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Freedom Flies

The French fry the EU. Plus: Lott's pluck. Danica alley. And much more.

6.1.05

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WISE GUY
Is everyone that writes for your magazine completely insane?
-- Erik Levanowitz
Lindley, New York

LEAVING LOTT
Re: The Prowler's Frist's Lousy Week:

Trent Lott will return to the post of Senate Majority Leader when Shropshire pigs fly!! The Ole Miss cheerleader saw every situation as a chance to compromise even when he held all the cards. Does anyone else remember that he OFFERED to share leadership with Tom Daschle?

Our Republican Party is so much better off with Bill Frist as Leader. Mr. Frist was done in by Trent Lott and the Seven Dwarfs.

Now let me tell you what I really think...
-- Judy Beumler
Louisville, Kentucky

The Seven Dwarfs are determined to lead the Republican Party down the tubes towards future failure. Unless... and I'm sure it will, the filibuster returns over some other real, or imagined, slight to Harry Reid and his Regulators, and gives them a chance to restore their lost honor.

John McCain, a military hero of my generation, has once again demonstrated that, politically, he is nothing more than a party of one, and just loves to bite the President at every opportunity. John Warner, Virginian, thoroughly in love with his image of himself. Guess what, John? The red states don't love you! Too bad we can't vote against you. Chafee, Snowe, Collins? Read a map, small 'r' republicans! DeWine has gone sour, and Lindsey Graham resembles a character I used to see on the Howdy Doody Show back in the early days of home TV. Clarabelle, the Clown! With the seven failing to carry their share of the load, the party will have to take to the foxholes and start over again when the going gets tough.

Along with "Sheets" Byrd's hyperbolic ranting quoting of Ben Franklin about preserving the republic, I was reminded of a New Zealand friend's description of the parliamentary sessions in that country, "It's great high comedy."

The trouble is that there is nothing comedic about it at all; the party seems intent to throw itself in front of a speeding train. Any doubt what Harry's Vigilantes would have done to any Democrat breaking ranks? I don't!
-- John R. Martin
New Braunfels, Texas

The fact of the matter is this: Frist was silly enough to believe Harry Reid -- to accept his word! Now that is silly, that is proof of one being excessively naive.
-- Allen O'Donnell
Wayne, Nebraska

It really is a sad state of affairs when the nation's interests hangs on a bunch of power mad senators like Trent Lott. It doesn't matter how the voters hand the power to those they believe will act according to the people's will and the Constitution, we still end up with fools running the ship. Living in Vermont, I've resigned myself to not being represented in Congress and being in a state that is a laughing stock, however, it really irks me to see others, who should be acting with a modicum of intelligence really screwing things up. Trent Lott, if you ever read TAS, all I can say is that you are a DAMN FOOL, and I am sick of jerks like you cutting the throat of people who are trying to do what is right. Thank you, gentlemen, for letting me have this forum to vent my disgust at that sleaze bag. God Save this Nation.
-- Pete Chagnon

THE GREATEST SPECTACLE IN RACING
Re: Wlady Pleszczynski's Spinning Danica:

I know it's politically incorrect to criticize a woman for mistakes that knocked other, more experienced drivers, out of the race, but the event reminded me of the hoopla when the first woman flight qualified to land a fighter jet on an aircraft carrier. The media couldn't get enough print on praising her to show how "woman are as good as men." Later, when she crashed and died, did some in the military reveal she was mediocre as a fighter jet pilot....
-- David Smith
Pearland, Texas

I wonder, in a sport where victory is measured in split seconds, how Danica Patrick would have done if she was forced to deadweight her car for the almost 100 lbs. difference between her and the average male Indy Car driver?
-- Scotty Uhrich
Glyndon, Minnesota

Wlady needs to lighten up on Miss Patrick. So she crashed at "only" a hundred miles per hour. Hell, Kevin Cogan crashed during the parade lap -- taking out several other cars in the process. Among the victims were Mario Andretti and (if I'm not mistaken) A.J. Foyt. And don't forget Roberto Guerrero who also crashed during the parade lap. Both of these drivers were experienced open-wheel racers. What one must bear in mind is that these machines aren't just difficult to drive. They're barely controllable. Seriously. It's amazing to me that so many racers even get out of the pits without either stalling the car or trashing the drivetrain. And yes, the guys in front of the pack on the restart were playing some speed-up, slow-down games to try and get a leg-up on the restart. But when the guys (and gals) in the rear of the pack see green lights and hear "green, green, green!" in their radio headsets, they're going to stomp on the gas. Accidents happen at the Indy 500 -- that's nothing new. Just because a girl caused this one is no reason to blow a gasket.

That's a little "Gasoline Alley" lingo for you. I've actually been to Gasoline Alley on the day of the big race. Has Wlady? Just curious.
-- Bryan Frymire
Louisville, Kentucky (two hours south of Speedway, Indiana)

Wlady Pleszczynski replies: I attended the 1975 rain-shortened race won by Bobby Unser. Midway through the race I noticed near-leader Tom Sneva was no longer coming around -- later replays suggested it was a miracle he survived the wreck near turn two that saw his car tumble and disintegrate, leaving him intact in his "tub" with not a auto-body part attached to it.

FRENCH DEFEATISM
Re: Jed Babbin's EU on Wry With Malaise:

In retrospect it was inevitable. When all else failed the French surrendered to... themselves.
-- Martin Owens
Sacramento, California

Jed Babbin's insightful piece on the French referendum is marred by his assertion that Turkey's application to join the Union is being delayed "on obviously racist grounds." Not so.

Were Turkey to join the EU -- and setting aside the small matter of what Babbin admits is a quasi-Islamist government -- it would simultaneously become the most populous and the poorest member state, with a full claim on regional development funds. Admitting Turkey to the EU would be akin to admitting Mexico to the U.S. Any takers?
-- Alistair Donald
Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Two questions:

Is the French way of life worth defending? If so, where are the French voters now that Islam imperils the French way of life?

Gallic illogic, n'est-ce pas?
-- David Govett
Davis, California

Jed Babbin wrote: "A wise man -- it was either me or Boris Badenov -- once said that 'in chaos there is opportunity.'"

In actuality, it was the character Milo Minderbinder in Catch-22 who said, "In chaos, there is profit," if I recall correctly.
-- Reid Bogie
Waterbury, Connecticut

The bloated European constitution would have been fatal for Europe, so I'm happy that it was rejected by the French voters, even if it was for the wrong reasons. Besides, further integration and unification would be impossible with the constitution or without. The recent admission of ten new members, not to mention that of Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia in the near future, and of the Ukraine a couple of years later, sees to that. We can't enlarge at this rate and even think of deepening integration at the same time.

I also have to say that your proposal to play at divide and conquer is quite amusing. The EU is a free trade zone, so a selective free trade agreement with some of its members would effectively be a free trade agreement with all members. If you wanted to prevent that you'd need a huge bureaucratic apparatus tasked with distinguishing between products from Eastern Europe and those from Western Europe. Besides, being neighbors, the various Western and Eastern European countries are each other's most important trading partners, and a free trade agreement between the United States and some members won't change that under any circumstances; it's not as if, say, Polish strawberries were going to be shipped wholesale to America (instead of trucked wholesale to Germany). Last but not least, "divide and conquer" tactics would backfire and serve to unite the EU in its attitude towards the U.S. To some extent the same will go for the trade conflict over Airbus, just as the unjustified steel tariffs did some years ago.

Then there is Turkey: We already had an exchange on this a couple of years ago, and I still maintain that the country simply wasn't even close to be ready for membership until very recently, given the widespread human rights violations, general democratic deficits and also its poverty. These were much more important reasons for rejection that racism (which undoubtedly also was a factor). The question of Turkey's membership will remain to be a tricky one, for it is the equivalent of Mexico joining the United States, a prospect that would lead to some serious nervous jitters in your country. On the other hand we might not be able to turn the country away, for a permanently alienated and resentful (and increasingly Islamist, I fear) Turkey with a rapidly growing population right on the EU's borders would be at least as big a headache as a insufficiently reformed Turkey inside those borders. It remains to be seen how this develops. I blogged on the issue some years ago during the Copenhagen summit, where Turkey was declared a candidate for membership here.

Quite apart from the question of Turkey's membership, we already have a tariff union with it (as well as with Israel), which basically grants the country most of the advantages it would get from membership in the
EU, but hasn't made the Turks very happy even so. It seems that free-trade agreements don't generate as much good will as you think -- how happy are Americans and Mexicans about NAFTA or with each other, despite the obvious advantages they gain from it?
-- Ralf Goergens

We have noted of late, a tendency of various authors to utilize the 35 hour week canard. We recognize that such efforts by France in the past were part and parcel of a malaise symptomatic of their economic woes. (e.g. "They will fight to the death (just rhetorically, of course) to protect their legally mandated short work week,…")

But in the spirit of factual correctness, it is recommended that starting June 1, 2005 all Pundits should refrain from mandated references to being lazy on the part of the French. The 35-hour work rule was repealed back in March. Though it is noted that the French still prefer a two-hour lunch.

In consideration of the surfeit of material that can be used to bash the French in other venues it might be viewed by some that the 35-hour issue as "piling on." Permit me to recommend we channel our efforts into the snobbery, xenophobia, and "De Gaulle Syndrome" so symptomatic of the French elite.

-- John McGinnis
VP, External Affairs, Fact Checkers Anonymous
P.S. Kudos for the balance of the article, as spot on.

Jed Babbin, usually a sensible observer, seems to have lost his mind (or his memory) on the subject of Turkey:

"And why should Turkey, our sometimes recalcitrant Muslim ally, be left out? (Because they betrayed us when we asked not even their participation but only their cooperation in Operation Iraqi Freedom!) The Turks have much to offer, including access to the new million-barrel-a-day Caucasus pipeline (that oil sweet song!), that can benefit us enormously. Their current government is quasi-Islamist, but their westernized majority (Ha! Not much in evidence in polls or voting booths!) and very capable military (When was this capability last demonstrated in actual combat?) aren't. Most Turks harbor enormous resentment of France and other EU members that have -- on obviously racist grounds (not racist, but cultural, see Theo van Gogh obituaries. To call those who advocate caution with regard to inassimilable Muslim immigrants "racists" is the familiar Muslim propaganda line for knee-jerk American consumption) -- delayed Turkey's EU membership application. Why not give Turkey now what the EUnuchs promise and never deliver? (Because, hopefully, we are smarter than the EUnuchs.)"

Turkey has proven a faithless "ally," to be punished accordingly. Most analysts seem to believe that Turkish cooperation in OIF would have rendered the "insurgency" that has plagued the last two years much less troublesome, since many of its participants would have been killed when our northern column swept through the Sunni Triangle.
-- G.W. McKenna

Jed Babbin replies:
That I may have lost my mind is always a possibility. But the evidence you submit falls terribly short of proving that point. Who are the experts and analysts you cite? No one I know, and I fancy myself as pretty well-wired into the analyst community, believes the Turkish refusal to allow the landing of the 10th Armored to the north would have had any effect on the insurgency whatsoever. The insurgents -- as you might have read in my column of 4/1/03 -- were flowing into Iraq long before the proposed landing would have occurred. Since then, the insurgents have been reinforced, funded and armed from Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran. Kurdish areas bordering Turkey are not a problem. I reiterate: Turkey is a valuable ally, and one that must be courted and brought back into the action. To ignore them, or punish them as you propose, would indeed be insanity.

SILENCE IS GOLDEN
Re: Lawrence Henry's Shut Up!:

Have y'all never heard of a DVR? I record all my programs and while they are recording I am watching shows that were recorded earlier. Just pass right past the commercials. Thank you Dish Network for a DVR that lets me record two shows at the same time and watch already recorded ones.
-- Elaine Kyle
Cut & Shoot, Texas

MODERATELY SELF-ADORING
Re: George Neumayr's Tyranny of the Moderates:

You always stir the pot. Thanks.

Everyone is an absolutist. A moderate is an absolutist with a fence. There's no such thing as a superiority complex. Moderates are thirsty for human respect and the press gives it to them. Suffering for the good would never occur to them and the more meaningful the issue, the more subservient to relativism they become. They undercut anything they claim to sit for. If God only played a central role in their lives they would have something other than themselves to worship. It's so sad and maddening. They represent nothing.
-- Bob Levine

CALLING TORQUEMADA
Re: Ben Berry's letter (under "The Homosexuality Canard") in Reader Mail's Elite of All Evils:

Given its content, I will let pass the adulation given by Mr. Ben Berry in his gushing defense of The Cato Institute's economic prescience, but I cannot do the same about his second missive, which deals with a topic about which our productive letter writer knows very, very little. Why is it, I ask, that contributors to this webzine, without the slightest -- other than its prurient side - interest in and information about Catholic beliefs, write such drivel? What is, pray tell, "a Catholic urban legend?" Did the "legend" attenuate or disappear as the local population declined? Does Mr. Berry understand what the word "Catholic" means? Where is Tomas de Torquemada when we need him!

Mr. Berry knows, or should, that more than 75% of all cases of priestly pedophilia involve "pre-pubescent" boys. Mr. Berry should also know that there is, even among the bishops who have sidestepped the issue, the reality of the causal nexus between such depravity and the fact that homosexuals are now part of the priesthood. For a better understanding of what has happened to the priesthood in this regard, might I suggest Michael S. Rose's Goodbye, Good Men? Continuing, our pundit, having lost sight of his objective, redoubled his efforts.

Predictably, there follows, "...the conservative factions of the Catholic Church (Opus Dei)..." Well, at least he didn't say "Jesuits!" At the point of sounding critical, does Mr. Berry understand that included in the Church's "Deposit of the Faith" are strictures that forbid priestly sexual activity in either manifestation? The Church has always held, and does to this day, that the difference is that while one, heterosexual sin, is still mortal sin, its homosexual variety is equally sinful...as well as disordered. That is why practicing homosexuals were never permitted into the priesthood in the first place! Not until the baleful beginnings of Vatican II, that is. I wish to reassure Mr. Berry that the Church is not giving a "pass" to priestly heterosexual scandals, it's just that they're so very few and so very hard to find these days. But I can confidently tell him he can rest easy: if anything is certain, the MSM, especially The Washington Post, will do its utmost to see scandals of whatever variety, real or imagined, in the Church appear on the first page above the fold.

A non-celibate clergy in the Church of Rome will not deal with the issue of homosexual or heterosexual priests, for until post Vatican II, this issue was never considered a serious proposal in the Western Church. It is a bogus contention. What lurks underneath much of the reporting of these scandals, Mr. Berry, is the firmly held (feminist) belief that the answer to the Church's problems rests with a female clergy. That, too, is bogus.

Finally, Mr. Berry, I do ask that, in future correspondence, you rise above caricature in discussing an issue related to the Church's "Deposit of the Faith." Cite papal encyclicals, cite Aquinas, Augustine, or Tomas de Torquemada's writings, but "the church lady of SNL" will not do.

Pax tecum.
-- Vincent Chiarello
Reston, Virginia

SPEED LIMIT FOLLIES
Re: Eric Peters's Passing Fancy:

I just wanted to say "thank you" for the excellent article you wrote on "left lane hogs" on May 3.

As the editor of a website on eliminating traffic congestion, accidents and fatalities, and author of a number of driving "how to" special reports and tip lists, I was very happy to see the coverage you gave this important subject.

As I travel the country speaking and teaching advanced driving skills and the cause of traffic congestion, I find that many drivers truly think that driving one speed (usually 55 or 60) is the safest way to drive.

And as you noted in your lead... the "left lane hogs" justify that they are being lawful and going the "speed limit," and now "finally" the driving laws are advancing to rectify this misconception that's been enforced for decades.

I've taken the liberty of including links to an article and a tip sheet I've written that are most relevant to this subject.

And if you desire, I can also make available several more special reports and tip sheets relating to numerous driving topics that you may want to keep in your future file should you decide to do a follow up story sometime in the future.

This topic is my passion, Mr. Peters. I've spent years dissecting the cause and cure of mass traffic congestion in order to help provide solutions to problems and conflicts that we face in our society every day.

If I can be of service to you in any way in the future, please call on me.
-- Alex Hunter
Author & Founder, www.rushhourrelief.com

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