Reader Mail

Toeing the Line

An ingrown preference for socialized medicine. Plus: Methodist Ocean Grove. Understanding the Wittman Doctrine. The amazing Ben Stein. Bush bashers meets their match. Plus more.

7.9.07

POSTAL MEDICINE
Re: Philip Klein's Dr. Fabio vs. Michael Moore:

In 1992-93 I had a crash course in socialized medicine. My daughter was born in France with a congenital heart malformation.

First, the pediatricians in the hospital where she was born saw that she had trouble gaining weight, but ran no tests.

In and out of French hospitals before her death, I heard children in medical wards cry unattended for hours (I stayed with her as she was nursing). Medical personnel instructed me just to leave (didn't happen). Hospital politics took precedence over patient care -- of course one hospital kept her instead of sending her to a specialized hospital, it continued receiving funds as long as she was there.

She didn't have the time to waste.

While my searches have never revealed statistics about the success rate correcting inverted left coronary arteries, the American public has no idea what it is to rely on people with the mentality of postal workers for their loved ones' lives.
-- Lisa O

I would just like to express my opinion that "Dr. Fabio vs. Michael Moore" by Philip Klein is possibly the single most idiotic opinion essay I have read over the course of my life. I can only hope that, in writing the piece, the author was attempting and failing at some sort of humorous diversion, rather than offering a genuine comparison of Italian health care to American health care.

A visit to the website of the World Health Organization will demonstrate that Italians live longer lives and have only half the child mortality rate of the U.S., all at a cost to the Italian public that is roughly half the cost -- measured in % of GDP -- of American health care.

Furthermore, Logic 101 requires that the following observations be made: 1) That two anecdotes cannot possibly serve as representative examples, 2) that any observation made about Italian health care has no bearing on Michael Moore's Sicko, which makes no reference to Italy. Furthermore, the author's tale of suffering, brought on by, of all things, an ingrown toenail, is almost breathtaking in its insensitivity to the genuine mortal risks endured by millions of Americans who lack basic health coverage.
-- Andrew S. Taylor

Without having seen the Michael Moore movie and without the slightest desire to defend any system of government run medicine, I do think that Mr. Klein is arguing a little too much from anecdote. I have never had occasion to consult a doctor in Italy; but I took myself and my children to doctors in Paris (some time ago) and was pleased. I have heard stories of decent and competent treatment by National Health doctors in England. More to the point, I am a legal secretary in a medical malpractice defense firm. Unfortunate outcomes are not restricted to socialized medicine systems, and not all medical malpractice lawsuits are without merit. It is not unknown to wait three hours in an American hospital emergency room. I think what we should be looking at or for is an environment in which the patients (that is, we) have the greatest control over our own health decisions and health professionals have the greatest possible incentives (including financial gain) to take excellent care of us and hope to keep us as their patients. While these conditions cannot be satisfied under a socialized medicine system, they are not always well satisfied under the highly regulated and bureaucratized third-party payer insurance system that we live with in this country. So, let's all trim our toenails (properly) and demand health savings accounts, portable insurance and posted fees.
-- Martha Francois
Portland, Oregon

TRIED METHODISM
Re: Mark Tooley's Victorian Ocean Grove's New Groove:

With all respect to Mark Tooley, I think that anyone who's somehow "missed" that Ocean Grove was in fact founded by a Methodist Camp Meeting Association needs to have his or her head examined. The impressive wooden architecture of the camp Tabernacle (where they run pop concerts in the summer on Saturday nights, mainly oldies-type shows, and much of the charm lies in the sport-coated and tied older gentlemen of the Camp Meeting Association who take seriously and courteously their duties as ushers) is virtually impossible to miss from practically any point in town. And even the streets are named after old Methodist worthies and bishops. So to claim one did not realize Ocean Grove had a religious history is the nadir of obliviousness.

I remember when residents of Ocean Grove could not drive there on Sunday, and the lawsuit that "opened" the town up, which was brought by someone who had a paper delivery service and thus wished to deliver newspapers by automobile. And I also note the continuing squalor and drug trafficking and related violence of Asbury Park (itself named after a Methodist bishop) and Neptune Township right outside the gates of Ocean Grove. Considering the town's low crime rate, there is something to be said for such a faith-oriented enclave, however much its policy on nuptial rites in its "public" buildings may inconveniences engaged lesbians.
-- Richard Szathmary
Clifton, New Jersey

To all those who scoff at the idea that homosexual rights advocates will not target churches or people opposed to their agenda through the use of ordinances designed to sanction same-sex unions, this incident should dispel those doubts. Anyone who believes that hate crimes legislation which includes provisions for sexual orientation won't be used against people of faith is living in a fantasy world. The message to any religious believer who might hold a traditional understanding of marriage should be crystal clear. Either acknowledge same sex nuptials as the equivalent of traditional marriage or be confronted with litigation. Either abandon thousands of years of the moral teaching of your religion or face the coercive power of the government seeking to force compliance to the demands of a persistent minority.

In the past, government never interjected itself into disputes over things like the definition of marriage because there was virtually no disagreement over what constituted this relationship. Despite howls of protest from a very vocal and politically astute special interest group, there still isn't much disagreement on this issue. Referendums presented to the people in various states supporting the traditional understanding of marriage all have been affirmed with one exception, usually by overwhelming majorities. What has changed is our concept of moral authority and where it comes from. Instead of reliance upon moral principles that transcend the individual, some now seek unfettered personal autonomy enforced by government fiat.

This lawsuit is only the beginning. Because of growing acceptance of the moral relativism rife within our society, these cultural battles will continue to tear away at the fabric of our society. Absent any consistent standard by which to judge appropriate behavior or define relationships, the side wielding the biggest club will always be declared the de facto winner. Those seeking to redefine the norm need only curry the favor of a simple majority of bureaucrats or jurists in a given locale in order to prescribe radical changes in their communities. On the federal level, political parties with a bare plurality can impose their will on the rest of the citizenry, at least until the next election. Our ultimate destination appears to be headed toward a validation of the principle that might always makes right. This drift away from a uniform moral consensus portends more chaos in the future as more and more factions appear, each seeking to wrest an increasingly elusive concept of moral authority away from any they label as enemies of their freedom.
-- Rick Arand
Lee's Summit, Missouri

NARROW DEFINITIONS
Re: George H. Wittman's We Can Do It:

The article by George Wittman "We Can Do It" may contain a good idea for how to better fight "terrorists" in Iraq (and elsewhere) but Mr. Wittman has a flawed definition of "terrorism" that taints his article. ("'Terrorism' is the intentional use of violence against unarmed, innocent civilians.") That is a good, generally accepted definition of the word. All forms of unconventional warfare are not "terrorism." Thus Mr. Wittman qualifying as "terrorism" the acts of the American Revolutionary Army against British soldiers during the Revolutionary War is a false use of the term. Soldiers killing other soldiers, even when shooting from behind a wall, is not "terrorism" by any accepted definition. The other examples of "American Terrorism" that Mr. Wittman uses are in the same vein: each case of so called U.S. "terrorism" cited by Mr. Wittman was an example of legitimate use of force against enemy soldiers, such as during the Civil War or during WWII.

One example of potential "terrorism" used by the U.S. and her allies during wartime was not cited by Mr. Wittman: namely, the intentional bombing of civilian areas during WWII, such as the firebombing of Tokyo or German cities. The examples that Mr. Wittman chose were incorrect.

Even in Iraq those persons who plant roadside bombs to kill U.S. soldiers cannot be termed "terrorists." Killing enemy soldiers is a legitimate act during wartime, even if the act is unconventional. War is about killing the enemy, so even though I don't like enemy combatants killing fellow U.S. soldiers in this (or any) manner, it is not "terrorism." Those persons who intentionally blow up markets, hospitals, etc. intending to kill civilians, are "terrorists" in every sense of the word. When the U.S. drops a bomb on a house that is believed to contain enemy fighters, and accidentally kill some civilians, this is not "terrorism" either, because the intent was to kill the enemy combatants, not to kill civilians. Wanton disregard for civilian life during wartime may constitute "war crimes" but even that could not be considered "terrorism" if the primary intent was to kill enemy soldiers.

Mr. Wittman's suggestion that the U.S. take a more aggressive stance and kill civilian leaders who may be aiding the enemy might be a good idea, and is likely legal under the rules of war. If a civilian aids the enemy he becomes a combatant, even if he is in civilian clothes, and so a legitimate target in wartime. Thus taking action against such a person could not be classified as "terrorism."

The article has some good ideas, but unfortunately misuses the much misused word "terrorism."

I can tell Mr. Wittman and your readers how we can win in Iraq, however, and I can do it in one sentence: To win in Iraq the U.S. does not need to become "terroristic" as Mr. Witt suggests, the U.S. simply needs to end aid for the enemy which is coming from Iran and Syria. No tactics, no matter how clever, will ever work so long as Iran and Syria are free to aid, arm, train, finance and infiltrate enemy fighters into Iraq.
-- R. L. Markley
France

OK, people, show of hands...

How many of you, when the liberal-left MSM news is showing footage of terrorists walking, no, strutting around the streets of Baghdad, AK-47s at the ready, RPG launchers balanced on their shoulders, hurling Arabic insults at America the Great Satan, for the willing cameras of AP and Reuters... how many of you have ever dreamed of having US Special Forces teams lurking in the area who would zero in on them and drop those Islamofascists dead in their tracks, right in front of the cameras? Show of hands...how many of you wish you could see this happen?

Mr. Wittman, I submit to you that the American people are long since mad enough. Adopt those unconventional counter-terrorism methods already and beat the terrorists at their own game. Whatever it takes to defeat them. Whatever it takes to win.
-- Bruce Clark
Cisco, Texas

Our rules of engagement in Iraq are and will be the reason for our eventual defeat there -- Mr. Wittman is correct. I am reminded of an incident during WWII in Ammerschwier, Alsace. The mayor walked out on the main street to meet the advancing Americans with a white flag, declaring that the city is surrendering and that there are no enemy forces left in the town. The American officer then walked in front of a tank and entered the town. A hidden sniper killed the officer. The American troops retreated and called for bombers, which then blasted that medieval town to dust. Now that sure stopped any hidden snipers in their activities -- the Germans learned from that incident and such incidents were not repeated.

The Iraqi civilians are witnesses of terrorist activities -- while they prepare ambushes and mount their improvised explosive devices in the roads. They should be made aware that their silence is tantamount to collaboration to be followed by extensive bombardment of the entire neighborhood. After a few such demonstrations these "civilians" would find it profitable to report the presence of terrorists to the American and Iraqi troops and so avoid their own annihilation.
-- Marc Jeric
Las Vegas, Nevada

Regarding George H. Wittman's article "We Can Do It," he is right of course. Having enjoyed his articles on a regular basis, I get the feeling that he calls upon a wealth of experience in order to be so insightful in his writing. We are currently on the proverbial treadmill in Iraq and conventional warfare against fanatical terrorists will never succeed. Wittman demonstrates that there are ways for our military to exit. Perhaps it's time our leaders listened.
-- Don Winer
Stuart, Florida

DAZED AND AMAZED
Re: Ben Stein's Bush Amazes:

Bush does not amaze -- but certainly Ben Stein does. The above article leads to only two possible conclusions: (1) Stein's naiveté and stupidity are unbounded; or (2) Stein will stop at nothing in an effort to exonerate Bush. I do not believe the former, and thus the latter must be true.

Stein purposely ignores the fact that the Libby commutation was a cynical payoff, nothing more than a hush-action designed to prevent Libby from ratting out both Bush and Cheney. Bush understandably was concerned that as the jailhouse door swung open, Libby's lapses of memory and obfuscations could well vanish, and this fear was the whole and entire reason why the commutation (and later, no doubt, a full pardon) was granted.

Knowledgeable observers knew the fix was in during the course of Libby's trial, when his highly-paid and notoriously aggressive defense team turned strangely passive and did not (as earlier threatened) call Cheney and other administration figures to testify at trial. There is no plausible reason why this was done, except for an assurance from Bush/Cheney that whatever the verdict, Libby would serve no time, and would otherwise be fully compensated. As to the fine, this will doubtless be covered by Libby's neo-con supporters. And Libby will soon be employed by one of the conservative cabals, probably the American Enterprise Institute or the like, or will become a columnist for the American Spectator. In any case, the deal will be consummated and Libby will be paid off.

Mr. Stein does a disservice both to his credibility and the truth.
-- John Collins

Why should Bush be praised for doing the right thing any more than kids should be praised for brushing their teeth and doing their homework?

I wake-up on time, go to work, eat sensibly, exercise, and pay my taxes. Where's the article about me?
-- Steven Gruber
Syosset, New York

On his final day in office, Jan 20th, 2001, President Clinton pleaded guilty to charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. Prior to that, every Democrat Senator officially voted that those exact charges did not merit removal from office.
-- Tim O'Neill
Pompano Bach, Florida

What a wonderful and truthful article...thank you...

And by the way, Mr. Stein, Fred Thompson has been saying the same things you have for a long time. Are you going to support him for president? You should!

Thanks again...
-- Janet Ney

It might have been a fine hour if Bush had pardoned Libby. Commuting his sentence while saying that he agreed that Libby was guilty of something was simply typical Bush being the waffling useless tone deaf compromiser he has always been. What was he guilty of Bush? Other than working for an administration headed by a wuss like you. I know you can't piss off Ted Kennedy. You may need him for another run at turning America into a Spanish speaking nation.

I am getting sick of people on the right who try and claim Bush has guts and character. He has neither. And I have to work with these people to save our nation? Sheesh.
-- Dean Stephens
Colerain, North Carolina

Fresh from the humbling celebrations of our nation's iconoclastic, truly revolutionary birth, Ben Stein found fitting to praise a president for commuting a prison sentence for a friend.

In his July 5 column "Another Perspective," Stein opines on the injustice to Scooter Libby whose wrongdoing has been interpreted as anything from innocent, faulty recollection to nefarious cover-up for his betters.

In his deeply patriotic gut, I had hoped that Stein would have had the truly American reaction to be pleased that people in service at the highest offices are subject to our laws. But sadly, Stein hangs tightly to the irrelevant myth that Plame was not covert, nor international. He must assume that prosecutor Fitzgerald's court filing in May was also perjurious. You see, his filings cited CIA employment documents that contradict this myth. The CIA seems to believe that Plame was covert and that she traveled internationally undercover.

Perhaps Stein's patriotism is best reflected in his skepticism to the motives of the prosecutor. Fair enough. But how then to explain Libby's multiple reports to the press that Plame and Wilson were in cahoots, only to be surprised to learn this fact weeks later in newspapers?

After reading this column, my patriotic fervor sank again into cynicism when I saw a brilliant man chose his party over his country.

You can do better, Mr. Stein.
-- Chris Cronin
Delmar, New York

Ben Stein wrote: "But Mr. Bush saw a basic wrong.... He simply did the right thing. He let an innocent man breathe the air of freedom..."

Now if he could just see the basic wrong in the two border guards rotting in prison for just about the same injustice. He has sent his warning to the rest of the border guards...mission accomplished.
-- Ronnie Long

While I don't argue with anything in Ben Stein's analysis of the Libby commutation, I wholeheartedly disagree that the commutation was a "fine hour" for Bush.

First, the administration should have taken on Wilson, Plame, and the CIA directly. There was no need for a whispering campaign, when a shouting campaign against a partisan, contrived story would have served better. Even today, Wilson is allowed to cruise the talk-show circuit without contradiction from the White House.

Second, the administration should have challenged Fitzpatrick's continuing investigation once it was known that Armitage was the leaker and that no crime was committed. Comey should have been fired for appointing a carte blanche Special Prosecutor, as should whoever at the CIA was responsible for sending Wilson.

Third, Armitage should have been trotted out to do a major public mea culpa and full explanation about why he was talking to Novak and Bob Woodward. Instead he was allowed to slink off into a media blackout that has done its best to forget both his role and his name.

Fourth, Fitzgerald's false claims about harming national security should have been ridiculed, scorned, and hammered into nothingness.

If you assume that President Bush is in charge of his administration and is kept aware of what is happening, then the commutation appears to be "too little, too late" rather than anyone's finest hour.
-- Dave Robertson
Louisville, Colorado

No one care what Ben Stein thinks.
-- Annie Hudson

ENOUGH ALREADY!
Re: Quin Hillyer's Bush Isn't Dead Yet:

Mr. Hillyer's article misses the central point regarding George W. Bush's failing presidency -- I use the word "failing" because he does have sixteen months left in office, though time is rapidly running out. President Bush's inability to learn from his mistakes has always been his greatest handicap. Call it what you will: stubbornness, hard-headedness, loyalty, or just plain self-righteousness, Mr. Bush's handling of the Iraq War, his unwillingness to secure our borders, his position on illegal immigration, his confidence in Alberto Gonzales, and his so-called "energy policies" are clearly out of step with the rest of the country.

Compounding this president's stubbornness is his uncanny ability to misjudge the mood of the country. Those who had serious reservations about his immigration reform plan got smeared as racists. Never mind that his plan was unworkable and had zero chance of stemming the tide of illegal aliens. Then, there's Mr. Bush's remarkable talent for coming across as a bumbling oaf every time he gets in front of a TV camera. The man could be a genius but you'd never suspect it the way he reduces the most complex of problems to his favorite expression of "it's hard work." Yes, Mr. President, we know it's hard work, but we put you in office to get the job of leading the country done, not to remind us over and over again how hard it is.

Sixteen months from now history will begin to judge George W. Bush's presidency. Unless a miracle occurs Warren G. Harding will be the biggest beneficiary of this president's two terms in office.
-- Tillman L. Jeffrey
Carmichael, California

I don't pretend that George W. is the greatest President of all time, or even of this century. But the Bush hatred out there among conservatives is really over the top! He's no Reagan, but he compares very favorably to his clueless father. Let's look at some of the issues raised about his administration.

No child left behind. Yeah, it would be great if the Federal government would exit from education policy and funding. You may recall that Reagan wanted to abolish the Carter cabinet post for Education. How far did he get? Federal Ed spending has increased with every administration and Congress, regardless of conservative preferences. Why is this? We haven't sold the American people that the feds should stay out of this area, and at the end of the day their political preferences matter (we should know this from the immigration bill). So Bush married standards to funding. The funding was going to increase anyway. Now the Ed establishment is (deliciously) up in arms because someone is holding them accountable for the routine illiteracy and innumeracy of those mis-educated in our public schools. By introducing standards to the Ed debate, the day may actually arrive when the broader American society comes to understand that our public education is a disaster. And this may help down the road to separate school and state, not merely school and the feds. Of course, if the Republicans in Congress support the end of accountability in the name of federalism, well, we can expect the educrats to smile at their stupidity.

The prescription drug benefit. Once you accept that the federal government should be responsible for medical care of the elderly (I don't think the Republican Party is ready to fight this assumption, unfortunately), how much sense does it make to exclude prescription drugs? This is an ever more important part of medical care, thanks to the contributions of our pharmaceutical industry. It helps keep people out of ever more expensive hospitals. Remember when Medicare was first enacted? Originally, the intent was to cover hospital bills, but the drafters decided that it made no sense not to include doctor services as well. It would have been nice if Bush had been supported in introducing more market friendly reforms into the Medicare system, but the Republican Congress was not anxious to go down that road (other than in safe communications to its base). Compared to other prescription drug proposals, Bush's approach was one of the more sensible. And Bush has been resolute in opposing pharmaceutical price controls. I thank him, since I would like to see an Alzheimer drug down the road for my twilight years.

Increased discretionary spending. Yeah, Bush could have and should have vetoed some of the over the top spending bills of the REPUBLICAN Congress. And while we are on Bush's passivity towards the actions of the Congress controlled by his own party, it also would have been nice if he vetoed the repeal of the first amendment in McCain-Feingold. Yet, even now, the knock on McCain among conservatives is primarily his immigration bill, not the even more reprehensible violation of political free speech. At least Bush was reluctant in affixing his signature to this atrocity whooped up by the erratic Senator McCain and the MSM.

Comprehensive immigration reform. Ah, there you do have me. I was willing to listen to a possible solution of the situation, in that I didn't believe we would be shipping 12 plus million people back to their home countries (well, mainly Mexico). This bill was not a solution, it was total nonsense. It wouldn't run on Broadway because it would require too much of a suspension of disbelief. It required the American people to believe a dozen impossible things before breakfast. They didn't. It went down. I'm sorry Bush pushed it, but I'm not willing to read him out of the Republican Party over it. At least Bush is not a weasel, like Sam Brownback, a supposed conservative who supported the bill and then changed his already cast vote when it was clear the bill was going down.

Cronyism. Does this administration have cronies? Ohmigod, stop the presses! Note that the supposedly stubborn Bush did finally abandon Harriet Miers as a Supreme Court candidate. As for Al Gonzales, the Republicans allowed the Dems and the MSM to gin up a controversy over a total non-issue. Maybe it would be nice if we expected other Republicans, not just Bush, to learn how the political game is played -- and to stop with the "Thank you, sir, may I have another?"

Now let's look at the better features of the Bush Presidency. Early indications are that his two appointments to the Supreme Court will not turn out to be disappointments. I'll take Roberts and Alito over O'Connor and Kennedy any day. Bush's stubbornness has delighted me on taxes. No retreat. Look at the economy we have thanks to Bush's tax and trade policies. Not like his old man who handed the Democrats the 1992 election with his caving on taxes and the subsequent recession. And by making a joke out of his flip flop: "Read my hips!" indeed.

Bush showed real courage in advocating for privatized Social Security accounts. Too bad the Republicans in Congress turned out to be AWOL.

Bush has been a consistent supporter of life, and has been willing to face the intense criticism of the braying multitudes on fetal stem cell research. Too bad conservatives such as Orrin Hatch lack such courage.

And unlike the "blame America first" Democrats, the MSM, and even too many conservatives, Bush understands what we are up against with the Islamofascist nutburgers. Middle East nutcases have been at war with us since 1979. We just chose to close our eyes. I find it amazing that 9/11 hasn't caused us to open those eyes permanently. Maybe, we should ask the media to show the collapse of the Twin Towers and the jumpers and the dead emergency workers every day (not that they ever would). In the last couple of years, I have seen on TV the bombing of Pearl Harbor more often than the events of 9/11. Are we crazy? You may or may not believe that we can bring democracy to the Middle East, but it is better for us to engage the killers there than let them grow ever stronger and bring the fruits of their hatred to our shores. Bush warned us that this was a generational battle to be fought on many fronts over many years. The price we have paid in Iraq and Afghanistan is next to nothing compared to the price we will pay if we validate Bin Laden's belief that we are the "weak horse." I admire Bush for his Churchillian commitment to take on our enemy now. It would be wise for conservatives to support this "stubbornness," and provide some intellectual cover to an expansion of the struggle to Iran--before Iran becomes a nuclear power and destabilizes the entire region. Grow up, conservatives (and libertarians)! We are in a real war with committed adherents of a dangerous ideology. They have been at it for 30 years, while we engaged just 6 years ago. Remember that the Cold War lasted for 50 years. Appeasement is just as dangerous with these characters as with fascists and communists.

Certainly, we should oppose President Bush when he is in error, as we should have opposed the corrupted Republican Congress as it lost its moorings. But let's be more realistic about comparing against politically possible alternatives. Denigrating President Bush only weakens us as we take on our opponents at home and our enemies abroad.
-- Stephen Zierak
Kansas City, Missouri

EXHIBIT A
Re: Conni Vance's letter (under "Staying Alive") in Reader Mail's Case Not Closed:

Today, in the "Letters" section, Connie Vance wrote that "Any one [sic] who is still supporting Bush and the Republican Party shows lack of political acumen, no regard for humankind, and a sad view of the earth and the fullness thereof."

Well, well, well!

I still support President Bush, and I don't want to put an ethnic spin on this, but there are two basic facts here: 1) I am Jewish; 2) Bush is the most pro-Israel U.S. President in history.

I am not calling Ms. Vance an anti-Semite, but perhaps, in her anti-Bush tirade, she should have acknowledged Point 2; admittedly there is no way for her to realize Point 1. A simple sentence or two on her part (assuming it wasn't edited out) supporting Jews and Israel would have added some credibility to her response.

Am I being pathologically politically correct? The Southern Poverty Law Center says that hate groups have risen 40 percent in the U.S. since 2000, far outstripping other social indicators such as crime, drug use, welfare dependency, out-of-wedlock births, unemployment, and so forth.

I certainly hope Ms. Vance's anti-Bush stance is not thinly-disguised anti-Semitism. I trust it is not.
-- Daniel K. Weir
Atlanta, Georgia

Conni Vance's incoherent ramblings reminded me of how deranged some of the American electorate have become and why Islamic imperialist stand a good chance of enslaving the U.S. and Western world.

The people threatening the Constitution are Democrats in this Congress who want to subvert the First Amendment by regulating perceived thoughts (S1105 and HR 1592) and reinstating the "Fairness Doctrine" to stifle criticism of Democrats; hope to endow Islamic terrorists with civil liberties while denying Americans the use of secret ballots during labor union votes; and in a direct assault on Article III of the Constitution force Federal judges who they don't like to recuse themselves without merit from hearing cases. Finally, by their rejection of strict construction of the Constitution they brazenly repudiate the Founding Fathers and seek to turn the Constitution into a worthless piece of parchment for their political benefit. These are real examples of Democrat hubris and not hysterical catchphrase or spin.

If the above are not bad enough Democrats in Congress are using their positions to enrich themselves by steering taxpayer's money into their family businesses (Murtha, Feinstein, Reid and Pelosi) and contributor's pockets.

If President Bush can dismantle Democrat political "ideas" like those above before he leaves office more power to him. As far as political acumen Vance is as blind, deaf and dumb as all those who confuse delusional paranoia with reality. The time has come to put all the Democrat party on Prozac.
-- Michael Tomlinson
Jacksonville, North Carolina

EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE
Re: Eric Peters's Seppuku for the U.S. Auto Industry:

The Government has finally found a way to tax people for breathing. I can see it now -- since all animals intake oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, using this logic, by the act of living all non-plants on this plant are polluting and therefore must be eliminated or better TAXED!!!!

Let's see how this will work. The typical lung capacity of an adult human is x. An adult human will exhale y times in a year. The negative impact of CO2 to mother earth is z -- therefore each adult human must tax a of x * y * z. Now since we all know that certain 'liberal approved countries', China, Iran etc. will be exempt the only fair thing to do will be have all the citizens* of the United States pay this tax for the entire world. (*After all we cannot burden those who are not in the U.S. legally.)
-- Phil Hoey

"We (or at least our leaders in Congress) seem to have an instinct for national economic suicide when it comes to passing laws that cripple our own manufacturing base while giving huge artificial advantages to foreign competitors."

No, it's we. We the people. We elected the Congressional leaders and those they purportedly lead. We allow them all to serve. We watch as they do whatever they please. We have the power to remove them when they don't serve us. We.

By the way, seppuku implies ritualized suicide. What you've described here is hardly that. It's legislated, involuntary death. Big difference.
-- C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia

So Justice Stevens has decided that carbon dioxide is a pollutant. Global warming hysteria has peaked and will be a quaint memory ten years from now. By then we might have hydrogen-powered cars. And if we do, I confidently predict that the greenies will discover that water vapor is a pollutant.
-- D.M. Duggan

SPARKLERS
Re: Lawrence Henry's Fireworks:

With a subheading like "Massachusetts takes them very seriously," I fully expected to see a sarcasm-laden tale told of the adventures had in desperately crossing state lines in order to be able to celebrate Independence with -- if you're lucky -- a handful of sparklers, so intent are the Nannies on ensuring your safety. I was quite relieved to find out otherwise.
-- J. M. Lengyel

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