Top 10 Letters
Grifters, bunko, Wesley Clark, and more.
9:00 AM, Dec 8, 2003
THE DAILY STANDARD welcomes letters to the editor. Letters will be edited for length and clarity and must include the writer's name, city, and state.
With respect to the Stephen F. Hayes's response to Newsweek, I was surprised that Isikoff had used Vincent Cannistraro as a source (Newsweek's "Case"). It was Cannistraro who warned, based on Saudi intelligence, in 1995 that Iraq had sent attack teams to the United States to blow up government buildings.
Larry Miller's article about con men at the door took me back to Halloween 1978, when I was in graduate school at Indiana University (The Sting). A man knocked at my door, and since it was a beautiful afternoon in a small town, I opened it. He was "selling magazines," complete with clip board, but he took time out from that task to drag me onto the lawn and attempt to pull my head off. The IU football team was just leaving practice, I'm happy (and here) to say, and I am indebted to them forever for taking charge of said salesman.
--Mary Alan Woodward
About a year ago, I had an almost the identical experience with a "magazine guy." My guy (Troy, as it happens) had a slightly different story--he wasn't raising money for a soccer trip, but selling magazines as part of his parole. Yep, he identified himself as an ex-con. He was fast talking and slick, almost manic. And he scared me, too. Fortunately, my boyfriend was there and he stood protectively behind me. However, as Larry Miller knows, these guys can wear you down, and eventually I selected a high-priced magazine (something girly, O, to be exact) even then not really expecting I'd ever receive it. My boyfriend just shook his head at me. He couldn't believe that I actually bought something. But here's the payoff. About a month later, I received a copy of Allure in the mail. I was annoyed. It wasn't what I ordered, wanted, or would ever read. Fortunately, I had a receipt and called the non-profit association listed on the top. Yes, they told me, O was on its way, but Troy had requested that a complimentary subscription of Allure be sent to me in appreciation. I was floored. So was my boyfriend.
I had a similar experience with a pair of Florida con men back in 1994--the details of which came rushing back as I read Larry Miller's piece.
A native New Yorker, I was living in Fort Lauderdale at the time. During one of those monsoon-like Florida thunderstorms, I ventured out to a local auto parts store to replace a taillight bulb in my rusty old 1975 Chevy Malibu. Upon exiting the store and racing to my car, a man about my age (mid-twenties at the time) hustled out from under the store awning to seek my help. Like me, he was white, suburban-ish, with short hair--someone I could have gone to high school with--but with a somewhat weary face. He was holding a medium-sized box labeled in part "alternator" and said something along the lines of "Excuse me, buddy, but I'm wondering if you can help me. My car broke down up on Federal Highway. The alternator blew. Could you possibly give me a lift there?"
More annoyed than suspicious (even though I do remember thinking I hadn't seen him in the store), I paused briefly and then said, "Sure, no problem." After all, it was raining buckets and I had certainly been in the same predicament at one time or another. Dripping wet, I got in the car and reached over to the passenger side to unlock the door. That was when Mr. Alternator motioned to a friend who had been hanging back under the awning and said, "Manny, come on."
Manny I could not have gone to High School with. He got in the back seat, thanked me, and we were off. Now I was nervous--but Mr. Alternator, all smiles despite his car problems--said, "We re just a few miles up on Federal. You know where (I forget the landmark) is?" I didn't. Nevertheless, the route to Federal Highway was on a main road with plenty of stores and traffic--what did I have to fear? But as I prepared to exit the parking lot, Mr. Alternator said, "Oh, wait a sec--hey Manny isn't it faster if we make take _____ Street instead?"