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The silly hat brigade speaks. Not the economy stupid. Burdened in Boston. When Ron Paul is president. A real piece of hate mail. Plus more.

1.17.08

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DO-OVER
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Conventional Wisdom:

Bingo! I think it might be interesting to go back to convention-nominated candidates. I was a child in the '50s watching the nominating conventions with my grandparents on their television. Those summers were the start of my lifelong interest in politics. Where better to learn than at the knee of a FDR-reviling grandfather and a gentler grandmother whose political convictions were just as strong -- but better modulated.
-- Judy Beumler
Louisville, Kentucky

Agreed. Let's go back to the convention system. While we're at it, how about repealing the 17th amendment to the Constitution? This should save us from at least a few of the gasbags lording it over us in the U.S. Senate. Much mischief has come about following Amendments 16 through 19. And we've only come to our senses with regard to the 18th.
-- Dan Martin
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

I do not know which is worse. Placing Governor George C. Wallace in the same sentence with Hillary Clinton, or declaring him to be a bigot. Wallace was not in any way like David Duke. He was a political segregationist for his early career, then changed his views beginning at about 1967-68. Wallace apologized for his stand in the schoolhouse door. Hillary has never apologized for her anti-Jewish comments following her husband's defeat in 1974. We could have avoided four years of the leftist bumbling incompetence of Jimmy Carter. Inflation. Unemployment. Brother Billy. The Hostage Crisis. The stabbing in the back of Taiwan, Rhodesia, and the Shah of Iran. "The National Malaise." Think of it, all of those events never even happening. All with just two words. "President Wallace."
-- Michael Skaggs
Murray, Kentucky

Bob Tyrrell grasps the distressing decline of our election process with one word: dignity. Or rather, the absence thereof. Instead of stumping through town halls, delivering speeches from the back of trains, and meeting and greeting with state political machines and conventions, our candidates now must be skilled in the art of pancake flipping and playing wind instruments. Instead of answering weighty questions on serious news programs, they must be able to banter wittily with late night talk show comedians as well as sob, boogie, and make pasta with day time divas. Of course, there is the obligatory performance on Saturday Night Live where our political contenders must make sport of their candidacy and wow the 15 to 29 crowd by appearing in a self-mocking skit. This requirement not only spotlights their competency in reading cue cards, but lets the world know how hip and with it they really are. It's all for the children, anyway. Right?

The really sad part is it has gotten to the point where the electorate then is expected to select a serious candidate for these serious times based on their silly accomplishments in these silly venues. Dignity and stately decorum are just a hindrance in the asinine path one must take to become President. Are we electing a Commander in Chief or Clown in Chief? Does anyone know the difference anymore?
-- Susie Q
Graceland East

I, for one, don't understand all the whining going on in the media about no frontrunner being established in the GOP nomination before 98 percent of all primary voters have even gone to the polls. To me this is just silly.

I would love to see a brokered convention, at least that way the convention will actually mean something rather than just a soap box for politicians to make long-winded speeches
-- Mark L. Saleman
Flushing, New York

You must have been reading my mind. I, too, have been wondering where "dignity" has gone in this election process. So I did some investigating and came up with one clue that maybe the Fed Gov should stop subsidizing the primaries and conventions and then maybe we'll go back to the way it was done before the 1970s reform process was put in place.

I wonder if the average taxpayer realizes that the Republican and Democratic candidates who win their parties' nominations for President are each eligible to receive a grant to cover all the expenses of their general election campaigns. The basic $20 million grant is adjusted for inflation each Presidential election year. In 2004, the grant was $74.62 million. And that each major political party may receive public funds to pay for its national Presidential nominating convention. The statute sets the base amount of the grant at $4 million for each party, and that amount is adjusted for inflation each Presidential election year. In 2004, the major parties each received $14.592 million.

First, that adds up to a lot of taxpayers dollars. But to me, more importantly, each party is essentially funding the other's campaigns and conventions!!!

I think the Party Financing Reform Bill needs to be reformed again. Then maybe we won't have to be subjected to this seemingly endless barage of early primaries and non stop commercialism of the candidates. Without worrying where the financing of the party comes from leaves plenty of free time to hurl insults and barbs at each other.

I'm not that old, but I long for the days of "good old politics" when respect and dignity were the bywords of both parties. I used to enjoy to have a good debate with a Dem because at the end we'd both walk away still respecting each other opinions.

In this age of information maybe there is such a thing as TOO much information.
-- Joan Moriarty
Pine Plains, New York

I would like to associate myself with Mr. Tyrrell's call for political conventions that actually mean something, that actually are determinant of the nominee of the two parties. I remember well, and fondly, the conventions of 1952 and 1960, and also of 1976 and 1980. I often wonder, if the 1976 convention had picked Reagan over Ford, would we have had to endure Jimmy Carter? Of course Ford was the sitting, if unelected, President. It would have been an heroic task to deny him the nomination. Heck, maybe the TV would go back to covering the whole event, and the American voters might even go back to watching said TV coverage.

I do not necessarily agree with Mr. Tyrrell's assessment of the GOP race as lacking in dignity and John McCain as the most dignified of the bunch, but the call for meaningful conventions is a much needed change. I believe that the positive effects on the POTUS campaign process enunciated by Mr. Tyrrell would indeed follow. I blame the media and political pundit class as much as the politicians, political activists, and state Chambers of Commerce for the way the campaigns are run now. It made it easier for the media to cover they whole thing as a horse race, and an exercise in reporting polls. It also allowed them to inject themselves as arbiters, soothsayers, and the stars of the show, instead of the actual candidates being the stars of the show.

Going back to the future would not be all bad in this instance.
-- Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

It pains me to even mildly disagree with the usually infallible Mr. Tyrrell, but the use of the word dignity in the same sentence with John McCain is a laugh. Call me old-fashioned and many have, but McCain's dastardly treatment of his first wife who stood steadfast during his POW days is a moral outrage if not a crime. Emerging from Vietnam divorcing this faithful spouse and marrying a wealthy woman to finance his political career certainly brings to mind the well known Frenchman Mr. Kerry.

McCain's career since then, starting with his role in the "Keating Five," has been a moral disaster almost as bad as his treatment of his first wife. One could also easily conclude that if McCain's admiral father had not gotten him into the Naval Academy the "gentleman from the West" might well be working the window at a McDonald's just as in a more fair world Clinton and her husband would be in the slammer for their crimes against humanity, the state, and various criminal statutes.
-- Jack Wheatley
Royal Oak, Michigan

IT'S NOT THE ECONOMY, STUPID
Re: Ivan Osorio & Gabriel Heller Sahlgren's What Race to the Bottom?:

Excellent article, misters Osorio and Sahlgren. You have valid and excellent points and analysis.

But you missed the big picture. It has nothing to do with labor and environmental controls. It has to do with power. The Democrats' power. The absence of free trade. Of course free trade is better for the consumer. And that's why the Democrat Party doesn't like it. If things are good for the consumer, the consumer needs less and less help from the government. The less we need the government, the less power the government has.

See where this is going?

Think I'm crazy?

Ask yourself a question. Really, sit down and ask. When all the evidence points to a solution, why does government almost always not use that solution? How can anyone with the ability to review the 1970s economy and the rebound we had in 1981 think that more government and higher taxes are good for the economy?
It is not the economy. It's the power. And the sooner we all acknowledge that, the quicker we can start working on a solution.
-- Charles Campbell
Austin, Texas

Perhaps the authors' being a part of the Competitive Enterprise Institute -- one of whose main principles is the advancement of free enterprise -- might color their views of this issue.

Their first sentence gives the game up: "Free trade creates new opportunities, jobs, and value for consumers." New opportunities for whom? Multi-national companies? Would-be multi-national companies? New opportunities where? Overseas or here at home?

Jobs where? Overseas or here at home?

Second paragraph: "Free trade allows nations to focus on those goods and services over which they enjoy a competitive advantage and can produce most efficiently at lower cost."

Should we not be concerned about other nations' competitive advantages over us?

The end of the second paragraph is the first of two killer notions: "It also creates jobs as capital is directed to where it can produce the best results."

Capital is the money that is used to create, improve, and expand businesses. Capital is earned by turning raw materials into finished products of greater value, the profit from selling them then being used as capital.

Why in the name of Lenin do we want to send our capital to other countries and thereby adversely impact our own economy? Why do we want to create jobs in other countries at the expense of our own?

Best results for whom? Multi-national corporations and would-be multi-national corporations again? Speculomanipulators of a wide variety, who buy and sell money for a profit and when they win, we lose? Every time? Investospeculators in the stock market who are concerned only with their personal portfolios?

The final insult is in the last paragraph: "Open trade is one of the best tools to promote prosperity in societies both rich and poor."

Marks Almighty! Here we go again! Divvy up the wealth that our country has been building up for two centuries at the expense of our own economy!

They sound like the UN, for goodness sake!

Don't these two over-generous souls realize that using our hard-earned capital to "promote prosperity" elsewhere is making our own economy worse?

Don't they realize that the recent decline of the dollar is being caused by one of the fundamental truths of economics: bad money drives out good money?

Don't they realize that people who want to spend money overseas want a country's currency in direct proportion to what they can buy with it.

Stated from the other perspective, if they can't buy much with a country's currency, they don't want it.

When our manufacturing plants close and other countries take them up, their currency gets better and ours worse because they have something of value to sell and we don't.

I can assure them that we ain't gonna make it selling Big Macs and Whoppers or services like Time and Management consultants.

Steel! Automobiles! Clothing! Appliances! Electronics! THAT'S what we have to sell!

Oops! Bad examples.

Free trade has already killed them off.

Big Macs and Whoppers it is, then. Sorry. I'll just get my coat.
-- A. C. Santore

In pointing out the security/strategic implications of stalled free trade deals, Ivan Osorio inadvertently missed across another reason that congressional Democrats are dragging their heels. He correctly identifies Colombia as "a steadfast U.S. ally" which "faces deteriorating relations with the authoritarian, belligerent, anti-American government of Hugo Chavez in neighboring Venezuela" and South Korea's threat from "a nuclear-armed Kim Jong-Il." However, he neglects to mention that Panama is also a staunch ally with extensive security ties to the US, and which occupies a critical strategic niche by virtue of the canal. These are allies that we cannot afford to alienate or weaken, and yet this is exactly what congressional Democrats are doing. Mr. Osorio argues that this should be used as leverage, but what if alienating allies and strengthening our enemies isn't an unfortunate consequence of their actions, but a deliberate goal for those who seek to win elections by weakening America?

I have no doubt that the free trade/protection issue is part of the Democrats' calculation (organized labor is one of the most powerful members of the Democratic coalition), but remember that this is the same Congress that chose to exhume the Armenian Genocide just as the Bush administration sought to use logistics facilities in Turkey to support the surge. This is also the same congress whose speaker refused to talk to the President of the United States, but was perfectly willing to kowtow to the dictator of Syria. Throw in the congressional Democrats who either refused to condemn Hezbollah's provocations which led to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon last year or who condemned both sides equally, and you have a clear picture of their foreign policy agenda. Cozying up to union bosses and alienating allies who will be
less likely to support us in future operations is a win/win for Democrats.
-- Mike Harris
MAJ, U

FRED, THEY SAID
Re: Quin Hillyer's It's Fred's Turn:

Another reason to give Fred the win is so he will still be around when Texas votes in March. I want to be able to vote for him. I hate the way the primaries are going and my vote really does not count if the best person has dropped out. Fred is the only one running that has not changed his thinking on illegal immigration and amnesty -- he is against it.
-- Elaine Kyle

It is a real puzzle to me that so many solid Christian folks can not see the similarities between Mike Huckabee and Jimmy Carter, who was our worst President since at least Herbert Hoover and maybe before that. It has been said and written numerous places, by numerous conservative political type folks that Huckabee is the GOP's Jimmy Carter. After spending a good bit of time looking into Huckabee's record as Governor, I would say that the analogy is quite apt. I surely do hope that the folks that adhere to a fundamentalist Protestant sect throughout South Carolina would see the similarities with their neighbor from Plaines, Georgia. and cast their votes for other than Mr. Huckabee.

If my memory has not failed me, I believe that Senator McCain enjoyed rather good poll numbers back in 2000 in South Carolina prior to their vote. I am holding out hope that the state's poll numbers are similarly askew this time, and that the state will once again give Mr. McCain a bit of a comeuppance. I would also enjoy the comeuppance that such an outcome would give to the FOX News crew, from Brit Hume, to Fred Barnes, to Carl Cameron, to Mort Kondracke, to all the rest of that crew that has been cheerleading for McCain lately, after leaning towards Rudy G. early on. You could just see their spirits pick up after the New Hampshire results were in. A win by Thompson would completely upset the apple cart for Dick Morris and Bill O'Reilly, and that would be an absolute wonder to behold. Anything that upsets the media and the political pundit class is a good thing.

As a disclaimer, I must admit to being a supporter of Fred Thompson and to have contributed to his campaign. I also must admit that if Rudy G., Senator McCain, or Reverend Huckabee gets the nomination, I will seriously consider staying home in November. I like Hunter and dislike Paul, but neither of them are going to get the nomination anyway. Romney has at least run a business in the private sector, met a payroll, created jobs, and brought an Olympics in on time and on budget, so he understands economics and the evils of government regulation of the private sector. Unlike Deroy Murdock, I cut him a little slack on some of the stuff during his time as Governor of Massachusetts. The Dem legislature really runs that state, and a GOP governor can only do what the Dems allow him/her to do.

Anyway, good column Quin. Keep plugging for Fred.
-- Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

Sounds like a plan, Quin. Fred's finally got some zip, and South Carolina certainly has the reputation for unequivocal statements about their political convictions, like firing on forts and that sort of thing. I just hope it isn't too clever by half. I mean, what's the capacity of today's average South Carolina voter to grasp this? Hopefully, it's all that we'd like to believe it is.
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

I want to thank you for the clarification, in the article "It's Fred's Turn." All of this time I have been misled into thinking that the entire caucus and primary process including the South Carolina primary was about gathering delegates for the party nominations for the presidential race. Now reading your article I find that I was so wrong, because according to you the South Carolina primary isn't about helping to choose the best candidates, it's just about 15 minutes of fame for South Carolina.

Golly gee gosh! Thanks for straightening me out!
-- Steven G. Poyzer

HAPPY TRAILS
Re: RiShawn Biddle's Data Errors:

Conservatives have no business supporting NCLB. Taking local control away from school districts to hand to the federal government is not consistent with conservative views on government. I believe we blind our selves to that because the NEA and all its attachments are so liberal and we see all those all these pop-culture yahoos roaming the streets.

School choice in the form of no strings attached vouchers is the best way for the federal government to motivate local districts to be accountable. Have decisions made for all school districts by politicians in Washington defies all logic, let alone conservative logic.

I personally am leaving the public schools at the end of this year (making less money than I have ever made in my adult life) to teach at a school where decisions are made locally.
-- Troy Peterson

When shame and embarrassment have no effect, some kind of action needs to be taken to stop rewarding bad behavior. Passive aggressive behavior toward the No Child Left Behind plan should have been anticipated. Can someone explain to me why fiddling with the statistics is OK for the school system to do but they send ENRON executives to jail for similar behavior? At what point do we say that the schools are getting public money under false pretenses?
-- Danny L. Newton
Cookeville, Tennessee

BURDENED IN BOSTON
Re: Deroy Murdock's letter (under "Romney Beer") in Reader Mail's Bulleted Brief:

Mr. Deroy Murdock nailed it, absolutely. But, add to those tax and leadership points the strength issue -- who's the only guy with the cojones to stand-up to the terrorist bad-guys?

Candidly, there is only one candidate I can vote for this year, and if Rudy Giuliani isn't the candidate, I will not settle for the Evil of Lessers.
-- Jack Frost

Deroy Murdock, in his criticism of Mitt Romney, states "Overall the tax burden in Mass. went up 10.8 percent during his tenure." Governor Romney served four years. With inflation running at about 2.5 percent a year that would mean the tax burden did not increase in dollars adjusted for inflation. And that is assuming Mr. Murdock arrived at 10.8 percent correctly.
-- Howard Lohmuller
Seabrook, Texas

HAVE GUN, WILL NITPICK
Re: Robert VerBruggen's With Friends Like These...:

If you are going to write an article about the mechanical aspect of guns either know what you're writing about or get better advice. For example, it is a plain fact that the civilian semi-auto M15 or SKS can easily be converted to automatic fire by the home mechanic. Do a web search. In fact the cheaply made Chinese SKS from the last 20 years often will overheat and go into automatic fire until they empty their magazines.

But that's not my point. The article assumes that the American "People" referred to in the Second Amendment would be using commonly available guns, not advanced weaponry. Well surprise; the common American rifle of the time was the Pennsylvania built Kentucky Rifle a highly accurate hunting rifle. The Brown Bess used by the British soldier was a smooth bore musket, not a rifle, and thus practically useless over 100 yards. So our men, farmers and volunteers alike, hid behind trees and rocks with their advanced weaponry and sniped the British. We did not use General Steuben's training and tactics of massed European like fire until later in the war.

Everywhere else in the Bill of Rights the term "People" is understood to mean you and I, not some ill defined government agency. The only reason the Second Amendment is special is the chickenhearted fear of the cost of freedom.
-- M. Andreasen

The author starts well, but then ends up trying to make arguments as to why commonly employed military small-arms (e.g. M16) are not covered by the second amendment. In the article he states:

FIRST OFF, MACHINE guns cannot be "traced back to the Founding era." Such a situation would have given early patriots a leg up when it came to mowing down Redcoats (Say 'ello to my little friend!), but it just wasn't so.

The Justice Department argues that M-16s could be seen as "lineal descendants" of colonial arms, but automatic weapons use firing mechanisms that differ completely from those of standard guns. 1861's hand-crank-powered Gatling gun, followed by the self-reloading Maxim machine gun two decades later, clearly created a whole new method for spraying lead.

More importantly, even granting the ludicrous notion that machine guns are Founding-era weapons at heart, recall the appeals court's assertion that the Second Amendment doesn't protect all arms "that can be traced back to the Founding era." It protects arms akin to those in "common use" at that time, and those that are in "common use" today.

When it comes to the distinction between bans and other regulations, well, the administration has a hard time keeping that one straight. It specifically notes that the appeals-court interpretation "both secures individual rights and allows 'reasonable restrictions,'" but editorializes, "the Second Amendment's protection of individual rights does not render all laws limiting gun ownership automatically invalid" as though that runs counter to the decision. The brief also spends an entire page defending prohibitions on felons owning guns, even though neither side disputes the validity of said prohibitions.

The problem with this is that self-loading (semi-automatic) weapons were not in use then, nor were metallic cartridges.

By this logic the only thing covered by the 2nd are flint-lock muskets. Is this what the author really intended to say?

Like it or not, the M16 is a reasonable militia firearm. The current restriction on automatic weapons is probably unconstitutional on two grounds, first it is in direct contravention of the second amendment, second, it imposes a tax on such firearms, but the BATFE refuses to collect that tax -- this is what makes stops the purchase of new automatic weapons. Imposing a tax and refusing to collect it, but then prosecuting people for not paying it is again unconstitutional.
-- Philip Peake

ROCK OF AGES
Re: George Neumayr's A Farcical Pile-Up:

ROCK OBAMA, ROCK

Rock Obama, rock Obama, rock Obama, rock.
Hillary and Billary keep your eyes on the ticking clock.
Lovely Johnnie comb and spray your glistening golden hair.
A new generation is voting. Change is in the air.

Fast-fading semi-stars of yore should bow out and leave the way
Clear for a younger leader to plunge into the fray.
As no one is replenishing the currently fading stock,
Rock Obama, rock Obama, rock Obama, rock...
-- Mimi Evans Winship

WHEN RON PAUL IS PRESIDENT
Re: Nelson Ward's letter (under "Fight On, Ron") in Reader Mail's Bulleted Brief:

Mr. Nelson Ward's letter provokes the essential difference between conservatives and libertarians. When Mr. Ward writes: "Limit the government to providing defense, water, sewer, firemen and policemen. Turn people loose, let us be free, and freedom will provide all that we require," I find I cannot give my unqualified support. While I generally believe in the "superior virtue" of liberty, I also remember that, while debating John Stewart Mill, James Fitzjames Stevens stated that freedom is not an unmixed good. Freedom is like fire. Whether freedom is good or ill depends on the circumstances.

Whether from reasoned belief or rhetorical exuberance, the "Ron Paul's" among us believe that, other than a government limited to certain basic functions, the rest of human affairs should be guided by unfettered freedom. While such a prescription would make for a stimulating society, left unaddressed is whether it would be a humane one.

While it is an oxymoron to libertarians, conservatives believe in "ordered freedom." As important as freedom is, it is not the only star by which we choose our path; it certain situations it is not even the primary star. Libertarians choose to let a number of vexing issues be left unanswered. Their answer to abortion is to let each be guided by their conscience. Those who find no offense in abortion are free to have one. Those who find objection to abortion are free not to have one.

But how we order our lives together is not an incidental concern. There is no more public question than to whom will be count as one of us and to whom we will extend our protections. If you believe as I do in the essential humanity of the unborn, that abortion is an injustice to them and that we have a moral obligation to protect the weakest among us, then it simply will not do to strike any kind of pact that "you can keep your children while I go on killed mine."

Under a Ron Paul regime, no such moral deliberation could be engaged. The issue would be frozen in place without the prospect of a final resolution. Instead of promoting public peace, such an arrangement would allow divisiveness to fester. Under these conditions, those for abortion and those against could not even craft a tolerable compromise.

The larger objection to libertarian polity is that it would require a radical restructuring of society. Each of us could think of a hundred things we wish were different about our country; but a wholesale remaking of society along an abstract model that has never existed much less known to be possible would be tyrannical in itself. It would lay aside the habits, customs, and accumulated wisdom and memory built up across generations. There is little question that even the most content among us would recognize our society is a messy arrangement but there is hard-won wisdom in how we live together. There is also little question that our society will change with each new generation (indeed, our grandchildren and great-grandchildren may be horrified at what we take for granted today); but this is a far cry from "reinventing the wheel" according to the cold calculation of freedom in all things.

The demand that society should be remade in the name of a more perfect society, even in the name of freedom, is coercive and tyrannical. It is especially inhumane to do so a misted an imperfect people. An ordered freedom in which liberty exists within certain boundaries, accepts some irrationality and inconsistencies, accepts people as they are and not as they "should" be, is the most charitable in the world as it is.
-- Mike Dooley

MOVEON BACK
Re: Jeffrey Lord's Why I'm a Reaganite:

Mr. Lord: You are a Reaganite because you are an elitist racist. You are a Reaganite because you believe in violence, hatred, power, attacking the weak, depriving Americans of their heritage, saluting Nazi criminals, buying your wife exorbitant clothing. You believe in Reagan and are a Reaganite because it would not bother you to go into Central America illegally and wipe out the indigent citizens there who have done you no harm. You are a Reaganite because you would allow American military men and women to be slaughtered in their beds in Lebanon because you would be too dumb to see the danger they faced. You are a Reaganitie because, if provided the opportunity, you would invade small countries like Grenada for the fun of it. You are a Reaganite because you have no conscience, no sense of equality for all or fairness, or sympathy for the poor, afflicted, and helpless. And you, like Reagan, probably cannot even garner the respect and affection of your own children.

Read 'em and weep!
-- Dick Tate
Chattanooga, Tennessee

Jeffrey Lord replies:
Dear Mr. "Dick Tate": Are you the spiritual ancestor of MoveOn.org and the Daily Kos or do you just sound that way? Try to remember: hatred is not a family value.

Best wishes for getting rid of that rascally self-projection com.

EAT QUICHE AND DIE
Re: Letters (under "Go Home, Senator") in Reader Mail's McCain Migraine:

No real Republican could ever support John McCain. Shame.
-- Julie Weber
Spring Branch, Texas

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