Saturday, April 22, 2006

Honoring Scott Crossfield

In the winter of 2002, I was the chairman of a national organization devoted to arming airline pilots in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11.

Scott Crossfield contacted me and offered to help (“Legendary pilot crashes,” Nation, Friday). I quickly learned that Mr. Crossfield’s reputation was not a product of the media; it was very real. He spoke in blunt terms about the requirement to arm pilots and to do so rapidly, as well as the political ground that needed to be covered in order to get there.

As an executive at Eastern Airlines, he knew that many of his pilots illegally carried guns and he was glad they did. As the FAA liaison to Congress in the late 1980s, he loudly dissented when the decision was made to force pilots to go through pre-flight security screening, effectively disarming them. Mr. Crossfield predicted attempted cockpit takeovers. Sadly, his foresight was terribly, brutally, accurate.

At my request, Mr. Crossfield wrote to President Bush in support of arming pilots. His writing was reminiscent of a generation that is now all but gone and sadly missed. He spoke proudly as an American man, ready to stand tall and defend himself and his country. He boldly and forcefully exhorted our president to allow airline pilots to do the same. Mr. Crossfield was an American, a proud naval aviator, an unflinching test pilot who pushed his rocket-plane through Mach 2 and a man that could not understand anyone who could not muster the moral courage to do whatever was necessary to defend our nation.

Mr. Crossfield lent his considerable knowledge and his larger-than-life reputation to the effort to arm pilots. He rests now with our Lord, and we know that his contributions made a difference, as they always did. I am lucky to have known him and all of us are a little worse off today without him.

I will close by paraphrasing a letter that Mr. Crossfield wrote to President Bush at my request. “When I first met Scott Crossfield, he had already left a signature trail that he was a man who could be counted on face adversity and hold his own. If only in the name of men like him, let us not compound our errors and betray the lessons left us so recently.” Amen, Sir.

Rest well, Scott Crossfield.


Fairfax Station, Va.

In defense of the secretary

The call for the resignation of our secretary of defense by retired generals does not remind one of Harry S. Truman’s firing of Gen. Douglas MacArthur (“Seven days in April,” Op-Ed, Tuesday). Gen. MacArthur was a class act and made his disagreement while on active duty and was the top military officer in operational command of the Korean War. He refused to use his political and military notoriety for any personal gain by fanning the controversy and simply “faded away” in retirement. History has proven him right about Korea; however, sadly, he was neither the commander in chief nor the secretary of defense.

The current six-pack of generals trying to make a case would be more like the 90-day “warrior” John “Fonda” Kerry (a la Swift Boat version), waiting until safely removed from the action (along with a pretty decent retirement check, in their cases) to do the posturing and perhaps even do some fudging of the facts to gain a position as a military analyst, or play “if they had only listened to me…” — a shameless martyr’s game.

Everyone who has served for any length of time in the military reaches a point where his moral courage versus apple polishing becomes an issue. Unfortunately, some will get one promoted to their level of incompetence, sometimes beyond. That usually makes for some brilliant Monday-morning quarterbacks. The generals should remember that the high opinion the public has of the military is probably more related to those who were willing to die for their country than those who were assigned the job of managing their deaths and then failed to remember their sacrifice by becoming part of the hack political scene.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is probably the most qualified, experienced and talented secretary of defense this country has ever had and runs the Department of Defense instead of the letting the politicians, military-industrial complex and subversive media tell him how to do his job. The six-pack of generals have only given aid and comfort to the enemies of our country. Considering our current immigration and spending problems, and Democrats obstructing the war on terror, Mr. Rumsfeld’s modernization of the military may turn out to be the only worthwhile thing to have happened in the Bush administration.

Mr. Rumsfeld would have meshed well with warrior generals like George S. Patton, Curtis LeMay and MacArthur.


Murrells Inlet, S.C.

Making way for a third-party candidate

There is surely much that is wrong with existing public financing programs. Former Federal Election Commission Chairman Bradley Smith (“The reformers’ earmark,” Commentary, April 15) has been a leader in exposing how over-regulation has impeded the ability of citizens to make their voices heard and subjected candidates and their supporters to a maze of complex regulations that only a handful of lawyers understand.

It’s unfortunate that, having left the FEC, Mr. Smith has now decided to use my client Lenora Fulani and other third party candidates as foils for his attack on public financing of presidential campaigns as one more example of government waste.

Indeed, it may be that the only positive thing about public financing is that it does make it possible for independent and third party candidates to mount meaningful, if not competitive, campaigns.

Lenora Fulani made good use of federal funds to run a campaign that helped expose the extent to which the two-party monopoly of our electoral system deprives voters of meaningful choices.

Mr. Smith would do better to focus on how major-party candidates such as John Kerry received tens of millions of dollars in public funding at the same time that his campaign and his party organized a nationwide effort to keep Ralph Nader off the ballot in as many states as possible during the 2004 presidential election.

He would also do better to refrain from taking Mrs. Fulani’s words, written in a 1989 review of a play, out of context in a way that distorts her meaning.


Law Offices of Harry Kresky

New York

CEOs who produce are worth the money

So what’s the problem if CEOs are making the big bucks (“Pay rolls,” Business, Thursday)? Why, some CEO salaries are more like the salary of a basketball bouncer in the National Basketball Association, the contract for the latest Hollywood cutie, or the earnings of a foul-mouthed rapper riding high on the CD charts.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy knockout actresses on the big screen, and I’ve got no problem with talented ballplayers. But surely men and women who have spent a lifetime building up the skills and knowledge needed to oversee the production of billions of dollars of products in a global economy deserve an extra large slice on payday.

If they aren’t producing, show ‘em the door, I say. But those who are keeping the wheels turning in American industry have nothing to be ashamed of. Many could retire to the beach in Rio and enjoy the sunset for the rest of their lives. Do we want them there, or at work where they create benefits for us all? I vote for paying them what it takes to keep them at the office.

Not only that, but I believe their financial success should be as well-known as that of famous actresses, ballplayers and rap stars. Maybe then kids in our schools who are now so often entranced by the “bling” of the lowlife will realize that big business is a calling that is just as exciting, challenging and lucrative as the world of Hollywood.



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