Re: Ben Stein's Oil, Oil, Oil:
The chief reason Barbara Boxer and others like her constantly nip at the ankles of the oil companies is, because they can. It is extremely odd that congressmen demonize the oil companies and they are the very ones who own stock in the very companies that are being paraded and berated in Senate hearings.
If America wants to look at higher fuel taxes, we look no further than North Carolina, Governor Mike Easley and his "Orcs" in the Legislature have created the highest fuel taxes in the Southeast. Mike Easley has saddled North Carolinians with a progressive fuel tax that is automatic and raised twice a year, the N.C. state legislature doesn't even have to vote on it. Besides having the highest fuel taxes North Carolina suffers from some of the worst maintained roads in the Union, unless you discount the roads where influential lobbyists live.
What can America do? We can do nothing because both Republicans and Democrats are infected with corruption and unless we are lobbyists giving the N.C. Speaker of the House Jim Black a $500 steak dinner in Las Vegas, we're not going to get a moment's relief from repressive taxation.
This is exactly why Barbara Boxer can get away with it.
-- Melvin L. Leppla
Jacksonville, North Carolina
Oh, the poor, poor oil companies. My heart bleeds for them. Sheesh.
Mr. Stein argues disingenuously that there is no man behind the curtain deciding oil prices when nobody claims there is. In actuality, there are MANY men behind the curtain.
Who benefits from no refineries being built in 30 years? Who benefits from whole areas of the country being closed off to exploration? Who benefits from 40+ types of gasoline bottlenecking supply? Who benefits from the fact that mergers have allowed five or so major oil companies a monopoly on extraction, refining, distribution, and retail?
When we have a true "free market" in oil then maybe prices will be set by traders on Wall Street. In the mean time, cry me a river.
-- Del Sharp
Ben, you have a marvelous way of putting things into prospective. Certainly when one does consider (as you pointed out) the logistics for exploration, drilling, transporting, and refining as well as the enormous infrastructure required to put "gas in the tank" so to speak, compared to putting bottled water on the store shelf, or the comparative compensation of an oil exec to a lawyer or a Hollywood movie star (the latter two firmly in the liberal Democrat camp) it magnifies the ineptness of a desperate minority party. Not a pretty sight.
-- John Nelson
RETIRING THE AARP
Re: John Carlisle's AARP on Life Support:
I wrote several letters to AARP about the Social Security reform, saying YES this is what is needed and I was sorry it was not around when I was young. None were ever printed in the AARP Bulletin, but I did get a letter from them telling me how wrong I was. I have a friend that does not trust the government to handle a private account for her, I tell her you will be taking care of it and you trust the government to have your Social Security money there for you? Some people just don't want to understand. If the Private Accounts had been around a friend that passed away the month her Social Security checks were due to start would have had money in her account for her family INSTEAD OF THE GOVERNMENT GETTING IT. This is just a no-brainer, but as usual our spineless Republicans caved.
Sorry to be so long this morning, but this just makes me so MAD.
-- Elaine Kyle
Jack Abramoff bribed legislators by using the money of Indian Tribes! The AARP is bribing its hapless membership by the use of tax money. In both cases the ones who profited did it by using somebody else's money. Seniors will get nothing but the bills! AARP is not nonprofit. The AARP was founded by Insurance companies who were creating a new market by subterfuge. Since its founding, the main thing that has changed is the Federal support for AARP-fronted scams.
-- G.B. Hall, WWII Veteran
The time has come to cut off federal funding for groups like AARP, the ACLU, etc. This is one major area of lobbying reform Congress should address immediately. In a time of war it is time for these self-serving lobbying groups to sacrifice for the well being of their country.
-- Lt. (Chaplain) Michael Tomlinson
Curtis Bay, Maryland
While it was interesting to learn that AARP is using taxpayer money to defeat a program that would help taxpayers, it is also obvious that AARP would have launched it's anti-reform campaign even had the federal grants not been given to it. The more fundamental problem has to do with attitudes. Consider the baby boomer generation...Taken as a whole, the boomers are collectively a selfish lot. When polled about social security reform, they are against it. Their liberal representatives in Congress have effectively killed all discussion about it. Pretty soon, within the next 10-15 years, they will all leave their jobs and drain every government sponsored resource for retirees. Not just Social Security, but also Medicare. In addition, what will happen when they start to use up their personal retirement accounts?
When the boomers start to retire and begin collecting their paltry Social Security checks, they will need to supplement this income by taking cash out of their IRAs, pensions, and from other sources, which are mostly invested in the U.S. stock market. There will be mass selling, which means that prices will fall and send the market way down. Where does that leave us? That is, what can twenty, thirty, and early forty-something's do about the plight we will certainly find ourselves in when we want to retire? How are we going to fund our retirement, which will include all of our living and medical expenses?
-- Terence Herlihy
I cancelled my membership in response to AARP's hiring of Harry Buffoonfonte as spokesman. I can only hope others do the same. Unfortunately, too many seniors are in their dotage or early stages of Alzheimer's and think of nothing more than their next 4 p.m. dinner. And Social Security check.
-- Wolf Terner
Fair Lawn, New Jersey
Thank you for your "AARP on Life Support" article. Not only did the information in this article disgust me, but their selection of Harry Belafonte as one of their "People of the Year" was an outrage.
I plan to quit my membership in AARP immediately, even though my tax dollars will still be support this disgusting, subversive organization.
-- Lana M. Byrns
My husband and I canceled our membership in the AARP when it torpedoed Social Security reform. I could live with their magazine's hagiographies of well-known liberals, but when an organization that is supposed to benefit retired persons (we became members when my husband turned 50, and he is hardly retired now at 57!) screws its members, we obviously could no longer participate.
I'd like to know where the rest of the AARP members are and why they are not canceling as well. I don't see how this organization can continue. Are members that blinded, not paying attention, or do most have theirs and not worry about the future of their children and grandchildren?
-- Deborah Durkee
John Carlisle replies:
Part of the answer is that AARP is most likely losing members but the organization doesn't advertise it. One writer a few years ago even accused AARP of inflating its membership numbers to hide its declining membership. That being said, AARP is still the largest membership organization. There are conservative alternatives such as 60 Plus some people are joining. As for the current AARP members, most remain to take advantage of the deals or so-called deals AARP offers.
Re: Lawrence Henry's MSM Waterloo?:
You almost gave away right at the end. The MSM could even now save itself if it decided to report the facts. But that would mean giving up the liberal/left narrative, and that is beyond their ability. They might even wonder why they are in the business if they can't put out leftist propaganda (otherwise known as "making a difference").
The New York Times, for instance, could win me back as a reader (and, by extension, others) if it would put a section in the paper that actually reported the news. It wouldn't have to be the first section. They could continue to reserve that for liberal fantasy and propaganda. A section inside would be fine. But that is beyond them institutionally.
Think what a paper -- the Times or someone else -- covering Iraq seriously would look like. Every day it would have four or five broadsheet pages devoted to Iraq:
1. The economic front: How difficult, or not, the intifada is making it to be in business.
2. The infrastructure front: Schools, pipelines, water projects, sewers, etc. It could be made interesting, particularly if peoples' stories were told as ongoing characters.
3. The war I: Discussion with soldiers.
4. The war II: Discussion with senior officers and headquarters.
5. Politics: Discussions with Iraqi politicians, how things are going, the next benchmark to look for, etc.
It could be called Report from Iraq. I'd read it. After all, the Iraq War is the most consequential event of our time, vital to the future of the republic.
Really good reporting would be like open source intelligence, giving us some feeling for the direction of things and some ability to anticipate the next activity. And it would not be cheerleading. If there are setbacks, report those. If the entire project is moving backward, report that.
But bombs in Baghdad? Not enough, unless they are put in context.
Will it happen? Naaaaaaahhhhhh. The MSM is not serious about reporting news. That is the narcotic of Watergate. They want to MAKE the news, not report it. And they want to peddle the liberal agenda. Which is unfortunate because the liberal agenda is failing in the real world.
-- Greg Richards
Here's hoping that the failure of the MSM will be the death knell for many journalism schools. It's a win-win situation. Huzzah!
I can hear the next generation saying, "You mean they used to print daily news on outsize sheets of paper? Whyever for?"
-- David Govett
Gosh I sure hope newspapers don't go belly up in my neck of the woods, what would I use in the bottom of the cages I rehab squirrels in and under my parrot. That is all they are really good for.
-- Elaine Kyle
Re: Paul Chesser's Big Mouth Pat:
Just exactly what are these horrible, embarrassing proclamations made by Pat Robertson? Let's see, he and Jerry Falwell said, regarding 9/11, that God removes His favor from nations that turn from Him.
He stated the same for Dover, Pa., voters and the victims of Katrina. He also stated that the government should assassinate Hugo Chavez. And he said that Ariel Sharon was being punished for dividing the lands of Israel. Those are the most recent and most usually criticized statements.
Now on the last point I think he is on shaky theological ground. The prophet Joel seems to be referring to outside invaders not Israelis, but the case could be made that it refers to anyone who assists in dividing up Israel.
Regarding Hugo Chavez, its hard to argue that the God of Joshua, Gideon, Saul, and David would flinch at somebody chucking one little ol' spear through Hugo Chavez's brisket isn't it? Jesus told us to love our enemies individually but gave us no instructions on how a state was to behave. He simply told us to render unto Caesar his due. How many thousands of innocent people would be alive had Fidel been given his due and dispatched forty years ago?
As to 9/11, Dover, Katrina, etcetera, he is merely echoing what the bible says time and time again regarding nations and people that turn their back on Him. Statements that are quite congruous with a good many made by some of our founders I might add. It would be an interesting and I expect amusing experiment to attribute some lesser known quotes from some of the founders to Mr. Robertson or Mr. Falwell and observe the reaction of some of their critics on the right.
I understand an agnostic or atheist being outraged at Pat's comments, but am somewhat flummoxed that putative Christians howl in pain at his continued existence. Unless of course they don't really believe what the Bible says. I think the bigger problem here is not that Pat Robertson says some stupid or poorly timed things. He occasionally does, as we all do. It's that he says things that reveal the divide between those Christians who believe in the inerrancy of scripture and those who don't.
Some conservatives seem to want people such as Mr. Robertson to vote in large numbers, but they should apparently have the decency to keep their mouth's shut so these conservatives aren't embarrassed by association. This divide is also echoed in the metrocon/rube division revealed by Mr. Judge's recent article.
By the way, I think the biggest problem for Pat Robertson is his penchant for denying or apologizing every time someone criticizes him for some ad hoc remark. His pusillanimous backtracking is much more troubling than his initial statements.
-- Brian Bonneau
NO MARKET FOR DANIEL
Re: Carol Platt Liebau's The Problem With The Book of Daniel:
After seeing the promos for The Book of Daniel, I knew that I would not like the premise of the show. But, not wanting to be critical of something I had not seen, I thought that I should watch the first episode.
I found that the assault on Christianity (even the Episcopal Lite version), was unrelenting in its smash-mouth fashion. It really felt like being punched every 30 seconds. But after a while, I could only laugh at how poor the show was at entertaining me, assuming that is a primary purpose of a fictional television show.
I did have a hearty howl at the sight of the female Bishop in her regal garb. That certainly must be a good argument for keeping females out of the priesthood!
The Book of Daniel will likely fail simply because it is Bad TV.
-- Scott Martin
One wonders if Christianity is better served by Pat Robertson or by the rancid sit-com NBC aired last Friday, the one in which Jesus Christ was cast in the role of an acerbic commentator on the life of a flawed (but still cool) Anglican priest. It's about even money, but I suspect Robertson does less harm, if only because he has outlived his utility as a useful idiot. (The left doesn't have all of them; most, but not all.) And while The Book of Daniel is smug, condescending, and foolish, offensive in every way, it will agitate a good many people who otherwise might have remained unaware they still harbor an urge to protect their God, their faith and their church from the clutches of middle-aged adolescents who decide what the world sees during primetime. In that frame of mind, they may find themselves longing for a time and place tidier and less chaotic than this one of ours. Make them welcome.
Still, I remain convinced that the American left is a creature that moves in a precise and unfailing mirror image of Evangelical American Christianity, the kind liberals say they most dislike and fear. Yes, Robertson and a couple of other holy brayers proclaimed that 9/11 was the consequence of American irreverence and sexual excess. But days before they spoke, the honorable Clinton declared that the fall of the towers must be weighed against the outline of American terrorism that included slave labor and prolonged unkindness to Native American-Americans. What the left preaches is based not upon matters of fact but on articles of faith. Any way you turn, you will soon encounter a scripture-slapping zealot anxious to blame everything upon infidels, pagans and heretics of one kind or another.
In an age that enriches the dribblers who made Christ Jesus into a slapstick artist, and also rewards the blather of an acid-tongued holier-than-thou talk show host, rest certain there is a new sect standing by. Call it the First Church of Jesus Christ, Ironist. Pray God will forgive the unforgivable.
-- Edmund Dantes
Mr. Wyckoff is correct. Living in a rural area, I have few occasions to go to Major League Baseball games. When I do, I love the action away from the ball that is not available on live television. The defensive sets, runners on base, coaches on the sidelines are all integral to the understanding of the outcome of a play. I particularly remember a game a Wrigley Field. I started watching the great second baseman, Ryne Sandburg, of the Cubs. He was moving laterally as the pitcher was delivering in anticipation of the direction the ball would be hit based on the pitch selection. He was seldom wrong and, without a doubt, this contributed to his skill at getting to ground balls that other second basemen would watch bounce into right field as singles. This observation would be impossible with TV coverage. It may be that part of the future of HDTV are wide angle shots in which one can actually see what might be happening all over the field, or at least in the infield.
Baseball is unique for several reasons. The defense controls the ball. A score is not determined by where the ball is. There is no clock. It is played on the full field at once. With any pitch, in any circumstance, the range of possibilities that occurs when the ball is put in play is virtually infinite. Effectively presenting this on television may be impossible.
Football has similar complexity for different reasons. However, slow motion and instant replay along with good commentary go a long way towards teaching the fans the complexities of the game. This is because the relevant action for the most part occurs on a small area of the field. As an example of this in action, watch the difference in covering the large field plays such as kick returns to the coverage of 3rd and 1. The difference is that in football everyone, the producers, the directors, the commentators and the camera operators all know the situation before the ball is put in play. With baseball, every point of the field must be observable as one never knows where the ball will be hit.
-- Joe Strader
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