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Ode to Al

Once there were green fields... Also: The judges we don't deserve. Kos irrelevance. Psych wars. Roush hat-trick. More Latin usage. Plus much more.

11.7.07

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RESORATION HARDWARE
Re: Lisa Fabrizio's Restore Al Gore:

GREEN GURU GORE

The frighteningly frantic Al Gore can be seen
Jetting around the world painting it green.
The fossil fuels used to carry this guru
Might kill a rain forest, if his words were really true.

Of this teller of tales, this dreamer of fantasy,
One might ask the question, "But why on earth can't he see
The world of serious historic climatology?"
Science requires nothing less from him than apology.

To seize on a topic and make it one's own
In order to ascend a political throne,
Is nothing new. It has been used before,
Even by the insatiable Mr. Gore.

But now as he seeks support far and wide,
One has to admit there might be another side.
Many a researcher and history buff,
With educated background, has had enough

Of this worn out, used up discredited theory
And has with this blathering grown ever more weary.
The time has gone, the time is wrong
To use this to frighten a gullible throng.

Hanging onto something that can be discredited
Hasn't the substantial clout he once bet it did.
-- Mimi Evans Winship

ABSOLUTE POWER CORRUPTS
Re: Ralph R. Reiland's Unbridled Judicial Arrogance:

First, Justice William O. Douglas should not be held up as infallible on anything. History has taught us that, at least.

In the Douglas quotation presented, Douglas was correct in some respect. "It is our attitude toward free thought and free expression that will determine our fate." "There must be no limit on the range of temperate discussion and no limits on thought." "No censor must preside at our assemblies." But he was dead wrong when he wrote "No subject must be taboo."

We are watching our culture disintegrate before our eyes faster than has ever happened in history for exactly that reason -- intemperate unlimited expression of unlimited thoughts.

The specific problem is that in a situation combining unlimited thought with unlimited expression, with no taboos and no censors, the result can only be that "temperate discussion" becomes impossible.

Second, Justice Hugo L. Black should not be held up as infallible on anything either. History has taught us that as well.

Where he's wrong in the quotation presented is that "the Press" has gone far -- unconscionably far -- beyond "baring the secrets of government and informing the people," and concentrates on uninhibited bias in reporting, preaching their own political messages, and assassinating character, all to achieve political ends.

"The Press" does not do what our Constitution anticipated -- serve as a check on government. It seeks to influence government.

"The Press" does not expose deception in government, but creates the deception itself. What protects us, I ask the author, against "the Press" "deceiving the people," which is now their main role in politics? More unlimited thought and unlimited expression?

The author then quotes this from Justice Black: "Without deviation, without exception, without any ifs, buts, or whereases, freedom of speech means that you shall not do something to people either for the views they express, or the words they speak or write." Perhaps the author fails to understand that our laws already "do something" to people for some of their words. First year law students learn that. If I need to recite a list -- even a partial list -- of our limits on speech, it's a sad day for all of us.

Too late! It already IS a sad day for all of us.

What is both tragic and hysterically funny is that the author intemperately exercises his right to free speech in order to castigate Justice Castille for exercising his.

See if this makes sense: the author believes that a law school professor may make "unfounded, slanderous, and libelous [sic] attacks on the integrity of [the Pennsylvania Supreme] Court," specifically stating that the seven Justices of this Court are "even more corrupt than the Legislature" and stating that the judicial compensation opinion was a "judicial swindle," but a member of that same slandered court may not say that those words "appear to me to be clear violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct" and worthy of consideration by the state's disciplinary board.

"Don't do as I do, do as I say" has ever been the mantra of liberal thought, whether it be politicians, "the Press," or commentators on the rights of Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justices.

As his conclusion, the author says that the true disgrace is "the arrogance, indecency, and incompetence [sic] of those who seek to banish anyone who has the integrity and courage to tell the truth." If the truth they tell doesn't match his, that is. Then he can use arrogance, indecency, and incompetence to banish the Justice for his integrity and courage and truth-telling.

Pah!
-- A. C. Santore

Mr. Reiland has presented a fine article. He defines a truly egregious problem within the judicial branch of the government of Pennsylvania. I initially found myself quite sympathetic to his argument and his obvious angst. The feeling passed rather quickly, however. I am sorry, but the citizens of the great state of Pennsylvania brought it on themselves. They are the ones that voted into office, repeatedly, the politicians that enable the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justices, the politicians that are at least as arrogant and corrupt as the judges. These voters re-elect these same corrupt politicians over and over again. The good citizens gripe and complain vociferously, and then in the sanctity of the voting booth return the same corrupt arrogant lawyers to their positions of power in the Legislature, the Governor's office, and the Judiciary. The majority of the voters of the state are obviously more concerned with maintaining the benefits that the state showers upon them, and increasing said benefits to the max, then with electing a responsible, honest government and judiciary.

Before anyone points it out, I realize that judges are not normally elected by the voters, they usually come by their office by some form of nomination by the Governor and concurrence by one of the Legislative branches. In many states, judges must then stand for a retention or not vote by the citizenry after some number of years. I assume that Pennsylvania follows some form of this general procedure. If not, I assume that the Legislature and Governor have a great deal of power over the yearly budget of the Judicial branch, and thus, can force changes to be made in the attitudes of the Justices, if such be necessary or desirable. Therefore, I say that it still comes down to the voters within the jurisdiction.

Whether it be at the state level, or the national level, Americans pretty generally get the government that the majority of them want and deserve.
-- Ken Shreve

FUNNY, IF NOT SO TRAGIC
Re: Shawn Macomber's Scenes From a Crack-Up:

Shawn Macomber's "Apocalypse Now"-style journey up the Kos-kong River (and corresponding descent into madness) was excellent. My favorite part was his description of the YearlyKos "online messaging" workshop. I only wish Macomber could have figured out a way to hack into the workshop's computers in order to sabotage that sordid little affair with some stealthily planted parrying of the practice email subject lines the attendees crafted.

Here's how I'd have played it were I such a hacker. Subject line: "Do you support banning books?" Me: "Only the crappy ones, which is basically everything that pours forth from the pens of progressives."

Subject line: "It's really important to pick a fight." Me: "Yeah, especially because it's such an exercise in futility to go up to a progressive and pick his brain."

Subject line: "There's something to be said for fear." Me: "And 'progressive' says fear better than anything."

Subject line: "Personalization is key." Me: "Given trite sloganeering like that, it's no wonder you progressives can't connect with America."

Subject line: "It's fairly difficult to go too far online." Me: "If it's going far you want, why not buy a ticket and take the next flight of Dennis Kucinich's UFO to its home planet? Trust me when I say it's fairly difficult for you to go too far onboard."
-- Rich Smith
Yucca Valley, Calif.

Democrat candidates who won in 2006 don't have the silly Kossacks to thank for victory. Real thanks should go to the whiny right who wanted to punish the GOP and wound up punishing us all. At a time when Republicans were looking to cement the dreamed of national political realignment to the right many "conservatives" were joining Democrats in eviscerating Republicans. The Jackass was back thanks to the self-described "Reagan conservative." (Reagan was more a lifelong Republican than conservative based on the way he governed.)

The dream of political realignment that seemed so possible thanks to the historic upsets of 2000, 2002 and 2004 is now a memory stored away with Barry Goldwater's challenge for conservatives to "grow up" and the Gipper's ideal that democracy was the answer to man's needs. Maybe some day we'll listen to Barry and embrace the idealism of Reagan too.
-- Michael Tomlinson
Jacksonville, North Carolina

Did Shawn run into Mike Roush while he was there?

LOL,
-- Greg Barnard

WHY BOTHER?
Re: Michael Roush's letter (under "From the Hague") in Reader Mail's American Muscle:

Mike Roush is a typical, unthinking left-wing KOSsack akin to a five year old on the playground saying to a friends jab, "oh really, well you are one too."

His so-called "review of the record of conservatives" at the State Department proves the point. It's a ridiculous list starting with "the Taliban is regaining control in Afghanistan." Huh? What proof does he provide? None. Typical of the left, it's just their opinion based on their hatred of Bush. If Clinton was still president I'm sure Mike would be writing to proclaim how great his Afghanistan policies were. And given the fact we are at war, the enemy has this strange idea that they should fight back. I'm sure after Japan failed to surrender following the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Mike would have thought they were regaining control in the Pacific.

Then, "the reason for the surge in Iraq has yet to materialize" shows he finds his personal (and wrong) opinion are somehow concrete facts. I really doubt he even knows what the surge (simply reinforcements; why can't the press and libs use English?) policy really is. It's about security in urban areas and has succeeded in routing al-Qaeda in Iraq and created a working partnership with local leaders both Sunni and Shiite. And today I read a report that thousands of Iraqis are returning home because it's safer.

Middle East peace process? Yeah, it's all Bush's fault that the last 59 years has seen no progress at all. Growing power of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas? GROWING? That can't be defined but it's no greater or no less than the decades these connected groups have wrecked havoc in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, etc.

It's a bad thing we are working hard to keep the Turks and Kurds from going at it? It's about time someone did since this conflict has also been going on for decades if not centuries.

But my favorite item on his stupid list is that we aren't closer to energy independence. Again, typical for a lefty -- somehow our energy and environmental policies are the purview of the State Department. Laughable.

I wonder what it is like to go through life, as Mr. Roush obviously does, with everyone pointing at you and laughing.
-- Greg Barnard
Franklin, Tennessee

THERE HE GOES AGAIN
Re: Quin Hillyer's Political Psych Job:

"But when the researchers looked at the group who said they were most likely to cheat, they found to their surprise that this group, too, had strong convictions that they were moral." These people with "exceptionally strong convictions about their moral goodness are likely to follow extreme courses of action because they can convince themselves that whatever they do is good."

Besides Mr. Clinton, this appears to be an apt description of Mr. Bush too.
-- Mike Roush
North Carolina

I think this is an attempt to divert thought from the real issue that the study applies to: advanced interrogation techniques. After all, if we can suddenly decide after a century that waterboarding is not immoral, isn't that a perfect illustration of how this psychological mechanism works? How could you spend all that digital ink on the Clintons and somehow miss our national about-face on torture?
-- Dark Meat

Excellent column. Brilliant.
-- David Limbaugh

NOTHING ORDINARY
Re: Harry Mount's Latin Lovers in America:

As a lover of Latin since my altar boy days, I have many Latin books and I will immediately order this one.

The response to the Lord be with you is "And with thy spirit." Not "And with your spirit." Tuo is the familiar form which corresponds to thee and thy not to you and yours. Incidentally, I have a book that has the Ordinary of the Mass in eight languages and in all except English, the phrase is the equivalent of "And with thy spirit." The phrase "And also with you" was a deliberate change for change's sake having nothing to do with anything.

The recently retired bishop and most priests in this diocese strongly opposed the Latin Mass. The Latin Mass here has always been allowed only in out of the way places where it is hard for people to get to it. I hope the new bishop is more receptive to it.
-- Raymundo Aleman
San Antonio, Texas

Mr. Mount's enjoyable article on the return of Latin was an enjoyable read, but he repeats, alas, an error which crops up with tiresome regularity these days, namely: that the traditional Mass was somehow "created" by Pope St Pius V in 1570.

Pope St Pius V did NOT create a mass out of thin air (unlike Paul VI who, in 1969, did precisely that). What he did in 1570 was to codify a mass that had been in existence from Apostolic times and was being abused here and there in certain parts of Christendom. Pius also let stand any other ancient Catholic Rites that could trace their lineage back many centuries. The traditional Mass dates, in all its essentials, from the time of Christ, and grew organically over the slow course of centuries so that by the fifth or sixth century it was essentially the same Mass as we know it today.

And I am delighted that Benedict has freed it from its prison.
-- Dan Guenzel

Harry Mounts article "Latin Lovers in America" contains this sentence:

"The old Latin rite is a splendid sight -- the priest celebrates High Mass with his back to the congregation, intoning the Latin liturgy amid puffs of incense, throwing in gobbets of Greek and Hebrew too."

As one devoted to the old Latin rite, I make this small observation: Though there be one "gobbet" of Greek inserted in the ancient liturgy, i.e. the kyrie eleison, I am not aware of any Hebrew phrases. Please point me to one.
-- TM

GASOLINE ALLEY
Re: Eric Peters's Cruel Irony and Danny Newton's and CA's letters in Reader Mail's American Muscle:

Thanks to Mr. Newton for refuting the contention that gasoline has increased in price in real terms. A few other observations and counterpoints:

A Geo Metro did not get "nearly 40 mpg"; highway mileage was over fifty (the Subaru Justy's was similar -- my best friend's father had both). Neither required the driver to master a new style of driving as with modern hybrids -- cars that cost twice as much in real dollars. While this is a fine way for greens to say, "I care; I'm doing my part," it makes it nearly impossible for the average driver to recover his initial capital outlay via fuel savings over the life of the vehicle.

My wife hauls around growing boys, assorted paraphernalia, and groceries in a Durango; cutesy compacts like the Prius need not apply. A more likely competitor would be (Heaven forbid) a minivan achieving at best 5-7 more MPG -- saving each month, on a vehicle with a $765 payment, perhaps $30. I spend more than that on Diet Coke. To be fair, Mr. Peters focuses more on sports- and luxury-cars than SUVs, but the purchasers of $50-80K road-burners and land yachts are unlikely to lose sleep over an extra $10 a fillup.

I lost a bet two years ago regarding the 28 mpg figure for the 400 hp Corvette, having failed to fully appreciate the engineering progress of the last 30 years. Mr. Peters cites similar figures for other contemporary "fuel hogs," but fails to note that they compare equitably or even favorably with the modest, sensible sedans of the mid-late 70s (while producing many times the horsepower!).

In response to CA's letter, the problems with hydrogen are not distribution and economics, but chemistry and physics. Unstable elements that do not occur naturally in quantity on Earth must be manufactured. One can crack water electrolytically -- a process similar to charging a battery, with the same drawbacks as battery cars (i.e. transmission and conversion losses dictate that more coal- or oil-fired horsepower must be generated for every horsepower on the road). Alternatively, hydrogen can be refined from hydrocarbon fuels -- a process which, as the name implies, involves not only the expenditure of energy, but throwing away all the carbon in the fuel (the vast majority of the mass, and over half the energy content). Either alternative increases fossil-fuel consumption and all the associated drawbacks.
-- Mike Wohnhaas

BY GEORGE
Re: Paul Chesser's Prejudiced for Eternity

When George Romney, a prominent Mormon and Mitt's dad held office in Michigan, he worked the executive branch with dignity and intelligence.

There was never a hint of Mormon proselytizing or Mormon snobbishness during his long and very successful Governing Career. If George could do it, Mitt has done it and can continue to do it.

From a Michigan Resident who remembers.
-- ADK

THE LAST WORD
Re: Doug Bandow's China's Biggest Olympics Test:

The day after America's universities tolerate diverse opinions, the Chinese Government will do likewise.
-- David Govett
Davis, California

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