Letters to the Editor for Wednesday, October 31, 2007
European and Mideast editions
(EDITOR’S NOTE: These are the letters that appeared in each edition of Stripes on this publication date. Click here to jump ahead to the Pacific edition letters)
Adjusting the COLA
It’s nice to see that the per diem committee is quick to adjust our cost-of-living allowance rates based on a spendable income statistic that doesn’t even include data for individuals who actually live overseas, but doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to adjust our rates to a continually falling dollar.
Yeoman Chris Verhasselt
No ‘warm and fuzzies’ here
I am writing this to all the self-described conservatives who are dissatisfied with the “liberal” slant of Stars and Stripes.
I am a liberal, and frankly, Stars and Stripes does not give me the warm and fuzzies when I read it. Let’s be honest about this: It is a collection of a wide variety of wire stories supplemented by some original reporting. That’s all it is, that’s all it tries to be.
I don’t think I have ever read an editorial written by the staff. I could be wrong, but mostly what is printed on the Op-Ed page tends to be syndicated columns. In my opinion, the choices there tend to skew toward the right. Some people want Stars and Stripes to be a “cheerleader for the military.” Isn’t it enough that we get a few hours every day of Fox News on AFN? Everyone knows that it is the Propaganda Directorate of the Republican Party. If I want someone to blow smoke up my butt, I can watch the TV.
One thing I would like to see less of in Stars and Stripes is the column of Ann Coulter, not because she’s conservative, but because she writes at the top of her lungs, like a skanky teenager who is ridiculed by the boys for being flat-chested. And ugly. Sarcasm became her coping mechanism. Her column must cost next to nothing to carry. Why not try carrying George Will or someone like that more often? He’s a verbose blowhard, but at least he can write.
Maj. Pat Young
Camp Victory, Iraq
U.S. should police itself first
Couldn’t help but comment on “Al Maliki seeks to approve all fraud cases” (article, Oct. 26).
Our/my country is certainly out of line in trying to prevent this action by al-Maliki, since several of our recent presidents no less have lied to Congress in front of the entire nation and “we the people” know it. High-powered politicos pardon each other in drug deals behind closed doors and “we the people” know it.
Rich, powerful friends of powerful politicoes are absolved of crimes and “we the people” know that, too. So, who is Mr. “one day will be caught with his pants down too” Waxman (Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif.) to say that an official of a sovereign government that we support cannot do the same within his own political circles. And our criticism of fraud and abuse in the Iraqi government need look no further than the Katrina mess to see that we need to clean our own house before we tell other people to clean theirs.
Iraq has a reason to be in this condition and the U.S. does not, except for the aforesaid rampant fraud, corruption and abuse, and somebody needs to go to jail for it in the U.S., not over here.
Let’s clean our own house and send some people to jail for their wrongdoings that “we the people” know about. Let’s not be like parents who will sometimes say “Do as I say, not as I do.”
Camp Ramadi, Iraq
Columnist biased against men?
On Oct. 17, Stars and Stripes ran “Deadbeat dads don’t always pay, but their kids do” (Opinion, Mary T. Wagner). She has some pretty strong opinions. There is nothing wrong with having opinions, but I would like to point out how dangerous a person like this is.
In her “anatomy” of a deadbeat, Wagner made many assertions. Given Wagner’s views on men, is she the best candidate to be a prosecutor?
Her biased column describes all of the deadbeats as men. Something is inherently wrong here. She seems to only see one side. Is it possible for a woman to be just as guilty? Absolutely. In fact, recent studies have shown that the number of female noncustodial parents [is growing and therefore the number of women behind in child support payments also is growing]. Wagner speaks seemingly with glee about convicting a father of a felony and imprisoning him for nonpayment, even though these methods won’t get any money out of anybody since they have now cost him his job.
I wonder if a man came to her for a mother not paying her dues, would Wagner prosecute a woman as feverishly? I hate to say I doubt it.
I have been the target of this type of prosecutor. Their opinion of me was predetermined and no amount of proof of payment (yes, I was paying), no amount of reasoning and cross complaints [was accepted].
For this assistant district attorney to suggest fathers (and apparently only fathers) are deadbeats, is a transgression that makes me wonder if any man could get a fair custody/child support resolution in Sheboygan County, Wis.
Sgt. W. Shawn O’Kelley
Camp Arifjan, Kuwait
Profanity in the military
Is it any wonder why Americans are called “the ugly Americans”?
How would we feel about going to a medical doctor, lawyer or teacher and listening to them use the “f word” to describe our condition, predicament or child’s grade? Do you suppose when Adm. Mike Mullen addresses the Joint Chiefs of Staff he uses inappropriate language?
The Code of Conduct clearly addresses the conduct of soldiers. It is unfortunate it is ignored in the case of the use of profanity.
All groups use a shared or common style of language to establish relationships and reinforce commitment to one another. We should all recognize that we must adjust our language in different situations. Fortunately for most, the vocabulary shared sets higher standards than profanity.
Mainstream America does not use cursing as a way to build teamwork. Cursing is offensive and demeaning to both the speaker and the listener. Leaders don’t become leaders by showing a lack of manners or judgment. They are chosen for their character and values.
Cursing in public does “bring discredit upon the armed forces” (Uniform Code of Military Justice 134). I agree with Master Chief Gustavo Beltra (command master chief of Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy) that profanity has no place in today’s military. Too often that language is not restricted to the workplace, leaving us to endure the offensive language in public places on and off post and in front of children.
It is time for the military to reflect on the way soldiers interact with each other, reduce stress and build effective leaders. What kind of image do we want our troops to present to people from other cultures and to our children and loved ones?
Don’t insult servicemembers
Let me applaud Stars and Stripes and American Forces Network for the balanced political viewpoints they make available to the overseas military community.
Opinions from Arianna Huffington and Ann Coulter in Stars and Stripes, and Rush Limbaugh and Ed Schultz on AFN, provide us with different points of view on the important issues. I do, however, believe we can have this balance without insulting our servicemembers, and that’s why I have a problem with Limbaugh.
Limbaugh has insulted our servicemembers on more than a few occasions. I will not comment on the “phony soldiers” controversy because I don’t want to insult those who can’t tell the difference between plural and singular phrases. A clear-cut example of Limbaugh’s insults to hundreds of thousands of our servicemembers [who consider themselves Democrats], is Limbaugh’s 2005 radio broadcasts on AFN that included a jingle that went, “Democrats, they’re running on ‘stupid.’”
This was not only an insult to Democratic servicemembers, but to all of our heroes who are fighting and dying for the rights of the Afghan and Iraqi people to choose which legal political party they want to support. Do I need to remind the readers that the right to choose their political party is one of the most important freedoms that we have?
AFN is also a military command information network. Therefore, some young military members may believe that Limbaugh’s suggestion (that servicemembers who support the Democratic Party are stupid), may be shared by the military chain of command. This could possibly influence the servicemembers’ political decisions.
If Limbaugh wants to exercise his First Amendment right to call our servicemembers stupid, let him do it on Al Jazeera, not AFN.
Blowing off some steam
As a Vietnam Army vet, 25th Infantry Division 4/9 1968-69 11B-40, I always looked forward to getting Stars and Stripes in the field as a bit of a lifeline to the real world. We were already inundated by other news outlets from the States on just how horrible we were and all the terrible things that we were doing to the people of Vietnam. I have never forgiven certain segments of our society and their despicable treatment of the Vietnam vet; yes, I have moved on and swore that it should never happen again. We read S&S to lift our spirits and read articles that actually portrayed us as good people, doing good things.
Now, fast forward to today. After serving more than 20 months in Iraq as a civilian I come to a stage of frustration with the American public and our press once again. What I am also sorry to see are the changes in Stars and Stripes and its reporting. Since when did S&S become a politically correct news organization? If I want all this politically correct news, I will go to The New York Times or some other liberal news outlet. I want to read just how good we are as Americans. I want to read that we have the best, most honorable, most dedicated and most compassionate soldiers that have been in the service of any country. They deserve it and I want them to know it.
I want a cheerleader for the military, its people and their efforts around the globe in the defense of our liberty, not this politically fair and balanced reporting crap. Let’s get back to your roots.
Just blowing off some steam after 40 years.