Reader Mail

Tough Sledding

Too true to be parody? Doug Bandow's Commission to Save Children. Also: Unions' dirty ballots. Inequality doesn't figure. Jackie Mason holds back. Plus much more.

2.26.07

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HEADED DOWNHILL
Re: Doug Bandow's Solving the Safe Sledding Crisis:

This would actually be funny if this kind of nonsense did not go on inside of Washington.
-- Anthony Mastroserio
Skillman, New Jersey

Here in Kanukistan we already have someone agitating for a law demanding that everyone who sleds be forced to wear a helmet. TWO children were killed in Eastern Kanukistan in the past three years -- hence the need for a new law.

Unfortunately a kid who was hot-dogging on a snowboard died this weekend. Even more unfortunately, despite the Marching Mommies' Press Release stating that he would have lived if only he'd been wearing a helmet, the coroner in fact stated that the child died of a brain aneurysm and a helmet would not have done him a bit of good.

But hey, when your country is going down for the third time, why not focus on those things that really matter?
-- Kate Shaw
Behind the Lines in Kanukistan
Toronto, Ontario

Sledding safety? Is this a real problem? Is this an article from The Onion? Why, if anyone would have tried to tell me I could not go sledding down North 4th and G St. hill in Tacoma, Washington without a helmet or other prescribed safety thingies I'd have pelted them with snowballs filled with rocks! I had the fastest Radio Flyer sled on "the hill" taking me from top of G St. to Carr St. (about 11 blocks), the rails of my sled shooting blue sparks like a 4th of July sparkler. No siree bob! But am I really getting the point of Mr. Bandow's article or just blinded by the headline "Solving the Sledding Crisis"? I mutter.
-- Clasina J. Segura
New Iberia, Louisiana

LOVE it, but PLEASE do not give anyone in government any ideas on how to spend my money, they do good enough on their own. The bad part of this is as I am reading it I am thinking, "Yep, this sounds like something government would do." But just wait a few years and if Gore is correct there will be global warming and we can be like Tahiti. What a joke.
-- Elaine Kyle

Very cute, and unfortunately, very believable. I wouldn't put it past the control freaks on either side of the aisle to come up with bigger and "better" ways of getting into every aspect of our lives along these lines. I remember talk about how dangerous sleds are back when I was a kid, and I'm 53.

BTW, any lack of snow due to global warm... err, climate change won't stop the danger. Check out sand tobogganing. No helmets and not even a fluffy parka for protection. The horror!
-- Karl F. Auerbach
Eden, Utah

What? April Fool's Day columns so soon? The stunningly scary thing is that this is so believable!
-- Scott Martin
Madison, Wisconsin

ORGANIZED PLUNDER?
Re: Philip Klein's Union Blues:

Those companies and people weak enough to be intimidated into unionizing deserve what they get. The unions can organize all the want but the end result will be the organ these aphids suck their sustenance from will whither and die.

I may be in a bad mood this morning so Mr. Klein will understand when my first impulse was to itch slap his coworkers who could so easily be cowed into wearing a shirt. If this were me I would put up a mirror to their faces and recite "mirror, mirror in your face who is too weak to defend their dignity in this place".
-- Diamon Sforza
Bartlett, Illinois

As one who spent many years in business negotiating with unions I can say with a high degree of certainty that they are the most corrupt, venal and useless organizations in existence in the 21st century. By and large they exist, not to represent workers, but to support their leaders in their quest for riches and power. If the government ever prosecuted unions using the RICO statute, unions would disappear faster than the Mafia.

It seems to me a poor way for democrats to end the "culture of corruption" by splaying their figurative thighs and inviting the rapist to lie between them. But there are only two groups from whom Democrats get money: unions and Hollywood. They can ill afford to allow either to wither and die. And so, as they always have, democrats place politics before the rights and welfare of the represented.

Just wait until Hitlery Clinton takes off the gloves! Our rights will disappear faster than Arkansas state troopers who blew the whistle on Bubba.
-- Jay Molyneaux
Denver, North Carolina

Philip Klein reports that Dick Cheney has stated that President Bush will exercise his veto power if legislation intended to enhance unions' intimidation power in organizing efforts is passed. I'd find it very heartening if Mr. Bush would take a break from breakfasting with Nancy Pelosi and generally broadcasting his desire to cooperate with the Democratic Congress long enough to assure one and all that such legislation will never (or, ideally, never!) obtain his signature.

With a mere 12 percent of American workers now represented by unions (and some number of those only by force of law), I suspect that many who have resisted organization tend to support right to work principles and even historically Republican/conservative values generally. Many must have voted Republican.

Here's a chance for Mr. Bush to support those "troops" against the House juggernaut that will allow them to be more openly and aggressively intimidated and sniped at by organizers in their homes and workplaces. It will demonstrate to those of us who are disappointed by Mr. Bush's record of collaboration on domestic issues that he has some fight in him for something other than serving Mexico and expanding the floundering effort in Iraq.

I hope to see Mr. Bush take the point on this matter. Those who have supported him deserve his leadership in protecting them from harassment, and some evidence that he has the courage of their convictions, so to speak.
-- Mark Fallert
Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh

KEEPING UP WITH THE KRUGMANS
Re: David Hogberg's Income Inequality Doesn't Measure Up:

Excellent piece. Reminds me of a friend who is so fond of saying, "Liars figure and figures lie." I appreciate the lesson provided by David to help evaluate some of the claims that get batted about so often. Next? A wage disparity male to female refresher course less we forget the facts on those contentions as well.
-- Roger Ross
Tomahawk, Wisconsin

In his charming arithmetic lesson, Mr. Hogberg sidesteps the underlying issues as described by Paul Krugman in the New York Times:

Between 1980 and 2004, real wages in manufacturing fell 1 percent, while the real income of the richest 1 percent -- people with incomes of more than $277,000 in 2004 -- rose 135 percent. (8/18/06)

...even if you exclude capital gains from a rising stock market, in 2004 the real income of the richest 1 percent of Americans surged by almost 12.5 percent. Meanwhile, the average real income of the bottom 99 percent of the population rose only 1.5 percent. In other words, a relative handful of people received most of the benefits of growth....Even people at the 95th percentile of the income distribution -- that is, people richer than 19 out of 20 Americans -- gained only modestly. (7/14/06)


It is true that some of this effect may be due to new workers entering the workforce, but Mr. Hogberg seems to deny that too many Americans are becoming grotesquely rich while most of the rest tread water. Even our sometimes beloved Ben Stein, the amateur economist, agrees with me on this one.
-- Abe Grossman
Pleasantville, New York

David Hogberg shows that some reports on inequality are misleading due to the fact that they do not count people who had no income at all. His article is interesting, but at the end is the real money quote, namely that income inequality is the wrong thing to focus on. I would like to illustrate this through another example which is a situation that arises quite a bit in practice.

Say John makes $10 and Joe, Tom, Bob, Lisa and Suzie make $1. John hires them all for $1 apiece to do work which, in total, makes John $3 better off. Now John makes $13 and the other 5 make $2. So the "inequality" between them has grown, but are the other five really worse off? For Pete's sake, they doubled their income!

Nonetheless, this would be reported as "the gap between the rich and the poor growing."
-- Roy Koczela

REALITY UP FOR GRABS
Re: James Bowman review of The Last Sin Eater:

Appreciate Mr. Bowman's review of The Last Sin Eater and generally look to him for insight into what treacles forth from Hollywood but this review brings to mind a personal experience I remember every time I start to take issue with Hollywood's "realism."

The year was 1984, I was 23 and just beginning to do some modeling locally in S. Florida. My "agent" (the photographer guy who charged me and lots of other wannabes big bucks for a "composite" photo card) actually managed to get me onto the set of a new television crime show and a shot as a walk-on extra. Sure enough, I was picked from the herd that day and made it onto episode three, "Cool Runnin'," of the soon to be smash hit of the eighties, Miami Vice. Towards the end of the episode I play the stiff cop guarding a Jamaican prisoner while Crockett and Tubbs interrogate him. To this day if you called Central Casting and said, "Send me a standard, middle-aged white guy, corporate VP type or senior military man," I'd show up on the set and then, as now, I fit the bill for my less than 15 minutes of fame.

Anyway, being young, brash, full of hope and optimism, not to mention opinions, I proceeded to offer advice to director Michael Mann when I discerned my part not to be consistent with how they really did things down at the Miami area police stations. In short, I felt their portrayal not very "realistic" at all and took issue with this artistic lapse. Mr. Mann paused, turned to me squarely as though addressing a child and very patiently explained, enunciating each word tersely, what has come to guide all of my understanding of Hollywood since, "We are not making a movie about the Miami police. We are making a movie about a 'police squad' in Miami." The look on his face read, "Get it?!" and punctuated his brief exposition. Thankfully, he was gracious enough not to ask how I would know about local police booking and interrogation procedures or to summarily order me off the set and I obviously knew enough to keep my mouth shut from then on.

Since then, Hollywood's grasp on "realism" has only further slipped the bonds of reality into what I term "faux realism." This is the inverted world where we must watch a man at a urinal or sitting on a toilet in the name of "realism" and in the next scene watch as he blows away dozens without suffering a scratch or says or does something completely alien to what a normal person might do (why do they always leave the headlights on after exiting the vehicle even when trying to be stealthy?). And so, to Hollywood, all the unrealities of time, place or condition Mr. Bowman decries are beside the point and it does one little good to even consider them anymore. The point is the message which in this case may be to portray certain American Christians as superstitious and from dubious beginnings. In Hollywood's never-land Appalachia looks like the Rockies, Welshman sound like Scots and 1850s rural Christians are converted to a Christianity we recognize today through pagan rituals overseen by lady pastors. In Hollywood today, actual reality itself is up for grabs and nothing about anything matters, save the message. That is their "realism." To paraphrase the Mann, "they weren't making a movie about the Appalachian Christians of the 1850s, they made a movie about some 'Christians' in Appalachia."
-- Mark Shepler
Jupiter, Florida

GIVE 'EM HELL
Re: Jackie Mason & Raoul Felder Choice Democrats:

Regarding "Choice Democrats," Mason and Felder wrote:

What success do they wish Petraeus? If they think the mission is stupid, why do they need a brilliant man? Why do they want to watch something flop successfully? Why do they need a great general at all -- why do they need the best man, if he will serve no purpose? Why should a man get paid for nothing? If the Democrats approve sending him on a worthless mission, then they are complicit in planning the murder of innocent people. If they had the courage of their convictions, they would have canceled the mission. Why approve Petraeus in the first place?

The simple truth of the matter is that the Democrats wish General Petraeus failure. They are in the processes of inserting themselves into the tactical conduct of the war to ensure that the "surge" can be thwarted and successfully painted as a failure. Once that is accomplished, they will suggest that even our best, Petraeus, couldn't succeed, thus validating their cowardly defeatism as some sort of military inevitability. Certainly, some of us can point out that their micromanagement would ensure a bad outcome, but the democrats are counting on the media and our less thoughtful fellow citizens to discount that inconvenient truth.

While extremely funny, Mason and Felder are actually far too kind to the Democrats. A plurality of the democrat party is making common cause with our enemies to enhance their short-term political prospects. We have millions of witnesses to this act, while only three are required, yet there is no appetite for hauling Pelosi, Murtha, Reid, & Co. up on charges of treason.

God save the Republic!
-- Bud

Messrs. Mason & Felder have touched upon one of the troikas that have contributed to Presidents Bush's "perfect storm" of unpopularity among the base and Americans in general. The Democrats, in their wholesale recklessness towards the war and America, boldly played out daily in plain view, with the help of an echo chamber MSM, demonstrate that they are nothing more than shameless political hacks, or, dare I say the word, traitors.

Previous presidents would have had a field day with these intellectual and moral nitwits, as recently demonstrated by Madame Pelosi's hissy fit over Mr. Cheney's mild but accurate rebuke of her policies. But mild and timid rebukes are the hallmark of this administration. Instead of having Messrs. Bush, Cheney and others slapping these mental midgets upside the head with a daily barrage of high brow patriotic condemnation, we get more of the new tone, or even worse, silence.

Tony Snow has demonstrated, rather eloquently, that even his "tsk-tsk" rebuke of the White House Press Corps, pays big dividends. Some would say if Bush/Cheney were to enter the fray, that it would be unpresidential and unseemly. Maybe, but in the mean time, the Democrats are in full throat. Add to this, the recent observations made by Richard Perle, echoing the thoughts of Bob Tyrrell and others at TAS, that the President is surrounded by people who are either, hostile to his policies, or, even worse, are/were career politicians only interested in protecting their ample derrieres, thus, allowing hostile career bureaucrats to take control of the agenda. Thank you, Messrs. Powell, Tenet and Ashcroft.

What's so frustrating is that this stuff is not rocket science; even we rubes get it. One would think that in a town like Washington, teeming with wannabe von Clausewitz's of political warfare, that somebody would have figured this out by now. Instead, the RNC gives us Mel Martinez. Lee Atwater, you are indeed missed.
-- A. DiPentima

Democrats have no conscience or moral purpose whatsoever? Worse than mere hypocrites? Accessories to the murder of American troops? A group of cowards? Troop demoralizers? Encouragers of our enemies? I certainly hope Messrs. Mason and Felder won't restrain themselves so when next they rebuke the donkeys. Meanwhile, Democrats and their allies might ponder what Mason and Felder really said -- and why.
-- C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia

LONG ODDS
Re: Christopher Orlet's Sulejmen the Mysterious:

Usually, your editorials seem to have a point and the summation of said point appears toward the bottom. Mr. Orlet goes back and forth over the question of whether the Salt Lake City mall guy was a terrorist in any way or not. Fine. What do you come up with? All you can say is, well I'll take my chances on the billion to one odds it won't be me next time, and it is, what did you say "whacked," to carry a firearm on you.

First, Mr. Orlet, don't ever think you're gonna make it in Vegas, as you can't calculate odds too well. If you take all incidents that may (or even may not) involve terrorist shootings in the U.S. you'll come out with, albeit a small number, 2 or 3 orders of magnitude worse odds. I'm counting Sept 11, 2001. Why, you say? Because just a few armed passengers and/or crewmembers would have prevented the entire thing. It's very pathetic that the terrorists could implement a plan that killed 3,000 with 1" blades.

Secondly, if there had been someone nearer by in the mall there in Salt Lake City who could have taken care of this guy with a shot or two, 4 or 5 people would have been spared their lives, don't you agree? There are stories in newspapers everyday about people defending their lives by using or even just brandishing a firearm. Usually, the would-have-been victim is not really that concerned whether the attacker is worried about the infidel/non-infidel status of the victim or just low on cash for some crack.

Maybe you should take on a bit of responsibility for your own safety, Mr. Orlet, or that of loved ones or those around you. If our nation's so-called leaders would give this responsibility back to the people we would be much better off, and if civil rights had not been violated by airport security way before 9/11/20001, the Spectator wouldn't even have any articles about terrorism, Iraq, etc. We'd still be reading about that whole deal with that senator that abducted the girl in California, and maybe we could concentrate more on this whole Anna Nicole/OJ/Brittany/J. Peterman thing. Plus there's the sharks, bedbugs, and whole Global Warming/Cooling/Temperature-Stagnation deal.
-- Jimmy Antley

TO ERR IS TRUMAN
Re: Elaine Kyle's letter (under "Bush Gazing" in Reader Mail's Right Stuff:

Reader Elaine Kyle responds, "The difference between Truman and Bush, is Truman knew how to end a war."

I would gently remind Ms. Kyle that North and South Korea are still technically at war; they signed only a cease fire in 1953. Actual hostilities are always on the verge of breaking out, prevented primarily by the 37,000 strong "trip wire" of American military we keep in-country.

I would add that her inferred comparison between Iraq and Korea is overdrawn. During the Korean War we fought North Korean and Chinese regular soldiers. In Iraq we are fighting terrorists, not troops representing a sovereign nation.
-- Paul DeSisto, Lt Col, USAF
Cedar Grove, New Jersey

Ms. Elaine Kyle makes an interesting statement about the difference between Truman and Bush -- "The difference between Truman and Bush, is Truman knew how to end a war." In the case of Iraq nuking the country is a bit extreme.

Too often we overlook the real difference between Bush and Truman -- Truman sold out China to the communists and Bush refuses to sell out the U.S., West and the Middle East to the terrorists of reactionary Islam. That "honor" will be left to the next Clinton administration that is sure to win thanks to the continued undermining of the Bush administration by myopic conservatives.
-- Michael Tomlinson
Jacksonville, North Carolina

WELL DONNE
Re: R. Andrew Newman's Been There, Donne That:

I just wanted to express my appreciation to you for including and allowing articles touching on, or even mentioning matters of faith! I thoroughly enjoy your magazine!

Thanks,
-- Pastor Dave Dilger

RIGHT YOU ARE
Re: Tom Van Dyke's What Did Conservatives Get Right?:

Just wanted to drop a note to say I enjoyed the writing style and insights in the "Political Hay" column written by Tom Van Dyke last Friday.
-- Connie Deady

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