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State of the Race

Competing without a finish line. Bush leads and trips. Falwell's presence. Rudy laps the field. The closing gun. Plus much more.

5.17.07

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PIT STOP
Re: Ashby M. Foote III's Of Stocks and Stockcars:

Ashby Foote offers an interesting analogy, yet an incomplete analysis in his comparison of "Stocks and Stockcars." Foote uses the comparison of the strongest S&P sectors in the last five years to make the case that the U.S. economy has lost its leadership position in the world economy. That may or may not be the case, but unlike a NASCAR race, the economic race has no finish line. Thus, Foote has made a mistake common in extrapolation analysis whereby the view from today is used to make predictions about the future.

Although Energy, Mining and Raw Materials stocks have fared the best in the past five years, there is no compelling logic to suggest that will be the case for any period into the future. All one has to do is examine the mentality of the retail investor in the late '90s to see how that thinking can not only turn out wrong, but get you in trouble.

When the S&P 500 was measured "over the last XX years" in 1999 for example, it led investors to believe the norm was an average annual rate of return for stocks that was 13, 15 or 17% (depending on the starting point). But what is forgotten is that the "end" point turned out to be a pretty famous market peak. Any "average annual rate of return" figures will be skewed depending on where the particular index is at the "end" point.

Unlike a NASCAR event where participants have a very specific end to their race, the financial markets and world economy will go on as long as we do. Today's "slingshot" often ends up as yesterday's burst bubble.
-- William Stewart

POWER POINTS
Re: Quin Hillyer's Back Bush Now:

Mr. Hillyer, in your effort to rouse the (conservative) troops in support of Bush, half of your points are well taken and half fall flat. I agree with your first point that the war in Iraq a must-win, both on the battle field and in Congress. This is repeated in your fourth point, viewed from the other side of the coin; the GOP wins by standing strong while Democrats lose by continuing to act irresponsibly. But on other points it appears that you expect the leader to be led to glory (possibly against his own wishes) by his supporters, which is curious at best and foolhardy at worst.

You want Bush to get credit for the economy, but to trumpet the short-term success opens the door for sour notes on the long-term overspending that will potentially undo the joy we now feel. Although that day may not come until after 2008, or come at all, it's a real problem for consideration that was completely avoidable by Bush. Likewise, you want to curtail policies that drive up gas prices by asking Congress to suspend bills they already passed. These being the same policies that Bush touted in his SOTU address and that he still supports.

You ask for support on judicial nominations while I'm still woozy from the Harriet Miers fiasco. And Bush has done himself no favor by leaving Gonzales in place when Alberto sounds like a man unaware of his own job responsibilities. Let Bush show that he can make good nominations (judicial or cabinet), then show that he will support them (there are many judicial nominations that have gone nowhere while Bush has been mostly silent), and finally show that he can correct his own mistakes. At that point, he will be leading and I will be fully supporting, not worrying, laughing or crying.

You request support for Bush to make English the official language at the same time that Bush is celebrating the 2006 Republican tail-whipping by working with Democrats to pass some sort of amnesty bill previously rejected by conservatives. I can barely express, in English!, my outrage at such a superficial waste of time on language legislation while our country is still being invaded by foreigners.

As I see it, Bush trips his own supporters as often as he leads them. The real test going into 2008 is not whether we can make the Bush presidency a success, but whether the candidates now fighting for the nomination can prove themselves worthy of election by facing the anger and adversity weighing down the GOP and delivering solid leadership to pull us back on track. The one who can do that, like pulling the sword from the stone, is destined to be king (or at least president for four years).
-- Tom Cook
Raleigh, North Carolina

That's the ticket! Keep pressing it home. Conservatives and Republicans have to stop their moaning and cringing and come up to the firing line with Mr. Bush. We have a great president. He merits all our support.
-- W. G. Wheatley

THE MORAL AUTHORITY
Re: W. James Antle III's Mixed Blessings:

I confess to ambivalence where Reverend Mr. Falwell is concerned.

On the one hand he was a strident voice that told Christians to be proud of their faith and be open in supporting those who furthered our ability to celebrate God's wonders.

On the other, he was a polarizer of people. He was the whites man's Al Sharpton, who like Mr. Sharpton, often spoke without regard to truth or facts. He was, like Mr. Sharpton, intolerant of and bigoted against those who held different beliefs. And, like Mr. Sharpton, he made a rich man's life out of his rantings.

As one who is not a member of the Assembly of God, I always felt that should Mr. Falwell ever have the power to make us, we'd all be members of his sect or we'd be somewhere else. He had no like for diversity, also like Mr. Sharpton.

Having said that Mr. Falwell must have done something right. The atheists published a vitriolic diatribe shortly after his death so he made them mad and that's a good thing. He also furthered the idea that being religious was not something to hide. He did that so well that even as they are passing laws against Christianity, the socialists are making reference to prayer and praying. Even Ms. Pelosi has said "I am a Catholic grandmother." I think the drive by media gave her a break by capitalizing "catholic" because she certainly has no Catholic beliefs in common with the Church of Rome.

I do believe Mr. Falwell will be remembered as the man who brought pride and political power to Christians. He made the so called "Religious Right" something that stirred fear and loathing in the hearts of the Godless Democrats. That's is a worthy epitaph for any man of the cloth.
-- Jay W. Molyneaux
Denver, North Carolina

"That tone -- angry, bombastic, and frequently puritanical -- was easily caricatured as hateful and intolerant of women, homosexuals, and religious minorities. Worse, it was often difficult to square with the Gospel."

I fully agree with W. James Antle II that Rev. Falwell did not properly distinguish law and gospel; but I say this as a Lutheran. Jerry Falwell was a Baptist and could not help reflect long-standing disagreements between Luther and the Anabaptists. It is perfectly in keeping with Baptist theology to confront the person in the pew with his sins and call him to a life of obedience to Christ almost in the same breath. For good or ill, this is an approach is and has been common among Protestants of various types. Too common by my lights but then "take the soup can off the shelf and read the label." In significant matters, I could not disagree with him more; but it pointless to fault Falwell for acting on who is was.

In the political realm, there is one certain thing likely to be all but lost in all the commentaries. Here was a man who took seriously the great promise of America. The voice of a single man can be heard in the forum of American deliberations and change the nation. For all his misgivings, Jerry Falwell loved his country.
-- Michael Wm. Dooley
Indianapolis, Indiana

The media attacks on Falwell over the years should be taken with a grain of salt. Maybe a tablespoon of salt. I saw Falwell speak to a student and professor audience at the University of Pennsylvania in 1982 or 1983. He was in his prime, he had just helped bring Reagan to office, and he was very, very good at dealing with the audience and some very pointed questions. No boneheaded comments, nothing outlandish and a lot of people left with an unexpected respect for him. I don't know much about him as a preacher or a political organizer, but I know what I saw then. It wasn't the wacky caricature that the mainstream media wanted to paint, and still want to paint, whenever a preacher says something conservative.
-- Greg F

Dr. Antle, I presume, the Reverend Falwell, would refer to himself as Dr. Falwell yet he had no doctorate degree from anywhere. He and I assume Dr. Robertson, another fraud, would use calamities as examples of divine judgments against secular society. Whether it was Katrina, do these two theologians know that New Orleans is below sea level, or the incineration of the World Trade Center, which was not because of our surrender to homosexuality!

That's just idiocy. It should remind you of another evangelical Protestant, John Wesley who preached that the cause of earthquakes was sins and that the cure was to believe on the lord, Jesus Christ, an individual who never even contemplated the institutionalization of Christianity!

I'd only like to know what sort of fortune this guy amassed off the backs of many hard-working, God-fearing, and overly credulous people. In our increasing balkanized and decadent society we are ruled by buffoons, taught by idiots, preached at by hypocrites and preyed upon by charlatans.
-- E. Del Colle III

JUDGING GIULIANI & CO.
Re: John Tabin's Rudy Was Way OK:

Obviously, Rudy has John in his back pocket. He is not a true conservative. He is wrong on many social conservative issues. He is more like 50/50 than 80/20. There is no way for a true conservative to vote for him unless Hillary is running and he is our only other choice.
--- Joseph D'Ambrosia

I'll grant you Rudy is way OK on the war. His answers out-distance John McCain's by miles. And, I am not particularly worried about Rudy's stance on abortion. The question of Roe v. Wade pales when compared to bombs exploding next door or terrorists taking over a school in a neighborhood nearby.

What really bothers me about Rudy is the same thing that bothers me about Newt. These two guys fall in and out of love way too easily; and once unzipped they go about destroying lives in every direction. Do we really want another sex scandal in the White House... this time our party?
-- Judy Beumler
Louisville, Kentucky

I was very pleased to hear Rudy Giuliani pounce on Ron Paul's ridiculous statement that America was basically responsible for 9/11.

That paranoid mindset is part and parcel of the extreme anti-Semitic Right, the so-called "Perot-Buchanan" wing of the conservative movement, which in my view threatens to take over the whole ball of wax and re-create the "Third Reich."

The "Perot-Buchanan" conservatives are not really conservatives. They are crypto-Nazis. They deny (or at least question) the Holocaust. They condemn Israel, the Middle East's only true functioning democracy. In their more iconoclastic moments, they might spout the "Blood Libel." They read Eustace Mullins. They admire Ezra Pound's poetry, but not for literary reasons. They condemn the so-called "New World Order," which in their twisted worldview should have that first letter changed from "N" to "J" (you know what I mean). They are often caricatured in the media as trailer-inhabiting, chaw-spitting, down-home "crackers" who love their guns more than their spouses, but that's misleading.

They are smart, savvy -- and dangerous. Their candidate-du-jour is Ron Paul, who last night sounded polished, intellectual, smooth -- and truly frightening.

I just saw Buchanan's latest anti-Bush screed, entitled "The New World Order GOP" (see above). This from a man who called Hitler "an individual of great courage." We all know why Buchanan hates President Bush -- it's because Bush is the most pro-Israel President since Harry Truman. Therefore, Buchanan's Bush-hatred is just one more manifestation of his overt anti-Semitism. A clever one, but evil nonetheless. Buchanan isn't running, but his surrogate, Ron Paul, is. And I'm eternally grateful that Rudy smacked him down last night. You go, Rudy!
-- Daniel K. Weir
Atlanta, Georgia

In the perfect media storm over the latest supposedly Republican debate, one little and I am sure unintentionally hilarious moment was Mitt's Herculean fence straddling. Romney's response to a question about his outlawing semi auto rifles in his home state of Massachusetts. Says he basically, "I support the 2nd Amendment, but I outlawed assault rifles." The total pandering to both sides and soul deep ignorance and deception involved in this answer from a showboating "NRA member" (albeit just joined this year) shows just what kind of "Republican" we are dealing with. Not to mention his collapsing "Universal Health Care" in his home state being paid for by all tax payers in the US. The top two "Republican" candidates, Mitt and Rudy are far left Northeastern control your lives because we know better Liberals. At least Rudy is no longer trying to hide. Mitt still is. For us in the base, conservatives, there is no one to vote affirmatively for, yet. I would never vote for the Demcong candidate because to do so is an affirmative vote for tyranny. Unfortunately I see the same result in an incremental fashion in voting for any of the current crop of "Republicans." Even behind enemy lines in Seattle.
-- Craig Sarver
Seattle, Washington

I agree, Rudy was "way OK," but he can and must do better. Despite all his smarts, he still hasn't knocked the abortion issue out of the park. Apparently, like our beloved Yankees, Rudy's in a bit of a slump. Some free advise, Rudy; all you need to do is conjoin two thoughts you have said separately into one paragraph. It goes like this: "While I'm pro-choice, I'm also an originalist when it comes to the Constitution. Roe v. Wade is a Constitutional abomination, it's bad law. I will appoint originalist judges to the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. Abortion should be left up to the people and the individual states to decide, not nine judges." That's honest and fair. Conservatives should be satisfied with that answer.

McCain was classic. When challenged, his anger became palpable and he dug his heels in even deeper. His defense of McCain-Feingold was pitiful. It's about political free speech, the bulwark of our freedoms protected by the Constitution, not whether there's too much money in politics. As if McCain-Feingold has solved that problem. Yea, right. As I've said previously, this man is temperamentally unfit to be president; he is an insufferable egoist, the poster-child of the entrenched Washington ruling elite The rest of the field was impressive. Each one, far superior than any Democrat, with their cogent, rationale arguments. Except Ron Paul. This Pat Buchanan isolationist acolyte, is so far around the bend, he's ended up with the MoveOn crowd. This guy's loony leftist theories belong in the Democrat's debate. He needs to be traded for a player to be named later.
-- A. DiPentima

Ron Paul has a nancy-boy voice, big ears, and the Generation Whine hippie line of patter that makes anyone over the age of 40 instantly want to slap him silly. After seeing his performance last night, even before he started the "9/11 Is All Our Fault" tap dance, I can't imagine how anybody with an ounce of intelligence could vote for him for Student Council President, much less President of the Free World.

Mr. Paul, go back to your blog and leave the grownups to manage the world.
-- Kate Shaw

A POLITE SOCIETY
Re: David Hogberg's Armed With Knowledge:

Since my wife sings in the church choir and hears the same sermon repeated 3 times each Sunday, I've gained a better appreciation of the phrase "preaching to the choir." David Hogberg's suggestions for arming the public, especially teachers, are logical and timely. But, it's a redundant argument to firearm owners and completely ineffective with the gun control folks.

In recent years, anger management classes are a response and an "official" recognition that a segment of the population can't control certain emotions, particularly anger. What Hogberg might have suggested are fear management classes and an official recognition that the gun control folks have an inordinate fear of firearms stemming from their irrational fear of violence. As with unreasonable anger as a response to certain social situations, violence anxieties give rise to the use of phrases like "random violence."

The New York Times' target readers on the upper West Side are already convinced there is too much random violence in our society and find nothing illogical in employing the phrase "random violence." For them, random violence resonates on two levels; the lack of premeditated selection of victims, but also that violence is endemic throughout our society and they might be its next victim. It's trendy and politically correct to support gun control and no one should think less of you if you are frightened of violence.

Firearm owners already "get" the message; the individual has to be prepared to deal with violence. But, the gun control folks aren't going to suddenly slap their foreheads and say: "Why didn't I see that before, we should arm the teachers, it's so logical." The necessary first step is fear management classes, but proceeded by the recognition that an irrational fear of violence is an emotional problem, not a logically derived position. Without fear management and control techniques, teachers and students who become physically ill at the thought their colleagues or their teachers might be armed and prepared to inflict violence won't support a policy of citizen self-defense, regardless of how logically it is explained.
-- Patrick Skurka
San Ramon, California

In his zeal to exorcise the demon nerd of Blacksburg , David Hogberg commends arming all who matriculate. Considering what happened the last time a Princeton president ran into a Columbia graduate in Wehawken, New Jersey, this may not be such a good idea. Tempers run high when faculty meeting stakes grow low-- who unclad in kevlar would wish to intervene in a debate between a certain Harvard Law professor and De Paul university's doyen of political philosophy?

It would be unsporting to object to arming undergraduates at establishments such as Wellesley or Smith College, as not even the failure of the Equal Rights Amendment has provoked them to mass murder, but coeducational institutions of higher learning may wish to seek alternatives. One worth commending is the late naval historian, Samuel Eliot Morrison, who made it a point to ride to his lecture venues.

Had students and faculty of all degrees at Blacksburg conducted their class exercises on horseback, they might have galloped out of range or ridden down their assailant at will.
-- Russell Seitz
Cambridge, Massachusetts

CLOSING THE CAFETERIA
Re: Lisa Fabrizio's Paternal Correction:

I recall addressing this point before, possibly when John Kerry asserted his Catholicism as a presidential candidate in '04. Articles such as this one make one wonder why politicians such as Letitia Quezada feel that they can alter the Church and make of it what they will. If Senora Quezada, Joseph Biden, Rudy Giuliani, and others of their stripe cannot accept the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church, they are free to leave it for a more accommodating group, or to begin their own sect.

When someone such as Senora Quezada states that her "conscience is clean," she is, in reality stating that she has no conscience. In addition, she is revoking the entire authority of the hierarchy of the Church, and substituting her own feelings.

Over many years, centuries even, encyclicals from the Popes have ex-cathedra laid out the articles of faith for right members of the Mystical Body of Christ. The monumental ego that makes a politician not just thumb his or her nose at these documents in order to be elected, but think that after trashing the Faith, he or she can go blithely on, presenting to the world the charade of Catholicism is a thing of great ugliness.

In short, Catholics practice Catholicism. Non-catholics do not.
-- Joseph Baum
Garrettsville, Ohio

IT'S IN THE CREEDS
Re: Blake Salisbury's letter (under "Romney Spot On") in Reader Mail's Cracking the Nutty Story:

That Romney is a Mormon doesn't bother me. As I see it, we need all conservatives of all kinds to oppose a world full of those hostile to family, country and our Lord.

On the other hand, in the realm of faith, by seeking to defend Mormonism against those who say it isn't Christian, Mormons usually end up saying something that is disturbing. Blake Salisbury toward the end of his letter gives a good summation of the gospel message and then brings it all in doubt by rejecting what he calls the "belief creeds" of the Church. This is hardly reassuring.

By rejecting the three ecumenical creeds (Apostles, Nicene, and Athanasian), Mormonism separates itself from the historic universal faith. The creeds are not trivial matters. They are the definitive, clear faith witnesses of Trinity and the incarnation of Christ. They arose in response to real and dangerous heresies which even to this day seek to change the message of the gospel. You can't dismiss the creeds without dismissing their content. Thus when any denomination rejects the creeds, it places itself under suspicion and most likely has detached itself from the universal Church. Mr. Salisbury is perfectly entitled to his belief. But he has to acknowledge that others are also perfectly entitled to their conviction that no properly taught person can be a Christian without subscribing to the creeds. Like most of us who have had our faith disparaged during theological disputes, Mr. Salisbury will just have to get over it.
-- Michael Wm. Dooley
Indianapolis, Indiana

BEST FOR LAST
Re: The Washington Prowler's Here Royal Fairness:

No mention of Michael Savage and the Savage Nation...? That's odd. More folks turn into his radio show more often then Rush and all the others mentioned. His listenership is over 10M strong and growing. The fact that he is not even mentioned leads me to believe that they (Pelosi and camp) are more afraid of the Savage Nation than anyone else...
-- Steve Adler

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