Reader Mail

Misunderestimations

And other Democratic predilections. Plus: Booming the Boomers -- who brought them up? Patriotic urges. Granville Sewell and Nobel Prize. And much more.

12.29.05

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DINGY AND DIRTY
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Dingy Democrats:

The latest news from the NYT regarding NSA and other secret programs which occurred with the vote on the Patriot Act and the novel about, surprise more information about this, did not have the intended result for the liberals. The president's poll numbers went up and the public is not really as upset as the liberals expected I am sure.

This shows, and has many times, the lack of understanding the liberals have about the people of America. They are intelligent people who understand the need for information on any enemy that wants to hurt America and they are well aware how important the war in Iraq is and do not want to have the troops leave until the Iraqi people can feel safe with their own very well American trained troops.

I honestly wonder about the leadership of the liberals, if any real leadership is taking place, as they seem to be floundering around still, they were so sure this would be the big one, the one they could impeach the president with, the one where they destroy him as they have so furiously tried for the last five years. All their efforts to diminish the president do not seem to have worked particularly well for them. As Mr. Homnick writes, "the I word should not be used by the conservatives" because liberals are trying to make the word common and when they impeach him, the population will accept it. I guess this is an idea from the word change seminar they did on using the correct and new word as in being called "progressive."

They have put so much effort into "getting Bush" they have neglected to be a party with any ideas for the future as a political party. As you say the people like Pelosi, Reid and Dean are, in my opinion, people who cannot keep their mouths shut for too long a time, as in wait for the speech to be over before you start in with the hysterical ranting!!

Again, they have misunderestimated the president, the intelligence, caring, and courage of the American people.
-- Carole Graham

Who was it that coined the phrase, ("One picture is worth a thousand words")? Well, the picture of Howard, Harry and Nancy combined must be worth at least an encyclopedia. And I have to admit, I got a good belly laugh when I opened up the Spectator website. My very first thought and mental image was, of something right out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie (Psycho to be exact).

Here is a suggestion for The American Spectator. If you'd care to supplement your income and make a financial windfall, turn that picture into a Halloween Card for next October. It's enough to scare any little kid into staying home on Halloween night instead of going out trick or treating.

Thank you, American Spectator, for providing me with such a good laugh to start my day.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you folks at The American Spectator; you are doing God's work.
-- Jim L
East Sandwich, Massachusetts

Read with interest the article regarding the Democratic Party. I must disagree for a number of reasons. Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, et al. occupy "leadership" positions. The only dissenting voice; Senator Lieberman, now faces a challenge in the Democratic Primary for his heresy. Take a look at who the Democrats trot out each Sunday: Chuck Schumer, Barbara Boxer, Ted Kennedy and the empty headed John Kerry. Howard Dean is now under wraps! Can you think of a more odious, insincere group of individuals? Mention "right to life" and they immediately label you radical! Has any one of them ever had an original thought? This is an elitist party supported by the media and Hollywood. Is it any wonder the Republicans control the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives?
-- Bob Montrose
Fort Lee, New Jersey

BETTER A PATRIOT THAN A TRAITOR
Re: Herbert I. London's The Meaning -- and Demeaning -- of Patriotism:

Patriotism is a simple concept embodied in a Stephen Decatur quote:

"America. In her intercourse with foreign countries may she always be right, but right or wrong, my country."

It is as simple as the Golden Rule and every bit as difficult to adhere to.
-- Jay W. Molyneaux
Wellington, Florida

While I agree with the rest of your article I personally don't believe that a respect for Christopher Columbus's is necessary to American patriotism. All he really did for us was point the way here. It was an Italian mapmaker, Amerigo Vespucci, who realized that a new world had been found, and it was a large number of English colonists who actually founded our country. I suppose this is why we celebrate Thanksgiving while we merely commemorate Columbus Day.
-- Troy Harmon
Albuquerque, New Mexico

If indeed patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, then treason is the first.
-- David Govett
Davis, California

WHY EVEN MENTION IT?
Re: Jay D. Homnick's An I to the Future:

Mr. Homnick warns us with worries that the likes of lefty hacks like Katrina vanden Heuvel are spreading the dreaded "Impeachment" word around and then suggests that no Republican office holder or strategist should ever mention the "I" word so as not to give credibility to it. Sound advice, in my opinion, but isn't Mr. Homnick doing just that by writing an "I" word column in the first place?

If we start to toss and turn at night because, gasp, Katrina vanden Heuvel mentions the "I" word what will we do when the more "objective" liberal hacks, like Paul Begala and James Carville, start dropping the "I" word at least once in every sentence? Besides, can you imagine President Bush being the first president impeached for actually protecting the citizens of the United States? Is this really a winning issue for the Democrats?
-- Chris
Marietta, Georgia

WHOSE RIDE?
Re: David Boaz's A Piece of the Action:

A beautifully distilled, concise alarm for the entire public -- no, the entire world to hear. Institutionalized corruption and centralization of revenue on such a massive scale have some precedents in history. Ours has a new twist, in that we can soon accelerate our decline much more rapidly. Now everyone can partake in the financial version of democracy by mob rule. Roll over Paul Revere, the Americans are coming.
-- M. Scott Horn
Akron, Ohio

A slight disagreement. You state with regard to the office buildings along K Street in Washington DC: "They're all full of lobbyists and associations that are in Washington for one reason: because that's where the money is."

Many of the lobbying firms were not established and are not presently run to get federal money but are there to protect their clients from real or imagined threats of federal interference.
-- John Keohane
Riverdale, New York

JUDGE A THEORY BY ITS DEFENDERS
Re: Lev Landau's letter (under "Macrocreation Science Lesson") in Reader Mail's Treaty or Trick:

It should come as no surprise to your readers that your excellent publication draws big names and heavy hitters. Nevertheless, I was taken aback when I saw a letter to the editor by none other than Lev Landau, winner of the Nobel Prize in physics.

With his explanation of how the "metric tensor g (sub)ik" proves that the Universe is not constrained by the second law of thermodynamics, Prof. Landau demonstrated very clearly the state of discussion regarding evolution. It was truly fascinating stuff, since Lev Landau died on April 1, 1968.

Let's consider what we have here: a fraudulent letter written by someone obviously dishonest, disingenuous, and immature. In other words, an ideal representation of the theory of evolution rendered down to its barest essence.

If evolutionists are not fabricating transition-state fossils, they're inventing new idiotic gobblygook-filled sub-theories, such as the "theory of punctuated equilibrium" as noted by George Neumayr earlier this year. (You know the old saying, if you can't dazzle 'em with brilliance, baffle 'em with the "metric tensor g (sub)ik." Or try to, at least.)

Another tactic they employ is to engage in kangaroo-court, straw-men-laden, pseudo debates amongst themselves, as with, for example, National Geographic's periodic treatment of the topic. But evolutionists' favorite scientific method is to simply resort to bullying, usually by portraying their detractors as snaggle-toothed, illiterate, intemperate hillbillies. Such bullying is easily accomplished, since evolutionists constitute the overwhelming majority of those in the academia-Hollywood-MSM trifecta.

Yet in the process they do an even better job of revealing themselves to be morons. Exhibit A is the jackass who wrote that letter who, albeit unwittingly so, is evolution's ideal ambassador. Be on the look-out for other similarly cogent defenses of evolution from the noted scholars, I. P. Freely and Seymour Butts. The theory deserves no less.
--R. Trotter, PE
Arlington, Virginia

It is not clear to me how reader Lev Landau's comment, "As the universe cannot be considered as a closed system, elementary thermodynamics does not apply in Mr. Sewell's arguments," answers Granville Sewell's observation, "if an increase in order is extremely improbable when a system is closed, it is still extremely improbable when the system is open, unless something is entering which makes it not extremely improbable." Clarification would be welcome.
-- Kevin O'Neill
London, England

BLAME THE GREATEST GENERATION
Re: Lawrence Henry's Screwing It Up, One More Time:

Mr. Henry is somewhat of a self-loather, isn't he? Perhaps he should stop idolizing the "Greatest Generation" (GG) for a second or two, and stop demonizing his fellow "Boomers." I'm a contemporary of his in that I was born in 1949. Incidentally, back then, the baby boom phenomenon was taken to mean the two years after WWII. That coincided with the bulk of veterans returning and normal human gestation. It was only later redefined as a higher than normal birth rate extending through 1965. Here's the rub. The GG begat the Boomers, not the other way around. The GG raised the Boomers, and tried to imbue them with its values, didn't it? Of course it did.

The experiment backfired. The GG was predisposed to the welfare state, taking their cues from the "progressive" climate of the '20s and '30s. After, they became addicted to socialism, whether through their industrial unions or the federal government through educational or housing subsidies. U.S. industry was unchallenged, because the rest of the world was in shambles. After all, why not let the general welfare of the country take care of your own personal welfare? These were the questionable values that were passed on to the Boomers by the GG.

So, what happened? The GG coasted in their comfy union and corporate jobs. They passed off educational responsibility to public schools. Unhampered by competition, the GG became less productive and more demanding. Featherbedding turned from padding a payroll to a soft place to land in one's retirement. Today, the profligacy of the GG has become manifest. They've already raided the treasury so that it can never be repaid, and they have diminished our freedoms in the process.

Let's look at Vietnam versus WWII. In WWII the parents of the soldiers sacrificed at home. No new cars, no new tires, victory gardens, ration coupons, etc., ad infinitum. The real leaders of that war were born in the 19th Century. During Vietnam, parents never examined the purpose, and were perfectly happy to let their own kids be drafted. That is, unless they were well-heeled. It's no coincidence that the idiot hippies and protestors came from "elite" schools, and were in the minority. But, that minority does not define a generation, no matter how much Mr. Henry would wish. The failures in Vietnam were born of GG guys like Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and their chosen generals, not the troops who were upstanding Boomers.

Let's also look at industry. How many Boomers have confronted a GGer or two that opposes progress in the workplace? "That's the way we've always done it, and we're not gonna change now" is a typical response. Tradition trumps logic with all these types. It wasn't until early retirements were offered in the 1980's that we could get these time-servers out of the production chain, so Boomers could utilize their skills to make their businesses more efficient.

The USA today is living off past freedoms that produced the wealth to entertain socialist fantasies. The GG pretty much depleted the till, but the Boomers will save us. In fact, they already have begun to do so. Industry is more efficient now that we've gotten rid of the deadwood. People have started home-schooling, and are taking an active interest in their kids for the first time in decades. And, the US military, from the Private soldier, to the highest ranking General is redefining morality in the way we conduct war.

This is being done despite the oppressive overhead that our parents passed on to us. Nevertheless, the socialist utopia has failed, and the real rebels are those Boomers who resist their elder's superior intellects and morality.

Did "We" elect Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Carter and Clinton? Did "We" vote for Democrat over-spenders? Did we initiate Medicaid and follow it up with Medicare? I don't think so. Back in '65, one had to be 21 to vote. What have we ever had to say about anything in our lives? How can "We" be blamed for the Great Society, let alone the New Deal?

So, let us ask Mr. Henry, just how have "We," the Boomers, screwed things up? It seems like we're just trying to correct past errors. It's really easy to cast stones, but Boomers have been held down by the GG for so long that their contributions are only beginning to emerge.

We are suffering the sins of our fathers. Many of us are trying to set the record, as well as the system, right. Mr. Henry seems to enjoy wallowing in his self-imposed guilt trip. Misery may love company, but I'm not joining him on his journey.

P.S. to Editor: You have my information already. Aren't the words more important than the signature, anyway?
-- unsigned

I am tired of the baby boom generation being labeled as narcissistic and greedy when it is their parents' generation (the so-called greatest generation) that is currently sucking the American taxpayer dry and still demanding more. The reason Boomers don't have more saved for retirement is that they are paying exorbitant taxes, including Social Security and Medicare taxes, that they will never get back, as well as paying ridiculous amounts of money to put their kids through college. If it weren't for the working Boomers, this current group of greedy geezers just might have to dip into their enormous bank accounts and pay some of their own expenses, and the whiny kids might have to work their way through school.
-- P. Laffin

DID YOU KNOW?
Re: Patrick Hynes's A Christmas Song for Tormented Souls:

Patrick Hynes, you may not be entirely right about the dearth of Christmas tunes, but "Fairytale of New York" is certainly a wonderful song, better, I think, than Ray Davies's "Father Christmas," which I still like, even though it's overplayed. Funny, I've never considered "Fairytale of New York" as a Christmas song but I knew where you were going while you were still doing the set-up. Kristy McColl's untimely death was surely a tragedy for music.

As for traditional Christmas carols, written for worship, I think "Mary, Did you know?" has the potential to become a classic. It comes from the evangelical movement, which gives it a certain kind of cultural legitimacy (as in "Silent Night"), and I've heard it sung by Episcopal girls and on evangelical radio. The lyrics are very contemporary in their understanding of who Jesus is.
-- Carol Douglas

Thanks to Patrick Hynes for supplying the lyrics to Fairytale of New York and Rick Venema in Reader Mail for one-upping him with Joys of Christmas. But how does either fit in with the lament of "no good songs" being written about Christmas anymore"? Are they cited as examples of good Christmas songs? I guess if you were feeling guilty about having a good time, you could listen to either one of these and kill that mood in a hurry.

Try this, Mr. Hynes. About Christmas is about Christmas - not about how some drunk or oppressed or drugged out loser feels during his usual stupor over the holidays. If Hynes is looking to Irish Punk Rock to warm the cockles of his heart, good luck!

Considering the pall cast by Fairytale, as Christmas fell on Sunday this year, it surprises me some 115 year-old reader in a similar fit of depression didn't write in harkening back to the Stone Age of Radio when Gloomy Sunday was banned from the air, thought to be causing suicides. Never mind that the Great Depression also hit about then.

Herewith some of the lame lyrics. Tame (and in fact, comical) by today's standards:

Sunday's gloomy, the hours are slumberless
Dearest, the shadows I live with are numberless
Little white flowers will never awaken you
Not where the Black Coach of Sorrow has taken you --
Gloooomy Sunday

The banning of this banal dirge by the folks who thought Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? was OK! However, the lyrics of the trash being churned out today makes one long for a little banning.

As Christmas songs have gotten dopier and dopier, we can always fall back on the sweetness of the older standards; Nat King Cole's Christmas Song and the lilting Christmas Waltz -- "Its that time of year, all the world is in rhyme...". No? Why not? Wait, I think I know... It's because they do not portray the gritty reality of life, particularly for no-hoper Irish drunks. Gotta have reality. All the world never was in rhyme, but it's nice to pretend for a week or so.

We can't have any "good" new Christmas songs, Mr. Hynes, because we do not have any songwriters capable of writing them. Think about it, over the long haul, how will Fairytale in New York stand up against the Gershwin and Cole Porter songs dating back to the late '20's still being played? Standards are durable and enduring. The last of the lasting were the Beatles.
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

FIERY FAILURES
Re: Granville Sewell's Evolution's Thermodynamic Failure:

I am writing regarding Granville Sewell's recent article entitled "Evolution's Thermodynamic Failure". Professor Sewell propagates several incorrect notions, but one in particular is egregious, and has the happy property that the mistake can be seen (and corrected) on one's own kitchen countertop. Specifically, Sewell states: "It is a well-known prediction of the second law that, in a closed system, every type of order is unstable and must eventually decrease, as everything tends toward more probable (more random) states. Not only will carbon and temperature distributions become more disordered (more uniform), but the performance of all electronic devices will deteriorate, not improve. Natural forces, such as corrosion, erosion, fire and explosions, do not create order, they destroy it." Anyone reading this can put, in a modest cruet, some salad oil and some water. The cruet can be capped and the mixture shaken vigorously. Obviously, what results is a highly disorganized mixture, as the tiny globules of oil are dispersed in the water. Now, if one were to take Sewell seriously, one would expect that the disorganized mess in the capped cruet (an isolated system) would never, ever become anything other than an even more disorganized mess. But, again, anyone reading this knows that, if one were to set the cruet aside, and do absolutely nothing, the oil would spontaneously aggregate and separate from the water, and in fact a highly-ordered, perfectly-separated two-phase system would come about entirely on its own accord.

By now, many readers must be wondering "is it so easy to defy the Second Law of Thermodynamics that we can do so in our kitchens?" The answer, as a chemist would tell us, is NO. The remarkable ordering that occurs in our cruet is not a defiance of the Second Law, but rather an obedience of the Law. Without going into detail, the reality of this is that the relentless drive to increasing entropy plays out at the microscopic scale to cause oil and water to separate, in effect to produce dramatic and spontaneous macroscopic ordering. Similar processes are at work inside living cells, and are largely responsible for the degree of order and organization that we see in cells. Put another way, this spontaneous assumption of macroscopic order is not a defiance of the Second Law, but an inevitable consequence of the Law.

When it comes to evolution, similar principles (if based on more extensive chemistries) apply. There is no "thermodynamic failure". A perspective (such as Sewell's) that so completely ignores basic chemical principles that it predicts that oil and water will not spontaneously separate will miss this simple truth.
-- Arthur Hunt

Granville Sewell, Huzzah!!

On a more simplistic level, why does common design imply random mutation/natural selection? Doesn't it as easily imply design?

Look at the automobile. All cars are descendants of the original Daimler. They developed through band transmissions to gear transmissions. There is a veritable "tree of life" for cars. We even have intermediate forms with disc brakes on the front wheels and drum brakes on the back, which is the intermediate form from all drum brakes to all disc brakes. There are evolutionary dead ends like the Stanley Steamer and 3-wheeled cars. There is specialization such that we find sports cars on smaller roads and sedans on larger roads. We find plumage in color, chrome and tailfins.

The point is why does common descent necessarily imply no design?

Just a thought.
-- Greg Richards

I write with concern after reading a number of articles published on your website in the past few weeks reviewing the debate between proponents of evolution and intelligent design.

In the UK, and, as far as I am aware, in the rest of Europe, there is no controversy about the theory of evolution and it is accepted by almost every educated person to be the best account of how life developed into all the different species we see around us today. Coming from this background, I have been curious for quite a while why so many educated people in the most scientifically advanced nation in the history of the world argue so passionately against one of the most successful and widely accepted scientific theories ever propounded.

I have no scientific credentials other than a layman's interest in the subject (like some of your contributors, I might point out) but I have noticed that some of articles you have published on your website contain a pernicious distortion of the theory (evolution) they discuss, i.e. that the theory of evolution is an attempt to explain the appearance of life on earth. Two examples follow:

Dan Petersen writes in "What's the Big Deal About Intelligent Design?" (22 Dec 2005):

Although they generally don't dispute that evolution of some sort has occurred, they vigorously contest the neo-Darwinian claim that life could arise by an undirected, purely material process of chance variation and natural selection.

Granville Sewell writes in "Evolution's Thermodynamic Failure" (28 Dec 2005):

When you ask him how a mechanical process such as natural selection could cause human consciousness to arise out of inanimate matter, he says, "human consciousness, what's that?" And he talks about human evolution as if he were an outside observer...

No one who believes in evolution, least of all Charles Darwin, has ever suggested that it accounts for the first appearance of life on this planet (let alone the arousal of human consciousness from inanimate matter) -- it merely accounts, with substantial success, for the evolution from the earliest and simplest forms of life to the complex and varied organisms of the present day. A cynic might suggest that these authors are attempting to hoodwink readers who are not acquainted with the debate into believing that there are more problems with the theory of evolution than actually exist.

I read The American Spectator because I know that you subscribe to the highest editorial standards and I was surprised and disappointed to see that articles containing potentially misleading passages such as those quoted above made it on to a website noted for its intellectual rigor. I am looking forward to future contributions on this subject with great anticipation.

In closing, I would like to thank you for providing me with so much stimulating reading in the past year and to wish you and your readers a happy and prosperous 2006.

Yours faithfully
-- Jonathan Proudfoot
London, United Kingdom

Very comprehensive on the state of debate against evolution, good information, references, and commendable honesty. Very nice article, overall.

I would really like to see more mathematicians coming into this discussion. Too many philosophers defending this "science" with over-valued opinion.
-- unsigned

GOP ON THIN ICE
Re: Ralph R. Reiland's Our Sad State of Affairs:

While I don't take such a pessimistic view as Ralph R. Reiland does on a few matters I agree completely when it comes to government spending. Bush and the GOP are out of control and afraid to stop lest they be called names by Democrats. And goodness knows the spineless GOP members of Congress don't like to be called names as they whine, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but please, oh please don't accuse me of being anti-children."

Free advice to the insane Democrats: Keep the far left fat and happy but locked in the basement and only let out to vote. Then recruit some more centrist and conservative candidates in the South and start picking off seats.

If the GOP wants to spend like drunken Democrats and won't protect the borders then a fiscally conservative, socially moderate Dem that is tough on defense can win. It seems we are going through another political shift where the two major parties change positions yet again as when the Democrats went from the party of slavery to the party of civil rights.
-- Greg Barnard
Franklin, Tennessee

HOLLYWOOD SELF-PARODIES
Re: James Bowman's review of Fun With Dick and Jane:

I have no plans whatsoever to see this film, I remember the PG movie from when I was a kid. I think I saw it twice (wasn't Ed McMahon in it?).

Is the message of the movie that the only pristine, unencumbered by greed, philosophically pure, as well as moralistically elevated from other forms of business which are dirty and totally evil, are the movie and entertainment corporations? That only saint-like CEOs run places like Paramount and Dreamworks? Are they serious?

The psychology of the nuts who run Nutville is pretty interesting. I predict some funny accounting scandals in the future. Maybe even a hostile takeover or four.

Oh well, at least we have old movies. Might have to rent the original FWDJ.
-- Mike Lang
East Lansing, Michigan

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