Reader Mail

Meet and Greet

Making merry makes all the difference. Also: Was Ford a better idea? Packaged mail. Rising minimum wage costs. Plus must more.

12.28.06

Send to Kindle

SEASON'S GREETINGS
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Happy Days:

Well-meaning locals in this part of the world have added a new wrinkle to Mr. Tyrrell's lament over the loss of Merry Christmas and (potentially) Happy New Year as person to person greetings in this time of year. In an apparent attempt to be the most sensitive and inclusive human life forms on the planet, local newscasters and more than one co-worker have wished me a Happy AND SAFE Holiday. Exactly where safety figures into the Christmas/New Year scheme of things, I haven't a clue.

Is it possible that they mean that I should celebrate the season by avoiding excessive amounts of alcohol, fast driving, tobacco smoke, domestic abuse, crass commercialism, fossil fuel use, foods high in trans-fats, fireworks, live Christmas trees, DDT, conservative thoughts, red meat, processed white sugar, non-fair trade coffees, religious symbols, sweatshop produced apparel, lead based paints, handguns and jogging along I-95 at night wearing dark clothing?

Well OK, I'm adult enough to avoid most of these and my Momma has already warned me about some of this stuff, too. I do not need to be reminded to follow the safety prescriptions of those self-anointed busybodies among us. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year will continue to do nicely for me, thanks.
-- Deane Fish
Altamont, New York

Mr. Tyrrell should get on a plane that doesn't "fly over" this part of the country and spend a few days here next Christmas season. It seems to my wife and me that "Merry Christmas" has made a small but noticeable resurgence in our locale. To be sure, there are still many commanding a "Happy Holidays" as we are about to leave the checkout stations, but try greeting some of these people first with "Merry Christmas" and you will be surprised at the reaction (here at least). I have personally made it my mission to reply to a "Happy Holidays" greeting with a "Merry Christmas" and now "Happy New Year to you too!" and if that labels me a bigot or racist or whatever, OK, no skin off my nose, and from reading Mr. Tyrrell over the years I suspect he could deal with the few that think that way.

I'll admit to spending as little time on either coast as possible, so perhaps Mr. Tyrrell's commentary is perfectly correct for where he is, but the pendulum appears to be headed back, or part way back, to where "Merry Christmas" is indeed a greeting that extends the very best of thoughts and intentions to whomever it is directed at. Sincerely Mr. Tyrrell, come and spend some time here.
-- Roger Ross
Tomahawk, Wisconsin

Thanks to Mr. Tyrrell for this column. I made a point this year of saying "Merry Christmas" to every grocery checker and bagger, every retail clerk and all who came to my door. I don't remember any one of them saying those words back -- just a "same to you" or a "Happy Holidays" after an uncomfortable hesitation. Who are these wackos who make us feel that we should apologize for saying "Merry Christmas"?

I look at this political correctness as a form of abuse. Abuse can be described as doing something to harm someone (like beating your wife) and then standing there waiting for an apology (it's her fault for making him do it). This applies to politically correct progressives stealing our "Merry Christmas" and forcing us to apologize for saying those awful words. It also applies to the Muslim cartoon controversy. Muslims explode bombs, wear suicide vests, wreak havoc all over the globe in its extreme form, but they expect the apologies when cartoons are created to show that because we made them do these terrible things. That's called abuse, folks, and like that woman in the abusive relationship we need to extricate ourselves from it. Let's start now with a rebellion against political correctness.
-- Deborah Durkee
Marietta, Georgia

Good morning. I have read R Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s article. I always enjoy his works. I can't agree with him more than about this. However, I wish to shed a grain of light on those that are still battling for humanity. I was in a local eating establishment (I forget which one) last week, and the person behind the counter, who was black (oops, I mean African-American), said with a big sincere smile on his face, "MERRY CHRISTMAS" as I took my food and left. As I am a devout Catholic (read bigot if you will) I said, "Thank you, and a Merry Christmas to you, too!" I can't explain the warm feeling I had in my heart, for I had dealt with the horrors of traffic and such all day. It is just nice to see that someone in a service industry acknowledges that today, since it is rare.
-- Erik Bendorf
German-Danish-Irish-American

The term "Merry Christmas" nearly gone? Hardly.

But its use certainly depends on one's -- or a group of ones' -- perspective and willingness to share that, as Wal-Mart found from its ridiculousness of Christmas 2005. The Apostle Paul said he wasn't ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. If enough of those who call themselves Christians would conduct themselves likewise, especially at Christmas, perhaps "Merry Christmas" would be spoken in even more places, not fewer.

Meanwhile, the more secularists, relativists, liberals and other politically correct species try to suppress "Merry Christmas," the more it -- and, thus, Christ -- is discussed publicly. That intolerant and hostile crew, fearful of God, makes the same mistake that the princes of the world did when they crucified Christ: They thought they'd gotten rid of Him. We need to pray that the true spirit of Christmas overtakes them, tongues, minds and all.

As for their current influence in our society, it's directly proportional to the ignorance and lack of spine exhibited by public officials and the judiciary, as well as the general cowardice of the public to stand up to those officials, the PCs and an unfriendly, bigoted mainstream news media and shout, "Enough of this tripe!"
-- C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia

Re: Happy Holidays. I am surprised that even this greeting has survived the secularist onslaught. It is after all a exhortation that one's "holy day" be happy. How is there any "holy day" allowed in are anti-religious culture.
-- Roger Thompson

You give up too easily. Some of us fought back and made Wal-Mart etc. respect our dollars. We will keep up the fight. This greeting business is just the camel's nose under the tent. You gotta put a stop to them. Did you see where that modern day Dr. Mengele (Tiller) in Kansas is finally being hailed into court. Never, never give up.
-- Annette Cwik

Happy New Year to you and to all TAS readers.
-- Nelson Ward
Cowles, New Mexico

GERRY BUILT
Re: Jeffrey Lord's Two Gentleman and a Party and Paul Beston's When Greatness Isn't Called For:

Gerald Ford's unlikely ascent to the presidency hinged on Spiro Agnew's corruption and Richard Nixon's paranoia. He was brought in specifically to provide an honest face where there had been ugly character defects. As a policy maker, he was little more than a boring Republican team player who worships herd ideas more than actual thoughts. Reagan, on the other hand, actually went through a catharsis and felt in his gut that communism was a bad idea that needed to be combated and that capitalism was the wave of the future.

However, I would caution Mr. Lord that if Reagan had run for the presidency and won in 1976, our view of him now would be completely different. He instead of Carter would have inherited the disastrous mess created by his party. He would have been unable to contain inflation, and the Berlin wall wasn't yet ready to fall. When you come right down to it, Reagan was very lucky in his timing. He was no brighter than Ford, but did embody some of the qualities of a visionary. We need more politicians like him, with a character derived from real life experiences, not from empty ambition or entitlement. I doubt either Ford or Reagan would have been so arrogant and misguided as to invade Iraq.
-- Abe Grossman
Pleasantville, New York

Mr. Lord has written a very courageous column. Nothing does so much to enhance one's reputation and stature quite as much as the act of dying. Mr. Lord takes a step or two toward getting us to remain grounded in the truth, while also celebrating the life of a "nice guy." I remember that the news media of the day was always hinting that Pres. Ford had played football a few too many times without his helmet on, as their way of explaining his missteps, both verbal and physical.

I would just like to pick two wee nits with Mr. Lord's article. One is a pet peeve. I am entirely sick of the constant refrain about Republican Liberals, the Rockefeller wing, being "moderates", while the conservatives are somehow so radical. I find the GOP Rockefeller wingers to be a bunch of snobbish, country club, blue blood, elitists. Somehow, GOP aligned conservatives are beneath them, their inferiors. These "moderates" are so much better educated, don't you know. They didn't go to some land grant cow college. They were educated at an Ivy League school or some other of the super elite universities. What could these conservative bumpkins possibly know about international relations, or government finance, or science, or etc.

Well, bah and humbug. Stuff your own envelopes, man your own telephone banks, and walk the precincts yourself at election time. Give voters rides to the polls in your family limos, instead of our SUVs.

The other point regards the George Bush Presidency. Excuse me, but when Bush came to Washington vowing to "change the tone" from the partisan rancor and bickering, what is that but the very essence of "moderation." It is precisely the kind of goal that one would expect from a Gerald Ford or a Nelson Rockefeller. El Presidente has consistently furthered this characterization with his attitude of "I know best," and "Just trust me," instead of taking the public into his confidence and selling his ideas, and then keeping us informed with regular periodic updates.

He tries to come on as a "regular guy," but he just can't help letting his Yale educated, Skull and Bones Society, New England elitism come through. It has been that way since soon after the initial decisions on Iraq were taken. It was on decided display in his hurricane-related activities in and around New Orleans. It has been at the very forefront of his attitudes regarding illegal aliens and border security. He displays this trait when he nominates judges and then doesn't stay on offense fighting for them until they are confirmed. How about when he lets Ted Kennedy write the administration's education bill. How much more "go along to get along" can you be than a total of 1 veto in over 6 full years of governance from the Oval Office.

I could go on, but this is already overlong, and has all been pointed out by numerous commentators in numerous forums before. George Bush is the very epitome of a Gerry Ford style "go along to get along" President, and what has it gotten him. He is the most reviled President by his opposition since probably Abraham Lincoln (or maybe U.S. Grant). Certainly the rhetoric has reached the same proportions and same incivility.
-- Ken Shreve

Gerald Ford was a good and decent man. I'll leave it at that. At least, I was willing to, until Bob Woodward pulled yet another journalistic rabbit out of his hat. How is it that the intrepid Bob Woodward once again managed to loosen the lips of the recently deceased, but previously taciturn president, in a newly revealed series of private and candid conversations? Woodward seems to have a penchant for being the last man alive, that or the source is safely in deep cover, when the story is finally told. Mr. Ford was in his 90s when interviewed by Woodward. Remarkably, he appeared to have contemporary views on Messrs. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Kissinger that coincided with those of Mr. Woodward. And who would have guessed that Ford and Colin Powell were in such agreement over Mr. Cheney's "fever about the threat of terrorism and Iraq"?

One wonders, given Mr. Woodard's remarkable skills, if he might not have managed to conjure up former CIA director Bill Casey (spiritually of course) to fill in any gaps as Mr. Ford waxed on. Sadly, Woodward had to reveal that Mr. Ford could find no justification for the war in Iraq; that it has been nothing more than a big mistake.

To be charitable, some things are best left untold. I at least was willing to give Mr. Ford a final benefit of the doubt, Mr. Woodward however, made sure that was not meant to be. I would have much preferred if Woodward had told us that Mr. Ford, at the end of the interview, had reached into a drawer and pulled out an old WIN button (whip inflation now) and told Woodward to give it to President Bush with the message updated for the Iraq war, JUST WIN. I guess Bob just didn't think of it.
-- A. DiPentima

Regardless of who came before or after him, President Gerald Ford is one of the greatest of all presidents, in the mold of Abraham Lincoln. When America needed integrity, wisdom and a strong hand at its helm, Mr. Ford was there, thanks be to God. Perhaps to his credit and our benefit, he wasn't elected to such greatness, but volunteered.
-- C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia

Gerald Ford has died. He was a president of the United States. He was never elected to the office and lost his only presidential campaign. He was not a Reaganite and his policies were a failure. He was a nice guy but so are a lot of other people. He supported abortion and the ERA. I voted for him in 1976 because he was better than that peanut farmer. Other than that, I have nothing else to say about his presidency. May he Rest in Peace.
-- Pete Chagnon

The future of the Republican Party is patrolling Baghdad right now.
-- David Govett
Davis, California

SMASHING SUCCESS
Re: Jay D. Homnick's The Post, Her Go Prompter:

I wonder if Mr. Homnick is mailing his stuff from a post office on the Moon or perhaps from another solar system. Nobody I know uses the post office for anything they actually have an interest in time and date of receipt; everything goes by fax, e-mail (PDF) or courier if it needs to get there by a time and date certain (not to mention intact). I sent two packages to my sister by USPS in the last year. The first one was smashed to pieces and one item inside that had my name and address on it was eventually returned to me here in Canada; the rest became landfill, I assume, if it didn't go home with somebody. The second was sent by Express Mail and was delivered to the wrong address; when the people there marked it that it was not addressed to them, it was returned to me here in Canada. From that point on I send everything to her by UPS. Except for one occasion on which the UPS driver here in Canada could not locate one of the largest buildings in the Financial Centre of downtown Toronto, I have never had any more trouble having things delivered as and when desired and with all their bits intact. Canada Post is much worse than the USPS as it does not sell stamps from machines and refuses to open before 9:00 a.m. even at Christmas; however, there are local post office branches in convenience stores run by the Chinese, who have not forgotten that business is after all dependent on happy customers, and where we can pick up packages and buy stamps on weekends.

Although Mr. Homnick is clearly suffering from an overdose of eggnog in his characterization of the USPS, I thank him for a good laugh on a day when almost nobody is in the office except those of us who ran out of vacation time before we ran out of year. Merry Christmas, sir, and may your Christmas card arrive before Lent.
-- Kate Shaw
Toronto, Ontario

I don't even have to go to the post office to mail a priority or express package. I can print out my labels with postage already paid, by using a credit card. The carrier then comes to my door to pick up the package. The only thing I wish they would start doing is really scanning the bar codes on the labels so it could be tracked, like UPS does. They tell you to keep the bar code, but I can't figure out for what purpose, since tracking is NOT an option.

The Priority mail boxes and labels are all free and will be sent to your door. Can even order stamps, but they do cost $1 extra, can't figure that one out either. Anyway they are doing a good job. But the price of stamps is getting out of sight and I may use a book a year. Mail very few letters, easier to just pay bills on line.
-- Elaine Kyle

A BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP
Re: Lisa Fabrizio's Why Casablanca?:

Thank You. Thank You. Thank You...for highlighting my all time favorite movie. I also was moved when the AFI (American Film Institute) declared Casablanca the number 2 best movie ever made. Then I thought...No one. Not one good friend has ever said that Citizen Kaine (the # 1 winner) is the most favorite, dearest film they have ever seen...and can't wait to see it again. Have you?

The AFI voted in 2001 that Casablanca was the #1 all time love story movie ever made...

There have been several books written about making this movie. The song "As Time Goes By" is a classic study in "being in the right place at the right time"...the script was being written as the movie was being filmed..."It's still a story without an end..."

Anyway, I have seen Casablanca about 500+ times... and it just keeps getting better every time I see it.

To Lisa, all I can say is, "I wish I didn't love you so much"....
-- Chuck Chase
Houston, Texas

MINIMUM GAINS
Re: Mark Sobolewski's letter (under "In Defense of the Minimum Wage") in Reader Mail's Dirty Movies:

Mark Sobolewski wrote: "If I, as a consumer, must pay a little more for burgers and fries in order to see people paid a more decent wage I can live with that. Here it is Christmas time and people are nickel and diming." He apparently doesn't get it: First, that the rise in prices resulting from the minimum wage will wipe out most of the gain to such wage earners (the floor rises, but we all stand on it), and additional payroll tax deductions will account for much of the rest. Second, that few full-time, primary wage earners make the minimum wage, which applies mainly to part-time workers, students and initial entrants. Most of those who make minimum wage do so because they have the fewest job skills, and thus have low worker productivity. Those who have aptitude, show merit, or develop skills, quickly rise up from the minimum wage floor.

For the employer, that means these employees are the least valuable, and they are effectively carried on margin. For a small business, with relatively low net margins in the first place, the decision point between hiring and not hiring a minimum wage worker is very fine, and an increase in the minimum wage effectively tips the scales in favor of not hiring. Thus, with each rise in the minimum wage, low-skilled workers and new entrants are either laid off, or the number of positions open to them decreases. An employer looking at the choice between hiring a minimum wage worker and finding other ways to get the work done (by parceling it out among his other workers, or by investing in automation, etc.) will lean increasingly to the latter as the minimum wage rises. Every reputable economist knows this (which ought to tell us where Robert Reich falls), but politicians and some elements of a gullible public feel they can defy economic reality by sheer force of will.

Ironically, Mr. Sobolewski lives in Falls Church, Virginia (as do I), where the unemployment rate is hovering around 1%. There are no minimum wage jobs of which to speak around here -- fast food restaurants, cleaning services, gas stations all must pay far more than even the proposed minimum wage just to find applicants. Even illegal day laborers command a good deal more than $7.25/hr. So, for Mr. Sobolewski, it's essentially an abstract point -- it won't effect him in the least.

On the other hand, in other parts of the country where the economy is not doing as well, there are many people looking to enter or re-enter the job market, and a higher minimum wage will merely impede their progress. For the sake of feeling good about himself, and at no real cost to himself, Mr. Sobolewski would hurt the very people he says he wants to help. Apparently the law of unintended consequences carries no weight in Falls Church (actually, I know that for a fact) as compared to the opportunity to strike a sanctimonious pose.
-- Stuart Koehl
Falls Church, Virginia

ICY GLARE
Re: Russell Seitz's letter (under "Surf's Up") in Reader Mail's Dirty Movies:

Mr. Seitz, is there some point to your letters?
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article