Reader Mail

Fool Me Once

Spielberg in Cuba. Also: Dogs in charge. Advantaged grammar. Advanced Krugmanomics. Growing Mass reactions. Plus much more.

1.18.07

Send to Kindle

EIGHT HOUR SHIFT
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s The Fool Fidel:

In "The Fool Fidel" R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. writes, "After Steven Spielberg dined with him in 2002 Spielberg enthused that he had just spent 'the eight most important hours of my life.'"

In fact, Spielberg never said that, or anything like that. I organized Spielberg's trip to Cuba. The purpose was to screen 8 of his films for the Cuban public, and the trip was authorized by the U.S. government. He never said that, or anything else about Fidel Castro, during the trip or after. AP and Reuters in Cuba never quoted him as saying that. A version of the quote originated in a state-owned Cuban newspaper -- consider the source.
-- Stephen Rivers

"Fidel and "his entourage" rejected the conventional medical approach to his intestinal disorder."

The fool, indeed. Fidel, as a Cuban citizen, enjoys the highest standard of medical care in the world, yet he rejects the advice of his own experts!

There has to be another explanation. Perhaps Fidel is illiterate, and could not read the medical consent forms. After all, Fidel's youth pre-dated his own educationist reforms, which wiped out illiteracy on the island paradise.

Perhaps the European specialists that were consulted botched the treatment. The medical arts, as practiced in Europe, must certainly be inferior to the state of the art as achieved on the island paradise.

Or maybe Fidel signed powers of attorney over to his brother, whatshisname, Macbeth?
-- Dan Martin
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

No gulag exists quite like the one where Fidel will go to join his comrades. In the blink of an eye, his entire lifetime will be revealed as a fool's errand. Surely he'll run into Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Saddam, Saddam's idiot sons, and a host of vile characters throughout history. Castro too will cry out for mercy, but no ear shall hear him outside the place of anguish. Perhaps, like the rich man from Luke 16, Fidel will pray for his family, pray they be warned of the realm of the damned.

Suicide bombers thinking at first the flames were from the twin towers. Instant fear and loathing as another suicide victim tried desperately to recall the bullet that delivered him into perdition. Weep not for them, the snide, the smug, or for the a-theist like Fidel. And weep not for the Hollywood fools who worship his image. There'll be enough weeping and gnashing of teeth among themselves when they join their hero in eternity.
-- Robert McClain
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

JUST SAY SIT
Re: Michael Fumento's Obesity Goes to the Dogs:

In spirit, I appreciate Michael Fumento's (howl of?) protest against anti-obesity drugs for dogs. May I suggest, however, that he exaggerates the ease of refusing man's best friend? For instance, I have no difficulty restraining my appetite. But it would take a stonier soul than mine to look into the pleading eyes of a sweet-tempered Shetland sheepdog and just say, "No." It seems to me that all would-be dog owners fancy themselves to be dictators of discipline -- firm and irrevocable is our doom -- only to find that, in the end, they are maddeningly captive to canine charms. Factoring in that man is to a great extent responsible for breeding dogs to correspond with those features we find most endearing, the fault is doubly ours. All of which is to say that I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Fumento's message of self-discipline. Now, if you'll excuse me, there's a certain someone that demands gustatory satisfaction.
-- Jacob Laksin

One of my pet peeves is why people who work all day would buy a large dog in the first place, leaving it cooped up all day either in a crate or small living quarters. Even worse is cruelly leaving the dog chained up outdoors, defenseless against predators that invade the yard. These dogs easily become "fear biters."

All dogs need exercise. Small dogs can get adequate exercise by running around the house/apartment, if the home is not too small. But large dogs can't. Unless you live in wide-open barn-sized quarters, large dogs get no exercise indoors. So why would anyone buy a large dog only to confine him inside all day long? It's not only unhealthy for the dog -- physically as well as emotionally -- it's contrary to the dog's nature. Dogs used to be bred for specific purposes, not to accessorize one's life.
-- Kitty Myers
Painted Post, New York

KRUGMAN TIME
Re: David Hogberg's Scandal and Disgrace:

Unlike David Hogberg, I gave up on reading Krugman's stuff. Mr. Krugman is continuously wrong. He likes to write scare pieces and he does that with regularity. His twin deficit scare story may be the most well known. It's fun to follow the wave of acolytes following him with their own scare pieces and regurgitating his nonsense as if they themselves know something about economics. Tom Friedman, his fellow traveler and cohort, is a good example. It has been said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. Hmmm!
-- Howard Lohmuller
Seabrook, Texas

Mr. Hogberg offers a fairly thorough analysis of Paul Krugman's recent columns on the health care system in the U.S. Most of the points that he makes are subject to debate, as all kinds of facts and figures can be marshaled for either a pro or con position on nationalized health insurance. However, there are two major facts that Mr. Hogberg fails to mention. One is that millions of Americans are organizing their entire lives around keeping jobs that provide health insurance for their families. This is a counterproductive behavior both from a personal standpoint and a national economic standpoint. The other is that removing some or all of the current health insurance burden from employers can make them more competitive in the global economy, where some countries are effectively subsidizing their private corporations by absorbing the health care costs of their employees. I don't think there is any question that the current system could stand significant improvement. This is the practical sort of question upon which we should be directing our political will -- whether the medical and pharmaceutical industries like it or not.
-- Abe Grossman
Pleasantville, New York

David Hogberg replies:
I agree with Mr. Grossman that too many people stay in jobs simply to keep their health insurance. My solution would be to change the tax code so that the tax credit for health insurance goes to the individual instead of the employer. That would make it easier for workers to keep their health insurance when they changed jobs.

As for relieving the health insurance burden from U.S. businesses, I am not persuaded. If our health care system makes us less competitive than countries (Japan, Canada, Europe) where government picks up so much of the health care tab, why do we generally have better economic growth than those other countries? I suspect the reason is that governments generally don't relieve burdens so much as they merely shift them. In this case, the health insurance costs will be shifted from businesses to the taxpayer, which means higher tax rates. And higher tax rates will impose as much of, if not more of, a burden on businesses as does our present health care system.

FUTURE TENSE
Re: Christopher Orlet's Our Inarticulate Future:

Christopher Orlet is right on the money with this one. To hear language being mutilated, one only has to watch the local news on television.

On one recent telecast, during the weather report, Canarsie in Brooklyn was pronounced "Car na see".

Okay, perhaps I'm being overly picky there, but other things drive me crazy as well.

On a recent sports report regarding a brawl at an NBA game, the sportscaster kept calling it "idiocity" instead of idiocy, over and over again. And on another report about a fire, the reporter said "rescue workers quickly fled to the scene." The worst part about that was that particular segment was taped. You would think someone in the editing room would have noticed it.
-- Mark
New York, New York

The number 0.37 in the statement "college-educated women reported a fertility rate of only 0.37" is implausibly low to me. Are you sure there is no typo? Is it 1.37, which would still be well below replacement rate.

On another matter, since you are correct that using
English well is important, you should try to be
concise. Instead of "Hollywood has at long last taken notice of," "Hollywood has at last noticed" would be better.
-- Vivek Rao
loyal AmSpec reader, print and online

Christopher Orlet replies:
In my article I referred to a study group, not to all college-educated women.

The reader's phrase "Hollywood has at last noticed" might be better, but I wonder what you do in the case of "has taken advantage of"? "Has advantaged?"

TANCREDO AND PINK FLAMINGO
Re: The Washington Prowler's Tancredo's Dubious Allies:

It's about time someone is looking into his background. Over at my Pink Flamingo blog, I've been harping on Tancredo and his Tanton based supporters for the past six months. This is a very nasty story. I am just surprised anyone has bothered to seriously look at Tancredo. I am thrilled, though, that someone has begun looking into his background. Over on my expose blog, The Subway Canaries I posted a two part piece on Tancredo on Saturday.

I've often wondered how long anti-abortion conservatives were going to let Tancredo get away with is association with John Tanton, who is one of the biggest supporters of Planned Parenthood out there. You also need to check into Tanton's association with The Pioneer Fund. They have a pedigree that goes straight back to Nazi Germany. The thing that disturbs me the most is the fact that Tancredo is getting big money from one of the scions of the Pioneer Fund, an organization that basically created the entire scenario for the holocaust.

You might also want to thumb through The Subway Canaries and check out other associates of Tancredo, the minutemen, Tanton, and the whole ugly anti-immigration movement. You will be physically ill if you do. I was.
-- S.J. Reidhead
The Pink Flamingo

MASS MOVEMENT
Re: Thomas J. Craughwell's
'Bishop, I Have the Pope on Line One':

Thomas J. Craughwell's Jan. 17 article is absolutely one of the best I've seen on the topic of how the "progressives" have done so much to unravel the Lord's Church. THANK YOU SO MUCH for providing this valuable contribution to a most important discussion.
-- Phil Trevathan
Franklin, Tennessee

Excellent article! Just excellent. Finally someone is telling us the truth about what really happened to the Church after Vat.2 . How sad that it was allowed to happen.
-- Jerry Lawson

Having read today's piece by Thomas Craughwell, I can say that I agree with much of it. I think the Novus Ordo does encourage laxity on the part of priests and laity... but it's not the only problem. That's like saying that watching violent T.V. programs is what causes kids to be violent..

The "New Mass," which is all I have ever known, need
not be the scapegoat for the Church's problems. I know
plenty of faithful, reverent Catholics who love the New Mass and don't have any problem with it.

I believe the problem, as some of those who study John Paul II's theology have stated, is with the family. Until people learn their dignity as human beings created by God, and learn to live that dignity in the context of marriage and family, I think our problems will only continue.

Thanks to Mr. Craughwell for a fine piece, even if I disagreed with part of it.
-- Bob French
Alexandria, Virginia

The last quarter of the 20 century witnessed a decline in the Catholic Church that is, in every aspect, unprecedented. Thomas Craughwell is not writing anything new, undocumented, or inaccurate when he illustrates just how precipitous that decline has been: dwindling numbers of religious vocations and Mass attendance, as well as a widespread indifference or hostility toward Catholic doctrine, including condemnation of abortion. Craughwell is also quite correct to state that the baleful effects of Vatican II, plus wrenching societal changes, led to the Church's current malaise. To apply John Maynard Keynes's comment about the Versailles Treaty to Vatican II, "It was written in the Devil's own hand."

For many, like me, who consider themselves part of the "Traditional" Church, Benedict XVI's recent papal "motu propio" (by the pope's own initiative) in allowing the restoration of the Mass of St. Pius V, often referred to as "the Tridentine Mass," was a step in the right direction. As Craughwell pointed out, however, twice in the 1980's, Pope John Paul II asked (an indult) that bishops throughout the world allow the Traditional Mass to be offered. With few exceptions, the request was disregarded. In this we also agree: effective papal action is necessary to re-establish Vatican supremacy in such matters, something that has been absent for more than three decades.

Vatican II did not occur within a vacuum. The unprecedented rise of unbridled hedonism, and the corrosive role of feminism within Western societies came to pass simultaneously. Within a very short period, all of the institutions that had previously provided stability and constancy were under attack: the traditional family was being replaced, the universities restructured, and that pillar of conservatism and our link to the past, the Church, had now begun its accommodation with modernism. It was a recipe for disaster. The modern Church became modern by losing its contact with its past; hence, the "old" liturgy and Mass were no longer acceptable. Formerly, priests participated in the "sacrifice" of the Mass by facing the cross; now, Mass was "celebrated," often with outlandish music, communion was a "meal," and the priest turned his back to the altar and crucifix. Will any of these novelties, which turned the Church inside out, be replaced? Like the man from Missouri, I'll believe it when I see it.

If the pope wishes to restore the Mass that has been the core of traditional Catholic liturgy, it will take his unwavering effort to see that his "motu propio" is carried out. Will he do what is necessary? That is the real question, for as sure as night follows day, there is, and will be, strong resistance amongst the majority of U.S. and Western bishops. The highly influential French bishops may have conceded for the moment, but time will tell if they, as well as their Western colleagues, can be "persuaded" by papal telephone calls to allow the Mass for all time to once again gain its rightful place amongst Catholics.

Pax tecum
-- Vincent Chiarello
Reston, Virginia

Mr. Craughwell has written a very good article on the state of the Traditional Latin Mass and the state of it the Church today.

Unfortunately he has confused "conservatives" with "traditionalists." Or, rather, he has neglected to mention that there are three positions, not two.

The conservatives stand by every deceleration of the popes as law, regardless of how far they may venture from the teaching(s) of the Church for 2000 years.

Traditionalists, on the other hand, judge every emanation from Vatican II in the light of tradition; that which has been held for those 2000 years, as the barometer, as did Vatican II if one really reads the documents. Vatican II defined no new dogma, no new doctrine. The Church cannot change because God cannot change.

So, in light of the above-mentioned differential, I correct the author on those points. Otherwise I commend him
on his article.
-- John Eakins
Reva, Virginia

Brilliant line of argument, keep hitting them hard.

THANK YOU
-- Timothy Morgan
Dad of 11 children.

TURNABOUT IS FAIR PLAY
Re: John W. Schneider's letter (under "The Mass Has Not Ended") in Reader Mail's Mass Movement:

Regarding John W. Schneider's lamentations, did it ever occur to him that the Mass might've held more allure for him had he participated in it? I'm certain that they could've found a cassock and a surplice in his size. And not to be a scold, BUT...did it occur to him that the "dead foreign language" being mumbled by the celebrant is the etymological ancestor of many (if not most) of the words he employed in his pedantic prose? Who knows? Perhaps, had he developed some appreciation for Latin, he wouldn't have embarrassed himself by using an improper plural of "continuum." (I know, toy dictionaries permit the "ums" plural -- but, just because they might bless such nonsense, it doesn't make the practice acceptable. What's next -- the use of "mediums"...or, worse, "medias"?)

BTW, the reason that the celebrant turns his back to you, Mr. Schneider, is so that he can turn his face to God -- to Whom the Sacrifice of the Mass is being offered.
-- David M. Gonzalez (who is 60 1/2)
Wheeling, Illinois

IRAQ CATCHUP
I was just catching up on TAS and came across the discussion over the "new" direction in the Iraq theater. If no one minds, I would like to make a few comments on the subject.

In 2002/2003, American foreign policy with regard to TWOT was very Rooseveltian (Teddy that is). It then morphed into a Wilsonian mode. It really should have been Machiavellian from the start. It now appears that the Administration has dusted off the old tomes on gunboat diplomacy. A form of diplomacy that has served us well for two centuries.

Diplomacy is a chess game played with real bishops, real knights, real kings and real pawns. Effective diplomacy requires two facets, reason and force. Therefore, it is a team effort. The State Department is the voice of reason through negotiation, the good cop. The Department of Defense is the embodiment of force through military might, the bad cop. The threat of force, either overt or covert, provides the incentive for others to negotiate in good faith and to hold fast to agreements. Unfortunately, the threat of force was withdrawn from this process roughly eighteen months ago. The result has been a disintegration of order in Iraq, recalcitrance on the part of Iran and North Korea, the resurgence of international sectarian terrorism and the increased reluctance of our allies to aid in this struggle. Inconsistency has been our biggest enemy in this war. We came in as a tiger, claws out and ready to rend our enemies to bits; then we suddenly became a kitten. This is very confusing to the barbarians with whom we are struggling. It sends a message, not of kindness and compassion, but of weakness.

The Administration lost sight of the nature of the struggle and became engrossed with domestic politics. In trying to placate and appease critics, they abandoned the struggle overseas. But, as I have pointed out before, the world does not end at the borders of the United States of America. There is a big world out there and it is peopled by those who covet what we have, fear what we represent and will do all in their power to destroy us. They are not going to have an epiphany and become good neighbors or good friends. This will only happen when they are presented with an overriding reason to abandon their threatening, anti-social behavior; or they are destroyed.

Now, I am mildly encouraged by the apparent tack that the Administration is taking. The stick is becoming evident once again. The question still remains just how effective it will be. Our recent non-actions have hurt our credibility enormously. Only history will reveal if what is being done will be effective in staving off a horrendous conflict or not. Let us hope that it is.
-- Michael Tobias
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

JACK BAUER AND ME
In this season of political misery,
When dark clouds are all we see,
I pull out an escapist DVD,
And now it's Jack Bauer and me.

Each heart stopping moment takes me
To a place of impossible dreams
Where Jack thwarts international treachery
With the incredible CTU teams.

With dash and flash he fills the screen.
His resilience is astounding.
Though grievously wounded he's shortly seen
From death itself rebounding.

Don't tell me about the new Season Six
Or even the done Season Five.
I order them one at a time from Netflix
Instead of watching them "live."

I don't miss a beat should the telephone ring.
I hit the pause button when needed.
Then back to Jack where each nerve goes ka-ching
And my fantasy flight has succeeded.

So, when you're in a black despair and your angst is running free,
Do throw away each earthly care and join Jack Bauer and me.
-- Mimi Evans Winship

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article