PIGS ON THE ROAD
Re: Ralph R. Reiland's Hog Heaven:
Thanks again to Professor Reiland for giving national publicity to the Animal Farm (formerly known as the Commonwealth) of Pennsylvania. This week 42 of the "Oinkers" with 54 of their staff members are attending a legislative conference in Seattle. The 96 reservations cost $1,790.00 a day for a total cost to the Pennsylvania taxpayer of $168,000.00 a day. This doesn't include unvouchered expenses. They are the third largest delegation attending the conference and I am sure they will spread their knowledge on how to "pig out" at the taxpayers' expense. George Orwell was right in putting the pigs in charge of the Animal Farm! The State of Washington should have required them to register with their Department of Agriculture after disembarking from the plane.
-- Bob Keiser
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
With great respect for Ralph Reiland, I have to point out a flaw in his observation regarding Rep. DeWeese's comparison of Pennsylvania to a corporation. Reiland states, "The comparison doesn't work. Corporations... are forced to operate in an increasingly competitive environment where they have to be proficient at meeting the wants and needs of the public..."
The comparison, in fact, works too well. My family roots are in Pittsburgh. In the early '90s, my sister and brother-in-law moved south. In the late '90s, I moved south. Two weeks ago the family reunited in Pittsburgh for a final gathering at "home" to help our mother pack and move south. Pennsylvania no longer receives one penny of state tax from our family's collective income, assets, or expenditures. And among friends still in the area, many have inquired about housing and jobs in the south, expressing a real interest in following suit. Goods and services don't always come to the people. Sometimes the people move to find better goods and services. Please remind the arrogant Mr. DeWeese of what happens to corporations that continually lose customers.
-- Tom Cook
Raleigh, North Carolina
In the 1870s during the crude oil boom in Western Pennsylvania, agents of Standard Oil spent a lot of cash on bribes to members of the legislature in Harrisburg to assure favorable legislation. It was said that during this time John D. Rockefeller did everything to the Pennsylvania legislature but refine it. Times have not changed.
-- Stuart W. Settle
LEARNING TO LOATH
Re: George Neumayr's The Loathing One:
Thanks to George Neumayr, I've been cured of a personality defect that has bedeviled me for years.
I was never able to make myself dislike Hunter S. Thompson. Yes, it's true.
Now, thanks to Mr. Neumayr, I've learned a proper loathing, albeit posthumous, for that twerp. If only I'd been able to disdain him while he was still alive to enjoy it.
-- Paul Kotik
George Neumayr concludes:
"Hunter Thompson's funeral befits a culture in which destroying the body with everything from drugs to plastic surgery to suicide becomes its own religion. This narcissism repackaged as 'spirituality' ends, as T.S. Eliot said, not with a bang but with a whimper -- a hollowness no funeral of cannon blasts can fill."
Perhaps, but on the other hand, does Thompson really fit into that box? I would rather think of him as someone uniquely American, the very opposite of a narcissist. It strikes me that to be an American, especially an American writer, one has to be uniquely oneself. Thompson took his gifts as a writer and went off to run a carnival act that had many different appearances and effects. True, it never went beyond being a carnival act, but it was a very good carnival act. And it was his carnival act. No one else could run it, though many have tried. There is something to be said for that.
I don't know what drove Thompson to suicide. One can only guess and then regret that he took his own life. May God forgive him for that.
STILL UNDER THEIR THUMB
Re: Paul Beston's Sweet Hanger-On:
I completely agree with Paul Beston regarding The Stones. I don't quite see how this qualifies as insight, however. A band that has functioned as a highly successful business from the outset complete with "only the best for our customers" references was only rebellious in the marketing sense. Mick models ticket prices to just sell out venues, capturing all the profits and leaving scalpers out in the cold. Sound systems, stage investments and logistics are analyzed as well as any Fortune 500 company. The only things The Stones could "sell out" of are tickets and merchandise. The Stones as "rebels" was always a nod and a wink reference. This was clear to me as a teenager in the '70s.
What is terrific about The Stones is simply that their product in the form of live music is not just as good as it was 30 years ago, it's better. The sound is perfect. The musical talent is freakish (Keith Richards and Ron Wood in the same band -- holy crap, that's statistically impossible). There is a seriousness to The Stones (Richards practices 12 hours a day, as just one example) that simply can't be found elsewhere. I have never cared what motivated Mick and Keith, I just cared about the end product, which is remarkable.
-- Cliff Wagener
WHERE THE DEER AND THE ANTELOPE PLAY
Re: Reid Collins's Let the Rest of the World Go By:
I go through Chugwater on my way to our ranch outside Wheatland, Wyoming. You couldn't ask for a better place to get real and see the real meaning of life (outside the Beltway) or any other suburb. It is the way early America used to be, and Wyoming is the real West, as far as this die hard Texan is concerned! If I was strong enough to stand the winters I'd move there, but after many years in Texas, I doubt my blood is hardy enough to withstand the winters.
The aunt who left several of us "chosen ones" her ranch deep in the mountains of the Laramie range knew what a truly wonderful place Wyoming was. She'd leave Texas in May and not return to her ranch in South Texas until after the first Canadian cold front would reach the Texas panhandle; then she'd figure it was about time to head south. Her love for her adopted state of Wyoming has been passed on to her nieces and nephews who inherited that beautiful place. And each time we enter Wyoming we thank God that He made that beautiful state and the people in it. May those who really choose to leave the rat race, and live close to God and the land, find their way to Chugwater!
-- Beverly Gunn, Texas rancher
A PATROLMAN'S RACKET
Re: Christopher Orlet's Dastardly and Depraved:
Don't feel too bad about paying a fine for not wearing a seat belt -- my wife had to pay a fine ($132) for not wearing a seat belt even though she was wearing a seat belt. She had slipped the shoulder strap under her arm while she retrieved some needle point work from the floor while we were passing through Greenville, Texas. The officer said we could come back to court (300 miles from home) to contest the fine -- how nice of him!
The signs say buckle up or pay the fine. It should say buckle up and make sure the shoulder strap is in the location that we want -- we won't tell you what that position is until we stop and fine you -- but do it right. Or do it wrong... we need donut money.
-- Bill Hall
It is getting really tiresome that liberals such as Wil Burns keep repeating the same mantra. "Bush lied about WMDs." "What was the real reason we invaded Iraq?" They don't bother to get their history straight and they can't imagine that anyone would do anything different from what they would do except for perverse reasons.
Every intelligence service in every modern nation was convinced Iraq had WMDs and was working toward nuclear devices. All domestic intelligence services told Bush the very same thing. Bill Clinton was sure Iraq had them. Bush acted on the best information he had. (As I recall, several liberals worried that an invasion would result in Saddam unleashing these terrible weapons as he had threatened to do.) In spite of all these experts, the left is now convinced that George Bush and George Bush alone knew the "real truth." And so without a shred of proof they charge that Bush deceived everyone.
So the left continues to pose the same question: "What was the real reason?" Implying that behind the "lie" was some self-serving motive. Bush has outlined his case many times in many places and situations. The left doesn't like Bush's case and so dismisses it out of hand. So now they have some unfortunate mother who lost her son standing outside Bush's home demanding a face to face confrontation. If such a meeting happened she will lecture Bush and he will respond as he had always answered. No "deep secrets" will come out. Sheehan will leave and still be unsatisfied. And all this will be "big news".
The left doesn't want this war and so refuses to try to understand it. "War is not the answer" so there is no answer to why we went to war. Bush "lied" because... well... that's what Republicans do. That's why the "debate" is no debate -- just a shouting match. Then they wail about the "lack of civility." It has gotten to be a dead bore.
-- Michael Wm. Dooley
In re the deranged screed sent you by one Wil Burns, all that anyone has to do to "slime" the detestable Mrs. Sheehan, is to publish some of the insane and hate-filled rants she has spewed forth, vilifying this country, such as, "America is not worth dying for." The woman is clearly in need of psychiatric help, and is also a disgrace to her family. She is also demeaning the memory of her son. As for Wil Burns, and others of his ilk, they will never "come out of the patriotism haze," as Burns and the rest of that loathsome lot have not one iota of patriotism amongst them.
-- W. B. Heffernan, Jr.
"I heard Bush say it was because Saddam had WMDs and was going to attack us. Did I hear wrong or was Bush lying his arse off? Do you Bush devotees ever listen to him? Or do you just unconditionally love him?" -- Wil Burns
He slashes, too. Obviously, he must've heard incorrectly, since photographs of recent velocipedic endeavors confirm that the president's arse is still attached. Iterating ad nauseam the "Bush lied" mantra nudges it no closer to the truth.
-- David Gonzalez
Jed is somewhat right of course: Bush has not been strong enough and forceful enough in his message to the American people. But this is not ultimately important.
Unlike our inane leftist friend's banter about Rednecks and what-not, criticism of Bush is not even remotely about the war being justified (it is by any clear-headed measure) it is about whether we are losing it or not. Being against the justification for this war (humanitarian, strategic, geopolitical, "legal," etc.) has no standing except in the fantasies of the American left, Europeans and the MSM. Clinton made the case for regime change long ago. How did Democrats propose to do this? Somalia II? Peace love-ins with Saddam?
Much more importantly, when the American people are asked if it was worth it, the truth is 70% would say yes if we were clearly winning it and 40% would say yes if we were in deep do-do. It's those 30% who either aren't listening or don't care to or lack the will that are the problem.
So unlike many of Jed's articles, on this small point I have to disagree. When it comes to Bush "selling" the war, that is not the real issue. On the basis of the critical 10% or so needed to win the public relations battle, it's the American people with the problem.
The war debate is like shooting yourself in the foot and saying it's all the foot's fault because it exists. It has no bearing on reality whatsoever. The amazing thing is that the MSM and 30% of Americans continue this lame-brained banter. The sadder thing is that a critical 30% of Americans seem to flutter in the breeze believing any thing told them. Luckily in 2004 a critical 2 or 3% of voters saw the truth even if for a moment.
Bush made the case for this war long ago and continues to do so for anyone really listening. The public relations battle is being lost because a handful of Washington insider RINOs can't stop hand wringing about 2006 and the sound-bite popularity contest. It's also because 30% of Americans apparently have little ability to be resolute in the face of adversity. The combination of the two flawed mentalities is truly comical to watch if it weren't so painful.
I am frankly more concerned whether behind the scenes Bush and his team are ready to show the balls to do what is necessary -- use smart American force to demoralize the enemy and regain the momentum. Actions speak louder than words. Focus on and win the war on Islamofascists, let the historians explain it later.
-- Joel Farrier
I agree with Mrs. Palmer, mother of the fallen Marine, that we should send more troops and get the job done or tell the Iraqis it is up to them to decide whether or not they want democracy or whether they wish to wait for another Saddam to return them to their misery. Our troops who have paid the ultimate price will not have died in vain. We sent Saddam into his spider hole and then we pulled him out. They had their first free election, and it should be up to them to decide if they want another one next year.
Mr. Babbin asks, "Who is our enemy?" and "Where are they?" They are Al Qaeda and Muslim Extremists and they are everywhere. President Bush has the dubious and unenviable distinction of having to fight a phantom enemy army of unknown strength (for all we know, George Soros may be contributing to their cause) and fluid boundaries.
It isn't as though there is a country called al Qaedistan and all al Qaeda terrorists are headquartered there. If that were so, we could just send a few bombers over and in no time they would all be pushing up daisy-cutters. But if there were mosques in the neighborhood or women and children nearby, we would be hampered in our effort as we must be careful not to inflict collateral damage. They are allowed all the collateral damage they can muster - it is their specialty!
Meanwhile, on the home front, we concentrate on Cindy Sheehan, the woman the press has said "put a face on those who oppose the war." The political pundits marvel at her rallies and the supporters she has. May I remind you that considering the population -- 283,000,000(?) -- of the United States, the handful of Cindy followers is pretty small potatoes. Never is heard a word of the Kesterson family in Oregon, whose son, Erik, died piloting a Blackhawk helicopter, and the quiet pride they feel in their son's service to his country. Or the Blecksmith family in San Marino, Calif., whose son, a third generation marine, lost his life in the service of his country. No, it is all Cindy, all the time, thanks to the lazy media who don't even bother to learn the names of the families whose grief is mixed with pride as they honor their sons' service, and certainly don't write about their valor.
It's times like these I am glad George Bush doesn't give a soft yawn what political writers think of him.
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California
If you listen to everyone from von Clausewitz all the way back to Sun Tzu, as war is rarely fought to the point of complete annihilation, war is ultimately about effecting a state of mind in your adversary. Just as our soldiers are trying to convince people that life as an insurgent is not very healthy, the insurgents are trying to convince our soldiers and more importantly all of the people back home that the war is a fruitless, futile effort. My anti-war friend tells me that "everyone is sick of this war," and that is one talking point on which I can agree. Based on commentary on even the websites supporting the war, we are at the point where the folks back home are beginning to lose heart. There is an enemy, an "other side" in this war, and as far as adopting tactics to cause us believe that the war cannot be won, well, the enemy tend to do this kind of thing.
I am really for the war? I haven't made any kind of effort to persuade my nephew or anyone else to enlist, but I am not out there in a protest march making life harder and more dangerous for those men and women who have volunteered and gone to Iraq, and I certainly don't have any affection for the cruel misfits we are fighting over there. I agitated for the pullout from Somalia, where the fruits of my efforts and those of like-minded Americans include the World Trade Center destruction along with the Rwanda genocide, so I guess I am not going to make that mistake again.
Apart from my concern that a pullout from Iraq will embolden an enemy that can conduct strikes on our shores, at some level I am resigned to some kind of draw down in preparation for the '06 elections. To address the anti-war talking point that George W Bush is only in Iraq to shore up his family honor, my response is indeed that is true and it is a good thing because what his father did in abandoning the Shiites was shameful, and family honor is a valued treasure in that part of the world. We have probably paid enough of a blood price by now to restore our honor among our Shiite allies that we can turn matters over to the Iraqi people. Part of me is hoping that the Sheehan contingent is successful in getting us out of Iraq so that Shiite death squads can exact vengeance on the truly stupid Baathist dead-enders, foreign jihadis, and their supporters. I'd like to see that Sheehan lady with that blood on her hands in the manner that I have the blood of 9-11 and Rwanda on my hands, but she will go through the rest of her natural life believing herself to be a saint.
I still have hope for sticking it out until the insurgency collapses and we achieve total victory in Iraq. While the jihadi enemy frightens me, I console myself by saying they are not Nazi Germany because they lack the Spartan discipline of Germans and they are not Vietnam because they lack the Confucian virtues of the Vietnamese. Why we need to achieve total victory is because of those darned yard signs and bumper stickers I see everywhere in Madison, Wisconsin. Our soldiers need to return home from Iraq victorious, these brave men and women need to become our next generation of political leaders, and those anti-war yahoos need to be shut out of having any voice in national affairs, not in any kind of McCarthyite purge, but to be swept away by the surge of the popular will. If war is about affecting hearts and minds, and if victory is about demoralizing an opponent, I hope I see the day when the blame-America-first contingent gets their noses rubbed in it.
-- Paul Milenkovic
This is a really excellent piece that reflects my sentiments exactly. In the last ten days I've written to the president twice to suggest that he cut short his vacation and get his butt back to Washington, if only for the symbolic effect it would have. But in any case, five weeks of vacation, however nominal, is ridiculous when we've got 150,000 troops in the stinking heat of Iraq making real sacrifices. How he can apparently fail to see the improper look of it all is beyond me.
I don't know, maybe he's just running out of gas. If so he should say so, and step aside.
-- Charles R. Vail
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