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A Charlie Brown Holiday

Washington, USA. A Linus Christmas. The boy burglar and other social misfits. Plus much more.

11.30.05

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FAT ON THE HOG
Re: George Neumayr's The Commode of D.C.:

George Neumayr has hit the nail on the head. Corruption is the occupation of choice for many of our elected "representatives." In the mid-'50s Washington, D.C. was a small, "sleepy" village. During that time I was stationed at Patauxent River Naval Air Station and would occasionally drive up to D.C. on liberty. It was always possible to drive up Pennsylvania Avenue through the heart of the city, regardless of the time of day. There was no beltway or any multilane interstate highway system. There was no reason for them. The center of power for the United States was not in D.C. at that time. This has changed. I noticed the change that was taking place during the recession years of the Carter administration. While the majority of the country was having bad times, D.C. and its environs were not. I remember driving through Frederick and Bethesda and noticing that the skyline was filled with large cranes atop multistory buildings, all of which were under construction. This has continued apace. We now have a federal government that holds the purse strings and has control over every aspect of our lives. It is not surprising that people who have to deal with the federal government find a way to protect their interests. Unfortunately, in so doing the taxpayers become the losers. I doubt very much if the 50 states in our Republic will ever regain the power they've lost to D.C. Hopefully, I'll be proven wrong.
-- John C. Chapman, Ph.D.

In the spirit of buy-partisan-ship and fare-ness, I respectfully submit the following:

1. Graft should be a cash only business but you have to provide your own coffee can and shovel.
2. When your favorite pork project is up for cancellation, please don't forget to cry in front of the full Senate.
3. Pork is easier to sell when it's good for the environment, children, or quality of life.
4. Remember, pork is the other white meat. As such, make sure to cook the books completely before serving.
-- RW
Cow Creek, Texas

Pretty disgusting -- Vietnam veteran, Top Gun, Republican Randy Cunningham's taking bribes. And for the most uncharacteristic items -- French commodes and Rolls Royces? He looks more like outhouse and pick 'em up trucks! And, yes, I know a commode is a dainty little table. Even more disgusting was his phony blubbering, remorseful mea culpa. What is it about these guys with a chicken-thief mentality that they dissolve into a big puddle of tears when caught? Webb Hubbell, Burt Lance, Rostenkowski. But you have to hand it to that "top" kook, Traficant. He just blustered off to prison, his worse regret being that they weren't going to let him wear his rug while in Stony Lonesome.

How is it none of these guys have their Come to Jesus Moment until the jig's up? Why did the Dukester not say, as somebody was shelling out for his daughter's graduation, "Geez, this is pretty penny-ante, I gotta stop this. All my constituents are paying for their kid's graduation and they are paying my salary to boot." But no, to a man they go on compounding the felony until the unthinkable occurs. They know many of their colleagues are still gettin' away with it and they reason that they will, too.
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

I will say it again, what we need is TERM LIMITS for both houses, just like the President has. It is way past time for the pols in Washington to get out and get a REAL job. Am I the only person that thinks this would solve most of our problems?
-- Elaine Kyle

Bravo! Tell it like it is, George.
-- Bob Johnson
Bedford, Texas

CHARLIE BROWN REMEMBERS
Re: Lisa Fabrizio's The Ghost of Christmas Presence:

I wholeheartedly agree with the article by Lisa Fabrizio. However, I would like to point out that she did not mention the wonderful Charlie Brown Christmas in which Linus quotes from Luke 2. I know that network stations still play this show, but I have not watched since I bought my own copy on DVD. As far as I know they might have chopped it up so they could advertise more "gimme, gimme" commercials. I will just quote from Linus and say, "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown." AMEN.
-- Debra Poore

Lisa Fabrizio is spot on in bemoaning the secular shuffle of mediocre "holiday specials" those who celebrate Christmas are resigned to watch each December. However, she did not mention the old standby classic, A Charlie Brown Christmas, which is shown year after year to my ever mounting astonishment. Besides the archaic title, it is still reassuring, as well as moving, to hear Linus recite the story of the real meaning of Christmas by quoting the Holy Scriptures. I await the inevitable not-to-distant future Yuletide when, sadly, the show's title is changed to A Very Special Charlie Brown Holiday Special and the scene with Linus is edited to allow for more commercial time.

Also, do any old timers remember The Little Drummer Boy? Clay-mation Christmas at its finest!
-- Susan Powell
Florence, Alabama

I recently visited a U.S. Post Office and inspected their holiday stamps. They had stamps bearing the words EID, Hanukah, and Kwanzaa, but none with "Christmas." (They had a stamp with a picture of a Christmas tree, but "Christmas" was nowhere to be found.) This is madness.
-- David Govett
Davis, California

Before the radical left secularists make it illegal to do so, I'd just like to wish everyone at the Spectator a very Merry Christmas. May God Bless each of you in the New Year.
-- Jay W. Molyneaux
Wellington, Florida

TORT TARGET
Re: Ralph R. Reiland's Making Things Whole:

The one satisfying point of Mr. Murphy winning is now he has money and others can sue him for what he does. Just deserts.
-- Bruce Peek

As much as I respect Ralph Reiland for his opinions on the recent legislator pay raise scandal in Pennsylvania, I think he may have missed the boat on this one.

Please refer to this website for a story with some background on the Carl Murphy case.

What tipped me off to the fact that there might be something more to the story was Ralph's inclusion of the fact that the property owners were cited for failing to maintain a fence around their property. As a lawyer that made no sense to me. What does fence maintenance have to do with a burglar?

It turns out that Mr. Murphy was not, in fact, a teenage burglar at the time of the accident, as Ralph's article implies. He was a nine year-old boy. That clarified the picture for me.

Both American and English law recognize that property owners of what are called "attractive nuisances" have an obligation to make reasonable efforts to prevent access to their property. An attractive nuisance is a property that a reasonable person would assume to attract the interest of a typical child. Example: a plain pasture, with no development, is not an attractive nuisance, but an abandoned Ferris wheel located on a piece of property with no fence or other form of trespass control would be.

Also, both American and English law does not hold children to the same standards of liability when it comes to acts such as trespassing. Minors do not have the mental capacity to be held to the same standards as adults. And the "age of reason", to use a term of art, is generally accepted to be about 10 years old.

The classic American case is a 19th century incident when a boy was crushed in a railroad roundhouse while playing in a railyard after business hours. The railroad owners claimed that the trespass of the boy negated any responsibility for the accident on their part. But the court found that there had been a history of boys playing in the railyard, and that railroad knew about the boys being there, and that they had been warned several times by concerned parties that some child would eventually get hurt. It was further found that a simple padlock would have effectively secured that piece of equipment that killed the boy. But even though the railroad knew that they had an attractive nuisance (most boys were, and still are, fascinated by trains), had been warned of probable danger, and had a cheap means of making the area safe, they ignored the situation. The court's decision was that the life of a child, even a child who is trespassing, is worth more than the cost of an inexpensive padlock. The railroad was fined.

From what I see, the same situation applied in this case. Carl Murphy was nine years old and trespassing. While the story I cited above does not say so, I would bet that it was not the first time that kids had entered the property in question. Some kids, especially little boys, are thrilled by dangerous things, and playing around abandoned property strikes me as a problem that is not so unusual that the property owner should have been surprised by the fact. It was probably found to be, in the decision of the court, an attractive nuisance.

Given that situation, the property owner had an obligation to take reasonable measures to keep the kids out. Maintaining a fence certainly falls into the realm of reasonable measures.

So Carl Murphy, a nine-year-old boy, is severely injured. The fact that Mr. Murphy is from a rotten family and that he grew up to be a snide, rude, and generally worthless individual is not the point of the case. The court, based on the facts presented in the case (which we are not privy to), found that Murphy's injuries were compensable.

I suspect that after the fine, the property owner probably fixed his fence, and if he had done that to begin with, he wouldn't have been liable in first place. More importantly, negligent property owners not an uncommon problem. Society should not tolerate negligence of property owners. This kind of penalty sends a signal to them that they must not ignore potentially dangerous situations.

I'm sure that Ralph's article will set off another storm of protest against "greedy lawyers." After all, we lawyers are everyone's favorite villain. But I don't think this is a case that proves that point.
-- Bob Casselberry

Ralph R. Reiland replies:: Bob: Thanks for reply. Some good points. And check again; I said in first paragraph that the event happened eight years before Murphy was 18, i.e., 9 years old.

SMALL-TENT CONSERVATISM
Re: W. James Antle III's Don't Blame the Social Conservatives:

For the record; those of us that do not like the "social conservative" element of the GOP are not terrified of anything to do with that element. We are resentful that they have stolen our party. No matter what they do or don't support; they waste valuable political capital pursuing their selfish narrow-minded elitist snobby religious nonsense!!!!! They scare away reasonable people from the GOP and therefore diminish the party and the possibility of real small government success. They make a lie of our quest for less government by inserting government into the most private parts of our lives, usurping states rights at will when it serves their religious bent. Most people revere Reagan; I don't. I deplore the FACT that he sold the GOP to the social un-right so cheaply (just to get himself elected)!!!

You need to talk to real people and real GOPers before you write such tripe.
-- Gary Blume

Nice piece on the social conservatives. That was a breath of fresh air.
-- Jonathan Collegio
Press Secretary
National Republican Congressional Committee
Washington, D.C.

ASPIRIN, NO; ABORTION, SURE
Re: David Holman's Parental Notification Day:

Incredible! Children are regularly suspended from school for bringing aspirin, vitamins, even Tums to school. Locally a girl was suspended for bringing a cake knife to school to cut the cake she baked (under the zero-tolerance policy regarding weapons). But it's a question if a child can have an abortion without parental notification!? Only in a country long suffering from the nightmare of liberal policy making could such an ironic outcome occur.
-- Craig Smith
Knoxville, Tennessee

POPULIST DRUG ECONOMICS
Re: Doug Bandow's The World of David Catania and "Caught on Catania" letters in Reader Mail's Down on Big Pharma:

The simple-minded antics of this blowhard politician David Catania reflect the abysmal lack of basic economics smarts of American politicians and the dummies who vote them into office. The topper: Foreign countries with fixed prices force American pharmaceuticals to sell to them at a huge discount. The companies must at least recoup their costs so we, the American consumers pay a much higher price for their products. Guess what, folks, we Americans are actually subsidizing drugs sold at a "discount" in those countries by our paying higher prices! In my view, this extortion is actually stealing profits from those of us who took the American dream seriously and bought stock in pharmaceuticals, anticipating profit on our investment. My advice to the pharmaceuticals: Move offshore, develop your drugs, say to the world, "This is the drug, this is the price. You want it, you pay for it." Leave the social work to the social workers. Sometime, somehow, we have to reduce the power of the tyranny which results from too much power in Washington and too much economics ignorance of the voting public.
-- A.R. Munnerlyn
Thermopolis, Wyoming

Sheesh! Only one out of four readers who bothered to comment understands the situation. The other three, one being an MD and ex-legislator, would flunk Econ 101 not to mention Patent Law.

Where to start? First off, let's concede that Doug Bandow's excellent article was all about price-fixing by "colluding legislators" and not about "The Monopolistic Big Pharma." A typical liberal tool, that, using an argumentum ad hominem assault, like "Big Oil," "Big Business," or whatever industry the socialistic left wants to control. Now, on to the unrelated comments by our esteemed readers.

So we taxpayers are "owed" because our tax dollars support academic research? Gee golly, research must be funded and if the dollars don't come from taxes, they have to come from the drug companies' sales. There ain't no free lunch out there.

So monopolistic patents result in us being "at the mercy" of one company's pricing policies? Consider the alternative: no patents, no protection, no payback for the research to develop the drug, generic substitutes from Europe and Asia from the git-go, and bankrupt pharmaceutical companies or at least no new drugs. Is that what we really want?

"Drug companies fix prices by forcing Americans, with the help of colluding legislators, to pay more than is paid in other countries for the same pills." I doubt that any "colluding legislators" in America are involved in other countries' price-fixing, which is the only reason the same pills cost less over there. What would you have the drug companies do? Not sell overseas? I have no doubt that they have all run the figures and decided that even at the socialistic prices they can get overseas, the overall profit margin is worth the sales at a lower price because cash flow is important too, not just profits. If not, they would not sell overseas -- at least not for long.

And of course, as pointed out by Mr. Sevakis, we Americans are indeed paying for the drug benefits enjoyed by residents of price controlled countries. That's just the way it is and it's not the fault of the drug companies.

So if you really want to make it impossible for the drug companies to continue to come up with miracle drugs, like the ones which are keeping my heart beating, my kidneys working, and my blood sugar down, do like Mr. Hurt suggests, and just open the borders to drug imports. Then no one will buy drugs at market price here, the drug companies will sell to price controlled countries, we will buy those same pills back at a lower price, and everyone loses because, sooner or later, the drug companies will not be able to afford research for new drugs, perhaps even go bankrupt, and then we can all rely on homeopathic remedies and acupuncture from Asia.

But just be sure to not catch the flu, or HIV, or develop cancer or Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease because there won't be any new wonder drugs to save your butt. Stop eating those juicy cheeseburgers, eggs, shrimp, and other sources of cholesterol. Or your arteries will surely plug up and natural selection will take you right out of the gene pool.

Hmm. That might not be such a bad thing after all.
-- Bob Johnson
Bedford, Texas

CHECKING THE GOOD NEWS
Re: John G. Hubbell's letter (under "'Nam-inal Thoughts") in Reader Mail's Down on Big Pharma and Jed Babbin's The Vietnamization of Iraq:

An outstanding letter by John G. Hubbell. I wish that I had written it. It is wonderful that he took the time to include all of the positive social improvements provided to the people of Iraq by the U.S. and its armed forces. Once again, kudos to Mr. Hubbell.
-- Michael Tobias
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

THE LOVELY AMERICAN
Re: Philip Klein's Rocky IV Turns 40:

Klein forgets to note another aspect of Rocky IV. The training sequence contrasts Drago's use of computers, steroids and machines with Rocky's training off the land, with the cold snow of Siberia contrasted with the sterility of Drago's vast, empty gym. Rocky runs up mountains, helps Soviet citizens when their carts are trapped in the snow, and proves himself to be more "Russian" than the Communist leaders.
-- John Piro

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