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Guy Walks Into a…

Bob Barr, grilled. Bye bye Buckley. Charlton the great. Honest to Orwell. Plus much more.

4.8.08

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NO HOLDS BARR'D
Re: W. James Antle III's Barr Fight:

Barr running against McCain's weak base would ensure an Obama presidency. Obama is a radical leftist and black nationalist. The worst of all worlds.

If Barr ran, I would have to vote for him because he is so much more conservative, loyal to the Constitution and to the US -- plus smarter -- than McCain. But it would only end up electing Obama.

Damned if we do; damned if we don't. I can only hope libertarians nominate a Christian hating, amoral moonbat like they usually do. Not Barr.
-- Jo Fullerton

In view of the fact that I recently received a donation request from Bob Barr deceitfully calling himself a "conservative Republican like yourself," I responded with a request to remove me from his mailing list. If you continue to support him in his quest to ensure a Democrat Presidency in the next election I will likewise request you remove us from subscribing to The American Spectator.
-- Maureen A. Davies
El Cajon, California

John McCain need not worry about Bob Barr. The 2008 vote for Barr will be from the libertarian wing of the two parties plus the Libertarian Party itself, giving him about a half million votes. The votes he needs to be worried about are from the conservatives whom McCain and the RINO wing of the GOP have ignored this year. These untold millions will have a candidate with Alan Keyes and the Constitution Party and they are in no way joining in with the pro-drug, pro-abortion, ect, ect, of the Libertarian Party. Also, a note on Congressman John Schmitz, the American Party candidate for president in 1972. He did get 1.4 percent of the vote, however he was only on the ballot in 32 states. Had he gotten on the ballot in all fifty plus D.C. he would have gotten 2.3 percent of the vote and would have given McGovern some more states rather than just lonely Massachusetts.
-- Michael Skaggs
Murray, Kentucky

If Mr. Barr patterns himself after Thomas Jefferson he should be made aware that he more closely resembles Alexander Hamilton. McCain may not be 'Reagan', but neither is Barr. Though I am sure the latter won't cry in his soup when Obama or Missus Clinton sits in the Oval Office.

Mr. Barr recently stated that if his 'third party' candidacy would hurt McCain then it is McCain's fault for not appealing to a broad cross-section of the (R) electorate. I'd respond to Mr. Barr that if he were more appealing then a third party run would not be necessary.
-- Jeff Anderson
Richmond, Virginia

Just when it was looking unusually good for the GOP and John McCain against the Democrats, in what is an election year naturally favorable to them -- Bob Barr decides that now is the time for him to come to the aid of, well, I don't know who.

Considering this information from the article:."..he is best known for his role in passing the Defense of Marriage Act -- which has kept the marriage laws of all 50 states from being at the tender mercies of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court -- and as a House manager in
the impeachment of Bill Clinton.

In 2002, Barr lost his congressional seat after redistricting forced him into a primary with fellow Republican Congressman John Linder. After leaving the House, he has focused on civil liberties and privacy protections, opposing the Bush administration on the Patriot Act and its national surveillance program. "There seems to be a disconnect with his focus on "civil liberties and privacy protections" and his wishing the state to suppress behavior he finds morally wrong, i.e. same-sex marriage. Now, I also oppose same-sex marriage, but I am at least consistent and oppose all government intruding onto personal liberties, even when those liberties go against my own personal beliefs.

Bob Barr is no Libertarian, and he can play no practical role this year other than a spoiler for John McCain.
-- David Leone

I think that as a piece of advocacy, the article gets a good grade as a nice try. The fact is that Bob Barr will be treated as a fringe candidate and probably rightly so.

Just set-aside his views on privacy which one can argue hinder the executive from prosecuting a war and tapping into the bad guys phones. To me, and most Americans, this is an extreme view. It will be easily manipulated against him.

What will be his bane are two things -- the Clinton "hatred" which the media will love to re-hash at every turn and the gun flub (shooting off a loaded gun as a campaign appearance). Both will make him look like a wacko.

Bob Barr should not be taken seriously and this is only a vanity play. And vanity seems to be Barr's true problem.
-- James Siegler

Fiscal responsibility and border protection rank mighty high for a bunch of us, but, please, I've some pretty strong doubts about Bob Barr as a Libertarian.

He's NOT one, and methinks you/they might get your priorities in order.

The Defense of Marriage act and strong anti-CHOICE posture makes Mr. Barr a conservative, not a Libertarian, and as a non-card-carrying Libertarian type, I cringe. Perhaps he may want to run with Alan Keyes or some other ultra-conservative.

But a Libertarian? I think not. No way!
-- Jack Frost

Actually, I think Barr could keep the pressure on McCain from the right, so it might not be all bad. Without appearing to pander he's got to continue to reach out to the conservative base or he is toast.
-- Mike D'Virgilio
Bolingbrook, Illinois

FINAL FAREWELL
Re: Shawn Macomber's Mourning in St. Patrick's:

I wept when I read of Pat Buckley's unexpected death. Wept again when I read a letter in NR from a reader who described himself as an atheist but said if there were a Heaven he knew that she was there and knew that Mr. Buckley would join her there. Bill Buckley replied "If I did not believe that I would not want to live another day." I am paraphrasing, but that was the gist of it. I have no doubt this splendid man has been reunited with his bride and they will live happily ever and ever after. Nothing can part them again.

Reading Shawn Macomber's account of the memorial mass brought tears to my eyes. William F. Buckley was such an important part of my political education. Oh, why narrow it to "political"? Anyone who has read his books over the years got much more that that from the exposure. I recall once seeing him in an interview whene he had just written The Jeweler's Eye. The interviewer queried him about the title, asked him who gave him "the jeweler's eye"? Buckley twinkled that mischievous smile and said "God did."

The gentleman had such style, even his letters to lapsed NR subscribers were worded with such good humor and panache, it would have taken a heart of stone not to re-new. They may well have been written by some staffer. If so, they were possessed of the same wry wit as Buckley, himself.

Once I wrote TAS about something said in Readers' Comments. My letter was complimentary of Mr. Buckley hearkening back to "Firing Line" days. Next morning there was an e-mail, thanking me for my kind words, signed "Bill Buckley." He may not have written it but if not, he had someone assigned to acknowledging for him. That is a gentleman.

What a life of accomplishment. What a wealth of experience he described for us. What a wonderful thing to have lived during his time and to have been the beneficiary of his sharp wit and keen mind.

We will miss him and mourn him and take a book down from the shelf now and again to re-read and marvel again at his wisdom.

Thank you, Shawn Macomber
-- Diane Smith
California

Every once in a while, Mr. Macomber, I venture out from my comfort zone of trying to find some humor in the current ugliness of our politics, to speak in serious tones. Since, Mr. Buckley's death, I've found it more necessary, because I'm required to consider the future without his presence. I can't claim a great ability to express my thoughts, an expertise in practical politics, or in philosophy, but at least I can make a fair, rational case for the policies I want supported by those who would claim leadership over me. However, that's not enough. Sometimes, we need a quickening of the spirit to spur us on. We need passion.

2008, with a pivotal Presidential election before us, is fast becoming a year conservatives will, no doubt, long remember, but not necessarily with fondness. The American revolution is on the brink. Those who understand why this matters, are few. Reagan left us not long ago. Buckley is gone. And now, Heston. But, while their passing is grievous, it is a ready source for the quickening and passion we need to flourish again, for they did not leave us in a vacuum. Respect for the timeless value of their labors can help sustain us as we regain our confidence.

As we struggle, amidst our lamentations, to stay the course, let me offer a few thoughts on how to reestablish ourselves. Our best posture now, will be found on our knees, in total humility and with thanksgiving, before a just and loving God, who even now, if we but ask Him with a pure heart and in the fidelity to His righteousness found through faithfulness, will restore within us the strength and courage we will need to face the certain maelstrom ahead. Freedom is not a heritage for the timid, but for those willing to fight for it, not only in their own hearts, but among the affairs of men.

We miss you Ronnie, Bill, and Chuck. If you get the chance, would you let the Lord know we could use a repeat performance from someone still among us down here working the circuit. Thanks.
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

ANOTHER ICON GONE
Re: Robert Stacy McCain's The Voice of God:

In January 1960 my father was in New York for a retailers' convention. As it was very, very cold and icy, he had some problems getting around on the sidewalks.

About noon he was down in Times Square and went to turn the corner when he crashed into another man coming the other way. Since my father was nearly 6'4" he was surprised and took a fall right onto his "third point of contact" as they say. The other man was very apologetic and reached down immediately to give him a hand up. As my father took the stranger's hand he looked over his shoulder and saw a gigantic poster of the same fellow whipping a chariot in a promo for "Ben Hur."

I guess one could say that Charlton Heston literally could be larger than life!
-- Cookie Sewell
Socialist Republic of Maryland

You were wrong in your last line. As long as we have films to watch, he will never be silent. Charlton Heston was the personification of "Citizen Statesman."
-- Michael Skaggs
NRA Life Member
Murray, Kentucky

Thank you Mr. McCain for remembering of the greats. What a gentlemen Mr. Heston was. He will be missed.
-- Jim Karr
Blue Springs, Missouri

God blessed us with Charlton Heston -- his heroic larger-than-life strength as well as his dignity, faith and morality. Of course, those attributes have led to his detractors in the MSM and blogosphere to weigh in about -- against -- him.

For example, at the blog The Daily Kos, one poster asked, "How many people in this country are dead because of the organization [the National Rifle Association] Mr. Heston championed all these years?"

Another wrote: "I lmao [laughed my a** off]'d when [Rev. Jerry] Falwell left us. The world was a better place. I'm not gonna pretend Heston was what I'd consider to be a net gain for humanity, just because he died."

I'd imagine that were he still alive, the ex-liberal and winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom would laugh and remind us all to dismiss these and similar ones.
So would Moses, I'd suppose.
-- C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia

Charlton Heston's roles and his performance over his entire career were selected with care. It is difficult to recall a movie he starred in that you didn't come away saying he was perfect in the role. How could an actor be perfect in the role in so many varied roles? Because of his consummate skill in selecting his material. Whether he was Moses or Will Penny he was never Charlton Heston first.

Heston wrote at least two autobiographical books, so long ago they are probably not in print. In one, An Actor's Life he described in great detail the time he spent in reading scripts, start to finish, before he took a part - rejecting many as unsuitable. He gave a humorous account of his struggling college days, earning money posing for art students. He related how his wife fashioned a skimpy leather bikini for his otherwise nude body. This gentleman took his goal in life seriously and shared with us the monumental wealth of his talent.

He wrote several articles for National Review. Thoughtful and informed, a serious actor, good citizen, beloved family man -- he will be missed.
-- Diane Smith
California

DOUBTFUL DOCTRINE
Re: Patrick O'Hannigan's Doctronaire Obama:

Patrick O'Hannigan writes of Obama: ."..He has never won a national election..."

Yeah -- and neither has anyone who has yet to win the presidency (including Hillary Clinton and John McCain), as the presidency is the only office in America that the entire country votes for. Sophomoric argument, amateurish editing. It shouldn't take a reader to point this out.
-- Jim Hunter
Ann Arbor, Michigan

I found Patrick O'Hannigan's article on the Obama Doctrine an absolute hoot. I have to admit, however, that I find President Bush's avowed reason for going -- something about longing for freedom, or something similarly gooey -- into Iraq similarly hoot-inducing. I think most people, regardless of culture, prefer security to freedom to choose, and strongly disagree that inside every Iraqi there's an American, or at least a Western-style democrat, trying to get out and can do so with just a little bit of help from the Pentagon, some American blood and a whole lot of American treasure.

Still, I voted for the man twice, albeit reluctantly, and after the initial invasion in 2003 I thought to myself, well, it just might work -- give the man and his plan a chance. How much of a chance? A legitimate question, given Senator McCain's boast of staying a hundred years, if necessary, to get the job -- whatever it is at this point -- done, which is economic, political and military lunacy. The problem is rooted in history -- thousands of years' worth. The Spartan king Agesilaus said of the ancient Persians that they make good slaves but poor free men, and nothing much as changed, as far as I can tell, given the extent to which the modern world has left the Middle East and its Arab citizenry behind (with some exceptions, certainly). Americans similarly make wonderful free men, when we bother to get off our behinds and turn off "American Idol," but poor imperialists, because conquest and pacification is bloody, vicious, expensive, and ruthless work requiring a long attention span and the absence of 24/7 media circus. It didn't work with Alexander the Great, whose pacification plan to culturally unify West and East failed, despite the fact that his military conquests were decisive, and I have no faith that it can work today. Nice dream, though, except dreams are for people who are still asleep. It's time to rise and shine and leave the region to its own folly.
-- D. Frater

Patrick O'Hannigan made a good start in this analysis of Obama's Obama Doctrine, but when he got to CINEMATIC AND MUSICAL it all fell apart, becoming more silly than the foreign policy he was criticizing.

You really must start reading and editing your columnists before they post.
-- Richard Donley
New Lyme, Ohio

SHE'S A MANEATER
Re: Conor Friedersdorf's Here Comes the Bride...Zilla:

Read with interest Conor Friedersdorf's glimpse down the rabbit hole of modern weddings and the raging, unlovely creatures that dwell there. Curiously left out was any mention of the new ultimate in self-indulgence and narcissism- the destination wedding. Living in a part of South Florida where state of the art weddings are routine, I have always likened the madness to a Cinderella complex. Just as in the fairy tale, the occasion is every girl's chance to be lifted out of her everyday life of toil and obscurity to become a princess for a day and the center of attention and adulation at a magnificent ball. Unlike the story, whereas Cinderella simply wants to go to the ball and by chance the prince is smitten with her, the happily-forever-after part of today's bridezillas is supposed to be the very point of the proceedings but becomes a decidedly secondary concern if not an afterthought. In short, the wedding is the point and the marriage what comes after. That her obsession with the shallow and transient concerns of the ceremony itself, as opposed to its significance only as the first step on the long, sometimes hard journey of marriage, forebodes of ill to come on that road. And let's not forget the supporting cast of mothers who are reliving the tale by proxy that provide the moral support and encourage their daughters in their joint delusions.

The gem of the piece, "It is the bride who suffers for her sense of entitlement: invitations must be addressed, sealed and stamped. Mothers-in-law must be consulted and appeased." is priceless and encapsulates perfectly the narcissism. She is the victim of her fantastical expectations and excesses. Forget about all of the hectored, harried and hapless others from the man who declares his life for her, the family who love her most and extended family and friends who become but bit players and stage props there only to set the stage so that she may shine in her little costume drama. I have always believed that one could do a thesis on proving the direct relationship between the price of modern weddings and the marriage mortality rate a.k.a. divorce. The more spent and the more lavish the shorter the life of the marriage. I'd bet on it. After all, if a couple starts out by blowing $50K, $100K or more of someone else's money on pomp and circumstance what kind of expectations have they created within themselves about life together over the long haul apart from daddy's checkbook? How well will they weather the storms and deserts of married life? And even if money is no object to themselves or daddy is always there a benchmark of expectations is established that no couple can meet continually or forever. The honeymoon, no matter how extravagant, really does end and even all the money in the world isn't what makes a marriage work.

My wife and I, of 21 years, had a very modest wedding which I paid for and after which we returned to our very modest apartment to commence married life meaning we had to work the next day. We have three young daughters, 15, 11 and eight, who we've assiduously taught that the wedding craziness is a delusion, waste and good way to set themselves up for cruel disappointment. By luck, my wife, bless her, rented that "reality series" about bridezillas from a couple of years ago on a lark for their weekly "girl movie night" but was instead horrified almost from its opening sequences. The bitching, whining, crying and raging bridezillas became an abject lesson in how not to act, what not to expect, what was reasonable and what was not. Me and our three boys got sucked in like those drawn to the scene of a car wreck or other disaster where we were witness to unspeakable carnage but could not turn away for the sheer unreality of it all. We pointed out to the kids each instance of selfishness, thoughtlessness, rudeness and downright cruelty. It was slow and tough going as we had to pause every few moments to point out just how over the top and self-centered some new demand or temper tantrum was. Such moments come fast and furious with each worst than the last as the blessed day approaches. For the boys the lesson was one of the anti-qualities one should be on the look out for in a prospective wife and I was fascinated by watching those around the little darling. They had the look and manner of the concerned family and friends of a mad woman who have taught themselves to indulge her whims lest she go off on them.

To set the tone for our girls' big day, we've explained, you can have a modest wedding and a nice check to get started in your new, married life or you can have a big to-do. In either event, the "reality" of it all is that after the special day you turn back into a wash maid, your handsome groom turns out not always to be such a prince, your limo a pumpkin, all the coterie mice and "real" life together commences. Wedding or marriage, which is more important?
-- Mark Shepler
Jupiter, Florida

To Conor Friedersdorf's article I have a one word solution -- elope.

Conor also has forsaken the most forgotten person in all this yet whose burden it is to carry -- The Father of The Bride. For his troubles he gets a free pass at the bar and a reduction on his auto insurance once 'sweet thing' leaves the nest. The average wedding tips the scale at $27k which Dear old Dad finances with a second mortgage on the homestead. He survives the invasion of his wallet by all manner of poseurs feigning airs of importance. He suffers the travails of a roller coaster as wife and daughter chirp about everything. Making passing deference for guidance only to be over ruled in the same conversation.

Spencer Tracy had it easy by comparison!
-- John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

Mr. Fiedersdorf takes some pretty heavy pot shots at a target rich environment. Certainly a few bridezillas wander the earth, but by far, the brides of today are cool, calm, collected and in LOVE with the men they have decided to marry.

Does Mr. Fiedersdorf realize that for most of these young women, this is the first time in their lives they are in charge of a party costing in the neighborhood of $15,000? Does he realize most of these couples are paying for the wedding by themselves? (Before he howls about the cost, I would just remind him it is the choice of the couple not some sniveling writer in Washington, D.C.) It is their money, earned by them to be spent as they please.

I meet and talk with these young women on a regular basis and let me say they are older, better educated and generally more poised than previous generations, including their own mothers. And they definitely know what they want from life.

Brides Noir will be a welcome addition to the marketplace -- as most of these women find the regular fare of current magazines a little silly, too.
-- Judy Beumler
Editor, The Wedding Chronicle

Just another way to squander money.

I've seen people of quite modest means got deep into debt for a wedding & reception when the money could have been used instead for a down payment on a house. Go figure.
-- Peter Skurkiss
Stow, Ohio

I shudder as I see these magazines as well.

No longer are they resources for where to buy a gown, etc. They are ego and lust enablers, bringing out the worst (if it is allowed) in a woman.

We've told our kids in no uncertain terms that weddings are just the beginning of MARRIAGE, and that they'd better make sure the marriage is on sound footing before any kind of wedding is planned.

We planned our wedding in two and a half weeks. Small congregation, small party. Been married 30 years.

We'll see how that goes over as our oldest daughter approaches engagement. Fingers crossed!
-- Anastasia Mather
Staten Island, New York

GUNS DO KILL PEOPLE
Re: David Sciacchitano's letter (under "Book Bag Arms") in Reader Mail's Waiting for Obama:

Sir, last year there were two mass shootings in the Denver area by a single person. At the first location there was no one armed to defend the defenseless. At the second location, a church, there was an armed church member who defended the defenseless.

Jeanne Assam prevented mass murder at New Life Church in Colorado Springs. Ms. Assam shot the killer who had killed four people in a pair of shooting sprees at a megachurch in Colorado Springs and a missionary training school in Arvada. Jeanne Assam, a church member who volunteers as a security guard, shot the killer, who was found with a rifle and two handguns, police said.

Seems to me this is reasonable evidence that an armed citizen does prevent innocent deaths. I don't think of it as Hollywood fiction as Mr. Sciacchitano suggests. In fact, at the moment of truth a young woman did in fact dispense the villain with a well-placed shot.
-- Nelson Ward
Cowles, New Mexico

HOW THE OTHER HALF WRITES
Re: Mark Falcoff's Arthur and Writer:

Compare Schlesinger's journal to President Reagan's early hand scripted speeches and his recently published White House diary, and no doubt, the juxtaposition between the soft hands of elite liberalism and the hard scrabble common sense of conservatism, will be complete. It's not the least bit surprising that Schlesinger's many inaccurate and fatuous predictions are breezily ignored; after all, with liberalism, one is supposed to marvel at its compassion. It's considered bad form to dwell on its consequences. Ironically, it took Christopher Hitchens, doing his best William F. Buckley imitation, to eloquently, yet savagely, expose the depravity of Schlesinger's elitism. Schlesinger had taken to one of the nightly cable shows in defense of Bill Clinton, at the height of Monica-gate. Schlesinger, solemnly lectured us, in haughty moral calculus, that "gentlemen do not speak publicly of their discreet affairs," hence, granting dispensation and approbation for Clinton's sordid acts in the Oval Office. To Schlesinger, it was a given that enlightened Europeans and the Kennedy's, did these things all the time. What's the big deal? A livid Hitchens, in response, called Schlesinger a "bowed-tied Popinjay." Way to go Chris, moral clarity with a touch of the Audubon Society thrown in.
-- A. DiPentima

"V" FOR VENDETTA
Re: Rich V.'s letter (under "His to Lose") in Reader Mail's Waiting for Obama:

I would like to correct one Rich V. (if in fact that is his "name") who wrote: "Problem is the right is SOOO far right nowadays that ANY Democrat to them is "far left."" The problem with his statement is that it gets it all backwards. The "right" (if by that you refer to the American conservative movement) has changed in that it has become almost uniformly champions of the free market and now makes far more use of empirical evidence to makes its points that in the past. In addition, enter a room with full of conservatives and you will find a wide variety of opinions on just about anything. No such thing can be said about the left -- and this is just the problem.

It isn't that the right has moved further "right"; it is that the left is not the same liberalism of the 1950's and 1960's. The left keeps moving into new territory -- embracing positions that had been thought to be unthinkable mere years before. In fact, stake out a contemporary liberal constellation of positions in which you say to yourself "these are my beliefs and I go no further" and tomorrow you will be left behind. There is nothing so "out of date" and boring as yesterday's liberal. Given a sufficient length of time and your leftist brothers and sisters will regard you as a conservative and perhaps even a "traitor." This is precisely what happened to a great many of us former liberals. That the left moves further "left" is one thing. In addition, the left has become intolerant of deviations from the party line. Find yourself hesitant to continue in the leftist cutting edge (or at least "growing" and on the way) and you will soon be squeezed out. On the other hand, today's liberals are driven by the need to be conspicuously progressive among their brethren.

Given the content of Rich V.'s letter, one has to doubt if he had ever actually voted Republican. It uses many of the catch phrases one commonly hears from the left. Either "Rich V." is a fake or he himself has taken the magic carpet ride further left unawares.

By the by, issues are issues. No one knows what will be the hot button questions six months from now. The trouble is the left doesn't like dealing with issues close to the hearts of conservatives. It wants to talk about what it thinks is on its home field about issues it decides are "fit." Hence the self-serving belief that the "issues are on their side" with the American people. Nevertheless, there is no pressing reason anyone else should be playing by the left's rules.

More to the point, liberals rarely believe that others have real issues unless those issues originate from the leftwing radar. Only the left has the legitimate ones. The left is so selfcentered that it deludes itself into thinking no conservative cares about "God, guns, gay marriage abortion..." short of their use as battleaxes. When it comes to the raw division among the American people, the left blames the right. The left doesn't seriously think conservatives care about limited government or secure borders. Heaven knows the left surely doesn't. Ergo: it has to be that conservatives merely lust for power. However, blame conservatives all you wish. The polarization of the American people has existed for a long time. If you want to blame another for America's discord, look in the mirror.
-- Mike Dooley

ORWELL IN CATALONIA
Re: Eric Heroux's letter (under "Port Holes") in Reader Mail's Waiting for Obama:

"One symptom of this article's propaganda function is how it describes Orwell's having been shot in the neck while fighting for the Spanish Republicans, followed immediately by an unexplained reference to Communist firing squads -- thus associating his bullet wound with a Communist rifle."

Let me explain the reference: Orwell, a socialist, joined a Marxist organization, POUM. In combat, Orwell, on being shot in the neck on the front lines by a Fascist, spent his recuperation in Barcelona dodging Communists, bent on purging POUM, socialists, and Anarchists from the Spanish Republican forces. He and his wife finally had to flee Spain to escape the Communist firing squads of his allies. Mr. Heroux should read Orwell, not read into Orwell. Cf. Homage to Catalonia.
-- Hugh Dempsey

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