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Crying Foul

America in a carping world. Mason and Islam. Over the fence. Cheap dollar, expensive oil. Plus much more.

5.29.08

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HEAVY IS THE HEAD
Re: James David Dickson's Tired Superpower:

How many Americans can openly admit to giving our country five minutes of undivided cerebral attention? Attention that is free from the stresses of life, job, and our fellow humans? Not the attention of what the country can do for me, or what you can do for your country." More like as Americans are we on the verge of something that is yet to be defined, but will have dramatic effect upon our lives and this country.

We are emphatically blamed for many of the ills of the world. We are castigated for not doing enough for the world's poor, we allow third world countries' children go to bed hungry at night while our children become more obese, yet Americans are the world's most productive people.

So what are we to do? There comes a time as a people we need to go back and relearn the principles that made us who we are today.

"But we won't be a superpower anymore!" Maybe. But what is the definition of superpower and that still doesn't take away from us who we are as a people and nation and what we have accomplished in our brief history.

Maybe this yet to be defined something, is really a new American cognizance that we are to embark upon as a nation, that in itself will make us stronger, better, and a more effective leader of the free world.

But will we have a President that will address us as a whole nation instead of individual demographic groups and have the political courage and will to tell us, "We need to pull off the World's freeway for a while and take a break."
-- Melvin L. Leppla
Jacksonville, North Carolina

SOMETHING ELSE
Re: Jackie Mason & Raoul Felder's Experiencing Obama:

All kidding aside, Jackie and Raoul, "experiencing" Obama may very well be the undoing of this country. I found his Memorial Day remarks extremely disturbing, and not because he mistakenly said the American's liberated Auschwitz, either. No, unfortunately for America, what Obama, and his fellow leftist travelers suffer from, is far worse than the Post Traumatic Stress he spoke of. This insight into Obama's moral myopia began when he suggested that his uncle experienced PTS upon his observations of the horrors he experienced at the camp he helped liberate, and not, as a result from experiencing his fellow soldiers dying or being severely wounded in battle. Obama, in his haste to score cheap anti-military points, failed to close the loop, and in so doing, unwittingly admitted to us that he has absolutely no concept of the existence of Pure Evil.

If Obama had the slightest regard and respect for America, he would have used his uncle's experience, as a segue, especially on Memorial Day, to offer a spirited defense of American troops fighting radical Islam and the Evil it presents to the world today.

Problem is, Obama didn't and doesn't see that radical Islam is today's incarnation of Evil. His moral equivalence and appeasement mentality, like many of those on the Left, has blinded him to what al Qaeda and other radical Islamic groups represent, even with their daily pronouncements and acts of violence. Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr and his brother, were two famous, principled pacifists during WWII. The horrors of the Nazi revelations changed their entire moral perspectives, and they both committed themselves to fighting further Nazi aggression. We will not be so lucky with
Obama.
-- A. DiPentima

ONE BLIND MOUSE
Re: Lisa Fabrizio's Save the Umpires:

I spent over 20 years officiating baseball, softball, and football. It was both great fun, mildly remunerative, and even harrowing. I called games involving kids, boys and girls, starting at age 10. I called games from junior high to high school. On the other end of the spectrum, I called adult baseball and softball (slow pitch and fast pitch) up through national tournaments, in almost all classes of ball. I didn't want to call men's unlimited softball because virtually every player was sure that the only reason they were not on a major league roster was some incompetent general manager or coach that had a personal bias against them. Damn prima donnas! What I am saying is, "Been there, done that." Not at the MLB or NFL level, but I worked just as hard to "get it right." That is where I developed my theory that parents should be kept in locked cages at least 100 yards away from the playing field during any youth sporting event.

Lisa, you wrote a generally good article. One that I can agree with almost completely. The theory behind your prescriptions would seem to be spot on. There is, however, one development in major league baseball that you fail to take into account. That is the modern stadiums.

Way back in the day, the home run thing was not so big a problem. The bats were ash, not the current super hard maple that splinters at the drop of a hat. The ball was a "dead" ball, or at least not as lively as today. The players were not as honed, and toned, and strong. But at the original Yankee Stadium, you couldn't hit a ball out of center field anyway. You could get an inside the park home run, but you darn sure weren't going to hit it out of the park. In all stadiums you had an outfield wall of some height, and some distance from home plate, depending on the stadium. If the ball cleared the fence, or if it hit the top of the fence and bounced over, it was a home run. There were a few balls each year that were called wrong as far as fair and foul are concerned, but there were not enough of them to get all radical over.

Today "over the fence" in many stadiums is a matter of above or below some painted line on the outfield wall. Also today, the majority of players are quite capable of "hitting it out." Somehow I can't see a good pitcher worrying about Peewee Reese or Phil Rizzuto hitting many a ball out of the park. Of course if you were left handed and with the short porch along the right field corner of Yankee Stadium, well...

Anyway, these new stadiums with the new painted yellow lines half or two thirds of the way up the outfield fence that determine the matter, you are putting the umps at a distinct disadvantage, and the outcomes of more and more games are becoming involved. Perhaps the better solution would be to go to six-man crew like in the playoff games. I, too, am leery of introducing instant replay. Unfortunately, as long as TV is going to show every batted ball over and over in slow motion and stop action, then you are going to have the continued agitation for the instant replay solution. A better solution would be to force TV to stop with the slow mo and stop action multiple replays. Just let the play stand as called. You aren't going to get it changed anyway. TV has not been an unmixed blessing, especially in sports.

Good thing it isn't life or death, huh. Oh wait! It is to some fans. You're out because I called you out, that's why. When you make as few errors as I do, then you can talk. Until then, shut up and play ball.
-- Ken Shreve

OIL AND THE DOLLAR
Re: Ralph R. Reiland's Over a Barrel:

I enjoyed Ralph Reiland's article concerning the price of oil and what to do about it; however, he could have emphasized the role our Federal government plays in the mess. It is quite easy to track the value of the dollar the last 13 months as well as the price of oil on the same graph. The correlation is quite obvious. The dollar has lost about 50% of its May 2007 value. The price of crude in May 2007 averaged about $68/barrel. Today, it is almost twice that. Things really got worse when the Fed drastically reduced interest rates in order to head off a Wall Street meltdown. If one couples the rate cuts with the continued voracious appetite for deficit spending by Congress, and the uncertainty of a national election, it is no wonder the dollar has taken such a slide.

Another culprit is the Treasury. The Treasury could co-ordinate efforts with foreign banks to re-value the dollar. They could simply sell off Euros and Yens and buy up dollars. However, I get the feeling the Treasury will do no such thing. The weak dollar and low interest rates actually make congressional borrowing much easier. Finally, we cannot complain about sending billions of petro-dollars overseas when the Federal Government makes domestic drilling and exploration nearly impossible. Factor in the EPA mandates concerning summer time fuel blends, and the attendant price pressures these mandates create, and it is easy to figure why summer gas prices will approach $5 a gallon.

The last culprit in this saga is the commodity speculator. Many investors have been pouring large sums of cash into the commodities market as a hedge against a weak dollar. Oil is the king of commodities right now. Speculators will drive up the price of crude as far as the market will allow. Just as in the housing and dot com bubbles, late investors will be drawn to the rapid appreciation of commodities pushing the prices even higher. We are seeing the same thing with other commodities (especially corn, which is enjoying record prices thanks to government ethanol mandates).

My own prediction is simple. At some point the Fed must raise significantly raise interest rates. Inflation and a weak dollar are beginning to cause some serious problems in our economy. Wall Street's liquidity problem is about over, and there is no reason for interest rates to stay at 2%. Commodities are much more volatile than equities or real estate. When the Fed does decide to raise interest rates, the price of oil will fall. We are already seeing the markets react to high oil prices with falling demand. Once the price of oil begins falling, there will be an immediate worldwide sell off of oil futures and the price will plunge. Some poor speculator(s) will be holding a lot of oil he cannot sell.

The energy market is laden with government regulations and interference; there is no rational way for the industry to plan and react. In that case, the kind of volatility we've seen these last 12 months will continue. After falling, the price of oil could very easily return to 2008 levels. All it takes is more government "tweaking", or interest rate cuts. Eventually the voters will wake up to the fact that the energy problem at its heart is a problem of government interference. The only difference between now and 1979 is that the GOP is joined with the Democrats.
-- JP
Indiana

SUITE AT THE HANOI HILTON
Re: Jeffrey Lord's Seeing Evil: The Arms of John McCain:

Jeffrey Lord's editorial about John Mc Cain's arms really puts into perspective what is going on in American liberal politics now, and for the last 40 years. But, I think the real face of appeasement can be seen by comparing the feeding frenzy which surrounds the constant use of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo as examples of "torture." Lord's description of John Mc Cain's situation, compared to the "alleged" flushing of the Koran down a toilet or men photographed with women's underwear on their heads, really shows just how ignorant our appeasing politicians can be, and to what extent they will go to appease those who would just as soon cut off our heads as look at us. One has to wonder if these appeasers will stand up to the real evil when we are forced to confront it.
-- C. Lock

Your Chamberlain/Mathews article was great!

Let's redouble our efforts to call evil by its correct name. The heck with "correctness" (a corrupted word now incorrectly turned back on itself). Let's be very incorrect as we keep calling deeply corrupted human attitudes and behavior by their true name, evil. Perhaps some will be shocked -- and even become curious. Possibly, as the keepers of "correctitude" deride and label us, others will be jarred into wondering why we use archaic words like "evil." Hopefully more people will awaken in time. The war to awaken the American conscience may have to be fought hand to hand: one question, one conversation, one jarring statement of truth at a time, at the coffee shops, bus stops, grocery stores and soccer fields of America.

The mass media may now be so corrupted by narcissism that even better voices at places like Fox News have no real, lasting impact. Sound bite packaging, sensationalism, egos and ratings leave the major media ill-suited to address the fundamental cancer of evil. It has no sizzle. Perhaps the intellectual battle for the hearts and minds of America and the western world, must be fought door to door and street to street, one email, one question, one tightly packaged history lesson at a time. Like the planners of the Iraq war, we gravitate toward technology, bold strategies, "shock and awe." But this war for the American conscience, like the war for freedom in Iraq, will have to be won by convicting people of the truth, one at a time. The Iraqi's had to know we would stay even as we were getting bloodied. That we would risk going door to door to discern who was good, and who was evil. The job could not be done from ten thousand feet. Similarly, this moral war demands skillful door to door urban combat, and personal risk, suffering and sacrifice. There are no cruise missiles which can target corruption, laziness and evil.

Few want to call Ahmadinejad or Hamas "evil," because most fear moral truth. Most of us are so spoiled, so narcissistic, so sacrifice-averse that we now instinctively shun any clear standards. We fear evaluating any behavior as clearly, inexcusably wrong, because we fear being evaluated ourselves. The political correctness of making no "judgmental statements" is so much safer. We fear having our self-focused lives found wanting compared to some standard. The whole field of 2008 presidential candidates, to varying degrees, said, "vote for me and I will make you feel better." The issue of choice varied, but the message was the same. I will reduce you problems and suffering. I surely will not call you to sacrifice. I won't even look deeply into very difficult questions like Islam, the integrity of the nation/ illegal immigration, energy slavery, consumerism consuming our character and economy, etc. And I certainly won't jar you with a wake up call to sacrifice, urging "blood, sweat, toil and tears."

Along with labeling evil as wrong and taking an unambiguous stand against it, we have to stand for right. Many believe that the greatest example of "right" is the laying down of ones life for another. While not yet directly deriding such sacrifice, we have as a nation shifted toward focusing on the "waste" and the failures which led to such sacrifice, and away from the wonder and glory of the sheer goodness of selflessness. Do we progressively avoid calling undiluted attention to heroism because it makes us increasingly uncomfortable with our own avoidance of sacrifice? Has the "good" of suffering and sacrifice become an "evil" to be avoided at all cost? Few voices are teaching us that we all die, probably all will suffer, and that there can be glorious gain in sacrificing for a greater good -- especially for others. Of course parents still sacrifice for their families, and neighbors and friends for each other. Yet the dominant political message is that such cost must be softened or eliminated by government; that all suffering is wrong. We have subtly but profoundly altered our working definition of "evil." "Evil" in practical terms is increasingly thought of as merely what is costly, painful or uncomfortable. The first battle of this war is to regain the high ground of defining the terms. The epistemological battlefield has at least been corrupted, if not taken. So like it or not, we must now fight a guerilla war to first recapture the language. The narcissistic focus at all cost on what I want, is the ultimate source of evil actions. So the war is not "out there," it is in here, in our selves, in our homes, on our neighborhood streets. We need many Paul Reveres crying out to wake us up family by family, village by village.
-- Glen Urquhart

Lord's point that "appeasement" means the making of "anxious overtures and often undue concession to satisfy someone's demands" has an echo of sorts in Washington's Farewell Address.

At the LA Times Book Festival, Howard Fineman cited our first President as warning against foreign entanglements, and accused President Bush of violating that. May 28, 2008, Chris Matthews accused Bush of violating a tradition that goes all the way back to Washington of avoiding foreign entanglements.

1) Washington did not use the word "entanglements."

2) He warned against foreign connections for political purposes; he supported the idea of being faithful to the political engagements we had already made.

3) There were no political parties at the time. Washington feared the effects of a split among Americans about whether to support England or France -- a different kind of party, so to speak.

4) His stated fear was that if we favored one nation over the other we would end up doing things that were not for the benefit of our own nation. If one takes the dictionary definition of appeasement cited by Lord (to make "anxious overtures and often undue concessions to satisfy someone's demands"), one could say, broadly speaking, that Washington was warning of the dangers of appeasement.

5) His stated hope is that the U.S. will eventually be strong enough that it can pursue international relations (yes, connections, engagements) in a way that will primarily benefit our own nation: "Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people, under an efficient government, the period is not far off when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel."

6) A common interpretation of American international relations is that there has always been an effort by the U.S. to relate to other nations in such a way as to improve other nations. Matthews talks as if he never heard of Woodrow Wilson or FDR and their foreign policy goals. I even heard one anti-Bush analyst say: Well, Wilson wanted to make the world safe for democracy; but that doesn't mean he wanted to spread democracy to non-democratic nations. And the original idea of the U.N. was that its members would be democracies, not to mention the argument that FDR tended to want to make World War II an extension of the New Deal at home and abroad. (Four Freedoms, anyone?) An indication that historians are right who say that this impulse continues and will continue no matter which party or person is in power is the fact that President Bush rejected the idea of nation-building when he debated Gore; and when he got into office that's what he tried to do -- moved by American tradition and, more explicitly, by Natan Sharansky and his book on spreading freedom and democracy.

7) If Washington's words are so important, why is his idea that religion and morality are indispensable to political prosperity now rejected by so many. Indeed, what about his further idea that religion and morality are what require us to act in international relations with good faith and justice towards all nations and are what require the cultivation of peace and harmony with all. Further, what about his point that religion is essential to preserving morality? "And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."

8) One can look up some of this in To the Farewell Address by Felix Gilbert (Princeton Press, 1961).
-- Richard L.A. Schaefer
Dubuque, Iowa

With all due respect to John McCain's service for our country, I cannot and will not vote for him. John McCain is now in a position to move America forward to a position of greatest like no civilization has ever been and what does he choose to do -- appease the DemocRATS by sponsoring illegal immigration, the McCain-Feingold legislation, believes in global warming (it is 55 degrees in Missouri and it is almost June, this is global warming?), stating that those who make excess profits should be punished -- while his own wife is making gazillions. Oh I guess it is OK for his wife to make money but not someone else -- PLEASE!!!!! Just about every time John McCain opens his mouth he slams my conservative values, my principles and my country.

I would rather vote for a liberal, yes even Obama, than vote for someone who believes in appeasement and chooses not to stand up for the American values of my forefathers.
-- Margie Anglen

NO JUSTICES, NO PEACE
Re: Russ Ferguson's McCain's Judges:

I'd like to see some Supreme Court nominees out of the mainstream...ones that didn't necessarily go to the "right" schools, say. There are an awful lot of Ivy Leaguers around the government already. I'd like to see some justices who lived lives that didn't involve going to the same schools and being taught by the same professors.

Failing that, maybe if a Democrat congress gets hard-nosed about confirming nominees, maybe it'd be better to let the seat fall vacant for awhile. The United States has gotten a pretty good amount of grief from the extra-constitutional process of judicial review. The Supreme Court doesn't actually try anything itself, just conducts hearings and reviews; maybe concentrating on getting the right kind of judges to preside over the lower courts, without review above them, might be a better investment for the future.
-- Robert Nowall
Cape Coral, Florida

QUICK WORD, GOOD DOCTOR
Re: Andrew Macfadyen's letter (under "My Two Left Feet") in Reader Mail's Indecent Appeasement:

Doctor: I understand your explanation and enumeration of the liberal axioms and postulates required by liberals for achieving "chicken hawk" status, however, I am still just a little bit confused. If you are saying that a "chicken hawk" must NOT think of the Iraq war as "the most egregious violation of human rights in the history of the world," would that not then cancel his/her right to sue George Bush for engaging us in that war? After all "Bush lied, people died" and "no blood for oil" can't do it all by themselves.
-- Joseph Baum
Garrettsville, Ohio

STRENGTH TALKS
Re: The letter under "Concession Stand" in Reader Mail's More Fumbles:

There are times it's good to have a second language. Since the Wall fell in 1989 and took the Soviet Union down with it in 1991, Russian reporters and historians have published a wealth of items based on their state archives and some of their less shining moments in history.

What the Soviets dubbed "Operation Anadyr'" -- the stationing of intermediate range missiles in Cuba -- was not one of their better moves. As was noted this was in response to Thor and Jupiter missiles based in Turkey and involved about 24 SS-4 and SS-5 missiles, WITH THEIR NUCLEAR WARHEADS, as well as shorter range nuclear missiles and SA-2 SAM units to protect them.

This appears from what their historians said was Khrushchev's idea, not that of the Council of Ministers of the USSR or Central Committee of the CPSU. Ergo, when they were exposed by the U-2 imagery they were not happy that Nikita Sergeyevich put them straight into the middle of a bull's-eye.

Khrushchev's breaking point occurred when Fidel Castro, enraged by US reconnaissance overflights of Cuba and the blockade, demanded the Soviets nuke Washington. Khrushchev, realizing that Castro was just dumb enough to actually carry this out if he got control of the missiles, began looking for a way out of this disaster. When the famous off the record meeting indicated that Kennedy was willing to deal, Khrushchev jumped at it. But having pushed the Soviets to the brink -- when they were ill prepared to deal with it -- eventually cost Khrushchev his job less than four years later.

The point is that if you want to negotiate you better negotiate from strength and you better hope that your opponent realizes he is in over his head. With many of the primary villains in the world today, that's no longer the case.
-- Cookie Sewell
Socialist Republic of Maryland

STRAWMAN
Re: Philip Klein's Will the Real Libertarian Please Stand Up?:

The issue of Libertarians supporting kiddie porn was not mentioned by a single candidate other than to say it is wrong, so why say, "No doubt to the disappointment of some libertarians, all three candidates took a stand against kiddie porn"? The issue only came up in an attempt to poison one candidate who [not included in the interview] has never supported kiddie porn. The fact that it would be damaging to that candidate is proof that most libertarians would not approve.
-- Gail Lightfoot
California

GRAHAM CRACKUP
Re: Quin Hillyer's The Worst Republican Senator:

You think he's bad now, just wait until this former Navy JAG becomes the AG of the United States, that is, if John McCain becomes our next president.
-- Scottie Kania
Wasilla, Alaska

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