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Reader passes 'laughable' debate on to husband to defend

So, last week in View, I answered a letter from a woman who took umbrage with my Nov. 11 column, calling my political views "laughable." I invited her to say something a little more meaningful, perhaps even to submit a viewpoint or, hoping against hope, an actual argument. And she writes back ...

Dear Steve: Thank you for taking the time from your busy schedule to write me. I too am a bit busy getting ready for the upcoming holiday. I would like to have my husband elaborate a response to you. He is a retired judge from Cook County in Illinois and is better equipped in the political area. - C.S., Las Vegas

Ah. OK. You are well-enough equipped in politics to conclude that my political views are laughable and not too busy to drive by my inbox and tell me so but too busy to defend your conclusion and, besides, your husband is better equipped to elaborate on the subject of politics. Got it. Pass the baton right over to your sweetie, and I will gird my loins.

Hi Steve: We do emphatically agree that people should vote. How can we motivate them? Allegedly 50 percent of registered voters did not vote this time. You are the person with a barrel of ink. You should exercise that duty.

I "should"? You mean I "did," right? The very crux of the column was lauding the value of doing one's civic duty. So, you're admonishing me to do something I did do? Are we to the "laughable" part yet?

Your view of the Republican Party (Bush, pre-emptive war) is very flawed (see Roosevelt, World War II and Kennedy/Johnson and Vietnam).

Eureka! An argument to engage! I'm like a kid in a sandbox!

You say my view linking the Republican Party and the doctrine of pre-emptive war is flawed. You cite two examples of that: 1) Franklin D. Roosevelt and World War II, and John F. Kennedy/Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam. Neither of your examples is an example of pre-emptive war. The U.S. tried desperately to stay out of the European struggle with Hitler. We entered World War II as a direct response to - a reaction to, not a pre-emption of - the surprise attack of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. JFK inherited a U.S. policy of commitment to South Vietnam. Yes, he is the president who first committed combat troops to the effort. But, again, it was a response to an already active, mobilized threat of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army, not a pre-emption.

These examples are in no way illustrative of George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq.

Am I wrong? Is my identifying the doctrine of pre-emptive war with Republicans what you thought laughable?

Re: The emphasis of a Republicrat. You should have concentrated on the lies spewed and the protection given Obama by the majority of the press and TV/radio. Where is your article about balanced news?

Here is that article:

Yes, there are news media outlets with "political bents" and some with shameless political agendas - on both sides! I'm no longer very reactive to the conservative charge of a liberal media. Where do I continually hear that charge? In the media!

You want me to stand against lies told during campaigns? I'm happy to do that. But that knife cuts both ways. I'll call any liar on any lie. Republican or Democrat. It's a tragedy that American journalism is so often swallowed up by our current political system. But there exist imbalances on both sides. Which is why it's so easy to lie as a strategy to get elected.

(My friend Paul likened modern presidential elections to a game of liar's poker. I think his analogy is deliciously and dreadfully accurate.)

Perhaps the fact that America may become another Greece is acceptable to you. - R.S., Las Vegas

I'm thinking I shouldn't take you seriously when you ask me whether I find Greece's economy "acceptable." But, if rhetorical, I don't understand the rhetorical shot you're taking. My only point remains unassailed: Both parties spend money we don't have! They just spend it on different things!

By the way, R.S., what I said in the Nov. 11 column was "spend money like drunken sailors." Turns out I owe at least one nice Las Vegas mother an apology. I got an impassioned phone call from her - the matriarch of a family full of Navy men - telling me that little simile was waaaay over the line.

You're absolutely right, ma'am. It was cheap and irresponsible of me. Not to mention inaccurate. I have zero personal life experience to support the prejudice that sailors drink more often than the general population or that they acquire reckless debt when they do drink. I owe your sons a beer and a tip of my hat in gratitude, not to mention my apologies.

The analogy was well, laughable.

Steven Kalas is a behavioral health consultant and counselor at Las Vegas Psychiatry and the author of "Human Matters: Wise and Witty Counsel on Relationships, Parenting, Grief and Doing the Right Thing" (Stephens Press). His columns also appear on Sundays in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Contact him at 702-227-4165 or