Reader Mail

In the Driver’s Seat

Ben Stein's oil drill. Snarky Orlet. Times out. Drug idiocy. More Jimmy C. Still more replies to Ben on Joel. Caught speeders. Plus much, much more.

1.31.06

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VOLVOS ON THE RIGHT
Re: Ben Stein's Oil Is Well:

Ben Stein's article is a great reminder about just who gets the profits from oil. The bigger problem is our head in the sand approach to refineries and U.S. exploration of oil. The Bush administration has to engage the American population in a debate about the need to increase U.S. oil extraction and refining capacity.

The U.S. does not lack for oil. We lack the urgency to extract oil on U.S. land and off our coasts. Couple this with an almost suicidal rejection of building refineries and we find ourselves at the mercy of every tin pot dictator and autocratic regime.

It is no longer valid to say oil is a finite resource. U.S. oil exploration and increased refining capacity will ensure sufficient assets are available until new technologies come on line in the next 10-20 years.
-- Dave Ward
Washington, D.C.

Hey, tell Stein to lay off Volvo. I'm tired of Volvo being a code word for bashing the left. Please bash the left but leave Volvo out of it. Would you prefer Volvos on the road or red Civic coupes with fancy wheel, a big, loud kazoo, crap hanging from the mirror, spoiler, neon lights under the rocker panels and some cool dude with his cap backwards sticking his hand out the window shaped in form of handgun going "bang, bang"?

Up until Volvo became Ford and went front wheel drive, they made cars with very good drive trains. I have learned how to work on them, and rebuild them for parents who want to put their 16 year olds in one or the handicapped, too poor to afford even broken-down Caviliers and Neons. I own a couple dozen Volvos. Wise up -- the left now drives SUVs, black, fancy wheels, Escalade preferred.
-- Eric

Once again, Ben, thanks for taking the time to try and explain to the morons in the Media and Democrat party a simple economic truth. I'm afraid that this, too, will fall on deaf ears. Ten BILLION = Obscene!

Funny how such great socialists like Kennedy, Corzine, Kohl, Dayton, Rockefeller and others forget how they got their money. I'm waiting anxiously the call for an investigation of Goldman Sachs, Kohls Department Stores and Dayton Hudson.

Yeah, I know, not in my lifetime.
-- unsigned

Great article as usual Mr. Stein. Now if we could get the loony environmentalists to stop blocking drilling in America, maybe we could keep the oil here and not worry so much about what was going on in the rest of the world.
-- Elaine Kyle

Right on the point, as usual sir!

However; would not drilling off the Gulf and ANWR give us greater control?
-- Jim

HOWLERS OF THE YEAR
Re: Christopher Orlet's Word of the Year:

I must take issue with the level of snark in Christopher Orlet's "Word of the Year." While I certainly agree there were others who deserved Time's "Person of the Year" designation more than Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono in 2005, nevertheless, of all the celebrity self-appointed experts on geopolitics, surely Bono ranks near the bottom of the list of those who deserve to be mocked for their efforts. Bono has actually taken the time to educate himself on the issue of African debt by talking to people with all kinds of different ideas on how to resolve it, and he has worked seriously with American government officials in particular, regardless of politics (he gets along well with Jesse Helms and President Bush). Sean Penn, Bono is not. Mr. Orlet should lose some of the attitude (and, if I may suggest, also try out a few U2 albums post-"Joshua Tree" -- they're still outstanding).

And as for "The Colbert Report," lighten up! I'm as conservative as they come, and I find the show hilarious. The American Dialect Society might have picked "truthiness" as a slam against President Bush, but that's their spin. Colbert is just spoofing O'Reilly (who also likes the show, by the way), and "heartfelt" wouldn't have been nearly as funny as "truthiness" in context. Of course the word is awkward -- it's a joke. So roll your eyes at the ADS -- but then go download "Colbert" to your iPod, and enjoy.
-- Kimberly Blackwell
Rockville, Maryland

Bono enters the room with the gravitas of Katrina and Category 2 truthiness.
-- Brad Mckee

That was really funny!
-- Doug Santo
Pasadena, California

UTTER PERFIDY
Re: William Tucker's The Crying Jag:

William Tucker illustrates the pathetic state of the MSM in their naked attempts to prevent absolutely anything from being accomplished by this Republican White House. Mr. Tucker is not alone in his outrage. Not a day goes by that I am not disgusted and angered by the press propagandizing for the Democratic Party, hobbling genuine efforts by this administration to do good things, important things, and even go as far as causing loss of life and placing the security of our nation at risk to do it. As the list of treasonous and seditious acts by the press and the Democratic Party grows longer every day, they bring themselves closer to total irrelevancy -- none too soon.
-- John Nelson
Hebron, Connecticut

William Tucker refers to Senator Kennedy's "scurrilous pomposity," but I'm afraid the English language fails us in our attempts to characterize this man.

Consider these emanations from the penumbras of the Senator's prominent jowls: "...we have a president who claims that he has the authority to spy on American citizens on American soil without a court order."

"... there is no reason to believe he will say no to a president who violates individual rights under the cloak of national security."

The above statements were in reference to George W. Bush and Samuel A. Alito.

With news of the death of Coretta Scott King, my mind must have lost its temporal bearings. I thought surely these words must have been spoken decades ago, in reference to President John F. Kennedy and his Attorney General, Robert F. Kennedy.

May the Reverend and Mrs. King rest in peace. God knows they were tormented in life by the Kennedys.
-- Dan Martin
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

William Tucker's comments about the New York Times are spot on, particularly his point that important stories are ignored.

While it is usually easy to see the bias in the stories they do cover, I have long wondered how many legitimate stories they do not cover and deliberately suppress, simply because the story can't be spun to damage conservative causes or benefit liberal ones. I'd bet my new car that the sins of omission rival the spins of commission. That said, nothing could be more unforgivable than the Times' recent disclosure of NSA surveillance secrets. Al Qaeda's next attack plot may not be prevented. Terrorists can connect dots, too, if they're given them.
-- GnuCarSmell
Jacksonville, Texas

DRUG WAR ATROCITY
Re: James G. Poulos's Hard Case:

Regarding the sad affair of Mr. Richard Paey,
a few words
from Mr. Jefferson, Thomas that is, should suffice as an answer to Paey's plight and that of others trapped in similar circumstances:

Jury Nullification
"It is left... to the juries, if they think the permanent judges are under any bias whatever in any cause, to take on themselves to judge the law as well as the fact. They never exercise this power but when they suspect partiality in the judges; and by the exercise of this power they have been the firmest bulwarks of English liberty." --Thomas Jefferson to Abbe Arnoux, 1789. ME 7:423, Papers 15:283

"If the question before [the magistrates] be a question of law only, they decide on it themselves: but if it be of fact, or of fact and law combined, it must be referred to a jury. In the latter case of a combination of law and fact, it is usual for the jurors to decide the fact and to refer the law arising on it to the decision of the judges. But this division of the subject lies with their discretion only. And if the question relate to any point of public liberty, or if it be one of those in which the judges may be suspected of bias, the jury undertake to decide both law and fact. If they be mistaken, a decision against right which is casual only is less dangerous to the state and less afflicting to the loser than one which makes part of a regular and uniform system." --Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia Q.XIV, 1782. ME 2:179

"The juries [are] our judges of all fact, and of law when they choose it." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816. ME 15:35

Until Americans have the courage to defy their government and its draconian drug laws, we shall not be free of such perfidious nonsense.
-- Dennis Sevakis
Bloomfield, Michigan

RETAKE THE HOUSE
Re: The Prowler's The Future Is Now:

It's time for the conservatives to use muscle and move mountains to take back the caucus. John Shadegg would be a good start. And Dennis Hastert needs to go ASAP because of his lackluster leadership in moving the agenda forward.

I also hope my representative, Marsha Blackburn, is successful in her pitch for GOP policy chair. Then the RNC needs to get the message and stop backing "moderate" liberals like they did with Arlen Specter when they could have had Pat Toomey. Instead, they repeatedly get stabbed in the back by Specter acting like an evil world tyrant petting a white cat while trying to kill James Bond. Now Rick Santorum is in trouble for his backing Specter and I don't see any payback from Arlen. So it's time the RNC backs Laffey over Chafee in the Rhode Island senate primary especially since Chafee says he'll vote "no" on Alito. If Chafee is going to act like a left-wing Democrat then RI might as well have a real one. He never votes enough with the GOP to worry about keeping the seat so what's the point? Let that wimp go.

Then they must stop the spending, kill the earmarks and pork, get tough on the borders and force the Senate to move (shame them), and start taking back our schools from the grip of the teachers unions.

If they don't they will lose more and more of the base to either apathy or centrist Democrats in red states. And then they will deserve to be put back into the minority where they were at least somewhat effective. Give Bob Michel a call -- he might come out of retirement.
-- Greg Barnard
Franklin, Tennessee

EX-PRESIDENT FOR TERRORISM
Re: Jacob Laksin's His Deranged Values:

"It may well be that Hamas can change," Mr. Laksin quotes former President Jimmy Carter.

Would Mr. Carter say that about himself -- his apparent naivete and his having veered onto the pro-terrorist, anti-American highway so long ago?

Just wondering.
-- C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia

Mr. Carter... a befuddled, utopian idealist?... a confused individual afflicted with political naivete?... your basic nincompoop?

All three?

Oh, surely not!
-- Joseph W. Holmes
Cedar Park, Texas

Jimmy Carter is a dolt. His picture should be in the dictionary next to the word. He is, hands down, the worst president in American history; a fact he regularly reproves.
-- Reid Bogie
Waterbury, Connecticut

SCARED STIFF
Re: David Yerushalmi's Democratically Elected Fascists:

Mr. Yerushalmi's article is the scariest thing I have read in a long time.

If he is right, Islam is a theocratic imperialist ideology on an
unswerving collision course with everything and everybody else. No concession can appease them, no development can tame them. They are irretrievably determined to conquer or die, as the Nazis were.

If this is not so, if he is only alleging these things for dramatic effect, then he really ought to be quiet, and ashamed of himself to boot.

But if his allegations are in fact true, then it is time to quietly... count...our...nukes. And the germs, designer genes and funny chemicals. Also the guns, knives, baseball bats and ice picks. And anything else that might help in a no-holds-barred war for survival.
-- Martin Owens
Sacramento, California

I wholeheartedly agree with David Yerushalmi's disappointment and concern over the victory by the Hamas terror organization in last week's Palestinian Authority elections. As David Horowitz and others have argued, what we apparently see emerging in the PA is a "Nazi" state organized around a fanatical ideology and dedicated to the destruction of Israel and Jews. I further agree with Mr. Yerushalmi that the United States (and Israel) must remain vigilant in our dealings with the PA, and be prepared to meet continuing acts of terrorism with overwhelming force.

However, I think that Mr. Yerushalmi is much too quick to dismiss the importance of expanding political and economic freedom -- democracy and capitalism -- to the goal of creating a more peaceful and safe world. To begin with, his argument is built on strawmen. I am not aware of any serious thinkers or politicians who believe that holding elections "necessarily pacifies the violent and hegemonic tendencies of ideologies such as Islam" or that "all nations can rise above their peculiar national character or culture no matter how violent or evil, and be rehabilitated." These are ridiculous propositions. Political and economic freedom alone are no guarantee that evil men and evil regimes will never come to power. Neither President Bush nor any other administration official I know of has ever said they are.

Certainly, Mr. Yerushalmi does not deny either (1) that it is human nature to desire freedom or (2) that the condition of freedom affects human beings in ways that are more beneficial than does tyranny. At its most basic, this is what the Bush Doctrine's emphasis on democratic nation building is all about: Nations that are free and democratic (which are relative terms, of course) are less susceptible to "violent and hegemonic tendencies" than nations that are unfree and tyrannical. True, they are not immune to these vices, but they are less likely -- perhaps much less likely -- to suffer from their terrible effects. As a long-term vision, surely this is correct.

Nevertheless, President Bush's support for democratic nation building does not mean, as Mr. Yerushalmi implies, that the President and his supporters do not recognize the need for a strong military posture. Indeed, democratic nation building has been possible in Afghanistan and Iraq only because we threw out the existing regimes by force. As I argued in my article "The Bush Doctrine, R.I.P." (RealClearPolitics, 9/12/05), I think we should have done the same in Iran and Syria. But the point is that the two strategies are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, the military and political strategies go hand-in-hand. Does this mean that Afghanistan and Iraq ultimately will flower into stable, truly democratic countries? Who knows? But the odds are much, much better than they were three years ago. And improving the odds is the best we can do.
-- Steven M. Warshawsky
New York, New York

David Yerushalmi replies:
In response to Mr. Warshawsky's critique of my essay, two things: One, there is no "strawman" in my essay, if by strawman we mean as Mr. Warshawsky suggests "no serious thinkers or politicians" would propound the theories I have critiqued. For the proposition that democracy and economics (i.e., capitalism) necessarily leads to peace, there is a whole world of "serious" types like the editors at the Wall Street Journal, the vast array of libertarians, and other who believe exactly that. They are wrong to be sure.

This false notion, but no strawman, accepts, and my description does not deny this, that while you might need to war against groups who hold certain ideologies (i.e., communists) or religious views (i.e., Islamic fascists) to demonstrate to them that their way will not succeed, at the end of the day democracy and economics will bring about the desired peaceful end. Just read Francis Fukuyama's book entitled The End of History. It was a best seller if memory serves correctly.

Having said that, no one I give credence to denies that democracy is better than tyranny and capitalism better than collectivism or statism. But, I don't accept that it is human nature to strive for either. In fact, Moslems recoil in fundamental ways from the "freedom" and "license" granted in democratic regimes. We in the West agree on the fact that while democracy certainly has its shortcomings ("hekista de mochtheron estin he demokratia; epi mikron gar parekbainei to tes politeias eidos," Nicomachean Ethics 8.10), it is the best thing going. But the Libertarians and others to the left and right of them seem to confuse to a fault political order with economic order. Economics can be an ordering of a sort, but it cannot in the end replace political order.

What that means in this context is that of the one billion Moslems, some large segment of which is devoutly Islamic, do not as Moslems qua Moslems accept a political order based upon "liberty." Theirs is based upon "submission" (the meaning of "Islam") to Allah. Allah, as understood in Sharia (Islamic law), rejects the liberties that we in the West cherish. If someone can point to some evidence that democracy and economics will at some point trump this, I stand corrected.

In truth, or maybe in practice, as in our previous dialogue on the Alito hearings, Mr. Warshawsky and I are not that far apart. I read his piece that he references in his letter and what he says there I say here: we must fight the war against Islamic terror seriously according to the original Bush Doctrine uttered immediately after 9-11. Destroy it and create circumstances in those countries against whom we have warred such that Islamic fascism cannot express itself. Period. Once you have done that and enforce it, then you can institute whatever level of democracy and capitalism you wish, because in that case, democracy won't mean the freedom to preach, or worse, the destruction of the West.

ANTITODES TO WUSSES
Re: Ben Stein's Saints in Armor:

My friend that came back from a double tour of duty in Iraq had sent the Joel Stein story to me, "Warriors and wusses," to which I fumed to no end. I think I would have been barred from the Internet if I wrote what I was thinking.

Now my friend sent me "Saints in Armor" by Ben Stein. His email is entitled "AN ANTIDOTE TO joel stein Story." After reading Ben's story, I was glad that I did not make an attempt to write to the L.A. Times in a civil tongue and leave a worthy reply or rebuttal up to a professional that could write in words how I felt about the other Stein and the evil regime our Armed Forces and Coalition Forces removed and still removing the leftover remnants of this evil regime. I too pray for them for they are the ones that are guarding my everyday freedom. And Ben calls them Saints in Armor. He could not have chosen a better word! I have a list of TWO THOUSAND AND SOME NAMES that have earned that title for ever. I'm a "9/11" witness and survivor. Was there that morning and witness evil that I only read about that existed elsewhere. Never again will I take my freedom for granted and try on a daily basis to read and write to our military MEN and WOMEN in Iraq. And YES they do write back believe it or not. Just can't get over that fact that these guys will be out that day on patrol and come back to their base and answer my email. Where do they come from? I think Ben answered it: "SAINTS IN ARMOR!"

I had to let you know how grateful I am for Ben's article. I'm going to email his story over to a couple of guys in Iraq. I know they will appreciate it. And there is an attachment to this to share with Ben.
-- Tom O'Connell
Deer Park, New York

I am a 55-year-old former U.S. Marine and Vietnam combat vet. I also have a 21-year-old daughter serving in the U.S. Air Force. As I write this she is currently on her way home to the United States from her first combat tour of Iraq. I was not a hero 35 years ago, but in my eyes my daughter Tracy will always be one. I read Ben Stein's article with great pride. Just to know that he and many more thousands of our citizens get it is heartening. Mr. Stein, you are a treasure to this nation.
-- Dr. William Hilleary

Outstanding! Many thanks to Ben Stein!

He has put into words the thoughts and feelings so many of us have but cannot adequately describe. Well done!
-- Kent Holtgrewe
Washington, D.C.

DRIVING ABOOT
Re: Eric Peters's Make Speeding Impossible?:

You forgot one thing. This will not happen in the U.S. because if you cannot speed, there will be no speeding tickets and cop budgets will go bust. And then the donut shops will all go out of business!!
-- unsigned

We have a 65 mph speed limit hereabouts and I try to drive on the upper end of it under 70. Safety has nothing to do with it. I am an excellent driver, scoring perfectly on both written and driver tests. Have never been involved in a collision, never been seen leaving the scene of one. Been pulled over countless times, but never actually ticketed.

However, there came a time I realized I might not be able to charm my way out of the near-citations I never got. It was a painful decision -- not because of the ravages of time, but that I could no longer exercise my nimble wit to flummox a hapless law enforcement officer. As when asked, "Do you know how fast you were going?" "No, but if you could tell me, then perhaps I can mentally calibrate the rotten speedometer cable in this car. I have taken it to get fixed a dozen times...." Not only did I not get a ticket, but he gave me the name of a mechanic. Ah, those were the speedy carefree days!
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

To quote Monty Python, this is getting silly. Few people like speed limits, but they are necessary. Why? To keep everyone consistent. The biggest problem with speed on the road is that so many people drive at different, personally set, speed limits. This causes bottlenecks, traffic jams and eventually accidents. Just as in sports, there are rules for driving. These rules allow everyone participating know what the limits are and what each participant is allowed to do. Living in a land without rules (laws) is simply anarchy and anarchy does not work.

Now, posted speed limits are not the only speed limits set by law. Every state in the union has a law which requires the driver to reduce speed below the posted limit should conditions warrant it. These conditions are such things as fog, rain, sleet, snow, pedestrian traffic, road construction, or even an accident in the roadway. Has anyone missed the reports of 20 to 100 vehicle pileups in dense fog, very often with multiple fatalities? Posted speed limits are generally set up using the eight-five percentile rule. This states that a speed limit should be set at the speed at which 85 percent of the drivers travel a given area of roadway. Only such things as engineering factors or special factors like school zones or congestion would prohibit utilization of this rule for establishing a speed limit. Except for speed zones set up arbitrarily for revenue generation purposes or for political profit, all speed zones are required to have a traffic study done to justify the limit set. The two previous instances are generally illegal in most states. Therefore, it should be no problem for 85% of the drivers to cruise a stretch of roadway at the same speed, almost without thinking.

Now that the lesson in traffic engineering is done, let me say that people, by nature, are their own worst enemies. By simply deciding to ignore the rules, they cause problems for themselves and society. When too many people began to ignore the rules simply for their own selfish gratification, then usually, someone steps in and forces them to conform. A speed governor is simply a device for those people who refuse to play by the rules.

Now, I would not worry too much about the widespread inclusion of speed governing software in American cars. It is simply too easy to defeat and it would be widely defeated, even by people who routinely adhere to the posted speed limits. It is simply unwise to place unyielding limits on people; that may make it impossible to respond adequately to unforeseen emergencies. But please remember that the object of games is not to cheat, but to win within the rules. In driving, winning is arriving at your destination without becoming road kill. Think about it before you end up in the trunk of that 1989 Lincoln the cuts in front of you doing the speed limit while trying to get to the exit.
-- Michael Tobias
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Kudos to Eric Peters for bringing this Canadian experiment to our attention. I've been aware that the technology exists (GPS, computer control, etc.) but was unaware that a government was actually testing prototypes.

As anyone who drives the interstate system knows, if the speed limits were matched with the actual safety limits of the road and conditions, we all would feel safer. As a frequent user of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, I-70 and I-270 between Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., I can attest to the improved safety of driving that route since the speed limit increase to 65 mph. Those roads can handle -- weather permitting -- 70 mph. So, back in the days of double-nickel, rational people would routinely fly along at 65-70. The only problem was the 10-15 percent of drivers who were law abiding ended up as moving roadblocks, slowing the pack down and risking being rear-ended. Now, with the limit at 65, I have not experienced more people driving at 75-80, rather the natural speed is still around 70 mph. No one gets blocked and frustrated, while the law abiders can relax.

Just as government can't successfully micro-manage economic behavior, so they can't control driving behavior. The market will always clear and rational drivers know the clearing speed for safe driving.
-- Dan Herchenroether

All you have to remember is the also-repealed U.S. seat belt interlock laws. When the consumer decides he or she won't buy these so-equipped vehicles, they find ways to repeal the laws. Thankfully, money over "safety" wins out.

We're also seeing some pause of the photo-enforced intersection citation laws. Personally, I'm for these cameras, but the courts tend to dislike this kind of impersonal law enforcement.
-- unsigned

MY NAME IS MARK
Re: Mark Gauvreau Judge's One-Downsmanship:

It's absurd, if you think about it, to go to AA meetings and always introduce oneself with a name and then say, "I'm an alcoholic." If words have meaning, then at every meeting, the addict continues to confess addiction.

How can anyone ever hope to move on to recovery with such continual profession of sickness, such continual assertion of being enslaved?
-- C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia

Thanks for your article. I am long time AA and agree, but I still go to meetings and suffer through some antics, ...because the newcomers need old-timers.
-- Kelly Testolin, Esq.
Reno, Nevada

The author of "One-Downsmanship" might well be the pig date that puked on my prom dress 50 years ago. And, what's with AA being anti-Catholic? Just about everyone I meet at AA went to a Catholic school! The author appears to have graduated from AA. But my educated guess is that he'll be back!
-- Elizabeth D.

Mark Gauvreau Judge replies:
Yes, there is a break with the former person: instead of drinking all the time, you TALK about drinking all the time.

Again that bizarre cult mindset: there is no escape or graduation. You will be back. And, yes, many AAs were raised Catholic -- which they always remind the group before launching into an anti-Catholic diss.

GONZAGA'S CATHOLIC PROBLEM
Re: Re: Robin Corkery's letter (under "Newtonian Scrutiny") in Reader Mail's Cruising for a Bruising and Vincent Chiarello's letter (under "We Are Not Alone") in Reader Mail's Awful Truths:

Allow me, please, this follow-up to my recent note regarding David Holman's "Reclaiming Catholic Colleges."

While it is not my appointed task to refute all the opinions that occupy this page, I take seriously my duty to offer a realistic overview of what is actually happening in contemporary Catholic educational life to the readers of this webzine, especially when there is an apparent disconnect between opinion and fact. Robin Corkery has written a letter that requires a response.

Signor Holman has recounted the ways in which the Society of Jesus, aka Jesuits, have betrayed their founder's ideals. That is beyond cavil. What Corkery has done, however, is introduce an element that is deceptive, for not only is Gonzaga University not attempting to reconcile itself to Catholic teaching, but it continues to follow a policy line that brings it into alignment with that other Catholic giant, Georgetown University. None of this would be possible if the head of Gonzaga University, Rev. Spitzer, S.J., had taken the initiative to deal with the anti-Christian and, specifically, anti-Catholic elements, within the university, including its law school.

As late as 2005, Rev. Spitzer, the paladin of Corkery's missive, specifically refused to deal with, or take any action to stop: the university's refusal to recognize officially the existence of the anti abortion-Christian Legislative Society, Gay Pride Day, in which the university was festooned with ribbons, the alteration of the name of Valentine's Day to one which describes a female's genitals, and the musings and madness of Prof. Richard Egan, Professor of the Religious Studies Department. It should be pointed out that, in April of 2004, the aforementioned Professor Egan claimed that homosexual marriage was perfectly legitimate and guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution ("their right to marry whom they choose"), and this: "I myself believe it (the Church) is ...continuing to make judgments based on an obsolete paradigm." What paradigm, pray tell, might he use? Just about what one would expect from a modern Jesuit institution, but a far cry from what Robin Corkery was describing. Bing Crosby, Gonzaga's most famous alumnus, would not have approved of what now purports to be Catholic education at his alma mater. Neither do I.

While it is comforting to believe that Providence and Notre Dame Universities are harbingers of positive changes in Catholic education, the reality is that the problems at Gonzaga, Georgetown and scores of Catholic universities are so pervasive and so ingrained that, although some success has been achieved to alter their errant ways, a great deal more is needed. And more prayers, too.

Pax tecum.
-- Vincent Chiarello
Reston, Virginia

HUMAN-FUELED COMPASSION
Re: Patrick Hynes's Black Hat Democrats:

In your 1/25/06 piece, "Black Hat Democrats," you stated that as a result of Hwang Woo-suk's fraudulent stem cell research, "The hopes of 100 million Americans have been shattered because of the callousness of liberal promises." Do you suddenly care about those 100 million Americans? Their hopes are going to be dashed because the current administration will not support stem cell research! The fraudulent study will have an impact to be sure, but how can you, a non-supporter, twist it around to say Americans' hopes have been dashed, only as a result of that scientist's fraudulence? You support the dashing of their hopes. You can't have it both ways. Against the funding of stem cell research, but lamenting that hopes are dashed? God forbid someday you have a loved one who could be saved due to this research, and help just isn't there. What is the value of that loved one's life, compared to an embryo? I know I can't change your mind. You have to walk a mile in those shoes on your own. "liberal policies break hearts and destroy lives." Indeed. You can't see past your own fat wallet. The current administration has murdered many thousands of real, live, innocent Iraqi citizens. Feigned concern for embryos is obscene in light of that.
-- Karen Gonda
Bethel, Connecticut

THE PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCES
Re: P. David Hornik's Deny the Designer, Save "Science":

Regarding P. David Hornik's article, "Deny the Designer, Save 'Science,'" there is, I submit, a more valid way of challenging Judge John Jones' recent decision. It is that neither evolution nor ID are science but both are philosophies and the judge should have decided whether it was permissible to teach ID in classes where evolution philosophy is being taught. It is well established that a scientific theory is one that can be put to an empirical test, which, of necessity, requires evidence of repeatable observations. Historical theories like evolution are about past unique events that are unrepeatable. For this reason Dr. Karl Popper classed Darwinism as a "metaphysical research programme." Others who have agreed that evolution can't be empirically tested include Dr. Colin Patterson, when a leading palaeontologist at the British Museum of Natural Science, biology professors, P. Erlich and L.C. Birch, and even that great defender of evolution, S.J. Gould, now deceased.
-- Clem Butel
Pymble, Australia

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