19 January 2006

A Letter to the Editor of the Lexington Herald-Leader

Here's a nasty little cartoon:

I didn't like it. In fact, I didn't like it a lot, so I wrote the Editor of the Lexington Herald-Leader a letter.
The cartoon you printed on 17NOV was not a political commentary; it was vandalism, appreciated only by the same crowd who think that religious symbols covered in urine and dung somehow constitute art.
You should be ashamed for having printed such puerile filth, and poorly drawn filth at that. If you insist on sinking to this level, it could at least have some talent behind it.
Yes, I am a Republican. No, I would not find value in sick jokes which tear and strain to link Democrat policies with cannibalism and the grisly practices (live beheading) of our enemy. If you doubt that al-Zarqawi and his minions are your personal enemy, I suggest you travel there and ask him yourself. And if you go, please take that disgusting cartoonist with you. He can interpret for you. He speaks their language.
Haakon B. Dahl, LT USNR
Yokosuka, Japan

Note that I wrote that letter to the EDITOR of the paper, not to the cartoonist. What happened then? I received an answer from the cartoonist himself, who is presumably not also the Editor in such an auspicious paper as the Lexington Herald-Leader.[SEE UPDATE BELOW] I therefore consider this correspondance to have been made public. Accordingly, this is the "letter" I received from the cartoonist via e-mail:

sorry you didn't like the cartoon....i don't really understand your angry response...it seemed like a run-of-the-mill anti-cheney toon to me....everyone has their opinion.....thnx for your service and happy holidays!
joel pett

I didn't write to the cartoonist, I wrote to the Editor. I expected that my letter would be printed, responded to, or summarily ignored, and I confess that the last option is the one I most expected. I did not expect my criticism of (an employee? a contractor?) to simply be forwarded to that person for disposition. I ask the reader, Does your business work like that? Why not?
I did not expect the cartoonist to be able to "really understand" my "angry response". That's why I didn't write to the cartoonist. I can tell by the quality and content of the cartoon itself that the cartoonist will not understand the point I am making, or he would never have penned that foul little cartoon!
No, I wrote to the Editor of the paper in the same fashion in which one may complain to the manager of restaurant where one has been insulted by a wayward employee. Because the "author" did not attempt to write in English, I will not criticize his grammar, and while I may or may not appreciate the sentiment he attempts to express in his last "sentence", depending on just what the sentiment is, I find it hard to accept his thnx for my service. Really, I don't wish to seem ingracious in accepting thnx, but what is the correct response? ur wlkm? I just can't do it.
So assuming that "thnx" means "thank you" in this case, as opposed to the sound one might make when afflicted with congestion, I find that to be the one "sentence" with which I do not take issue. Would you say that the first sounds less than true? That the second is manifestly obvious? That the third is disingenuous? That is, if the cartoon is "run-of-the-mill", does the cartoonist expect to get paid for it? In the fourth sentence, he tries to be mealy-mouthed, but fails even in this as his grammar is not up to the task.
And that's it. I have not re-addressed my initial complaint; that has gone ignored in the original letter. And I have posted the cartoon here without permission; I do not fear a letter from their lawyers, but rather would welcome such a thing--any response not written with a crayon would be better than what I have gotten to date. Besides, I assert that this is Fair Use.
If I had wanted to engage in this sort of note-passing, I would have written to the cartoonist. Furthermore, I would have sent him a crudely drawn picture rather than go to all the trouble of writing an actual letter. I cannot bring myself to communicate in little ellipsis-separated snippets, completely devoid of any capitalization. Perhaps we all speak like this from time to time, and it is certainly not a matter of life and death whether or not some prescriptive grammar is followed. What has me so exercised is the utter and surpassing laziness, not even thinly veiled behind a form letter. This is laziness on parade, a militant apathy. And do not forget, this is the response garnered by a letter to the Editor of the Lexington Herald-Leader.

thnx 4 nthng.

UPDATE: Thanks to LGF reader and blogger J.D. , I learned that Mr. Joel Pett is indeed "on the editorial board" of this paper. My earlier qualms about private correspondance, however, are gone. This was a letter to the Editor, obviously for publication. I intended that my letter be published; I intended any response to be published. This is the way of letters to the Editor--nothing has changed. A paper's refusal to print criticism or its own weak-kneed response does not make the criticism or response private correspondance.

But what of Mr. Pett and the paper? Is this the best cartoon the paper could come up with? Is the Lexington Herald-Leader a little tight for cash, and has it asked an editor to fill in as a cartoonist? Editorial cartoons are the sort of thing many people would like to do, even for free. One need not suddenly add it to the job description of an obviously overworked and hurried Editor--look what happens to the quality!

So Mr. Joel Pett writes the editorials (?), prioritizes the news to be printed (?) and also pens the cartoons? Is he a man of such talent that more than three hundred people pay to read his writing, share his priorities, and chuckle at his vandalism? He must be an imposing figure. We shall try to find pictures of this man. Stay tuned.

Michelle Malkin has posteda Letter to the Editor of the Washington Post from no less than the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who are not happy with a different cartoon. I will run a side-by-side of the responses when the WaPo responds.

Commitments vs. Commitment

Walter Cronkite says we should have abandoned Iraq when a hurricane knocked out NOLA... He says it would have provided a perfect excuse. I beg to differ. He advocates running away from a commitment.

This would change the nature of all of our international commitments: "The United States hereby commits to come to the aid of any country signatory to this pact against aggression and other forms of tyranny--unless in case of rain, in which case we will only play home games."

A commitment is something you must do. Capital letter-C "Commitment" is what guarantees you will do it. A commitment is something you can point to on paper, and is something which can be counted, whereas Commitment is found within the hearts of trustworthy people, and cannot be measured by number or degree. Commitment is either present or absent, true or false. Commitments can be altered, but Commitment cannot.

Thanks to our Unlce Walter, I have learned that I can sum up the difference between the American Right and the American Left in one word, indeed, one letter:

Liberals have commitments.
Conservatives have Commitment.

16 January 2006

"No Regrets" Cronkite says Abandon Iraq

Here is a snippet I have edited [see brackets below] from Breitbart.com:
Former CBS anchor Walter Cronkite, whose 1968 conclusion that the Vietnam War was unwinnable keenly influenced public opinion then, said Sunday he'd say the same thing today about Iraq. "It's my belief that we should get out now," Cronkite said in a meeting with reporters.
"We had an opportunity to say to the world and Iraqis..." [that America was broke after Hurricane Katrina,] "...that "our hearts are with you" and that the United States would do all it could to rebuild their country, he said.

Note that what he calls an "opportunity" is actually an excuse. Things which make yur life harder do not provide opportunities, they remove opportunities. They may, however, provide you with an excuse. The only difference between taking an opportunity with or without an excuse is your own fortitude. So Mr. Cronkite is a Socialist of the cut-and-run variety, but without the cojones to say so.
This sort of decision-making may be popular in France, but it never pans out for the states. For an example, think of our crushing defeat in the 1968 Tet offensive. That was a handy excuse to leave Viet--hey, wait a minute--Tet was a defeat for the other side!
In fact, the only thing more galling than Uncle Walter's surrender without the balls to say "surrender" is the fact that he always seems to think that the right time to surrender is when we really start kicking ass. After the Tet offensive, the North Vietnamese were doomed unless for some reason the U.S. were to simply leave the battlefield. Similarly, now that Iraq has had three elections, we are scheduled to start reducing our presence this year and the country grows more stable everyday, Syria stands busted, Libya has seen the light, and Afghanistan has high-ranking women in government--Yup, it's time to quit. To a man such as Walter Cronkite, this war is now unwinnable. That is because a man such as Walter Cronkite is actually on the other side. Feel free to check my math here, but it's only arithmetic: if America is winning (and we are) but he says "we" are losing (and he does), then it is clear who he means by "we".
"I think we could have been able to retire with honor," he said. "In fact, I think we can retire with honor anyway."

Speaking as if he were one of us, he whispers poisonous advice. So which is the deeper flaw? Is it the Bush Administration's failure to cut and run when we had a handy excuse, or the failure to cut and run (er, "retire") now without an excuse? Speaking of retirement, in other news, Cronkite assessed his own powers of decision making as deeply flawed:

"Twenty-four hours after I told CBS News that I was stepping down at my 65th birthday I was already regretting it and I've regretted it every day since," he said. "It's too good a job for me to have given it up the way that I did."
This is the melancholy sound of regret. Walter Cronkite doesn't even know how to retire from CBS with honor (hint: shut up), but somehow he knows how to run the world? This from the same man who says that we should cut and run from this war (like the last) whenever an excuse provides political cover. If (for some reason) the Bush administration were to take Cronkite's advice and later have regrets, what would those regrets be? Would they be the regrets of a Clinton or an Annan for action not taken?

CNN.com - Clinton expresses regret in Rwanda - Jul 23, 2005
KIGALI, Rwanda (Reuters) -- Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, visiting a Rwandan genocide memorial on Saturday, expressed regret for his "personal failure" to prevent the 1994 slaughter of 800,000 people. Clinton apologised on a previous visit to Rwanda in 1998 for not recognising the crime of genocide. Clinton administration officials avoided the word in public for fear it would spark an outcry for action they were loathe to take, six months after U.S. troops were killed by Somali warlords in Mogadishu.

BBC NEWS | Africa | UN chief's Rwanda genocide regret
"The United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has said he could and should have done more to stop the genocide in Rwanda 10 years ago.

At a memorial conference at the UN, Mr Annan said he realised he personally could have done more to rally support for international efforts to stop it.
"The international community is guilty of sins of omission," Mr Annan said.
The genocide - in which some 800,000 people died - occurred when Mr Annan was head of UN peacekeeping forces.
The UN Security Council failed to reinforce the small UN peacekeeping force in the country.
"The international community failed Rwanda and that must leave us always with a sense of bitter regret," Mr Annan said.
He said the painful memory had influenced many of his later decisions as secretary general.
"I believed at that time that I was doing my best," he said.
"But I realised after the genocide that there was more that I could and should have done to sound the alarm and rally support.""