Letters, calls and the roar of the crowd:
R. Austin Tydings, Baltimore: I was the city treasurer foBaltimore City when Victor Frenkil asked for the loan for the Belvedere Hotel. And I wouldn't give it to him! That's when he turned to Mayor Schaefer and the trustees.
I read in the paper recently how Frenkil claimed to have lost millions of his own money on the Belvedere and I had to laugh. Do I believe him? Well, let's just say I am not sorry I turned him down. Hell, no.
COMMENT: Public servants who say hell no to politically connected businessmen are extremely rare. I am not surprised you are no longer in public office.
J. T. Mast, Baltimore: Your article on the Persian Gulf was crock. Do you really believe that American and other freedom-defending armed forces are in the Persian Gulf to protect oil?
Sure, we need Middle East oil. [But] Saddam Hussein would have been elated to sell us all the oil he stole. In fact, I'm sure he would plunder and steal more oil faster than we could buy it.
No, we are not there to protect oil. We are there because we believe in FREEDOM. America was founded by brave people escaping tyranny. This is our heritage from our forefathers. We detest tyranny, atrocity and "naked aggression." This is what makes us Americans. This is the reason Americans fought and died at the Marne, Omaha Beach, Corregidor . . . and that is the ONLY reason.
President Bush knew beforehand that he would have critics and that there would be bleeding hearts. If we have to sacrifice our beliefs and everything Americans fought for and died to preserve, then we can't call ourselves Americans anymore.
No, Roger, anyone who tells you that we are there for oil is giving you a grease job.
COMMENT: OK, we're there to fight for freedom. But you never say whose freedom. Are we there to make Kuwait free? Nope, we are willing to "sacrifice our beliefs" when it comes to Kuwait. That's because what we want to do is re-establish a monarchy in Kuwait. A monarchy that does not allow any political freedom or political parties and which suspended the National Assembly in 1986.
Are we in Saudi Arabia to keep that country free? No, that country is a monarchy, too. Nobody votes for the nation's leaders. And there is no freedom of speech, press, religion, or assembly as we would recognize it in America.
We are not in the Persian Gulf to re-establish freedom. There wasn't any freedom there to begin with. We are there to protect our overseas oil supply. And we need to protect our overseas oil supply because we refuse to conserve oil at home.
If America were not dependent on Persian Gulf oil, do you really think we would have sent 200,000 troops there? We sure didn't send troops to protect the freedom fighters in Afghanistan. That's because the only natural resource they had was rocks. And America already has plenty of rocks.
Kathy Henderson, Baltimore: I would definitely consider askinyou to father my child, except that I have a perfectly good one already. Also, my husband is not half bad either. However, he can't write like you.
This is the second time I have written you and what I want to know is, are you going to admit to getting nice letters like this one?
COMMENT: Kathy, you have exposed the dirty little secret of my letters columns. I almost never print letters or the parts of letters that say nice things about me. To do so would seem arrogant and self-aggrandizing, and I figure people get enough of that from me the rest of the week.
But I do appreciate those nice letters. I read them. I save them. And on bad days -- usually Mondays through Fridays -- I take them out and read them again.
And some day I'm going to throw a party for all the people who have written those nice letters. Yeah, that's exactly what I'm going to do! I'm going to throw a testimonial roast for myself just to show how beloved I really am.
And for speakers I'm going to have Victor Frenkil and Mimi DiPietro and Larry Levitan and Richard Nixon and the gun lobby and . . . aww, hell, let's just forget it.
Alfred Cohen, Baltimore: If I may, I would like ask how the selection process for your mustache works. In the black and white photos, you have a bushy mustache. Whereas in the colored photo, you have a thinner one. Who decides which will be shown?
COMMENT: There is a Photo Selection Board of Governors that meets four times a week on the front stoop of The Sun at 6 a.m. The Photo Board votes on which of my column photos to use that day. Though I do not sit on the board -- it would be an obvious conflict of interest -- I understand it takes many things into consideration, including the subject matter of my column, the temperature and relative humidity, and whether free sweet rolls have been provided to the Photo Board that morning.
The only difficulty comes when the board calls and tells me that I have to either pencil in or shave down my actual mustache to match the one in the photo.
The sacrifices I make for this job are incredible.