’t expect to get 500,000 miles of use from it.

It is too bad — the public could have had its cake and eaten it too, but the way things have worked out, people are going to be buying very expensive batteries and/or prodigious amounts of gasoline to drive their Rube Goldberg vehicles.

SAMUEL BURKEEN

Reston

I read the article “Deep sell on diesels” with great interest. I have been a lifelong automotive hobbyist, and in 1978, my wife and I bought a new Mercedes 300D sedan.

We were living in Germany at that time and took delivery at the factory in Sindelfingen that spring. We truly enjoyed the car at that time, but when we returned to the United States, things began to change.

The first problem was the quality (or lack thereof) of diesel fuel. With the onset of cold weather, the car became increasingly hard to start. We finally discovered that the fuel had not been winterized, and we were directed to purchase a winterizing additive that partly solved the problem. We still had problems in really cold weather. The fuel would freeze in the lines, and the engine would die while we were driving.

The second problem was caused by the government. One of the reasons I had selected this car was that President Carter was urging us all to buy fuel-efficient cars that would save money and oil.

About a year after we arrived back in the states, Congress in its infinite wisdom raised the taxes on diesel fuel about 400 percent, making diesel more expensive than gasoline.

The third problem was another fuel-quality problem. Diesel attracts water, and the water that accumulates in the fuel tank grows algae in large quantities, which plugs up the fuel lines and causes the engine to die and not restart. The mechanics to whom we took the car couldn’t diagnose or solve the problem. After being towed a half-dozen times, we decided to sell the car, vowing never again to purchase a diesel-powered vehicle.

When one is fighting the gas stations, the greedy government and incompetent mechanics, it’s time to surrender.

JAMES R. CAMPBELL

Arlington

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