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Crestfallen Conservatives

The Prowler under friendly fire. Also: Financing failure. Edumacation. Peace Corps pretenses. Clinton, Inc. And much more.

9.20.05

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BAD CALL CONSERVATISM
Re: The Prowler's That Sinking Feeling:

The problem with the Social Security reform is that it was poorly formulated from the start. It wasn't going anywhere long before Katrina blew into the Gulf Coast.

Making the tax cuts permanent is going to require a deft realignment of the budget, with the White House insisting that every dollar of hurricane relief for New Orleans be matched by a dollar cut from the pork deposits in the energy and highway bills or elsewhere.

But you folks at the Spectator really ought not to be holding the egg carton for the lunatics at the New York Times and Newsweek. It's unseemly.
-- Martin McPhillips

One thing a person can count on from the conservatives: they call, "We are finished," before half the races are called.

How many times has the President come through? Conservatives want it this way. Give us all we want, but don't spend any money. How simple.

How he manages to stay positive is beyond me, he has no real support from the conservatives, they love to follow the lemmings over the cliff when the liberals get what they think is going to destroy him forever. To see them go leaping off the cliff once again is really a sick sight to see.

WHAT?! He has not solved the SS program yet? Has any other president ever tried? Has he solved the immigration problem yet? Has any other president ever tried? Has he got the perfect person as Chief Justice, well, yes, he has. Oh, right now he has to solve the worldwide problem of the avian flu. Each and every columnist can now tell him exactly what to do, how to do it, when to do it, talk about doing it, and think the columnist is terribly brilliant.

He is one man, guys, not ten. He has done nothing but work from the day he became president. Oh, he goes to the ranch, but the truth is he is still working.... Did you know he and his mother have been going about giving out the message to seniors on the SS program to let them know they will not lose any money? They do this on the weekends and make it fun!

Katrina and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan are still hard work for him, but as long as the conservatives stay positive they will both be a success. If the people do not look around to see the real news from Iraq and read the e-mails of the soldiers and the pride they have in the job they are doing, they run scared and need reassurance every two days.

The left liberals will continue to try and destroy him and if that happens, what are the conservatives left with? Dick Cheney is wonderful, but the energy level of the president is needed.... I believe the worst thing that could happen is the left coming into power at this time. Having sold their position to MoveOn and other very leftist groups, who will really run America?
-- Carole

Well, I guess conservative pundits have officially turned on President Bush, not that many have shown much support during this whole Katrina mess anyway. I thought I was reading a MSM article full of anti-Bush negativism and lots of quotes from unnamed sources. That's alright, since I'll still put my money on President Bush -- it's still possible for him to have a successful second term. The Democrats and the liberal MSM have been "misunderestimating" President Bush for years so now perhaps his so called conservative friends are doing the same.
-- unsigned

The problem with the "Prowler" is that it is too caught up on "Capitol Hill gossip" and Congressional staffers wishing to see their quotes make news. The unnamed administration source sounds more like a reporter for the NYT than part of the team. Maybe the years of constant attacks have taken their toll on the fainthearted career bureaucrats, but it appears the President is not fazed in the least. Accomplishments? I seem to recall a few: a successful War on Terror, complete with two liberated and transformed countries in Iraq and Afghanistan (sorry NYT and the rest of the media elite -- I don't buy your nonsense on this subject). How about the fact that Bush has leveled the liberal agenda and some liberal media elites along the way? Then try the fact that Bush is about to rescue the Supreme Court, (with a conservative woman) from 40 years of liberal corruption to 40 years of the return to "original intent." This single accomplishment will enshrine his legacy, as the Supreme Court has become the last best hope for untenable liberalism. U.N. reform, permanent tax cuts, Social Security reform, and the estate tax are all items pushed down the field by Bush, despite an entire reluctant political class on his back. If they don't get it done, Congress is to blame, not Bush. Mistakes? You bet. I can name a few -- we all can. But perhaps if you pundits accented the positive rather than conventional wisdom, you all might enjoy life a bit more. Just a thought.
-- A. DiPentima

You guys gotta remember how the news cycles work in Washington. Congress has a shorter memory than the public at large. I officially refute the Prowler's overall pessimism and say Bush will probably be as pro-active this term as he was in the first. Disasters are flukes, but profligate spending has never been a special occasion or circumstance of events. We'll probably get the tax-cuts, a decent Judge on SCOTUS, but I'll grant you that Social Security may survive in all its glory as an anti-matter escrow account. So buck up and get with the program.
-- P. Aaron Jones
Huntington Woods, Michigan

In reference to "Dead Agenda" I have to tell you it really ticks me off that the Republicans are such gutless, chicken manure cowards that eight months into the President's second term they are whining about a dead agenda. Why can't they get off their butts and get to work on Social Security reform and permanent tax cuts? Do they remember winning the last election? Do they remember all of us who voted for them, expecting just a modicum of determination to carry through the reforms they espoused and we wanted? What will it take to put some spine in these people? Why won't they fight for what they know is right? Just because we had a devastating hurricane with attendant yowls of hate for Mr. Bush from the press and Democrats doesn't mean the world stopped turning. Look at the good news. The Coasties saved thousands around New Orleans. The war (remember it's a war, not a cakewalk) in Iraq, contrary to accepted opinion, is going well. Afghanistan just held another successful election. The best way to help economic recovery on the Gulf is to do more of what's already worked -- cut taxes. It stimulates the economy, creates jobs, and most wonderful of all, creates greater revenue. Social Security reform is a must -- if I was in my 20s again I'd storm Congress demanding it. Republicans -- stop worrying about getting re-elected and get to work.
-- W.G. Wheatley

I strongly suggest that most of these people should go. I am not in any way impressed with how the people who supposedly supported Bush have served him in the past. The left is in such disarray that now is a good time to retool and move forward.

If things were so bad, it would not be necessary for Clinton himself to come out and lead the charge. His operatives could easily have carried the water. This is a sign that things are far better than you want to see.

The agenda is not dead, it's just time for the weak-hearted to get out.
-- unsigned

The Prowler writes, "... with the political and policy debacle that the White House created with its CLINTONIAN RESPONSE to Hurricane Katrina" (emphasis added).

As I understand from all the reports I've heard and read, the "Clintonian response" had been to appoint emergency response professionals to emergency response positions. Bush's has been to appoint cronies and Arabian horse professionals to those positions. The results speak for themselves.
-- Jim McCormick

BABBIN'S BID
Re: Jed Babbin's Reconstruction Redux:

Let me see whether I grasp the import of this article. The author posits that politicians should not decide who does the work; that bidding should be used among qualified contractors; professional administrators should oversee the expenses and payments; and that connections to politicians must not be a criterion for awarding work.

If I've got this correctly, you are proposing to end government contracting and project management as we know it!
-- Jay W. Molyneaux
Wellington, Florida

Mayor Nagin is wanting people to come back to the disaster that is New Orleans. Is his family still in Texas? Ahhh, the wonderful world of the liberal.
-- Elaine Kyle
Cut & Shoot, Texas

Two hundred billion dollars! The amount of money is so outrageous most of us can't even imagine how much money it really is.

Tom DeLay is an idiot. Unfortunately, he is from my state. And by the way, Louisiana doesn't have a franchise on crooked politicians. We have plenty of them right here in Texas. Jed is right. Republican as well as Democrat politicians know only one answer to a problem: throw our money at it.

The MSM keeps getting it wrong. The levees were not breached. The flood walls on the canals were overcome. But the levees could have been breached as well. If a breach had occurred in one of the main levees, New Orleans would likely be a cesspool that could not be saved. Nagin and Blanco are not capable of running the type of operation the President is talking about. Frankly, I am not sure anyone is.

Whether or not New Orleans is rebuilt, or how it is rebuilt, one thing you can be sure of: our children will be paying for it.
-- Webster
Dallas, Texas

...Merely dumping billions of cubic yards of spoil into the levee-surrounded bowl which is New Orleans will not solve the problem.

The entire area is sinking, as a result of the levee system preventing the renewal of the land with topsoil washed down from the Heartland. The island city of Galveston was built on an area which was more stable, and raising an area with a stable foundation worked fine. The muck on which New Orleans is built is several hundred feet thick. When this muck is saturated with water, it might as well be a liquid, from an engineering point of view. Pump the water out, and the muck shrinks as it dries.

Farmland in the San Joaquin/Sacramento Delta area has the same problem. Fortunately for Californians, their floods in the area are fairly predictable snow melt.

If New Orleans is rebuilt, the country can look forward to rebuilding it again, sooner or later. The levees, which are lacking a firm base, have to be continually replenished and heightened. As of now, they are also slowly sinking into the swamp. Building them to withstand a Category 5 storm is going to take time, and a huge expenditure of capital, followed by extensive, expensive long term maintenance.

My old college professor, who taught Foundations and Masonry Construction, would be aghast at such idiocy. One of his textbook cases of a city with foundation problems was Mexico City. To quote him, "Every time a water tap is turned on, a building in the city sinks a little more." Mexico City and New Orleans are both built on/in swamps, but Mexico City is not on the shore of one of the mightiest rivers in the world.

Rebuilding a disaster without solving the problem which initially created it is foolhardy. There is no other word for it. Either move the city, rebuild it so that it floats, or expect to spend inordinate amounts of capital indefinitely. Query the Low Countries in Europe on the annual costs of their levee system. I saw somewhere that Holland is willing to lend us engineering expertise (at a price, of course).

There is historical legal precedent for moving the city. Immediately after the 1991 floods in the Midwest, several small towns were moved, as well as portions of larger ones. The federal government, which is the only seller of flood insurance, refused to insure any new structures in the old locations. Banks would not finance rebuilding without insurance. See also Grand Forks, North Dakota. Given the alternative, the small towns, with federal assistance, moved to higher ground....

I loved the food I experienced in my many visits to New Orleans, and I love jazz. Last time I thought about it, neither of these cultural products of the city would cease to exist if the city was moved, or drastically re-engineered, nostalgia notwithstanding.
-- R. Goodson
Vero Beach, Florida

Mr. Babbin, as usual, issues forth an article replete with common sense and healthy conservative skepticism. For all the die hard "Bush walks on water" types out there, try this exercise. Take the Bush speech and, in your mind's eye, have it come out of Bill Clinton's mouth. If it had been a Clinton speech, would you be praising it today, or would you be screaming about how it was going to burst the budget, how there was no accountability, how it was going to let the fox (local and state officials) dictate the details and the workings of the hen house.

I would suggest that Bill Clinton is upset with Bush today because the Bush New Orleans plan is so eerily similar to what Bill himself would propose. It seems to me that the term "compassionate conservative" denotes a big government moderate to liberal who happens to be registered as a Republican.

Bush started his administration by turning over education policy to Ted Kennedy to devise. Then he got a hold of himself on 9/11 and we saw a good and forceful leader doing what was best for his country. Then he flew out to an aircraft carrier and declared the hard part over and proceeded to delegate the fighting to others while he moved on. He proposed a good Social Security reform, but the good parts can't pass Congress. He nominated mostly great judges, then stood back and let them be filibustered until McCain finally took over the issue. Bush has tried desperately to reward Vicente Fox with the United States Southwest as an adjunct to Mexico and businesses with a way around unions and paying minimum wages. Oh, and he called American citizens vigilantes for demonstrating border security tactics. Then Bush gets an A for his second term appointments and for his current SCOTUS nomination.

Ah, but then the Dems jump him about the federal response to Katrina. Instead of standing up for himself and pointing out the state and local errors that caused untold death and misery, he caves in and becomes Bill Clinton the Second. Y'all have a good time paying for it. I am old enough that it really doesn't matter much to my wallet. Plant no more Bushes at the White House, please.
-- Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

Here's a suggestion: Sell Louisiana back to the French!
-- Bob Johnson
Bedford, Texas

If ever there was a picture that deserved the caption "Winken, Blinken, and Nod," this is it.
-- unsigned

KILLER ROUTINE
Re: Terrence Scanlon's A Cooked-Up Lawsuit:

This has to be a joke. No? Look this up!!

This is nothing short of amazing. I'm depending upon an old memory but a little burrowing around should reveal that shortly after its invention (in the 1930's by Monsanto Chemical I believe) it suffered a scare campaign shortly after its introduction as a non-stick surface for cooking utensils. Seems the cooking pan industry was blind-sided by the public's immediate acceptance of this phenomena and concurrent loss of income.

When a news article hit the street revealing that fumes from heated Teflon were highly poisonous (sound familiar), it seemed the manufacturer didn't deny that fact but added a caveat that to reach that point (heat to vaporize Teflon) world be impossible to reach on a kitchen stove. Well, it didn't matter, the bottom fell out of the no-stick pan business and time marched on.

During WW II Teflon use was resurrected and found uses through our war machine, I remember an old Chief telling me while I was building up a propeller for P-2V that the blade rubber seal liner (Teflon) had been classified as secret during those years.

Obviously Teflon was reintroduced as a no-stick surface and became successful -- until now, when history is repeating itself.
-- John O'Grady
Virginia Beach, Virginia

ULTERIOR MOTIVES
Re: Christopher Orlet's Alone Again, Of Course:

Christopher Orlet almost nails it in his piece about the feckless and worse-than-useless United Nations, but I would take the analysis further than he does. Any "anti-genocide" or "war crimes" agreement compelling member nations to intervene in such instances probably has only one practical intention ultimately behind it: to permit, or even to force, a multinational invasion of Israel ASAP. Just watch and see what happens...
-- Nina Smith
Yonkers, New York

HOMESCHOOL STARTERS
Re: George O'Neal's letter (under "Children Left Ahead") in Reader Mail's Things Are Looking Up and John R. Dunlap's Home Sweet Homeschool:

I wouldn't want to be very specific in my response because your anticipated project will and should be tailored uniquely to your grandkids, but here are some general hints, if you feel, as we did several years ago, somewhat adrift. Again, the literature on this topic has become vast (you'll find more than a thousand titles on Amazon), and we can only pass along what we happen to be familiar with.

First, you may want to start with the website www.homeschool.com, wherein there's a section addressing folks who are new to homeschooling.

Although we very soon started forging our own curriculum, with a hard eye on the three R's, I think you will find the following titles instructive, or in any event useful to spark your own ideas -- shaped, again, by the temperaments of your grandkids:

1. Mary Pride, Big Book of Home Learning (a practical guide, with a secular optic)

2. Cathy Duffy, One Hundred Top Picks for Homeschool Curricula (the perspective is broadly Christian)

3. Susan Wise Bauer, The Well-Trained Mind (a very thick volume packed with ideas, sympathetic to the religious impulse)

4. Laura Berquist, Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum (pointed and flexible, with a Roman Catholic optic)

We would recommend that you check these titles on Amazon, and the attendant reviews -- but try not to be overwhelmed by the flurry of associated titles.

As they get into high school, you'll be your own expert, but keep in mind the marvelous science texts of Dr. Jay L. Wile. Check that name on Google.

Our private advice on this topic would be to caution you that our own sense of proper homeschooling is not simply to replicate school at home. Some of the professional consultants (including those listed above) seem to us every bit as "busy" as the frantic denizens of the school system. We know some homeschoolers who seem to us to depend too much on one or another of the many packaged programs now available -- and their kids don't seem to like school very much. Our own kids are temperamentally rather easy, somewhat brainy, and voracious readers on their own accord. But they also like a good time, and they need plenty of leisure time to learn how to use their time well. They also need plenty of sleep. Although we've been careful to cover a standard college-prep curriculum at the high school level, we stuck basically to the three R's during grade school and acquired a rather dim view of the kind of homeschooling that merely replicates the frantic, get-ahead pace of what is now misnamed "ordinary" schooling. Some homeschoolers appear to be afraid that their kids might be missing something. I've been in formal education for 35 years; I know for a fact that my kids aren't missing anything. That's our opinion, at any rate. Good luck.
-- John R. Dunlap

PIECE OUT
Re: Thomas Dichter's Aiding and Abetting:

Thomas Dichter writes: "Then we rediscovered the importance of agriculture and put money into extension worker training, agricultural marketing boards, seed multiplication, soil improvement, and new crops."

In the early '60s, the infamous "Peace Corps" embarked on an "agricultural revolution" in Africa and other nations. The objective was the introduction of modern agriculture using tractors and farm implements to replace the old and laborious way to grow food grains. The U.S. (taxpayers) sent over thousands of tractors and implements, and the Peace Corps volunteers taught the locals how to use them. When the Peace Corps program ended, the uneducated natives ran the tractors out of oil and left them in the fields where the engines seized up and reverted to their old ways of farming.

Perhaps it did not help much if the volunteers themselves were from big cities, and had little knowledge about farming and maintaining farm equipment. Either way, it was a matter of ignorance that resulted in failure of agriculture, and the steel-manufacturing industry that preceded it.

In the early '80s, manufacturing in the U.S. was regarded as an "obsolete smokestack industry" to be relegated to "third world nations" as the U.S. focused on the "computer high-tech information age." That became the infamous "information technology and e-commerce" that collapsed in '99 when the bubble burst to create the last recession -- a recession to be alleviated via "manufacturing." Poor quality education in third world nations would have been preventative to manufacturing, which has always required an educated direct labor workforce.
-- Richard Becker

A MAN OF THE PEOPLE
Re: Ben Stein's More on Katrina and Get Off His Back:

I just wanted to say I agree 100% with the article "Get of His Back." Thank God we at least have one celebrity that's not out of his mind. Ben Stein has great wisdom, and my respect.
-- Steve

I can't believe I just read such a heartless article by Ben Stein. I was a big fan of Ben for a long time until I read this article.

This area is a very poor area and many could not leave. It is not just a "local" responsibility to help all of these people. What would the difference be if we knew there was a planned terrorist attack that was going to hit even a smaller area? Am I to think that the federal government is going to leave this to the "state and local" authorities only, and start to help out after the attack?

Nobody is questioning the President's ongoing resolve to "help the people," but rather his lack of forethought and planning. They did know how bad it was. They were warned by other agencies what would happen with a lesser storm. People are just as mad at FEMA as well so they are not just "picking" on your dear President Bush....
-- Ken Murray

Is Ben Stein sleeping with the President or what??

He needs to be screaming at the President for telling the country, on national television, last Thursday, that he takes full responsibility for the horrible response by the government after Katrina.
-- unsigned

DOUBLE STANDARD
Re: Gregg Le Blanc's letter (under "Graduate Student Values") in Reader Mail's Rebuild It and They Will Come:

I can't help but wonder if Mr. LeBlanc is as demanding of the "Major Media Outlets" such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, or the Los Angeles Times, as he is of The American Spectator. He tells us that it is "...incumbent upon you to cite your research when something is noted as 'incontrovertible fact' by your author." Do "a high-ranking GOP staffer, a military insider who wishes to remain anonymous, and a high government official" count as researched sources?

It seems that Mr. LeBlanc wants to hold the Spectator to a higher standard than these major media outlets. I think he is right. We don't want to become what we criticize.
-- Joseph Baum
Newton Falls, Ohio

CEO CLINTON
Re: Jill Carpenter's letter (under "No End in Out of Sight") in Reader Mail's Rebuild It And They Will Come and Ben Stein's More on Katrina and Get Off His Back:

So, reader Jill Carpenter wants to fire this CEO president for incompetence, among other things. Ms. Carpenter, did you want to fire his predecessor for having personal romantic relations with his employee? That's cause for dismissal in many corporations. No, I didn't think so.
-- Chris Norman
Durham, North Carolina

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