Reader Mail

Doubters and Skeptics

Bush and the troglodytes. Bishop Loverde and the pornographers. Jesus and history. Camaro and gas mileage. Iraq and intelligence. Plus much more.

6.14.07

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IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES
Re: Quin Hillyer's Supreme Dream:

"... is a battle Bush, and conservatives, can win."
What? Who?

Quin, you gotta get outside the Beltway. There aren't three conservatives in the country that would ever again stand with George W. Bush. Bush has betrayed those who elected him too often. A good economy doesn't make up for his pansy-ass war plan or his comprehensive plan to destroy the GOP and America.

I would personally stand with the Democrats if they wanted to impeach Bush (for anything) -- but why should they? He's given them everything they could possible hope for. He's even made the Carter and Clinton presidencies look respectable.
-- Jack Hughes
Chicago, Illinois

Mr. Hillyer, great idea. Alice Batchelder would be a wonderful nominee. But the big question is really more about President Bush. Would he be able to articulate the reasons she is such a good choice?

Plus, you must remember the President doesn't much like conservatives right now. He views us as a bunch of loud, knuckle-dragging troglodytes.
-- Judy Beumler
Louisville, Kentucky

Quin Hillyer replies:
In response to Ms. Beumler, the good news is that a real troglodyte wouldn't be able to spell "troglodyte," so it's obvious that if that's the way Bush sees people like the good Ms. Beumler, he's dead wrong! I would note, however, that in the past I myself have come to the defense of cave dwellers. Seriously, I do think it is absurd that the president and his allies continue to resort to name-calling against the people who have supported him for so long on so many other issues."

HOW DO WE KNOW?
Re: Lisa Fabrizio's History's Greatest Liar:

Without substantive comment on the content, I wish to say that this may be the only forum in this country where and article like this one could be found. There are articles aplenty in other publications, but usually dedicated to secularism or "proving" why Christians are idiots.

This is a view of a book written by a religious scholar with an abiding belief and faith in Christ with no other axe to grind. I commend Ms. Fabrizio's courage for writing it and the Spectator's for printing it.
-- Jay W. Molyneaux
Denver, North Carolina

Like most who feel compelled to look on the Bible as either completely accurate historical document or meaningless fiction, Lisa Fabrizio backs herself and the Bible into a corner. Despite the fact that the oldest of the synoptic gospels, Mark, was written at least a generation after the death of Jesus and the stories of Jesus relied on oral tradition, she leaves no room for the possibility that the later loosely pieced together writings by multiple authors which have undergone countless transcriptions, interpretations and translations could be anything other than precise reporting of historical events of the life of the son of God. After reading the New Testament, the only conclusion one can come to is that Jesus was a moral philosopher and to believe in his past existence does not take a great leap of faith. To assume that the only conclusion a thinking person could come to as Ms. Fabrizio appears to, either that he was God or a pathologic liar, is myopic.
-- John Sorboro

Lisa Fabrizio replies:
Given the constrictions of space, let me say this: the gist of Pope Benedict's book -- indeed, of Christian belief for some 2,000 years -- is precisely that, to understand who Jesus was, one cannot only read the New Testament; one must look for his coming predicted in the Old as well. And it is not his "past existence" which is at issue, but his present and eternal one.

As far as his "moral" philosophy, the pope writes: "Unless there had been something extraordinary in what happened, unless the person and the words of Jesus radically surpassed the hopes and expectations of the time, there is no way to explain why he was crucified or why he made such an impact." Excluding some early Gnostics, not many dispute that Jesus was crucified, not only for political reasons, but because he claimed to be God, a crime punishable by death under Jewish law.

And as regards my myopia in stating that Jesus was either who he constantly claimed to be, or a prolific and/or pathological (as in related or resulting from disease) liar, this is indeed a tough statement, but nonetheless a true one. It may be myopic to believe him, but billions have and will continue to do so.

FEELING THE HEAT-
Re: G. Tracy Mehan, III's An Industry of Mutual Degradation:

I'm sure Mr. Mehan and Bishop Loverde will take a lot of heat from those holding an absolutist view of personal freedom because they dared to expose the harm caused by the virtually unrestricted dissemination of pornography. For decades we have been told that this form of "entertainment" is not only benign but actually beneficial in some instances to those who partake of it. After all they say, only puritanical clods, who desire to take away everyone's fun, believe there is anything wrong with looking at pictures of naked co-eds. But, as these men point out, the reality of this vice is quite different from the one our libertarian friends portray.

When law enforcement officers search the homes of sexual predators they usually uncover a huge cache of pornographic material. Online sting operations like MSNBC's To Catch a Predator, reveal that many of the men caught soliciting sex from underage children entice them with graphic sexual images, some with provocative pictures of their own genitalia. The fact that the recidivism rate for people who commit crimes fed by their addiction to pornography is extremely high should temper any reservations we might have about reconsidering our permissive attitude toward this blight on the human landscape.

Obviously, there is a market for this stuff because the number of websites peddling smut on the Internet continues to grow at an exponential rate. But there used to be a time not that long ago when our culture differentiated between what was profitable or popular and what was acceptable. One wonders how anyone not completely brain-dead can assert with confidence that no connection to consumption of this vile material and criminal activity exists when the evidence to the contrary is all around us. How is it that a purveyor of porn can held up by some as a crusader for free speech? Why does this cesspool of human depravity continue to be touted as a harmless diversion? How many ruined lives will it take before we awaken from our moral stupor and decide to revise our naive assumptions about this plague?
-- Rick Arand
Lee's Summit, Missouri

Bishop Paul S. Loverde writes well on a difficult subject for libertarians: adult erotica (i.e. pornography). As good citizens, we need be guardians of morality, but we must balance this against our vigilance against government meddling. Libertarians are, by their philosophy, closer to amoral (i.e. morally neutral) than we are too evangelical. As a loyal reader of AmSpec, I am accustomed to reading occasional articles that take on religious overtones, but most often these articles are within libertarian doctrine. "An Industry of Mutual Degradation" hews very close to a sermon, and one that is not philosophically keeping with AmSpec.

If the good Bishop wishes never to look upon erotica, I wish him well. Further, if he objected to posting of nudity or erotica in public spaces, I would hoist a banner and march with him proudly, but if he wishes to deny enjoyment of this certain form of entertainment, he goes too far. Is erotica a vice? From many a religious and moral perspective, it is. But so is the use of alcohol or drugs. But if one wishes to indulge a vice, with moderation, little damage is done to anyone. On the reverse, complete prohibition violates human will (ye shall not yield to temptation for all temptation has been removed) and falls into censorship. The difference between the bishop's position and the Taliban is one of degree not kind.
-- Ira M. Kessel

Wow! Two great, powerful and intertwined pieces, "An Industry of Mutual Degradation" and "History's Greatest Liar." I "almost" had to double-check what site I was on.

Once again, Catholic teachings put out for everyone to read, and heed. I guess despite all the Liberal Theology and Leftist Non-practicing/Cafeteria Catholics, there is much wisdom and truth.

There have always been moral absolutes. We were created with "free wills," we can choose our course and direction in this life. I pray that the Lord is merciful, since so many have been led astray and deluded.
-- Sandra Dent

Excellent article. But what can we do. This multi-billion dollar industry seems to have all the cards. We should still try to push in order to help people.

Thanks,
-- Joseph D'Ambrosia

BROTHER PAT
Re: Bernard Chapin's Hillary's Will to Power:

Bay Buchanan's interview was interesting considering her brother Pat has repudiated Reagan's legacy and Reaganomics by becoming his antithesis in anti-Israel diatribes, willingness to appease Islamic terrorism, advocating closed borders, protectionist and pro-union economic schemes and becoming the MSM's creature. Even worse Pat has fawningly described Mrs. Bill Clinton as "Reaganesque." It would have been interesting to read her response to Pat's total abandonment of Reagan's conservative philosophy.
-- Michael Tomlinson
Jacksonville, North Carolina

HINDERED BY HINDSIGHT
Re: Ralph R. Reiland's Intelligence Failure:

Ralph Reiland attempts to portray the current chaos in Iraq as inevitable because it so closely matches what intelligence reports predicted, but it wasn't inevitable. The U.S. chose to negotiate and appease Sunnis who actively supported Al Qaeda in hopes of seducing them into the political process. This pampering of the Sunni leadership allowed Al Qaeda to implement its plan to stir up civil strife by murdering innocent Shia civilians. Now the U.S. blames the Shia for defending themselves. Had the U.S. arrested and killed the Sunni clerics, politicians and tribal leaders who aided Al Qaeda in the beginning, Iraq would be a peaceful country today.

In fact, the current stalemate in the Iraqi government is the fault of U.S. policy. The U.S. wanted a "unity government" with all religious factions represented, instead of a republic with the majority assuming control. By insisting on a "unity government" (what an oxymoron!), the Sunni never had to appeal to voters because they knew they would get a proportion of the power in government regardless of how many people they murdered. Instead, had the U.S. insisted on the rule of the majority, the Sunnis would have been forced to seek some Shia votes in order to gain political power.

There was nothing inevitable about the current situation in Iraq. The only thing inevitable was that U.S. policy would be as stupid and destructive as it has been.
-- Roger D. McKinney
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

The problem isn't that America invaded Iraq but they made a hopeless mess of a task that could have turned out quite well. America has had two chances in Iraq and they missed both of them by a mile -- losing one war is bad enough, but losing two really is a sign of rank incompetence. The great military commanders that America has had in the past; George C. Marshall and Dwight Eisenhower and George S. Patton must surely be groaning in their graves at the humiliation of it.

The fact of the matter is that America had a chance to win a crushing victory in 1991 with little cost -- the troops might have been in Baghdad within 48 hours, with nothing to stop them but the risk of uncooperative traffic lights and the faint hearts of their commanders. The Iraqis had no idea where the American troops were until they came to the ceasefire negotiations and saw the positions on American maps. No war fighting force in history has ever had a better opportunity to win a crushing victory than America had in 1991, but the opportunity was thrown away with complete disregard of the possibilities for the future. Sure, it would have been hard to rebuild Iraq, but no harder than rebuilding Germany and Japan after World War 2, which turned out quite well. Those who were frightened of the risks in Iraq were small men who in way can be compared with the giants who preceded them in World War 2.

All the failures of nerve and imagination that were apparent in the first Gulf War were repeated endlessly in the second, with an obviously inadequate force with no clear objectives, frightened of taking risks, ignoring dangers that should well have been anticipated, bound hand and foot by self imposed restrictions that benefited nobody but the enemy and looking to bolt at the first opportunity. The tragedy is not that America invaded Iraq but they tried to do so in an utterly ridiculous manner. Wars in history have never been won the way that America has tried to fight in Iraq and it is horrifying that so many people in positions of responsibility never understood this and still don't. No wonder Vladimir Putin is piling on the cold war rhetoric -- he has no reason to fear a bunch of third-rate dilettantes who never learn anything. The Iraqi mess is war by Bozo the clown, but that is not at all what the CIA warned against. They missed a golden opportunity themselves -- again.
-- Christopher Holland
Canberra, Australia

I do not know who Mr. Reiland is, but is article is mindless. Anyone can cite whatever they want to support the thesis that the U.S. invasion of Iraq has not gone well. But the evidence is as tall as the WTC towers once were that Saddam was sponsoring terrorism around the world, was supporting al Qaeda in Iraq, was developing and even had some WMD's and, once he got around the UN sanctions (which was coming soon given the UN reliance on Blix and ElBaradei) the whole level of terrorism in the world would increase dramatically. So, he was not directly involved in the 9/11 attacks -- big deal -- he did not have to be directly involved. He could let Osama do it and bear the brunt of the retaliation -- he got the best of both worlds; or so he thought.

Besides the evidence (invasion of Kuwait, overt support of Palestinian suicide bombers, support of terrorists inside Iraq -- Abu Nidal of Achille Lauro infamy-- WMD test labs, as per Duelfer report, not the David Kay preliminary whitewash), nuclear research and development, wanton killings of thousands of his citizens per year, attempt on the life of a USA President) there is the fact that we were attacked on September 11 by a group that had declared war on us many years earlier and was and is still intent on attacking us some more.

Viewed (in GWB's words) in the prism of the 9/11 attacks, Saddam Hussein had to be corralled. And, after giving him much time to do so and his refusing to abide by UN resolutions, he was deposed. Given the amount of resources that he would have been able to devote to terrorism if we had not deposed him in March, 2003, and the progress that Iran has been able to make, imagine how much he would have accomplished without our intervention.

All the arguments in the world that revolve around "this report or that report" carry no weight at all when put up against the actual track record of killing by al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein and their avowed intent on further hurting the USA and the whole of Western Civilization.
-- Tom Abella

No matter what had happened after our invasion of Iraq, it would be easy enough to find a few people and orgs with opinions that would look prescient in hindsight. It's disingenuous of the author and poor AS editing to waste our time with this kind of thing.

The author's assertion that only six senators "personally read the report" is a similarly valueless piece of information since it's the purpose of congressional staff people to read such things and to present a summary to their boss.

The author's argument seems to be that almost no one in our government was paying any attention to the facts of the crucially important decision to dethrone Saddam. Nonsense.
-- Jim Cady
Arizona

Reiland is right to be appalled that only six senators bothered to read a 90-page National Intelligence Estimate about the perils of invading Iraq before voting to authorize Bush to do it. But he's wrong in suggesting that the State Department and CIA were especially wise in seeing the dangers and that Bush just ignored them.

Anyone (including even myself) who had simply followed events in the Middle East over the last thirty years could foresee dangers both in overthrowing Saddam and in not doing so. I couldn't put it any better than James Bowman did in his column comparing Carter and Gore to Bush ("Smart Enough to Be Cretins"): "Any fool can be right in foreseeing danger. It takes a rarer quality to lead when, as now, danger is unavoidable whatever we do."
-- D.M. Duggan

OUTMUSCLED
Re: Eric Peters's 2008 Camaro: Dead on Arrival? and Peter Skurkiss's letter (under "Muscle Cars") in Reader Mail's Child's Play:

Eric Peters hits a lot of good points about these muscle cars. And he's correct they aren't going to sell many of these to younger drivers.

Along with the upkeep they probably can't also afford it as a second car for long trips and weekends while driving daily in a more efficient vehicle.

I never understand why American car companies get rid of the good vehicles and try to market ones people don't want. Are they in the automobile manufacturing business or marketing? I think they forgot.

We bought a Pontiac Sunbird in 1987. It was just below mid-sized but not compact. Ran well, got good mileage and didn't look bad. They phased it out.

So we switched and bought a 1993 Grand Am and an older used car for me to drive. We kept it for eleven years and traded it in on her Silverado toy. Great car, low maintenance, good gas mileage. They phased it out for the ugly G6.

It's no wonder people buy Altima's and Camry's.
-- Greg Barnard
Franklin, Tennessee
P.S. Have my eye on the Chrysler Crossfire

You call Eric Peters a sports car writer ? He bemoaned the price of gasoline, berated Chevy's in general and for what I have read knows nothing about cars. And is probably not even old enough to remember what a real 426 Hemi was.

He talked about the new Camaro, mentioned the Pontiac GTO, but said nothing about what this supposed Muscle Car is suppose to have. Like for instance...What kind of an Engine do they put into these new Z-28's., rear-end gearing, transmission (i.e., Muncie Rock Crusher), suspension, cornering, quarter mile times. Used to be part of the advertising when one looked for a Muscle car.

With the New Government, overly restrictive regulations, an Auto manufacturer would be hard pressed to achieve anything close to a modern Muscle car not even consider one from the 60's or early 70's. Today the compression ratios are so low you can just about start it by hand.

The Government has made the Auto makers make more efficient engines like the garbage in today's engines, long gone are the days of the 'Boss 302', the 427's that could develop some real horsepower, or even the old 327 FI.

So when you talk about muscle cars today, please try to put it in context of today, like the new emasculated male of today this is the type of automobile we get from Detroit.

Unimpressed,
-- Mark Gray

In his article Mr. Peters states "Automotive journalists, bloggers and others have expressed great enthusiasm for the revived Camaro sports couple." This statement is the only factual portion of this article I could find, well maybe not, because I have no idea what a "sports couple" is.

I found Mr. Peters work to be extremely biased against automotive enthusiasts and against performance cars in general. His assessment of the car's impracticality and inefficiency are very much off base. The numbers given in the article for the upcoming vehicle's fuel consumption is grossly exaggerated, as is the estimation of monthly fuel costs. Mr. Peters estimates that the monthly fuel cost of a new Camaro would be approximately $300.00. By my calculations, a car driven 1250 miles per month would only be getting about 12.5 miles per gallon to produce these results. Four [sic] your information, the new Camaro, even in V8 form, will most likely achieve mileage in the mid to high twenties. This would result in fuel expenditures equaling roughly one half of Mr. Peter's estimation (if not less). Even the now-antiquated 4th generation Camaro Z28 (V8 included) was commonly known for fuel economy in the 25-mpg range. Mr. Peter's also states that "topping off the 20-something gallon tank of a V-8 muscle car will run you about $70." Never in its 35-year production history has the Camaro had a gas tank even approaching 20 gallons in capacity, and there is certainly no reason it will in 2008.

In short, Eric Peters needs to do better research, or stop writing about the auto industry entirely. Biased articles like his only accomplish two things: misinforming those trying to make educated decisions and infuriating enthusiasts such as myself.

Thank you for your time,
-- Gordon G. Young
Auto Enthusiast
Houston, Texas

In response to Mr. Peters's article, Mr. Peter Skurkiss has asked the very much on point question "Whatever happened to the Mercury Marauder?" In short, it became a further argument against the resurrection of the Camaro.

I can't imagine that the suits at GM are unaware of Ford's miserably failed attempt to bring back the Marauder in '03 and '04. A beast of a car, with a 300 hp motor, true dual and tuned exhaust, big rear tires, performance suspension, higher ratio rear end, iconic mag wheels, and a respectable stock time in the quarter mile given its heft (under 15 seconds on a cool day), this nice looking, new age muscle ride died an unremarked death after a mere 11,000 of them were made.

As a '60s/'70s American muscle car lover, Detroit's periodic, frustrated attempts to revive that era make for a truly melancholy story. The only silver lining here would seem to be the potential collectors' market that it will spawn, a big reason why the odometer on the '03 Marauder in my driveway reads but 4.7K miles!!
-- Francis M. Hannon, Jr.
Melrose, Massachusetts

REAL TREACHERY
Re: Jeff Emanuel's Real Torture:

"We really are in such great denial about the enemy that we are facing in the global war on terror that we have little, if any, hope of prevailing." True.

But we isn't inclusive of all of us. However, we regrettably includes sufficient numbers of the citizenry and the mainstream media who feed those sufficient numbers. And the sum of those deniers, distracters and misinformers and their actions, sometimes seditious but almost always dim-witted and self-serving, is apparently enough to continue to embolden themselves and the terrorists.

To embolden is one thing, though. Causing the death of our soldiers and Iraqi citizens, as well as weakening our country, is another. The deniers, distracters and misinformers would need consciences and something other than naïve, navel-gazing views of the world to understand that -- that and the blood on their hands.

The rest of us had better understand and then defeat the enemy we face domestically called ignorance and stupidity -- and, yes, treachery.
-- C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia

HERE'S THE DRILL
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Oil Is Not Well and Paul M. DeSisto's (under "Drill and Diversify") letter in Reader Mail's Child's Play:

I thought Mr. Tyrrell and Spectator readers might be interested in this article on new processes for oil shale in the Rockies.

My uncle Phil is an engineer in the oil business in Texas, and he e-mailed this article to me which was run recently in the Houston Chronicle. Some promising and hopeful signs for the U.S. to be rolling in oil -- if (a big if) we can get past the environmentalists.

The article talks about the amount of oil that is locked up in the limestone. By comparison with OPEC it is gargantuan in its overall size. The estimated volume is 1.5 Trillion barrels compared to 911 billion barrels for OPEC.

You can find the article here:
-- Deborah Durkee
Marietta, Georgia

Mr. DeSisto (from Cedar Grove, remembered well for dancing to Tex Beneke and other name bands at Frank Daily's "Meadowbrook") briefly mentioned ANWR, and in the process, nailed what's so wrong with today's dubious events. Drill there, and in those untapped Gulf of Mexico sites -- but Dubya won't and the Republicans are too wimpy to push what's right, and so needed.

Then, our gutless, Politically Correct and inept inhabitant of the White House continues to push the Amnesty fiasco along with those other opportunists, but never mentions the "other" cost, ignored, so far: The huge increase in the bureaucracy to count beans and shuffle the paperwork for the millions more who'd invade our previously wonderful country.

Think of it, so far nobody's even discussed the many thousands of new Government Employees who will cost many Billions, to sign-up, process, clear and "welcome" (with the customary efficiency shown by the DMV or so many postal workers) -- the buildings they'd "work" from, the new computers they'd require (flat screens too, of course) acquired with the usual bureaucratic disregard for purchasing prowess -- hundreds of thousands signing up with the government employees' union(s)...

Then, if Anchor Babies/Families aren't eliminated, along with Entitlements for those millions already here who'd need the background investigation, all that paperwork, those "secure" IDs (Ha -- give the crooks a week and they'll make 'em very insecure), more paperwork, new tax forms...

No one ('cept me, apparently) has even noticed the bureaucratic costs associated with such futility -- the further fleecing of we taxpayers, as Senators Graham, Kyl, McCain, Specter, and their so-called "leader" rub shoulders with Teddy Kennedy, Leahy, Reid, Durban, et al.

My God, can you count that high?
-- Geoff Brandt

LEAVE EMPLOYERS BE
Re: Jackie Mason & Raoul Felder's Immigration: A Simple Solution:

I know its been around for a while, but where did we get the idea that it is the employer's responsibility to enforce immigration laws. We already collect taxes for the government. How about we have the government do its job and enforce the borders and let employers do their job and keep America productive. Frankly I'm surprised that a conservative publication is so ready to punish business. Have the unions gotten through to you? Perhaps it would be better if illegals came here and didn't get a job.
-- Les Rensink
Freeman, South Dakota

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