Reader Mail

Risky Business

Chainsaw massacres in every garage. Also: Poverty ain't all it isn't cracked up to be. A response to Mr. Putin's man in Samarra. How did Diana commit treason? Plus more.

9.6.07

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DANGER LOOMS
Re: Ralph R. Reiland's Litigation Nation:

I think that all these lawsuits against manufacturers, retailers, park districts, and other public agencies for stupid self-inflicted injuries are turning people into morons. Almost everyone I know has a favorite product warning -- from chainsaws ("do not attempt to stop chain with hands") to curling irons ("do not insert into any bodily orifice"). My favorite is a full paragraph prominently printed on each mate of each pair of boxing gloves marketed by a well-known boxing/martial arts equipment firm in Lenexa, Kansas. It warns the prospective user that "boxing is a contact sport" (well, duh!) and that the user assumes all liability for injuries resulting from the use of the product.

I think that John Edwards may be right when he talks about the "two Americas." There's that America that's made up of people who realize that life is not without risk and that one can avoid many of these risks through the application of common sense and by following directions. Then there's that expanding America made up of feckless boobs who have enriched people like John Edwards and others of his profession through litigation brought about by their clueless and irresponsible behavior. The result of all this litigation is the creation of a "spork culture" where all the potentially dangerous corners in life are rounded down or padded, thereby removing all risk as well as any enjoyment from life.

Don't forget your bike helmets and knee pads, kids -- it's dangerous outside!
-- Bill Erdmann

Welfare people are about the only ones who show up for jury duty (who else can afford it?), and from that dismal pool, the selection ritual eliminates most of those with IQs bigger than their shoe size. Even if a group is (accidentally) impaneled that is capable of thinking about the burden on the general public of the award it is asked to make, the law generally requires judges to instruct jurors not to consider that aspect of the matter before them.
-- Ty Knoy
Ann Arbor, Michigan

I enjoyed Ralph Reiland's piece on "Litigation Nation." I combined it with Weird Al Yankovic's video "I'll Sue Ya" on the blog I maintain, The Bastiat Blog. The two go together very nicely to create a multi-media anti-litigation experience.
-- Ben Rast
President, The Bastiat Society
Charleston, South Carolina

RICH MAN, POOR MAN
Re: Lisa Fabrizio's An Impoverished Debate:

I am one of these "poor" Americans, retired and living on $1,000 a month. I own my home and acreage, Dodge truck, DishNetwork, DVR, DVD, washer, dryer, 2 color TV's, microwave and spend my spare money on rehabbing squirrels to release. The only thing I get from the government is a small SS check. Oh and I do have health insurance, not Medicare.

The welfare system keeps paying moms to stay home and have more babies so they can get a raise in their checks, which just makes more welfare moms that start while they are still kids themselves. If we stopped paying for more than one child the birth rate would drop.
-- Elaine Kyle

The statistics on poverty in America make it really easy to see why so many illegal immigrants go there. Being poor in America beats the hell out of being rich in a lot of countries. No wonder the left hates America -- the mere existence of America puts the lie to every idea they have ever had. Keep up the good work.
-- Christopher Holland
Canberra, Australia

Thanks to two centuries of wealth creation by U. S. economy (fastest growth rate on the planet) welfare people on these shores today have higher standards of living than kings enjoyed 200 years ago. Unfortunately for the Democrat Party (John Edwards in particular), more than half of our electorate is irrevocably aware of this.
-- Ty Knoy
Ann Arbor, Michigan

PAULIST PLAYS HARDBALL
Re: Jennifer Rubin's Primary Paths:

I know that Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, and Mitt Romney are the darlings at The American Spectator, and their campaigns are much more important than someone who represents "real" conservative principles and love for the Constitution. Is it unfathomable to The American Spectator that some of us believe Dr. Ron Paul represents what true conservatism is about?

Does he not deserve to be taken seriously? Is it not newsworthy that his campaign has generated, arguably, the most excitement of any in a generation? Of course, I won't hold my breath that more pundits will write about what Dr. Paul is accomplishing on the grassroots circuit on any of the major conservative websites or blogs. I may have to look elsewhere...Thankfully, the Internet is still free.
-- Todd Morris

VAST PARTNERSHIP
Re: Doug Bandow's Labor Day Special:

Democrats and labor unions: "the vast left-wing conspiracy."
-- John Nelson
Hebron, Connecticut

CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION SCANDAL
Re: The Washington Prowler's Ahead of the Posse:

Your article Tuesday "Ahead of the Posse" is just the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps you did not see the front page Washington Times story on the DOJ voting section sponsorship of the Islamic convention of the organization named as UI Co-conspirators in a terrorist financing case.

And the GOP Hill reaction.

The Civil Rights Division, under Wan Kim and Rena Comisac, has gotten out of control in appeasing the liberal left race groups. The outreach to leftwing liberal groups and expenditure of thousands to do their bidding is staggering and underreported. Only Audrey Hudson has ever broken through to find a story. Wan Kim infuriated conservatives inside the White House, especially the VP office and movement conservatives. He is being run out of town with good reason. The Civil Rights Division has been run for the last 20 months like it was during the Clinton Presidency because of Wan Kim and his deferrence to the career bureaucrats.
-- unsigned

NOTES FROM THE ABOVEGROUND
Re: Pavel S. Tsarevskiy's letter (under "The Russian Mind") in Reader Mail's Heightened Tensions and George H. Wittman's Russia, Inc.:

A great power's ambitions are thwarted. The settlement of the conflict reverses its long pursued territorial gains and is seen as humiliating by the nationalist element. The country's economy is a shambles as those who enjoyed connections to the previous regime pocket their loot while the man in the street suffers. A leader arises who manipulates the general dissatisfaction to consolidate his own power and to impose his country's will on its neighbors.

No, it's not the 1930s, but I think that we in the West whose memories extend back beyond the recent "holiday from history" can all be forgiven for our unmistakable sense of deja vu. I hadn't wanted to disintegrate Russia, but after reading the letter from Mr. Put-... excuse me, from Mr. Tsarevskiy, I'm giving the idea serious consideration. Russia's "maximum leader" is in a mood to throw his weight around, and I suppose that those in his corner are prepared to rationalize pretty much all of it. Where to start? I'll go with his bullet points.

(1) Russia didn't just suggest a "new candidate to [run the] IMF": it sprang the nomination as a complete surprise -- even, evidently, to their nominee's own delegation -- with the apparent intention of disrupting consensus among the other members. Now, it is entirely plausible that the former Czech prime minister would be a better IMF chief than a French socialist, but messing with the IMF is the proper pursuit of free-marketeers, and we soon learned that Pavel is none such.

(2) (a) "Russia wants to control oil and gas... [b]ecause it allows [the government] to invest much more money to solve social problems." Yes, socialism has worked so well to solve Russia's myriad problems that re-nationalizing the oil industry is the only logical move. Please.

(b) But then there's this gem: "Do you really think that the U.S. government doesn't control and not communicate with national oil companies like Shell?" I had to laugh: the usual complaint from the paranoid types over here is that the opposite relationship exists.

(c) "Russia in contrast to the USA was a real member of two global wars and many others." Of course, veterans and historians alike should all remember and honor Russia's contribution to defeating the Axis Powers: their scrupulous observance of the 1941 Soviet-Japanese Non-Aggression Pact and their seven days' contribution to the war in the Pacific makes me ashamed ever to have questioned their integrity or their motives. That's right: they got in after Hiroshima, and the result is still called the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

(d) "No normal European engineer can work in Siberia in minus 50 degrees centigrade." Who can doubt that this capability is unique to New Soviet Man? Actually, this remark reminded me of a visit to my class in Russian geography many years ago by two gentlemen from Yakutsk. It was February and the damp chill that we get here in Houston at that time of year had all of us in our full winter gear -- except, of course, for our visitors who were in short sleeves with open collars. One thing, though: their passports may have read "USSR," but they were most definitely not Russians.

(3) Heaven and a Senate filibuster save us from the UN-proposed Law of the Sea Treaty (popularly known as "LOST"), but Mr. Tsarevskiy is right on half the question, when he suggests that Russia has the right, as do we or anyone else with the wherewithal, to conduct economic activities on the ocean floor in international waters. The part where he is wrong is where he asserts that international law permits the Sovi... excuse me, Russia to exert its territorial claim. That is just not the case.

(4) Setting aside the snide reference to our own universally beloved maximum leader, the acknowledged purpose of the new missile defense system is to protect our allies in Europe from the dangerous rogue regime in Iran. Perhaps Mr. Tsarevskiy is prescient concerning its possible use against Russia, but that would assume rogue behavior on Moscow's part, and there isn't anything in Russia's cozy relationship with Tehran or its abusive attitude toward its European neighbors that would suggest that, is there?

I remember reading often of the widespread concern here that the assets of Russia's industrial enterprises were being sequestered by the apparatchiks of the previous regime, the author's "oligarchs," but would it have been wise for us to interfere with the unfolding revolution? Maybe I'm being too hard on the author. I'll throw him a bone: I'll concede his point that many leaders in our country do not understand "the realities" in his own.

The rest of his letter seems to be a vague threat about going off half-cocked if we object to anything Putin does ("dangerous... nuclear... and biological weapons... civil war") along with some economic advice that smacks of Lyndon LaRouche. Thanks, we'll keep that under advisement.

Meanwhile, my recommendation to Mr. Tsarevskiy is that he take a few days off, go to one of those "strength through joy" rallies I've been reading about -- the Putinjugend's own Lebensborn -- and start increasing the numbers of his fellow Russians. Given the relative birthrates of ethnic Russians and their Mohammedan subjects, he's got bigger problems to worry about than us. Get busy getting busy, Pavel.
-- Stephen Foulard
Associate Editor, An Industrial Atlas of the Soviet Successor States (1994)
Houston, Texas

BACK TO REALITY
Re: The letters under "Escape From Reality" in Reader Mail's Baldwin's Brain:

Mercy! Mercy! I think you are missing the fun factor in all this. Republicans get to string up their high and mighty who have "fallen." They don't believe in 12 step programs. They like sending their "double-agent" 13 steps up to the scaffold. And they get to have an execution without that pesky ACLU getting in the way. The only question is whether Republicans use the noose or the chopping block. That is usually decided by a poker game behind doors in smoke-filled room. Afterward, they make the "soon-to-be-departed" buy the rope or the axe -- depending of course.

I'll admit it is something of an acquired taste; but once you get into it you always look forward to the next one.
-- Michael Dooley
Indianapolis, Indiana

ADULTERY AS TREASON
Re: Hal G.P. Colebatch's The Ghoul's Carnival -- Ten Years On and Joe Reimers's letter (under "London in the Summertime") in Reader Mail's Baldwin's Brain:

Regarding Hal Colebatch's piece on the late Princess Diana and the question as to how she committed treason in the technical sense of the term, under common law adultery is regarded as ordinary treason. High treason is any act against the crown or the heir apparent and thus Diana by committing adultery was guilty of not just treason but high treason. It was under this law that Henry VIII had his second wife Anne Boleyn and fifth wife Catherine Howard executed. The penalty was actually burning at the stake, but Henry, merciful fellow that he was, commuted both sentences to simple beheading.

Interestingly enough, when Parliament abolished capital punishment some years ago, by some oversight the death penalty was not rescinded for high treason or so I've heard. Thus Diana was guilty of the only crime in Britain for which the penalty remains death. Charles would have been within his rights to have had her hauled off to the Tower and beheaded.
-- Ken Fasig
Kalaheo, Hawaii

In answer to Mr. Reimers, Diana's treason was her marital infidelity, which raised the possibility of an heir who wasn't, so to speak.

There has been speculation in various tabloids that Harry is not as closely related to William as he should be.
-- Ed Ahlsen-Girard

For "Designs on Creationism," a special Reader Mail exchange today between John Derbyshire and Tom Bethell, click here.

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