Reader Mail

Great and Not So Great

Heroes and sissies. Bobby Jr. and the Kennedy record, Hamas and the usual mess. Electric road range. Plus more.

7.18.07

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GREAT STUFF
Re: Lars Walker's Alfred, Bruce, and Percy -- No Sissies:

Thank you for the absolutely splendid article by Lars Walker on Alfred, Bruce and Percy. Well said!
-- Hal G. P. Colebatch

JUNIOR BOBBY
Re: Jeffrey Lord's The Vitterization of RFK, Jr.:

You're right, Vitter's problem really is easily recognizable. While what he's done is hypocritical -- and, yes, he can do better -- he's an imperfect man who unfortunately lives in a mostly adolescent-minded country where most people can't even spell forgiveness, grace and mercy, much less extend any or all of those to someone else, especially public figures. They're umpires in a one-strike-you're-out-game as long as none of them are batting. Even your words essentially prophesy his being branded with a scarlet letter.

And to coin a word "Vitterization"? Come on. If anything, using your convention, Vitter's experienced Clintonization or double Clintonization. He's been Kerry-ized, Edwards-ized, Algore-uses-tons-of-electricity-ized. Perhaps even Ted-Kennedy-ized.

As for RFK Jr., indeed he seems to behave hypocritically regarding corporations. But I suggest that his hypocrisy extends well beyond just his silence on the Bank of America and its contributed funds to the Kennedy Library. He desperately needs those corporations he so despises. Were it not for them, he wouldn't have much of a law practice or wouldn't have much to do at the Natural Resources Defense Council, would he? Nor would he receive his far-too-broad share of the spotlight in the news media, funded by corporate advertisements. Nor would he have all those jets to fly around in. Etc.

But why should RFK Jr. do better? He's on a roll, given a pass by the print and broadcast mainstream-media for his hypocrisy because of his liberal lineage, his current politics, his so-called "environmental" stances, his anti-capitalist rhetoric.
-- C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia

I don't want to poke holes in your youthful illusions about the Kennedys but I am afraid I must. There is another side of the Kennedy family legacy that the baby boomers choose to forget and suppress from public discussion. For most of the family's political life the Kennedys have been enamored with the worst kind of leaders and governments. Old Joe was a Nazi sympathizer. When not cheating in school or on his wife, Teddy was cozying up to the Kremlin leadership. Now, the junior Bobby is great friends with Hugo Chavez, the next Latin American strongman posturing as a Communist man of the people. If you want to show junior's hypocrisy, why not point out that as he calls the Exxon Management a bunch of traitors, he has acted as a spokesman for Chavez's oil business. Even the "good" Kennedys weren't so good. We all know that JFK was connected to the Mob and RFK's idealism seemed to be newly acquired after his stint as the Democratic counsel to the McCarthy committee.

And by the way, the push for Civil Rights didn't come from JFK. It came from Vice President Lyndon Johnson. Kennedy himself was more concerned with economic growth at home and fighting Communism abroad. Probably the only two things the Kennedy family did that benefited the country.
-- Jerrold Goldblatt
Arlington, Virginia

While I am no fan of RFK Jr., the logic Mr. Lord uses to accuse him of hypocrisy is so convoluted to almost defy review.

The Bank of America contributes to the support of JFK's library, so any criticism by RFK Jr. of corporations in general or banks in particular is hypocritical?

I think Mr. Lord reached too high and too far for this one.
-- John F. Conroy
Memphis, Tennessee

Jeffrey Lord replies:
The point, with respect to Mr. Conroy, is simple. Mr. Kennedy runs around America loudly portraying politicians who accept money from corporations as corrupt. Indeed, he specifically accuses the Bush administration of both 1) accepting support from said corporations and 2) being corrupt ("plundering") simply as a result of accepting said funds. He is particularly harsh about the role of bankers, and repeatedly implies that it is immoral if not criminal to be accepting this kind of money. At no time does Mr. Kennedy confess that, yes indeed, his own father's legacy is being financially fueled by the a corporation heavily funding President Bush. Surely if he feels as strongly as he claims he could easily seek out others -- i.e., non-Bush supporting corporations -- to promote the politics of his father's legacy. If one argues that lying down with dogs means one rises with fleas, does this mean the fleas can be said to vanish if the dogs inhabit your kennel -- for a price "above $25,000"?

Sorry Mr. Lord, but your naive adolescent idolatry of the Kennedy clan is still evident. How else to explain your absurd calculus of moral equivalence between the relatively minor indiscretions of an unknown Republican senator and those of Robert Kennedy Jr.? To compare the two, is laughable at best and highly offensive at worst. Spare me the hand wringing over a public man who has succumbed to his carnal lusts. Perhaps you have forgotten the horrific treatment of Marilyn Monroe and others, by JFK and RFK, and the pass given to them by the MSM, especially Ben Bradlee and the Washington Post? Dare I also mention Chappaquiddick? No such luck for Mr. Vitter. Oh no, he gets the full media treatment. No wonder why Bill Clinton was in awe of the Kennedy's. In addition, you focus on RFK Jr.'s obsession with the Bank of America, yet make scant mention of his other world-class hypocrisies. Whatever Vitter's sins may be, he at least, is not trying to systematically dismantle American capitalism with the thinly veiled Marxist scam of global warming; while RFK Jr. lavishes in the corporate largess that fund the Kennedy family trusts, some of which are off shore to avoid American taxes. But hey, you got the last line right, so perhaps you might try this;" Some people see conservative hypocrisy and say why? Others see liberal hypocrisy and say why not."
-- A. DiPentima

When I think of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. I think of a saying my father used to tell me, you can spit on a prostitute and she would say it is raining.
-- Maxwell Bricks
Princeton, New Jersey

GIVING PEACE NOT A CHANCE
Re: Jay D. Homnick's Mahmoud Swings:

Mahmoud Swings...and Bush squanders another $190 million of U.S. taxpayer money on the hopeless, hate-deranged Palestinians.

I don't even want to think about the total billions flushed down the same hole by every president of the last half-century, or the billions more forked over by other perhaps well-intentioned but delusional Western governments. Is this not the very definition of insanity -- continuing to do the same thing but expecting a different outcome?

Any parent would be rightly faulted for continuing to indulge and underwrite the anti-social and self-destructive ways of an irresponsible teenager. (Need forty bucks for your drinking and drugging binge tonight? Here, take fifty!) How is the situation with the Palestinians any different? They behave badly, very badly, and we just continue to coddle.

Beam me up, Scotty, there is no intelligent life here on this planet.
-- C. Vail

There will be no peace for "Palestinians" nor Israelis until the people of "Palestine" want it. We can "tea time it" all decade long with any supposedly "democratically elected" punks from Fatah (the murder party), or Hamas (the murder on video party), and zip will come of it.

It reminds me of our own education problem here in the states: we keep throwin' money at the problem and it gets no better. The promise of reforms are always proffered up, (haven't we heard this too many times before?) and some fecal-heads at State think that they suddenly(!) stumbled upon the answer that everyone else missed...more land & money, along with chants from American college campuses that "Israel out of 'Ulan Bator' " will get it done. It's all been; garbage in, garbage out.

Israel got it right in 1967, and a continued display of unmitigated power and rule of law (and force) by Israel is the only way any kind of peaceful coexistence will reign in between these Middle East neighbors. All this "congeniality," and "talks," and money to folks that do not deserve it being thrown at the problem only exacerbates the problem.
-- P. Aaron Jones
Huntington Woods, Michigan

NEW TO KIRK
Re: James G. Poulos's Russell Kirk, Postmodern Conservative?:

Thanks for the interview with Russello about Kirk. I don't know much about Kirk, but he seems to follow the advice of Friedrich Hayek, who wrote in The Fatal Conceit that we should respect traditional values as the accumulated wisdom of the ages while allowing for experimentation. Socialists want to destroy all tradition and start reasoning from a blank slate. Hayek suggested that we show some humility and place the burden of proof on those who want to change traditional values. This seems to be what Kirk suggests, too. Instead of specifying which traditions we will preserve, maybe conservatives should have the attitude that we will allow discussion and experimentation with all traditional values while maintaining a high standard of proof (such as beyond reasonable doubt) for overthrowing any of them.
-- Roger D. McKinney
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

ROAD RANGE
Re: Eric Peters's Electric Shock:

Yet another false article about EV1 and its range.

The 1997 EV1 was originally released with defective GM-Delco batteries, which often failed. When these were replaced (starting in 1999) with Panasonic lead-acid batteries, it got up to 110 miles on a charge.

That's over 100 miles on a charge, using just lead batteries. Repeat, over 100 miles on a charge in normal driving.

The 1999 EV1 was released with Nickel Metal Hydride batteries from what is now Chevron's cobasys unit; it got up to 160 miles on a charge in normal driving.

That's over 150 miles on a charge, using lower-quality nickel batteries.

Both could have been fitted with small "range-extender" diesel generators, which has been done with the Toyota RAV4-EV.

We fitted fast-chargers to the EV1, as we do with the Toyota RAV4-EV. But it's an illusion to think that the range is an issue.

The Toyota RAV4-EV, a small plug-in EV first produced in 1997 and last sold in 2002, still goes over 120 miles on a charge in daily driving, powered by rooftop solar system credits.

In the last four years, we've driven our two Toyota RAV4-EV over 170,000 miles. That's a lot of driving, and illustrates that you can do it in an EV with a range of 120 miles on a charge, even without the "range-extender." The Toyota RAV4-EV has much better Panasonic Nickel Metal Hydride batteries, but they are no longer available.

Chevron, which bought control of the worldwide patent rights to the batteries from GM, sued Toyota, which then stopped making them. That's the real reason you can't buy a plug-in car.

Check the facts before you publish, and you won't look [so bad].
-- Doug Korthof
Seal Beach, California

Eric Peters' article on electric cars brought back memories of Westinghouse's attempt to develop an electric several decades ago. It appears there has been little progress to develop an efficient, road worthy electric car. Back then the car was a modified Karmann Ghia Volkswagen. The engine was a torpedo motor, another product from Westinghouse, driven by 500 pounds of standard lead-acid automobile batteries. The car worked fine and was driven around the Westinghouse Research Laboratory's campus by the CEO. But it didn't meet the state of Pennsylvania automobile standards: it didn't have a heater or defrosters.
-- Thomas Bullock
West Covina, California

OIL SLICKS
Re: Jim Bono's and Erik Thompson's letters in Reader Mail's Reviving the Surge:

It's not too often that one sees two extremes as in today's letters to the editor. Let's look at the letters from Dr. Erik Thompson and Mr. Jim Bono.

Dr. Erik quickly demonstrates why doctors should probably not venture far from their field of expertise. He goes off full bore into the "war for oil" canard without giving it much thought. He claims the war was about securing oil for the west, and the U.S. in particular. However, he never quit gets around to explaining how this supposed securing of oil hasn't resulted in any real increase in the oil supply. It certainly hasn't reduced the price of gas at the pump. Supply and Demand laws are pretty well set in that an increase in supply should result in lower costs. We see examples of that every year.

He gets further into trouble by stating that the Iraqi Parliament's haggling over the oil reconciliation bill is about agreeing to the profits the Anglo-American oil companies will take. Weird. If we have already "secured" the oil, we don't need to wait for any stinkin' agreements since we already possess the *$#^% oil according to Dr. Erik. You can't get higher profits than that! He needs to pick one side of this argument and stick with it. Apparently, cognitive dissonance does make that difficult, though.

Does he not understand that the reconciliation is about how the oil profits will be split among the Iraqis? If I recall, the Iraqis are currently negotiating with the Chinese (among others) for oil leases. It doesn't quite seem logical that we would "allow" this if we controlled the oil, as the doc originally contends. Then again, wouldn't it have been easier for the nasty neocons to just take over the oil fields back on 2003 and only worried about controlling them and the pipelines to the tankers? Then again, maybe the doctor has a point in that the profit "we" will make is when the Iraqis (really us since we secured the oil) sell the oil to the Chinese. Wow, wouldn't THAT be a neocon coup, selling Iraqi oil to the Chinese for our profit? Karl Rove is that good!

Assuming he's an MD, has the doctor ever worked for the British health system? Does he own a Mercedes or a Cherokee? Hey, I'm just suggesting my own little conspiracy theory on doctors that write foolish things like this.

Then we have Mr. Jim. Dang, now that is a well-reasoned, thought out letter. No hyperbole, no Daily Kos talking points, just a damn good explanation of why Jim is disenchanted. And you can't really argue or find much fault in what Jim writes. Bush and our commanders have indeed failed in many ways. You would think we would have learned by now. History does repeat itself. My only hope for Jim (and me) is that these leaders have finally extracted the cognitive portion of their anatomies from the alimentary portion and, via the Surge, we can get back to winning this war.

Or we could just keep stealing the oil, as the doctor suggests.
-- Karl F. Auerbach
Eden, Utah

One of the readers, Dr. Thompson, reveals the problem we face as a nation in trying to discuss the war in Iraq or in Afghanistan, or anywhere our soldiers are fighting. The left's position is exactly as Dr. Thompson has presented it. It is a fanatical belief that a cabal of oil magnates initiated the war in Iraq solely to increase oil profits. It doesn't matter that there is no proof of this conspiracy, or that many of the wealthiest men in the oil business are social liberals and FOB (friends of Bill, such as Clinton's Secretary of the Treasury). No, these are only facts that get in the way of faith.

The left cannot see that there is a real, no kidding, radical Islamic movement that wishes to ultimately destroy the West. And, it doesn't matter if our history has given them the motivation to kill us or not, for they wish us dead and not reformed. the left can not see that a critical part of such a strategy is the necessity to inflict on the West an economic attack on a resource that the Western/Industrialized nations must have, namely oil. To put it another way and to paraphrase an old cliche: If they have us by the oil barrels, we do as they wish.

I for one can see no compromise with the extreme Left on this subject. When the Democrats assume power in January 2009 (which seems most likely given the American public's "let's give the other team a shot at leading" view of politics), and our government returns to seeing and acting on Islamic terrorism as merely an annoying and occasionally deadly nuisance, we will be able to see whose vision was correct after all.

Fortunately I live over thirty miles from DC so the fall-out from the dirty bomb that will go off will not immediately kill my family. For those like Dr. Thompson who are living in Georgetown will be able to verify the fact that if the nuclear blast doesn't kill one, the radiation or fall-out will. I suppose Dr. Thompson's side can take solace, as they gasp their final breaths, with the appreciation that the terrorists only killed them out of sincere and well-deserved economic, cultural, historical, and social justice.
-- Paul
Gainesville, Virginia

Erik Thompson's letter demonstrates an ignorance that is so typical on the left. Sure the war is about oil but not in the way Mr. Thompson thinks. That oil has been flowing into terrorist groups and gives those groups worldwide reach. This included Saddam Hussein's Iraq. If there was no Middle Eastern oil we could look on in safety as they only slaughtered each other. So what do we do now? We can fight now or later. Our enemies will make sure of that. I have no interest in returning to the world before 9/11. It was a world controlled by the so-called realists. In essence our whole political class pretended like nothing bad was happening and our PC media kept us ill informed about the true nature of the Middle East. Apparently playing the useful idiot to the communists is something the left misses. Now they play for the Islamofascists. Mr. Thompson may soon get his wish to stick his head back in the sand, but I don't think he will keep it there long.
-- Clifton Briner

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