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The Leave Us Alone Condition

Nanny state blues. Plus: Mahmoud's foul moods find German defender. Simmering frogs. The hero justice. Plus more.

9.27.07

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SMILEY FASCISM
Re: Shawn Macomber's Nannies Come Home to Roost:

Actually, when fascism comes to America, its adherents will announce the arrival with neither bogus public-interest studies nor mindless child-protection bromides. Rather, proponents will signal fascism's advent by parading around in red armbands emblazoned with a large, yellow smiley face -- the perfect symbol for today's breed of food Nazis, teetotaling do-gooders, priggish moralists and all the rest.

Macomber's Q&A with Harsanyi was one of the best pieces the AmSpec has run since...well, since 24 hours earlier. I genuinely appreciated this article. It gave voice to stuff I've been feeling for years about the professional busybodies among us.

However, the ultimate irony remains that it is the Sixties countercultural revolutionaries who are most responsible for foisting upon us the nanny state. They promised radical new freedom and instead delivered a society far more uptight and hypocritical than that of the parents they so perversely reviled.
-- Rich Smith
Yucca Valley, California

Busy day. Two quick thoughts:

1. I wonder from whom the Nannyists bought their fervid belief in "the intense and nefarious power of marketing dollars."

2. It is unlikely that Sinclair Lewis, as he pondered the arrival of fascism, envisioned that "the cross" would be submerged in urine.
-- Reid Bogie
Waterbury, Connecticut

It used to be said that patriotism was the last refuge of a scoundrel. Now the scoundrels among us can be identified by their use of the phrases, "It's for the children" and/or "It's for your own good."

I also think that the intentions of the hand-wringing nanny types are, at best, less than benign. When I'm hectored by some nosy-parker about losing weight or eating the "wrong" type of food, I ask them: were I to follow your unsolicited advice, would that make you like or respect me more? Those who've had the honesty to answer have admitted that, no, it wouldn't. Those who don't answer my question directly usually reply that I have a "duty to the community" to keep myself healthy and hold insurance costs down or that I'm "enriching corporate fat-cats" by consuming fast-food items.
-- Bill Erdmann
University Park, Maryland

Bucky Covington, yes, from American Idol, a young gentleman, under age 30, gets it, though he was not born in the time of which he so proudly sings, "We were born to mothers who smoked and drank/Our cribs were covered in lead based paint/No child proof lids no seat belts in cars/Rode bikes with no helmets and still here we are, still here we are." Covington clearly understands that life involves risks, and judging from the popularity of his tune, so do many Americans. Another Southern Man, and an even better writer, wrote, "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Notice the Jefferson did not findassurance to these rights to be self-evident; he understood, better than most, that to obtain what was inalienably his, he would have to fight. Despite overwhelming odds, he and the other Founding Fathers risked all to stand up to tyranny; they asked for and received no guarantee of success.

Today's Americans, still feeding on the teat of federal largess started under FDR, are averse to risk. As long as the public demands, often blind to natural entailments and categorical imperatives, that someone (i.e., anyone but me) provides a safety net, the politicians, Republican as well as Democratic, will comply. Reelection is the politicians' primary goal; granting boons to their constituents is in their self-interest. Until the public understands that the redistribution of economic goods, passing of overreaching and overprotective legislation, and transferring responsibility to others, is not in their best interests, the Nanny State will remain.

Nannies know well that children can be brought off with bread and circuses. Many a Caesar understood that perfectly well too. History shows us where that leaves a civilization. Maybe now is the time to risk a Libertarian revolution. While we have more to loose than our chain, our freedom is well worth the risks.
-- Ira M. Kessel
Rochester, New York

A horror even worse than state-mandated seatbelt-wearing: the child's car seat. First you get one for your infant, then you get a bigger one for your 6-month old, then one for your next infant, then one for your toddler, and finally a booster for five-year-old. After about ten years, you put them all out by the curb and desperately hope some scavenger will take away all that molded plastic.

My own kids never got to enjoy that great freedom of an earlier generation: the freedom to roam around, completely unencumbered, in the cavernous backseats of old-style family-sized cars.
-- Dave Light
Maynard, Massachusetts

JOKE'S ON US
Re: Jay D. Homnick's Funny Bone of Contention:

The British used to say that their wars were won on the playing fields of Eton. I strongly suspect that future generations will say that Americans lost theirs in the lecture halls of Columbia.
-- Christopher Holland
Canberra, Australia

Two incidents in New York in the past two days have highlighted just how horrendously arrogant, impolite and unconstructive people of influence in the United States can be. Lee C. Bollinger, the President of Columbia University, one of the United States' premier centres of intellect, adopted a disgraceful demeaning and insulting stance towards Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, which flew in the face of scholarship by any definition.

Worse still, Mr. Ahmadinejad was an invited, distinguished, guest. How utterly base to invite a foreign head of state to your country, under the pretext of a scholarly discussion, so that you can publicly humiliate him. Worse still was the hypocritical address of U.S. President George W. Bush, who not only had the audacity to try to promote human rights in spite of being one of the leading perpetrators of human rights violations today; but also adopted an insulting, accusing and bullying tone towards several nations, as well as his host, the United Nations itself. In an age where engagement and reconciliation are emerging as the only avenues through which we can solve the massive political, economic and environmental problems we are presently confronted with, I think it is now patently clear that the United States is not fit to lead, in any capacity, in our world today. I have just one question for the American people: are you not terribly ashamed at the atrocious example set by your leadership?
-- Rory E. Morty
Giessen, Germany

I wonder if Ahmadinejad's claim that the Islamic Republic is free of homosexuals lost something in translation, as in we-don't-have-them-because-we-eliminated-them, or reprogrammed them, or whatever holy warriors do in the presence of diversity. And though he says some zany things, should they ever be taken lightly?

The most dangerous thing about this guy is not his sick yen for attention, but his absolute belief in his own sanctity. In the swamp where his mind should be he is fuehrer of the world's first suicide-bomber nation, a holy-warrior seeking to make the world safe for anarchy. He is the very worst of news.

But he is also such stuff as dreams are made of. If the CIA were still the enterprise founded by Wild Bill Donovan, then the maximum leader of Iran would some evening brush his teeth with a substance that would open his mind, expand his horizons, and make him give peace a chance. He would disappear for six weeks, be spotted panhandling in San Francisco and selling roses on the sidewalks of Seattle, then surface in Tulsa, Oklahoma, married to an Indonesian weight lifter named Murray, his windbreaker forsaken for a Nehru jacket and granny glasses. He'd swap camel potpie recipes with Hillary Clinton and Hugo Chavez. What happened in Tehran would stay in Tehran.
-- Edmund Dantes
Coshocton, Ohio

Mr. Homnick didn't quite hear what Mr. Ahmadinejad said: We don't have homosexuals like you have in America. And that's true. Iranian homosexuals are anything but loud, proud, in-your-face, rainbow-flag waving, parade-marching, San Fran-owning like they are in America. Instead, they're whipped, beaten, and executed. Come on, you write for TAS. Don't you recognize Clintonian parsing when you see it?
-- Andrew Macfadyen
Omaha, Nebraska

HIP, HIP, OVERPAY
Re: Lisa Fabrizio's The Old College Try:

Yes, mom and dad scrim, save, and go in hock to send the kiddies to college. But is it worth it? Oh, I suppose it is, in that colleges have turned into trade schools where a degree is the admission ticket into various fields -- nursing, accounting, banking, education, etc.

But what about learning to be good citizens, knowing civics and American history 101?

Here's a way to check this latter concern. In a recent column by the nationally syndicated Cal Thomas, he cited a basic test in American history where college students did poorly, especially those from "prestigious" schools. The test would have been considered rather simple by the standards of my Essex Catholic High School back in the day.

Anyway, you may what to have your kids take the test. You can find in here.It consists of 60 multiple choice questions.

And better yet. If you have the courage to see the results, have your local public school history teacher take the test.
-- Peter Skurkiss
Stow, Ohio

BOIL ON LOW
Re: Gustavo Coronel's Will the Frog Jump?:

This is the most concise and accurate article I've yet to come across which describes the ongoing Venezuelan dilemma. All the information provided by Mr. Coronel is widely available in other publications, but the author has provided a yeoman's effort for our benefit.

The most important passage in the article is as follows: "Chavez has learned the importance of pursing his plans incrementally. In February 1992, he tried seizing power in the traditional manner. After planning his coup for 10 years, it all came crashing down in 10 hours, thanks to his military ineptitude."

I have a feeling most readers who frequent this website will instantly recognize the powerful parallels between the current Chavez plan and his earlier experience vs. the current HillaryCare Ver2.0 plan and her earlier experience. Only the date (1994) and reason for failure (political ineptitude) needs to be changed.

Those who are students of socialism understand the concept in incrementalism. Drip by drip, bit by bit, and piece by piece, what is happening in Venezuela has, and can, to some degree, happen in the United States. Fair warning, voters.
-- Owen H. Carneal
Yorktown, Virginia

I see this process at work in this country, albeit to a lesser degree. For years Democrats have worked to advance an agenda which continuously expands the economic and social arenas in which the government is the final arbiter.

Obviously the same path to power is used by Democrats here as is used by Hugo Chavez: give the ignorant the keys to the treasury. Give them money, perquisites such as "free" this and that and they will keep you in office and loudly agree with constraining the rights of those who produce in any manner that they are told benefits them.

Democrats pit so called classes of people against each other. "Tax breaks only for the rich" is their clarion cry to the non-productive millions. Those millions were created by Democrats and their welfare plans. Blacks and the elderly vote overwhelmingly for Democrats and would support them putting "rich" people in jail for earning money.

The economic enslavement of Blacks has worked so well Democrats are now rolling out all manner of giveaways that benefit Mr. & Mrs. Joe Six-pack. They will buy into the giveaways and soon be come captives, too. Then the dismantling of our constitution will begin in earnest.
-- Jay Molyneaux

THOMAS GOOD, HIGH COURT FLAWED
Re: Quin Hillyer's There's No Doubting Thomas:

Excellent briefer. The MSM has always had it wrong concerning the "chicken and the egg" situation regarding Justices Thomas and Scalia.

Visibility needs to be given to one major point, however. What Constitutional provision, exactly, did Lawrence v. Texas impact? There was no issue concerning interstate commerce. There was no reason for it to become a federal issue -- oh, I forgot; it only takes a couple of left-leaning Justices to agree to hear a case. That's what I get for believing in States' Rights.

Is the 10th Amendment no longer applicable in today's world?
-- Owen H. Carneal

Kudos to Quin Hillyer for his excellent piece on one of America's truly great heroes -- Justice Clarence Thomas.

While I certainly agree with Hillyer's estimation of Thomas's intellect and judicial acumen, what has always impressed me most about him, since I was first introduced to him during his confirmation hearings, is his tremendous class and dignity. I would offer that there is not a more dignified gentleman walking the planet today than Clarence Thomas. He has more class in his little finger than all the race-baiting, hate mongering "reverends" in this country have in their whole being.

What a shame that the vast majority of African-Americans in this country have allowed political preconceptions to cut them off from what could be a tremendous asset to their community.

I look forward with eager anticipation to his book.
-- Keith Kunzler
Arnold, Missouri

SOUTHERN REMAINS
Re: Larry Thornberry's Southern Fried Fred:

I thoroughly enjoyed Larry Thornberry's essay on Florida. I was born and raised in Tampa. Growing up there in the '70s and '80s, most of my cultural experiences were as un-Southern as they could be. We always had to drive north if we wanted to see the South.

As Larry noted, however, there is still some South left in Florida. For the past nine years I've lived in Taylor County, on the "nature coast," where the waitresses still call you "honey" and serve grits. Until recently, we even had some truly conservative Democrats in these parts (most have now switched parties). But this pocket of Florida Southernness is shrinking. As more and more people come to our state from south of the border and north of the Mason-Dixon line, many Floridians are leaving the metro areas and migrating to the wooded lands of north Florida in search of a more peaceful life. I wonder how much longer they'll be able to find it.
-- Jeff Himmel
Perry, Florida

MURTHA THE MARINE
Re: Jeffrey Lord's Newt, Columbia, and the Idea of Dissent:

Mr. Lord hits it straight...the illiberal American left is just as despotic as any tyrant in history.

Regarding Jack Murtha:

Back when I went through ten weeks of OCS, we Candidates were often referred to as "s--t maggots," among other things, by officers and non-coms alike.

The old opportunist and grubber Jack Murtha ought to write of book entitled S--t Maggot: How I went from Marine recruit, to Drill Instructor, to Lieutenant Colonel, to Member of Congress, and back to EX-Marine s--t maggot in one lifetime.

Semper Fi! Mr. Lord.
-- Carl Gordon Pyper, USMC 1969-72
Monett, Missouri

ATTENTION GRABBER
Re: Michael Roush's letter (under "Dissentary at Columbia") in Reader Mail's Carbon Disposal

Again comes the strange idea (letter from Mike Roush) that the two shining examples of 20th Century totalitarianism (Stalin and Hitler) are opposites on a Left/Right continuum. Please, that is one of the saddest examples of the failure of American civics education. Those totalitarian thugs are both at the far end of a continuum alright, the same end (Let's call it the "left"). The right side is home to the purveyors of individual liberty; let's use James Madison as our poster child. The founders of our Revolution had no relation to Marx's evil spawn.
-- Craig A. Zimmerman
Nairobi, Kenya

Ah, Mr. Roush. You are a fine testament to the government-sponsored gift that just keeps on giving, public education.
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

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