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Expensive Thirst

Deadly $4 gas. Trying to outlast big government. McCain's the man. Plus More.

6.13.08

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FLAWED McCAIN
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Tough Leadership:

John McCain suffers several deficiencies in the eyes of conservatives like myself. That said, the choice between him and Obama is a no-brainer. It is good that Mr. Tyrrell reminds us of McCain's unwavering devotion to country and past demonstrations of leadership.

Aside from the candidates' biographies, there's also the matter of maturity. McCain understands he is running for president. Obama thinks he is running for God. Politicians in the second category, when they attain power, have a nasty habit of leaving widespread human suffering in their infallible wake. Obama's corps of swooners have not studied history.

There is no rosy ending for the looming election. There is only the choice between a flawed patriot and something far, far worse.
-- Doug Roll
Jacksonville, Texas

Mr. Tyrrell extols the management capability of the Republican nominee. One must look for a silver lining whenever possible I suppose. However, I am still trying to come down off the ceiling after hearing about the Senator's appearance of the "Today" show.

Let me sum up. Global warming is real. We shall never drill in a pristine wildlife area for oil (about one half of one percent of an Artic wasteland), and gasoline prices will go higher. Don't you know you morons have to put solar and wind power in your gas tanks?

Thank you Senator McCain, Senator Obama could not have said it better.

Let me put it this way, Hell will have to look like ANWR before I would cast a vote in favor of this man.
-- Jim Karr
Blue Springs, Missouri

It's good that we live in a society where each person is free to speak his peace. It's sad that some of us attempt to speak for others in their zeal to make a point. Taking a Shakespeare liberty I say to you, "Me thinks you praise too much." John McSame is certainly a good man and I for one would not malign him. Your arguments regarding his "leadership and managerial skills" are weak, to say the least. Yet you are entitled to your opinion. I for one suggest to you this country cannot tolerate another Republican leader for a long time. They have made a mess of our military, economy and standing in the world not to mention killing over 4,000 of our kids. "You have sat too long for the good that you've done...GO I say in the name of God, GO!"
-- Gary Hankin

I duly admire Mr. McCain's courage in the face of extreme adversity, and his management skills while in the U.S. Navy are certainly commendable. I also feel strongly that Mr. Obama's tenure as a one-term senator hardly qualifies him to head a country such as ours.

My main objection with Mr. McCain is his willingness to pursue the wrong-headed involvement in the Iraq war, which is really more of an occupation than a war. You mentioned President Reagan outspending the Soviets into bankcrupcy. We could be next.
-- Mike Roque

While I appreciate our friend R. Emmett Tyrrell's testimony on John McCain's character and management skills, I am more disgusted that he will use those traits on bad policy.

Can he manage the global warming hoax with cap and trade instead of untying the hands of the oil companies (obscene profits and all) without destroying the economy? Will his character force him to fight for originalist judges he appoints or will he cave and say, "I can't win with a 57-58 seat Democratic Senate"? Will his skills successfully fight the terrorists when he agrees with the left on closing Gitmo that the Supreme Court now totally screwed up? Will he become such a good fiscal manager that he, with a heavy Democratic Congress, decides taxes should be raised "on the wealthiest" (like his wife?) to help the still increasing federal budget?

From watching McCain's campaign so far, I have to worry a President McCain will, according to Tyrrell's assessment, be the better man to advance the causes of the left he subscribes to than Mr. Obama.
-- Greg Barnard
Franklin, Tennessee

Why are we not looking around for another person? McCain can't win, the same as Goldwater couldn't. This Party is doomed if we keep moving in the direction we've followed the past 12 years. Check the polls and see how many are sitting out the election. I know I am.
-- Richard Ledford

Cheerleading for Gramps! You and your philosophy have been a disaster. It's over baby. Over.
-- Scott Simon

GUZZLERS
Re: Eric Peters's Hummer's Done:

At last. I'm not one of those folks who thinks that even the Prius uses too much energy, but the Hummer has always been an insult to the intelligence of anyone who thinks rationally about transportation. In its first iteration the Hummer was a vanity car and buying one for most people made as much sense as owning a Lamborghini and driving it 5 miles back and forth to work. (Remember too that the Hummer derived a great deal of its initial cache from its connection with then not-so-green Arnold Schwarzenegger.)The H2 and H3 (especially the latter) are just re-clad GM SUVs anyway. Their ilk only makes sense to people who can take advantage of overly complicated tax regulations that render these urban Ubermobiles "farm vehicles" because they weigh so damned much. (By design, they just tip the scales enough to qualify for the category.)

Good riddance. We'll hardly miss ya.
-- James E. Swinnen

It is a pretty important thing to note, and not something that is trumpeted much in the anti-corporate mass media, but Toyota has positioned itself quite nicely in a very different and much more important matter. It has produced a practical hydrogen fuel cell that works in freezing temperatures and has a range of 830km/500 miles. The general ignorance of the announcement is amazing, given the reality that it will revolutionize automobile transportation.

Of course who will benefit the most? Why Toyota, maybe Honda, perhaps Ford/Mazda. Because these manufacturers produced a gasoline-electric hybrid (fundamentally a weird idea that has a small gasoline engine driving a big electric motor hooked to a bank of batteries, driving a second big electric motor.) Except that if you remove the engine/generator from the equation, you suddenly have a functioning electric car drive train.

On June 6th - June 9th, Toyota announced that the gasoline engine is dead (they didn't say it, but I am). It is just a matter of infrastructure and time. Of course Toyota will have a wide range of functioning models that have merely had the old gas/electric plant replaced with a nice clean, refillable, hydrogen fuel cell.

When GM goes, I won't shed too much of a tear. Especially when, in less than 20 years, I can sit in my "smart mobile" that will quietly drive me to where I want to go, without me having to do so much as read the sports page, or watch a movie.

Isn't capitalism grand?
-- John Schneider
Bristow, Virginia

Eric Peters's recent article about the demise of GM, its SUV line of vehicles, and Detroit reminded me of my one foray into owning a gas friendly GM subcompact. In 1982 I purchased a Pontiac T-1000. It was Pontiac's version of the Chevette. If I remember correctly it cost around $4800 and got maybe 35mpg on the open highway. I suppose my driving habits were normal. Both city and highway; I took a few long road trips in it, but mainly used to it get to work and back. By 1985, the rear suspension was shot; I fought a losing battle to rust despite regular washings; I had the engine rebuilt due to a leaky oil pump � on my way home from work one day about all but one quart leaked out ruining the engine. By the time the idiot light came on the damage was done; I also had a complete brake job done at 25,000 miles. By the time the car was paid off in 1986 I gave the car to my sister as it wasn't worth $250. Needless to say I never bought another GM vehicle or another economical subcompact. I know 28 years is a long time, but the memory of that piece of sh%t haunted me all these years. I think Adam Sandler wrote "An Ode to My Car" with that particular model in mind. I vowed I would never again drive another vehicle with an engine the size of a Singer sewing machine. Give me a Ford Excursion or Plymouth Fury any day.
-- JP
Indiana

If Congress had an iota of common sense, they'd see the demise of GM and Ford for exactly what it is: a cautionary tale regarding the dangers of short-term thinking. That's precisely what has informed their incoherent energy policies for the last thirty years, and they still don't get it.

Ford and GM will be forced to deal directly with the consequences of their decisions: either adjust to reality or go out of business. Congress, unfortunately, can make our lives miserable indefinitely.
-- Arnold Ahlert
Boca Raton, Florida

In his column about GM's Hummer problem Eric Peters writes, "(Toyota)... is literally swimming in black ink." I seriously doubt that they drained the corporate swimming pool and re-filled it with ink of any color for a refreshing noontime dip at Toyota headquarters. There's "literally" and "figuratively" and it pays to know the difference.

As for the Hummer, I hereby make this offer to one and all: sign over the clear title of your clean, low mileage H3 and I will give you cash. The first one to respond with a vehicle to my liking will receive $500 cash and I'll come pick it up anywhere in the lower 48 states. Second response gets $400 and you bring it to me. I will only take two of these gas hogs so hurry and make your offer. Mr. Peters says that soon driving H3's will be like driving the "modern-day equivalents of chocolate brown metallic, landau-roofed '68 Sedan de Villes circa 1975: ungainly relics of a time still within living memory but fading fast." You do NOT want that! Act now!

Hey, that reminds me, the same offer above applies to your fully-loaded Yukon Denali. But it must have fewer than 20,000 miles on the odometer. Literally.
-- Terry Sautter
Lake Wylie, South Carolina

SUPERHEROES
Re: George Neumayr's Hollywood Heroes and Villains:

Spike Lee's respectability since Do the Right Thing has been built on the theme that we can't forget the past and pretend it didn't happen. Indeed, Americans of all races must be confronted with the past so that racism can be "dealt with." Whatever else may be said, this is essentially a left-wing sentiment that leads to the notion that a top-down, inorganic rebuilding of society is necessary as the great mass of our fellow countrymen will do no such thing on their own. (The question whether such a project has any possibility of succeeding is left unaddressed. The project aims at a moral quest. Therefore it MUST be done.)

The odd part of this "new" consciousness is that while brutally confronting the past we are to also rewrite history by retro-projecting a modern ideal into the past. The notion is to portray all races and ethnic groups as vitally wrapped up in the great and small events in our country's story. The ends up in the conundrum of confronting the past by encountering a past that wasn't.

All this is as misbegotten as the oft stated imperative to have a "national conversation on race." Contrary to the articles of faith expounded by the self-appointed healers of our racial ills, "forgetting" plays a vital part in attempting a civil public. Multi-ethnic, multi-racial societies are inherently unstable -- more prone to fly apart than meld together. There are many things that go into the glue that holds such a populace together; but a detailed self-examination and demand for justice is not one of them.

Social activists in our various Christian denominations preach the necessity of bringing "peace and justice" to the sins and oppressions of the nations -- implying that a rigorous scouring of the sins of the nation to achieve of full justice will lead to peace. In reality, "justice" is a blood-thirsty bitch-goddess. If given full rein, "justice" unleashes the hounds of unquenchable war. Human beings are only men and women -- not angels. There is only so much justice we can afford. The horrors and crimes of the past call for more blood than we can ever give up.

The truth is we can have justice or we can have peace but we can't have both. In actual practice, we get some muddle of the two. To live together in an imperfect arrangement involves a measure of forgetting and simply closing the door. No doubt, forgetting carries its own price. Many of the "guilty" will never face the bar while others are let free. Many victims (especially those who only exist in memory) will never be made whole. But absolute justice would savage even the innocent and those even yet unborn. We are just men and women -- not angels. We love innocent life more than we love justice.
-- Mike Dooley
Indianapolis, Indiana

George Neumayr notes "the footage of stars jumping to their feet at the Oscars to applaud Polanski in absentia when he won best director for The Pianist contrasts nicely with their sullen sitting during Elia Kazan's award."

Neumayr is quite correct, but there was one important exception worthy of note. When a very frail, stooped, 90-year-old Kazan walked the stage to accept the award, he leaned heavily on the escorting Robert De Niro, who then stood by Kazan while Kazan made a brief acceptance speech (to the sullen crowd).

It would appear that when you've "made it ma, top of the world," you can also show some courage.
-- Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey

TORTUOUS
Re: Christopher Orlet's Poetic Justice:

Always like your stuff. I must point out that in Mending Wall it was the guy next door who said, "good fences make good neighbors." Frost said, "Before I built a wall I'd ask to know what I was walling in, or walling out."

I won first place in Boy's Poetry Interpretation in ninth grade for my reading of Mending Wall, and it has saved me from an ill-spent life of debauchery.
-- Glenn Yates

Christopher Orlet replies:
Sure, that's one interpretation. Here's another from Sparknotes: "The speaker...goes to the wall at all times of the year to mend the damage done by hunters; it is the speaker who contacts the neighbor at wall-mending time to set the annual appointment. Which person, then, is the real wall-builder? The speaker says he sees no need for a wall here, but this implies that there may be a need for a wall elsewhere-- 'where there are cows,' for example. Yet the speaker must derive something, some use, some satisfaction, out of the exercise of wall-building, or why would he initiate it here? There is something in him that does love a wall, or at least the act of making a wall."

WILD, WILD WEB
Re: Cord Blomquist's The Unfairness Doctrines:

Sooner than the vested media would prefer to imagine, each of us will gather information not from tendentious, overpaid, power-hungry gatekeepers, but by means of personal information-gathering software that will roam the Web tirelessly, seeking out and reporting back in real time information of interest to its "master."

How will the intelligent agent know what to collect? Its artificial intelligence will continually monitor our Web behavior (e.g., selections, purchases) to model us and adapt to our preferences.

No gates, no gatekeepers.
-- David Govett
Davis, California

Unfortunately, when the alternative media fomented the conservative crackup in 2005 and exacerbated things by mindlessly becoming the Democrat party's "hatchet men" in the 2006 elections they set in motion a chain of events that threatens Constitutional freedoms in the US beyond limiting freedom of speech on the airwaves.

The modern Democrat party is virulently antagonistic to traditional interpretations of the Constitution and is determined to transform our country by abrogating the Bill of Rights in the name of "fairness." That is why they are so hostile to anything or anyone that does not acquiesce to their stilted view of the world. Rational debate and civility are inimical to Democrat's desire to remake the US into their vision of utopia (an ensconced leftist oligarchy). Anyone or anything seen as an impediment to their dream/nightmare must be silenced or crushed. While Democrats may at times be able to manipulate the alternative media they know that unlike their "lapdogs" in mainstream press it will not readily comply with their will. Thus, it must be subverted no matter how seriously their actions erode freedom of speech.

If Barrack Obama wins the Presidency in November we can expect with the help of a Democrat Congress an assault on the Constitution in the name of the greater good. Not only will they push through the "Fairness Doctrine," but they will seek to do away the Electoral College effectively disenfranchising the majority of the country by consolidating power in a handful of urban centers controlled by Democrats, continue their crusade against the 2d Amendment so as to disarm the opposition and limit the religious freedom of those pesky Christians. The cavalier attitude of many conservatives towards governing and their willingness to swallow Democrat propaganda makes this scenario more than plausible. As conservatives, we must change our view of modern US politics from that of a spectator sport to an understanding that is civil war without the bloodshed and losing is never winning. While some on the right feel tainted by voting for the "lesser of two evils" or "flawed candidates" I would suggest that is far better than blithely surrendering power to a Democrat party that is anything, but democratic in philosophy and mindset. In the world's history freedom has been a rare commodity, but it is worth fighting for when the cost is simply your vote.
-- Michael Tomlinson
Jacksonville, North Carolina

BICKERING OVER BARR
Re: Eric Edwards's letter and Robert Stacy McCain's reply (under "Poor Substitute") in Reader Mail's Clinton Uprising:

Do not misunderstand my point, I am not saying that Barr should not be covered at all, but I remain unconvinced that his candidacy will make a huge dent in the upcoming election cycle. Take the example that you have used of Ron Paul; while it was indeed impressive that Dr. Paul was able to raise so much money, what was his real impact on the GOP primaries? Sure, he was able to gin up support from some GOP members that were disenchanted with the current stable of Republican "leaders" (as am I) and he stayed in the race until the bitter end, but did his candidacy change the course of the primaries? His supporters were his supporters and were very unlikely to support any of the other candidates in the race, so they made themselves a fringe element for all intents and purposes.

Further, Barr looks like he is going to have to convince the members of his own Party that he is one of them and not just attempting to co-opt the Party for his own ends, and he is going to have to convince a sizeable amount of Ron Paul Republicans to join his ranks in order to make a real run in this race. I may not have a crystal ball, but I have a pretty good grasp of the way people behave politically and I think that most members of both major Parties will eventually fall in line and vote for their designated candidate. And when that happens, Bob Barr will go the way of most other third party candidates for President: a spot as a historical footnote to the election. The last third part candidate to really have an impact on the outcome of a Presidential election was Ross Perot, and that was mainly because he was able to appeal to the members of the GOP who were unhappy with George H. W. Bush and his decision to raise taxes after pledging to oppose any new taxes. And with no incumbent to run against, Barr is going to be in a position where he has to create a platform on his own that stands out and that seems like a huge task for a relatively under financed third party candidate to be able to accomplish.

I will agree that we will see what type of impact Barr will have on Election Day, but I remain convinced that it will be negligible at best. But hey, I could be wrong...and it wouldn't be the first time!
-- Eric Edwards
Walnut Cove, North Carolina

Robert Stacy McCain replies:
You write: "I may not have a crystal ball, but I have a pretty good grasp of the way people behave politically and I think that most members of both major Parties will eventually fall in line and vote for their designated candidate."

Well, that's just it. Generally, about 1/3 of voters are reliable, partisan Democrats. Another 1/3 of votes are reliable, partisan Republicans. These rival party "bases" being roughly equal in size, our elections are fought over the 1/3 of voters who are not firmly committed to either party.

Surely you are right that *most* committed Republicans will vote for John McCain. However, given the extreme disgruntlement of conservatives -- disgruntlement both with the nominee and with the party's leadership overall -- it seems highly doubtful that as many Republicans will vote for McCain as voted for Bush in 2000 or 2004.

This is why McCain is not running as a conservative-- he's for the Kyoto-style cap-and-trade policy, he joins Obama in demonizing capitalists and profits, he opposes tax cuts, etc. But the issues hardly matter, since McCain is running on biography and experience, not on issues. His strategy rests on the premise that, by running a blandly patriotic "who-do-you-trust" campaign, he'll get far more uncommitted swing voters than Obama. This strategy may result in McCain's election, but if elected, he will owe nothing to conservatives, having defeated every conservative challenger for the nomination, and having won election despite the outspoken opposition of Limbaugh, Ingraham, Levin, Coulter, Malkin, et al.

The election of John McCain would certify the end of conservative control of the Republican Party. For strictly patriotic reasons, you may prefer the final destruction of the Reagan coalition as a more desirable alternative than an Obama administration. The tragic thing is that conservatives have been forced upon the horns of such a dilemma.

THE WAITING GAME
Re: Lisa Fabrizio's Time Is on Our Side:

Time may be on our side as far as the actual truth of whether man affects the Earth as much as Earth affects man. However, enough static legislation can itself be locked in time as mankind moves on with the realities on the ground.

Considering all of the compassion President L.B. Johnson bequeathed upon this nation, we should have eradicated poverty by now. But those programs still get "upped" every year. Hey! What about all of those gasoline formulations that the EPA mandated a few decades back? Cars are 70-80% cleaner these days, does the EPA, or anybody revisit those static policies and re-adjust them to today's facts?

Sad fact is; media hype and the congressional need to "do something" always inflict costlier damage on our liberties that lasts longer than the fears of the moment.

Time is on the government's side.
-- P. Aaron Jones
Fallujah, Michigan

CONFLICT OF INTERESTS
Re: Paul LaRue and Jerry Pomeroy's letters (under "Don't Call It a Comeback") in Reader Mail's Clinton Uprising:

Paul LaRue muses that if Obama is elected, Hillary might run against him anyway in 2012. Jerry Pomeroy argues that Hillary will be VP nominee. Put these ideas together and you have the incumbent VP running against the incumbent President for the party's nomination in 2012 (while doing everything she can to cut the legs out from under him in the meantime). An interesting four years may lie ahead.
-- Ty Knoy
Ann Arbor, Michigan

DON'T COUNT HER OUT
Re: Philip Klein's Comeback Clinton:

I doubt that Hillary will be offered the VP spot, no matter how hard she tries for it.
Mr. Obama is more articulate than intelligent, but he's wise enough not to make himself the one human life standing between the Clintons and the Oval Office.

As for the surety that conflict between President Obama and Vice President Clinton could be confined and kept quiet, try to imagine the Clintons doing something -- doing anything -- without first making certain they have an audience. She could work much damage upon the boss without being called to account, and thus be ready for the '12 election.

Nor is Hillary needed to draw Reagan Democrats into camp; the level of voter dissatisfaction is so high that many of those who supported Hillary will vote for anyone who promises complete disconnection from George W. Bush. And if the economy gets just a little worse, Hillary's blue collar supporters will go colorblind.

If a female VP is needed to capture disaffected women, there is Nancy Pelosi; she is already well known, and anxious to occupy the place in history once thought reserved for Mrs. Clinton. Pelosi has access to lots of people with lots of money, and, unlike Hillary, she has not antagonized a sizable portion of the Democrat establishment. She is a team player, and patient. Obama can turn his back on her without covering his butt.

But until he has the nomination in hand, do not assume that Hillary is on ice. Much in Obama's past remains unexamined. Hillary has struggled too long and too hard, has come too close, to give up without fighting to the last gasp.

It ought to be over, but it ain't.
-- Edmund Dantes
Coshocton, Ohio

Everyone keeps saying Hillary isn't dead yet. All sorts of theories have surfaced discussing her options if McCain wins or Obama wins.

Excuse me, but isn't Hillary up for senate re-election in 2012? Hillary is no Joe Lieberman. Running for president may jeopardize her chances of getting re-elected
to the senate -- and we all know her unquenchable thirst for power. Hillary may be forced to choose.

Besides, the run for the presidency seems to be almost a 2-year endeavor. Although I don't presume to speak for the citizens of New York, I have to wonder how the voters of that state will feel about Hillary running twice for president during the same 6-year senate term.
-- Garry Greenwood
Gearhart, Oregon

FINISHING TOUCHES
Re: Peter Ferrara's Free Market Universal Health Care:

Mr. Ferrara has the beginning of an excellent free-market system that could indeed ensure near-"universal" health care. But there are a few critical things that he forgot:

1. Mandated benefits. It is vital that the state stop mandating coverage of certain practitioner types or procedures. One option would be to allow "federally-chartered" health insurance companies (modeled very loosely after the banking system), and require only that a policy without, say, infertility coverage, that is sold in a state that mandates infertility coverage, include a notice and a waiver for each "missing" mandate that the purchaser must sign stating that they "understand that this policy does not include infertility coverage, which the State of MA mandates for state-chartered health insurance." Without an end to mandated benefits, prices for policies will continue to be sky-high in too many states.

2. Provider Competition. Certificate-of-Need needs to go, as well as laws that unduly restrict the ability of some providers to offer their services. Nurse practitioners are a great example of providers that could offer lower-cost care in many states if they weren't tied up by supervision requirements (some states don't have these burdens, of course). Specialty hospitals are another innovative provider that CON prevents in too many states.

3. Eliminate the tax preference for employer-provided health care/insurance. Whether this is done by expanding the tax deduction for care/insurance to all, converting it to a credit for all, or eliminating it altogether, really isn't that important. But individuals must be free to get insurance on their own, through a voluntary association (such as a church), or through their employer or union. Some people like the idea of "being part of a group" and having someone else make decisions for them, and we need to preserve that option. But for those that don't, they need to be able to choose their own insurance/care plan.

4. Finally, and most important: Real Prices. Everything else discussed really doesn't matter if there aren't real prices available to consumers. Having one price for insured A, another price that's double that for insured B, and yet another price for C that's triple what B pays cannot continue. Given that the lion's share of hospitals in this country are either government-owned or non-profit, I think requiring that these institutions post their prices and give their best price to cash-paying customers (such as HSA holders, others with high deductibles, or the uninsured) is well within the powers of Congress. It's not a price control either -- they can continue to set their prices wherever they want, they just have to disclose their cash price and make sure that's their lowest price (others can get this price too, if the hospital choses it). I wouldn't mandate private for-profit hospitals do the same, but market pressure should pretty much force them to follow.

Add these to Mr. Ferrara's suggestions, and you truly do have the outlines of a comprehensive, free-market universal health care system.
-- Sean Parnell
Alexandria, Virginia

Peter Ferrara replies:
These points are all fine and could be added to any free market health care reform. I was just trying to sketch out the minimum to achieve assurance of universal health care and show how little needs to be done to achieve that. A government takeover of health care is certainly not required for that, as the liberals argue. But I was not trying to discuss a comprehensive health care reform that addresses costs and every other aspect of health care. The points below would be fine additions to such a broader reform.

TWO CENTS
Re: Jeffrey Lord's LBJ's List and the Conservative Challenge:

I'd like to see Obama pick a conservative for VP. Like Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska.
-- Lou

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