Reader Mail

Everywhere, Angst

Taxachusetts thinks small. Democrats and Orwell. Democrats and Saudis. Growing up is hard to do. Plus more.

8.13.08

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THROW IT IN BOSTON HARBOR
Re: W. James Antle III's Taxachusetts, RIP:

Thanks to Mr. Antle for shedding light on the craven treachery in which those Committee for Small Government types are engaged here in Massachusetts! How in the world do those lunatics expect our state to survive?! Who in God's name will be left to teach our public schoolchildren about the joys of homosexuality?!
-- Francis M. Hannon, Jr.
Melrose, Massachusetts

It took James Antle almost an entire column to get to the bottom line: "The state income tax rate still stands at 5.3 percent because the legislature refused to implement the last phase of the voter-approved rollback."

Such is the essence of liberalism: the law only matters if we like it. A ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States has failed to deter liberals' determination to prevent individual gun ownership in Washington, D.C. What chance do the citizens of Massachusetts have?
-- Arnold Ahlert
Boca Raton, Florida

W. James Antle III replies:
If the voters hadn't approved the income-tax rollback, the Massachusetts tax rate would be 5.75 percent today, not 5.3 percent. Even if the legislature tries to thwart the will of the people, a vote to end the income tax would place some limits on the tax-and-spenders' designs.

TRIPLE-K PARTY
Re: Jeffrey Lord's Democrats: the Missing Years:

Bravo for a compelling and authoritative re-telling of the Democrat story.

Thanks also for the info on Republicans passing the Civil Rights legislation in 1866. I will use that on my friends -- referring to that bill passed back in "66. No, not 1966, but 1866!
-- David Thompson

The late Patrick Moynihan once remarked, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."

It's bad enough that the Democratic Party disagrees with that statement. It's worse that they get away with it.
-- Arnold Ahlert
Boca Raton, Florida

ANGST POPULARITY
Re: James Bowman's "American Teen":

Why don't these movies ever focus on the 99% of teenagers who are NOT in the Elite Clique of Popular Kids?

Wouldn't you once like to see a movie about Diana who is the oldest of five girls in a family with two hard working parents who had not even graduated from high school and although both worked full time, never grossed more than $10,000 per year in their lives -- and nevertheless, Diana and any sister who wants to go are headed for college at their own expense because Mom and Dad taught them how? Albeit they will not attend a major Upscale University or spend their entire time binge drinking, protesting and worrying about whether or not they are pregnant?

How about a movie about Leon whose older brother dropped out of high school to support the family after his father ran off with his secretary, who is going to college because his brother says life will go on the same as if their two-timing rat of a dad were still there?

Or even a movie about Mary Jane, who doesn't want to go to college at all and who is resisting the pressure from guidance counselors, teachers, aunts, uncles, cousins, girl friends and hoi polloi of all sorts and is firmly intent on attending secretarial school with the aim of following her idolized Auntie into a high powered law firm and traveling the world helping the boss negotiate deals with the Czechs and the Poles and the Germans?

Why do all teenage movies have to be about Popular Kids going to High End Universities and meanwhile Dumping Their Girlfriends/Boyfriends or committing crimes?
-- Kate Shaw
Toronto, Canada

Wait... there's a documentary about American teenagers out there? Mayhaps I should go and catch up on this, it sounds amusing. Granted, high school is still a pretty recent memory for me, it wasn't all that long ago as I graduated in '97. And honestly, I've never looked back. I could probably relate easily to almost all of the characters as mentioned here, except for the jock. I myself never really got into sports; I was always focused on the hard sciences and quite the geek. I can especially relate to the character of Jake and his difficulty with finding a girlfriend. And I'm not sure if it's Bowman's judgment, or if he's relating the young freshman girl's judgment, but you can rarely do better than the nerds. By the way, any fathers with angst over their young daughter's choices in men, provide gentle encouragement to date the nerds and the geeks. We're the best men they're going to find in high school, we don't have a reputation to keep up. And, in general, we're more considerate, more mature, and more honest. And the most likely to be successful.

Still, Mr. Bowman makes a good point. We've all been through high school, we really don't need a documentary that's trying to make us all feel like there's something to be learned here. Or perhaps the documentary that is suggesting that high school was actually, you know, important in the long-run. I think the best lesson for anyone, anywhere, who's coming out high school is pretty simple. In five years, neither you nor anyone else is actually going to care. Try to keep that in mind.
-- Charles Campbell
Austin, Texas

As I have shared with my students for the last 15 years or so: "You are going through the second most difficult age of your lives." When they inquire, as they always do, "What's the first?" I reply honestly, "Being the parent of someone your age."
-- Ira M. Kessel
Rochester, New York

LEARNING ABOUT LEARNING
Re: Rishawn Biddle's H-1B Education:

Public schools are entirely exempt from the H1B cap, destroying the basic premise of your entire article and exposing it as poorly researched. Raising the cap won't affect the ability of a school district to get H1B's because the cap doesn't apply to them.

There are lots of other errors but since the basic thesis -- that we need to raise the H1B cap to attract teachers from elsewhere -- is fundamentally incorrect a retraction seems more appropriate than a correction.

You may note that you can hire an H1B "journalist" (or whatever the writer of that thing calls himself) who would actually get their facts straight for less money than you're now paying. There's something inherently wrong with that fact, but since the writer seems to support the program he should be happy to give his job to an Indian that will spend the time doing the basic research and also work for less money.
-- Michael

RiShawn Biddle replies:
Actually, your argument that public schools are exempt from the H-1B cap is nowhere near the facts. An exemption is only granted to a public school that is an affiliate of a higher educational institution, either "through shared ownership or control by the same board or federation" according to 8 C.F.R section 214.2(h)(19)(iii)(B) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000.

Although the exemption could apply school districts in states where both universities and public schools are overseen by a board of regents, such as in the case of New York (and this could depend on whether the school district and the university have a joint venture of some sort such as an alternative certification program), this would not apply to most other states, including California (whose public schools and universities are overseen by two different governance structures). And more importantly, it depends on the interpretation of the Administrative Appeals Offices of the USCIS, the division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

As for the rest of your argument? The facts speak for themselves. Case closed.

NICE PETARDS!
Re: Sam Kazman's Crude Construction:

It strikes me as interesting that earlier this year, when Bush "failed" to get the Saudis to increase oil production, the Democrats pontificated on several counts.

First, Bush failed to increase production. Apparently the Democrats accepted, in this case, that increased production would indeed lower prices. Otherwise, why even have Bush ask the Saudis to do this? But the Saudis won't increase oil production.

Second, we learned that there is something fundamentally wrong with any country or entity that would be so cruel as to not increase production in order to relieve the masses of the burden of increased fuel costs, and the cascading effect on all other costs.

Third, based on the first and second points, the Saudis are therefore NOT our friends and allies, and could be considered our enemies. In any case, they don't have the US's best interest in mind.

So where do we stand today? Well, Republicans have failed to get the Democrats to increase domestic oil production. We can now pontificate again on several counts.

First, the Republicans failed to increase production. Apparently the Democrats accepted, in this case, that increased production would NOT lower prices immediately. Fair enough, but they also insist that it would ultimately only lower price a few cents or so. We're talking adding more oil to the market than is available in all of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and Venezuela, but for some reason, this addition would not lower price. They want to add less oil via tapping the Strategic Oil Reserve which would only provide a mere fraction of our overall usage and insist that action would reduce price, but the addition of orders of magnitude more oil won't do the same. In any case, the Democrats won't increase domestic oil production.

The second count still stands: it's cruel to not increase production to relieve the masses of the burden of increased fuel costs. Anyone who does this is fundamentally wrong.

Using the same formulation used against the Saudis, the Democrats are by their own measure NOT our friends and allies, and should be considered our enemies. In any case, they don't have the US's best interest in mind.

If the Saudis are "buttheads" for not producing more oil, aren't the Democrats the same by their own formulations? I believe this fits the very definition of "hoisted by their own petard."

And the Dems look so good in petards!
-- Karl F. Auerbach
Eden, Utah

TWO THINK AS ONE
Re: Jackie Mason & Raoul Felder What's on Our Minds:

As usual I agree with at least 99 percent of what Jackie and Felder say but this article's one percent is a "Biggie." I and many of their admirers would never vote for Colin Powell (no, not even for dog catcher). I especially hold two events against him. One, his refusal to run on a ticket against Clinton. I believe if had ran the nation would have been spared at least one Clinton term. Secondly, I also believe he was less than a loyal cabinet member and that he knew all along who leaked the CIA mess and purposely let Libby and Bob Novak twist in the wind for months. Substitute economist Thomas Sowell for Powell and I and others would vote for him in a "New York Minute" preferably on top of the ticket.
-- Jack Wheatley

I must disagree with the overall theme of this article. Three statements in particular stand out:

1. "We do, however, believe we do live in a post-racial world -- at least here in America."

2. "Now, he must rise and fall on his own abilities, achievements or lack of them."

3. "We do not believe that anyone would or would not vote for Obama (except for a few nitwit plantation owners in the South) because of his color..."

The first statement is, I think, patently absurd; race talk saturates everything these days -- politics, discussions of prison incarceration rates, education (or, more correctly, lack thereof), religion (Rev. Wright, Fr. Pfleger sermons for example), crime, sports, and on an on ad nauseam. And what is not explicitly stated is very directly implied. The second and third statements are completely undermined by the estimated 95% + African-Americans who are supporting Obama. I am not anywhere naive enough to believe that his race has nothing to do with this. One only has to turn on the television or casually socialize and just listen to what others say to realize that the views of Messrs Mason and Felder are far more wishful thinking than fact. The world and America are obsessed with race, and every bit as much on the black side as on the white, or oriental, or...(fill in your own favorite ethnic). While I am sympathetic to their apparent desires, don't try to kid me. As they say, I might have been born at night, but it was not last night.
-- Mike
Delaware, Ohio

HOW TO SURVIVE A PUBLIC SCANDAL
Re: John Tabin's Meet John Edwards:

Interesting impasse. For now. But why pay hush money to Ms. Hunter after the cigar has exploded in John Edwards' face?

I wouldn't go so far as to predict Edwards' career is over. Ted Kennedy survived aquaplaning his Oldsmobile off the Chappaquiddick Bridge -- even if Mary Jo Kopechne didn't. Barney Franks survived the male prostitute running a thriving business out of his own house. Franks' explanation? He was trying to rehabilitate the guy. Jefferson, he of the cold cash in the freezer is still casting his vote in the House. Gerry Studds got a standing ovation by fellow Dems. Looking back, it is a pure miracle the press didn't let Gary Hartpence skate free. A blonde and a boat named "Monkey Business" should have been right up their alley!

On the other hand, Republican Packwood planted a few slobbery kisses on some campaign worker and lost his senate seat.. John Tower stripped himself bare before a committee, promising never to drink "beverage alcohol" again and still did not get confirmed. Recall the Republican congressman, at the height of Clinton's impeachment who was revealed to have an out of wedlock child? Outed by Larry Flynt, he resigned immediately. It would be my guess that Newt Gingrich resigned because he was getting ready to dump a second wife in favor of a younger chick he met in his office. And he knew his magnetic charm would not see him through.

But as for Ms. Hunter's vow of silence and desire for privacy -- just wait till the money dries up. Wait until Andrew Young, who traded his soul for a part in the tawdry affair -- and, who has an invisible means of support -- wait until the rug is pulled out from under him. How will Hunter behave when Edwards shuns her, as he must, during his "healing". Why would Fred Baron continue to underwrite her lifestyle? He can't be that kind of philanthropist. Wait -- could Fred be the father? After all, she worked for the campaign.

Hunter envisioned being Lady of the House at some future (and not too distant) date. Pretty ghoulish, when you think about it. That scenario seems unlikely now, even for an airhead like Hunter, Keep in mind, though, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Ask Bill Clinton, after he took a few public shots at Monica.

My only question is, what is it with political wives that they are so willing to endure public humiliation. Actually the larger question is why are they so complicit in the cover-up of their slime ball/weasel husband's character?
-- Diane Smith

FLOATING DOWN MAINSTREAM
Re: Ron Schoenberg's letter (under "Enquiring Minds Want to Know") in Reader Mail's Lost Verizon:

Mr. Schoenberg laments that there is a media double standard in the coverage of the John Edwards affair, because the media is not "exposing" the fact that John McCain cheated on his first wife in much the same circumstances as Mr. Edwards (thankfully no relation!). What Mr. Schoenberg fails to recognize here is that a) the McCain story has been covered in the past, because even he seems to know about it; b) the McCain story has less than zero relevance to this election as it happened about 30 years ago, or thereabouts; c) John Edwards lied to his wife, the public, and the press about this relationship for at least 2 years; d) John Edwards was angling for a spot either on the Obama ticket or in an Obama administration; and e) the media actively buried this story, while floating a rumor about alleged infidelity by McCain that had NO sourcing as a news story.

Whether you like it or not, John Edwards's actions are newsworthy, as they took place in the recent past, and if the NE is correct, are probably still ongoing. Trying to equate John McCain's decades-old infidelity with that of John Edwards would make the press look just as desperate, and foolish, as you do in trying to pretend this is an issue.
-- Eric Edwards
Walnut Cove, North Carolina

Now begins another day, by no means the last, in which as many as ten million people, some intelligent, many more steeped in every good intention, talk about John Edwards and his DNA. As the election creeps on like a herd of turtles crossing a glacier, the farce of it endangers the national sanity.

The politician speaks; the tabloid feeds; the media repeat and speculate. The nation is driven to confront, ad nauseam, the fact that John Edwards lied, as various parties pretend it matters. But to this state of affairs add one more thing that has, in the agony of the moment, been largely unmentioned.

He is a personal injury lawyer, people, and a politician on the make; mendacity saturates such creatures; it is a given, and one can factor it into some situations without risk of being named a cynic. Why pretend otherwise?

More important, he is of no consequence, far too light and hairy to affect the outcome of the November ballot. Furthermore, I have it on good authority that Jesse Jackson is counseling the ex-senator as he searches for a way to rig the DNA analysis.

Yet within this bag of bad smells and slithery irrelevance there is one matter pleasant to contemplate. Among those still loyal to Mrs. Clinton there are those who cry out that Edwards -- without regard for the truth and the rules of fair play! -- used a lie to abort Mrs. Clinton's success in the Iowa caucuses, and therefore changed history.

But the accusation holds no fluid because the lie in question concerned recreational sex, and everybody lies about sex, or at least all sociopathic, demagogic, ego-fixated opportunists on the trail of the main chance do so. There's a precedent and everything. Laugh it off Hillary, and remember 1999.

The rest of us must hold our peace. So much more of this election remains that it should not be laden with such irrelevant dreck. Neither the republic nor the human psyche is indestructible.
-- Edmund Dantes
Coshocton, Ohio

VERIZON CRUSH
Re: Stuart Koehl's letter (under "Wireless and Powerless") in Reader Mail's Lost Verizon:

In his letter regarding Ryan Young's "In Defense of Early Termination Fees," Stuart Koehl's seemingly interminable diatribe against Verizon Wireless stands in direct contrast with my experience with the company.

My first wireless company was Verizon Wireless and I'm still with them. All three of my children and their spouses have been with Verizon Wireless from their first phones as well.

None of us have had a problem with them in all these years. Not an electronics wizard myself, I have had the opportunity to deal with their Technical Support Department a couple of times and have found them to be a model of courtesy who patiently answered my questions to my complete satisfaction. The same applies to their Customer Service Department, who have twice voluntarily suggested that there was a better and less expensive plan for me.

I admit that I prefer electronics with the minimum number of "features" and prefer to stay as long as possible with the telephone set I have. I admit that I believe that courtesy breeds courtesy. I admit that I could never be a customer service representative or technical support technician.

I'd punch somebody before the end of my first shift.
-- A. C. Santore

ROUSH DELIVERY
Re: Craig Sarver's letter (under "Roush Roughed Up") in Reader Mail's Lost Verizon:

Mr. Sarver writes: "My point, and do have one, is that for all the caterwauling by the left (and Mike), in the real world some choices are forced on you by necessity..." I remember that in 2003 there was much press coverage of Bechtel and other companies withdrawing from bidding on contracts because they concluded that the process was a sham. Thus, a choice was forced on the Bush administration by necessity and Mr. Cheney was distraught for days. Mr. Sarver also writes: "In fact it (Halliburton) lost huge amounts of money adhering to the contracts let by State, and when they (Halliburton) tried to sell the contracts through bids no other company would bid them." It is also true that Halliburton lost money when government auditors uncovered non-performance and shoddy work by Halliburton and held the company accountable.

Bidding on government contracts is a complicated and political process (witness the Boeing/Northrup-Gruman tanker contract). I admit as a stockholder and a taxpayer, it can be difficult to calculate one's own best interests. Since I won no points with Mr. Sarver on the government efficiency front, can we, together, at least raise a glass to profits?
-- Mike Roush

EASTERN ETHOS
Re: Dmitri "Dima" Varsanofiev's letter (under "Speaking of Russian Bear") in Reader Mail's Lost Verizon:

Dima, Dima, Dima! Since you claim that Georgia started this current conflict by attacking the South Ossetians, and in the process the Russian "peace keepers," could you please explain a couple of things to me?

First, how can Georgia be blamed for doing what any nation seeking to maintain a stable nation would do, in putting down a rebellion in a province that is defying the rule of the government? South Ossetia, regardless of what the South Ossetians or Russians think, is part of the sovereign nation of Georgia and is to be dealt with by the Georgian government...not by the Kremlin. In this instance, the Georgian government decided that it was time for them to put down a rebellion that was growing more and more serious as time went on, especially after the Russian "peace keepers" arrived on the scene, and according to many reports, providing training and material support for the rebels. Georgia has an absolute right, in fact she has a responsibility, to enforce the rule of law in all of her provinces, regardless of the ethnic background of the people in those provinces. And once the "peace keepers" began assisting the rebellion, any claims of neutrality they may have had went right down the drain; their involvement made them legitimate targets, as they were actively fomenting rebellion against the sovereign state of Georgia.

Secondly, just what business does Russia have sending "peace keepers" into Georgia, and what business do they have in issuing Russian passports to the South Ossetians? Just the act of unilaterally sending their forces into Georgia, no matter their stated reasons, was a violation of Georgian sovereignty that begged for a response. If Russia had such an intense interest in the safety of the South Ossetians, would they have not been better off to deal with the Georgian government instead of inserting troops into Georgian territory, and using those troops to support the Ossetian rebels?

Finally, your lamenting the military response by the Georgians in the region rings hollow, and more than a bit hypocritical. I seem to remember a little conflict in Russian territory where the Russian government did not hesitate to use force to put down a rebellion in a province that was attempting to break away. There were no tears shed when the Russian army was putting down the rebellion in Chechnya, so why the crocodile tears being shed over the Georgian government taking the same actions in South Ossetia?

My brother and I were watching the Olympics last night and remarking on how intensely the people of China and Russia loved their nations, even if they did not always love their governments. Those people, when push comes to shove, have an attitude that borders on "My country, right or wrong"; while this is oftentimes commendable, in this instance that loyalty to (I assume) your native land is blinding you to the facts that are right in front of your face. Georgia has every right to respond the way she did to an openly rebellious province, and Russia had absolutely no right to interfere in the internal workings of the Republic of Georgia.
-- Eric Edwards
Walnut Cove, North Carolina

A CAUTIONARY TALE
Re: Mike Roush's letter (under "Dooley's OK") in Reader Mail's Family Traditions:

The bouncers delivered a couple of punches and then threw me out into the alley. I had insisted on splashing my face with several whiskeys and helping the strippers with their g-strings. Somebody took exception. Fortunately, they didn't bust up my $75.00 bottle of diet Coke so I sat against the wall and contemplated my fate. Soon our local blues man, Naptown Ottis, came out and said "S%$#@, Man-child, that Clinton chick gettin' to you again?"

"Nah, I kinda got a good news/bad news thing. First this guy named Roush put me in the same sentence with Ben Stein. Pretty cool. Then he said that in the darkness of my heart I knew that Dobson and Roberts wanted to take away my porn."

"Ol' Jim and Paddy? Shoo!!! D'ay ain't no account. Anyways, I wanna get rid of Rap 'cause it keeps taking my gigs. Don't mean I get to. Ain't no Repub'can going to get rid of no pictures of no nudy women. They like 'em too much. Ain't no Repub'cans do without no sex. 'Sides. The dude just sayin' that so ta' keep murdering them babies."

"You're right, Naptown. I don't know what got into me."

Naptown then leaned back and asked: "Didn't you tell me you was some kinda Catholic?"

"Well, yeah, close enough. Lutheran."

"That's it. So what was that 'bout that old U-boat sub captain preacher man say? You know, that Luth'an preacher who wrote that poem."

Niemoller? Well, actually it was a warning. It went something like this:

First they came for the homosexuals
And I did not speak out
Because I was not gay.

Then they came for the adulterers
And I did not speak out
Because I was not John Edwards

Then they came to for the pornographers
And I did not speak out
Because the best ones come from Europe via the internet

Then they came for my beer
And no one was left
To chug- a- lug with me

"See. Paddy and Jim can't do nothin'. Luth'en won't let 'um."
-- Mike Dooley

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