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More Fumbles

Specter goes long. Just eat it. Cary carrying librarians. Plus more.

5.27.08

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SENATOR SPECTACLE
Re: Ryan Young's Rotten Replay:

Thank you for Ryan Young's fine article on Senator Arlen Specter's wrong-headed attempt to inject himself and the Senate Judiciary Committee into the SpyGate scandal. Speaking of contact sports, Mr. Young's article serves to confirm that one of the most dangerous places to find oneself in Washington, D.C. is between Senator Specter and a television camera.
-- Paul Curley
Hong Kong

I haven't followed the issue closely, nevertheless, I'm a tad skeptical of Steelers' chairman Dan Rooney's comments to the effect that he considers the tapes a non-issue and that they didn't affect the outcome of certain games. Perhaps so, and he surely knows more about football than me.

However, I wonder if there isn't something else at work here. Specifically, a sports league's worth is underwritten by the assumption that the games are played fairly. (This applies to actual sports, not the likes of wrastlin', which is theater.) If fans suspect that the games are in any way tainted it degrades the whole assumed integrity of the league. That has the potential to cause them to lose interest thereby eroding all owners' earnings. So, it is in all the owners' interests to downplay any such potential improprieties.

Taking inspiration from Jay D. Homnick, the situation reminds me of a joke. A man got a job with a circus that required him to dress up as a gorilla and swing from a trapeze above a lion cage. One day the trapeze broke, dropping him into the lion's cage. So he yelled for help, whereupon the lion charged him, knocked him down on the ground, and, in a quiet voice, told him to shut up before he got them both fired. It seems to me that Mr. Rooney's comments could be construed to be in this vein.

None of this, of course, belongs in the Senate. Although, if it keeps them preoccupied, it might be a good thing.
-- Richmond Trotter

I would guess if the prancing and preening senators are not doing their own work, they have plenty of time to make mischief in places their very large noses do not belong.

Senator Specter, how about getting some conservative judges approved as you promised when every Republican east of the Mississippi who worked to get you re-elected in a year you nearly went down.

If the Senate wishes to know why they are held in such low esteem, they have only to look at the recent hearings with the oil executives and garbage hearings like the Major League Baseball -- and now this nonsense. Let Bud Selig and Roger Goodell do their jobs, and Senator Specter, you do yours. In other words, sit down and shut up!
-- Judy Beumler
Kentucky

The idiotic Senate may be "shocked!" YES! SHOCKED! To learn that we also have real spies sneaking about the country infiltrating classified American government installations, weapons developers, bugging our diplomatic corps here and overseas, applying to and taking courses at our public university schools of science & engineering, amongst others but, the Senate is mute on all that.

But you mess with NFL football and you're gonna get in BIG trouble 'cause you've made Arlen Specter MAD!

Is a lethal terrorist attack against a major sports team going to be what it takes to make the Senate notice that there's a real war goin' on out there in the real world where we all live?
-- P. Aaron Jones
Michigan

Mr. Young tries to dismiss the efforts of Arlen Specter in the baseball investigation of steroids, but it was not until after Sen. Specter threatened to get involved, and the House humiliated MLB in their initial hearings, that MLB launched their own investigation into the steroids issue. It took Congressional intervention, and the threat of further intervention to rouse baseball from its "see no evil" posture about the prevalence of steroids in the game. I never thought that this was something that Congress should have been involved in, but even I can see the good that Congressional intervention had here.

As for SpyGate, the NFL has mishandled this from the jump by trying to pooh-pooh it at first, then by destroying the evidence, and pretending that fining the team was a serious punishment. And if the NFL really wanted to make a statement it would have pulled BOTH of the Patriots first round picks, instead of letting them hang onto a top ten pick they got in a trade. Personally I don't see the need for a Senate investigation, but I can't say that someone independent of the NFL doesn't need to take a close look at the investigation launched by Roger Goodell. The NFL has behaved in a way that screams cover-up, and it is especially plausible as one the major marketing themes of the NFL has been pushing the Patriots dynasty; what happens if the NFL has to openly admit that their golden boys achieved their status through blatant rule breaking? That certainly sounds like a reason for the NFL to try to cover their tracks to me.

And it's not just people at NFL message boards who have serious misgivings about this either. Because of the notoriety of the SpyGate scandal, we now have former Patriots player Ross Tucker exposing the fact that the Patriots broke the rules covering the players on injured reserve by allowing them to practice. It is stuff like this that should trouble the NFL, but they seem content to look the other way as their rules are flouted by one of their glamour teams.

So if Sen. Specter wants to stay after the NFL, then fine because we have seen just how much they are willing to overlook when they are "policing" themselves!
-- Eric Edwards
Walnut Cove, North Carolina

A couple of points, if I might. First, you might want to inform Mr. Ryan as to which teams are the favorites of Sen. Specter. Sen. Specter is from the Philadelphia area and was, is, and always will be a devoted fan to all teams coming from that city. The only time that he gives a whit about any teams from Pittsburgh is during campaigns and when they can possibly serve to put him in front of the TV cameras. He was offered $500K by the chairman of the Judiciary committee to pay for a Senate staff investigation, but turned it down. That would not have gotten him the TV air time that he wanted. If George Bush had kept his big nose out of it, Specter may well have been defeated in the primary the last time around. Then we would have been rid of this erstwhile Sen. Schumer in training.

Secondly, perhaps Mr. Ryan, or Sen. Specter, can inform us as to what state or federal law the Patriots have violated to give the esteemed Senator jurisdiction in this matter. If they don't have enough to do to take care of the legitimate business of the country, perhaps they could go the heck home and quit harassing the American public. America is never safe when Congress is in session.

All that said, I believe that the combined fine levied against the Patriots should have been $1 million, instead of the $750,000 and the Pats forced to surrender their highest first round pick, regardless of whether they got it in a trade or wherever. I would also have suspended Belichick for the remainder of the season. But that is simply because I see Belichick as a thoroughly arrogant, paranoid, and unpleasant person. Technically he is a part time genius, but as a person, not so much. I also have not had anything good to say about the owner, Bob Kraft, since he went all nuclear because then coach Parcells called receiver Terry Glenn "she." Kraft's wife didn't like it, so Kraft had a hissy fit over it. Big PC deal. Athletic coaches and military drill instructors say a lot of things to and about their charges to motivate them. Anyway, I am NOT a Patriots fan.
-- Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

Of the legion embarrassments in the Bush 43 years, the President's successful effort to save Senator Specter is among the greatest.
-- Reid Bogie
Waterbury, Connecticut

CONCESSION STAND
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Appeasers and Bullies:

I've been a fan for years and look forward to many more.

Regarding "'Appeasers and Bullies," you failed to expound on one point. Obama would have us unilaterally concede by yelling 'stop!' and calling us names. When we don't will it be pointed out that his words had little of the desired effect, much as if they had been spoken to Brezhnev? If only we had been offered a photo-op as well...

Follow-up -- would there be a teleprompter at these head-of-state meetings or would he be winging it? I trust his speechwriters more.
-- George Potts

You are right on the mark. However, what we need is a Conservative LEADER to emerge. If you see one, let me know. I don't see Flip-Flop Amnesty McCain as being that Leader. If fact, I don't see much difference between him, Obama and Hillary.
-- David Cox

Why is it that conservatives have such difficulty comprehending the possibility that diplomacy is more than just telling another country what to do and them doing it? I imagine it must have something to do with their misplaced arrogant self-righteousness. If you look at matters from a more realistic viewpoint it is easy to see why some countries might be reluctant to just do, what America tells them to do. Let's take Iran for example.

In the 1950s it held free and fair election that resulted in the election of a popular President. However the polices that that President proposed did not sit so well with the U.S. oil companies so the CIA helped to organize a coup against him and installed the Shaw of Iran in his place. For the following 30 years America provided the Shaw with the military hardware he needed maintain power through force. His reign of terror being equivalent to that of Saddam's in Iraq.

After the Shah was deposed, America provided the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein with military weapons (including WMDs) to fight a 10 year war with Iran, in which millions of Iranians died.

Then this Administration after calling Iran part of the Axis of Evil attacks and occupies it neighbor, all the time threatening to attack Iran and even rattling the nuclear sabre.

Given all this history is it any wonder that the Iranians don't trust America. Yet the conservatives are under the naive illusion that nothing in history matters other than Iran's current refusal to stop enhancing uranium.

I say let's negotiate. In the 1960's President Kennedy did a deal with Cuba and the Soviets that kept nuclear weapons out of Cuba for over 40 years. The basic terms of the deal were that in return for America promising not to attack Cuba; Cuba promised not to install nuclear weapons. Imagine if we could do that same deal with Iran and prevent Iran from ever acquiring nuclear weapons. Now that is something worth negotiating for and that we could never achieve through sabre rattling.
-- Rick James

JUST EAT IT
Re: Lawrence Henry's How Little Boys Eat:

Lawrence Henry's story brought back some fond memories. My youngest son, Chase, was a real picky eater. As a little guy he wouldn't eat breakfast...EVER...which meant that every morning before his 11:30 AM kindergarten class we'd "head for the border" for a burrito. This not only worked as a bribe to get him to go to school, but to feed him as well. It was also where he learned his first Spanish phrase, "Yo quiero, Taco Bell!"

Chase wouldn't eat sandwiches, fresh fruit or school bought meals, so I had to get "creative." His brown bag lunch consisted of a fruit roll-up, chips, cheese or peanut butter-filled crackers, a single-wrapped string cheese stick and a juice pouch. This went on through Middle School with little variation. At least his "snack" lunches were easy to throw together! By High School, these lunches were no longer "cool" and I was relieved of this duty.

Yes, I worried that he wasn't eating well, but he survived and stayed healthy and slim. He now has a little boy of his own who isn't nearly as picky as his daddy was.

Thanks for the memories!
--Margie Gary

Willie Nelson? How about Hank Williams, who wrote it. And maybe Bob Wills deserves mention.
-- Michael Lynch

Fishies (Goldfish) are good, but try the little crackers called Whales. Buttery, salty, I can't put them down, and neither can my kids.

I've always enjoyed the Bob Wills version of "Roly-Poly."

Hope you are feeling okay.
-- L.W.

PRAGMATISM
Re: Nicole Russell's Minnesota Miracle:

I differ with Nicole Russell's pragmatic approach. Why should Gov. Pawlenty "save" Minnesotans from the consequences of their decision (used universally) to put Democrats into office? Put another way, why should the adults save the children from the consequences of their choices? Perhaps if the democrats of Minnesota really felt the pinch of Democrat rule in their taxes and decreased standard of living, perhaps then they would elect fewer Democrats.

When the Pawlentys of the U.S. work hard to save the people from the results of their vote, it prolongs the maturation process for Democrats. We need a terrible national condition (e.g. the Depression) to wake up this country and have it throw off the ideology it learned either in the classroom or the family. Gov. Pawlenty merely prolongs the catastrophe and by making it more mild, makes it longer-lasting. To quote the bard: "I must be cruel in order to be kind. Thus bad begins and worse remains behind."
-- Hugh Thomson

Philosophical purity is a wonderful pursuit. It contributes to elevating humans above all other life forms; our cognitive abilities are a gift from our Creator and it is from this gift that we know we are made in His image and for His purpose. Further, through this gift, we are able to realize the potential of all else that has been granted us. Descartes, after questioning everything, came up with his answer: "Cogito, ergo sum." Thinking, pure rational thinking. But worthy of consideration is that Descartes had wealth and time to pursue pure philosophy. The working man, having neither time nor money to spare, needs to be set his sights and hands on more earthly matters. Politicians are charged with serving both the houses of the philosopher and the laborer. As such, a wise servant of the people often will consider writers such as Plato, who wrote extensively about the ideal objects that are to be found in the heavens and Theophrastus of Eresos, who wrote prolifically about botany, an actual substance of life. Between these two poles is where the pragmatist set his tent: he must apply cold and efficient logic to the lofty schemes and hopes of the idealist so that both the philosopher and the laborer have food on the table

Minnesota, like any other state, has people (e.g., the idle rich and the life time pols -- too often a distinction without difference) who are willing to make great sacrifice (usually at the inconvenience and expense of others) to find the ideal chair while they are comfortably serviced in their luxurious homes. People of their ilk clamor that Governor Pawlenty has sold out. No, Pawlenty sees that the tax paying, hard working people rather have a rough seat here on earth than wait forever on heaven's (or politicians') promises. Pawlenty's compromise may not meet the conservative gold standard, smaller government with less spending, but it does keep millions in the pockets of Minnesota's tax payers. What can Jason Lewis find to be a "Disaster" about that?

Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou also has much to teach the RINOs in Minnesota and Congress: philosophical purity is important; holding onto one's ideals is a more sure footed path to victory; setbacks are to be both expected and overcome, but compromise is part of the journey. Taiwan's former President Chen Shui-bian may have offered a purer nationalistic philosophy than his successor, but it was neither realistic nor beneficial. Philosophical purity is worth a great effort but so is a living well. Compromise is not always appeasement and often it is the only logical path.

William James wrote in Pragmatism: "Pragmatism asks its usual question. 'Grant an idea or belief to be true,' it says, 'what concrete difference will its being true make in anyone's actual life? How will the truth be realized? What experiences will be different from those which would obtain if the belief were false? What, in short, is the truth's cash-value in experiential terms?" This election cycle may be a bloodbath for the GOP, but (true) Republicans will regroup around their core beliefs and grow anew through grass roots efforts. The Democrats will take the White House (either through a pure liberal Democrat, Obama/Clinton, or a Democrat-light, McCain), but the victory will prove to be a pyrrhic one. Once the American people get a whiff of the oppressive stink of true liberalism, they will unite to throw off their government imposed shackles. It will be the pragmatic thing to do.
-- Ira M. Kessel
Rochester, New York

."..they'll know exactly what to do when they're dealt a better hand."

The Republicans had a great hand for 12 years. Six of which included a Republican president. And what did they do with it? They folded like a house of cards in a soft breeze. They didn't do a damn thing except increase the size of government. Gimme a break!
-- R.W.

READ MY LIPS
Re: George Pieler's No New Wireless Taxes:

WELL DONE, MR. PIELER. He is right. We are being taxed to death. If not from one area then another. They want applause when they stop taxes here and then get us over there. While they are at it. Please repeal the 6% Spanish/American War tax on our phone. I think we won.
-- Joseph D'Ambrosia

CRUEL SUMMER
Re: Eric Peters' Is 55 in Our Future?:

It's kind of funny that I should see this article this morning. I drive a very short distance of about eight miles each day to work on I-70 between New Market, Maryland and Frederick, Maryland. My 1995 Camaro is not the most fuel efficient thing on the road, but if I keep it at 65MPH it will turn about 25 MPG on the highway. So this morning I set the cruise control to 65 and was alarmed by the number of vehicles that nearly blew my drivers side door off. I even saw a Prius pass me doing at least 75-80 MPH -- yes they can go that fast but not when they hit the mountains. I seriously doubt that passing a 55MPH speed limit will do much to slow down traffic and save gas when they can't and won't enforce the 65 limit. But the do-nothings in Congress who come up with such great solutions as suing OPEC will probably introduce this idea shortly.
-- Ed Greenlee

Sounds like Jimmy Carter idea to reduce the speed. Actually, I think my 2002 Caddy gets better mileage at 70mph than the lower speeds.
-- Rich Learey

When I lived in the Raleigh NC area in the mid 1990s an article appeared in the Raleigh News and Observer regarding a study done in North Carolina. The study concluded that one third of the traffic lights in the state were broken, badly timed or just not needed. Multiply this times fifty states and the result has to be an incredible amount of gasoline is being wasted by bad traffic lights. I have witnessed traffic lights at 2:00AM Sunday morning with not an automobile in sight still operating in green, yellow and red mode. Also I have seen traffic lights that would be better timed by someone with a stop watch than they currently were.

Could it be that too much revenue is coming into state and local coffers to fix the traffic light system?

55 MPH may have some merit, although having lived through a previous attempt at this, I seriously doubt it.
-- Don Werenko
Calabash, North Carolina

MEMORIAL MEDAL
Re: Jeff Emanuel's Return From Samarra:

Mr. Emanuel wrote a very good column in his initial report on this action. He, once again, does a commendable job in this follow up column. I would like to address an issue suggested by the column, if I might. That issue is the total lack of any living soldier from the Iraqi theater of operations or from Afghanistan having been deemed worthy of the Medal of Honor. In my view, that is a crime, in and of itself. I would not feel comfortable picking out the warriors that are deserving and naming them here. I would simply say that you could review the citations of those that have been awarded the Navy Cross, the Air Force Cross, and the Distinguished Service Cross and you will find a double handful of deserving warriors. I would not for a moment try to dispute Mr. Emanuel's recommendation of these two Airborne warriors. I am thinking of the case of a Green Beret 1st Sgt., now MSGT I believe, that should have gotten it for his actions in Afghanistan. I am thinking of a Marine 1st Sgt, now SGT Major that should have gotten it for his actions in the battle for Fallujah. I am thinking of a Navy SEAL that should have gotten it for his actions in Afghanistan. And there are others that I have read about that slip my mind at the moment.

Like Mr. Emanuel, I am acquainted with the stringent requirements for receiving the Medal of Honor. If you read the requirements, there is NO requirement that the recipient must lose his or her life in the process of being a true hero. Certainly, in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, we had soldiers, sailors, and Marines that survived their heroic action and received the Medal of Honor. There must be a minimum of two witnesses to the action that can relate the heroism involved. That requirement has kept many from even being considered. I suspect that it was a consideration in the case of Marcus Luttrell, however his team leader did receive the award posthumously, and there were not two witnesses to that act of heroism, only one, but Lt. Murphy died in the attempt. Now I think that Lt. Mike Murphy deserves the Medal of Honor that he was awarded, but I am merely pointing out how requirements can be waived if the right people want them to be waived.

One might also think of the benefits that accrue to Medal of Honor winners. For instance, any child of a Medal of Honor winner is eligible for admission to any of our military academies, upon proof of sufficient grades, and regardless of the quotas involved in admissions. A Medal of Honor winner receives, for life, a small stipend from the government. It is so small that it is almost an insult, in my opinion, but it is something. There are other perks involving travel, PX privileges, medical care, public recognition within the military community, and such humble benefits.

I don't mean to sound cynical, but would it not have a positive effect on the attitudes of the American public, at least the majority, if there were real live Medal of Honor winners that could talk to the public, like they did in WWII. It certainly would force the old media to report on them and their heroism. It certainly would be an effective damper to contain the anti-war, indeed anti-American, fervor that we see from the likes of Code Pink and a majority of the Democrat members of Congress.

Please, this is not to denigrate in any way the acts of bravery of our troops. I in no way suggest awarding the Medal of Honor to undeserving individuals. That would be to cheapen it. That was done in the distant past, but corrected by act of Congress and the President. But the positive effects on morale, both in the military and on the home front, simply can not be denied. I could go on for another 10,000 words or more on this subject, as it is a topic that I am very serious about, and very distressed about, but I will stop and let the reader assess for himself or herself the merits of my thesis. Damn it, we have not done justice to our guys in all cases, and the Bush administration has not done all that it could do to bring the public along on the whole war against Islamic Jihad issue. This is one of several missed opportunities, in my opinion.
-- Ken Shreve

Great article, especially apropos on Memorial Day. I hope the History channel or some production company films a dramatizationof their heroism, as well as that of the Hispanic corporal at Fallujah who charged the terrorists armed only with a knife when the ammo ran out.
-- Greg Allison
Rancho Santa Fe, California

DUNG HEAP OF HUMANITIES
Re: Christopher Orlet's Inhuman Humanities:

When the Humanities were turned into the "Political Correctness" battleground is when the Humanities ceased to be a portion of a well-educated and grounded education.

No wonder that many would prefer NOT to fund such silliness and absolute garbage courses conducted by dysfunctional departments that are a Petri dish of radical deconstruction, Marxist-Leninist economics and Socialist propaganda; which in real world applications HAS been regulated to the "dung heap of history."
-- S. Dent

LIFE OF JOHNSTON
Re: Joseph Johnston's letter (under "My Left Foot") in Reader Mail's Having it Both Ways:

Let me catch my breath! I'm sorry, but I've been bowled over by the cogent logic of Mr. Johnston and his carefully reasoned assessment of the presidencies of Mr. Clinton and Mr. Bush. I had no idea that Mr. Bush was an "absolute criminal." All along I had been laboring under the delusion that he was merely a partial criminal. Imagine my surprise when I am suddenly informed that his criminality is "absolute." Who knew?

Oh, and I guess I owe kudos to Mr. Johnston for his prescient perception of my status as a "chicken hawk." I had completely forgotten that the only people who are entitled to an opinion on any matter that might lead to military hostilities are those who have actually served in the military. Sorry! Next time we get attacked by terrorists, I'll wait for Mr. Johnston to inform me of the correct reaction.

Talk about IQ tests for Congress! Perhaps we should have them for letter writers.
-- Joseph Baum
Garrettsville, Ohio

Memo to Messrs. Johnston and Moser: Your missives are both grammatically and intellectually challenging. That said, they are nonetheless instructive to the rest of us TAS readers. However, decorum says I should leave it at that.
-- A. DiPentima

GRUMPY OLD DUDE
Re: James Bowman's "Iron Man":

I am a deeply, deeply conservative man. I believe in abolishing the income tax, abolishing 65% of the federal government, I am pro-life, and I am pro-American. I am also a man, in the old-fashioned conservative sense for the word, I hold doors open for ladies, children, and the elderly, I refuse to engage in battle with weaker opponents, I cherish my wife and kids, and I can honestly say that I will gladly put my life on the line for the things I love; family, country, freedom.

And I loved Iron Man!

Loved it!

I see it as a conservative movie, a movie about bashing terrorists, and killing bad guys. And Tony Stark was the first portrayal of a businessman as good guy by Hollywood in living memory.

You are too grumpy, dude!
-- Nicky Billou

CHECK THIS OUT
Re: J. Bradley Jansen's Enemy of the Good:

I am a proud, philosophically oriented, card carrying Libertarian, who is, once again, amazed that the Libertarian Party is second only to the GOP when it comes to self-inflicted shots to the foot.
-- Ira M. Kessel
Rochester, New York

The Libertarian Party need not worry about their party apparatus being hijacked by the likes of Bob Barr. Most Americans think a "Libertarian" is a Librarian who has earned a college degree.
-- P. Aaron Jones

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