Reader Mail

The Dead and the Dignified

Saluting the Arlington Ladies. Plus: Who is honorable? Righteous? Correct on stem cells? Also: Noise, noise, noise. And much more.

5.31.05

Send to Kindle

WHO ELSE?
Re: President Bush's Leave No Embryo Behind:

I find it a measure of the disintegration of the Democrats when I consider that there is not one nationally known Democrat who could have sounded credible delivering those eloquent remarks. How refreshing it is to have a leader with such a profound moral clarity; who is so obviously on God's side.
-- John Jarrell
San Antonio, Texas

A HOLIDAY SALUTE
Re: Shawn Macomber's The Arlington Ladies:

What a lovely tribute, Mr. Macomber. I never knew the Arlington Ladies existed before this article, but I am so glad to know they do. It's comforting to know that they pay tribute to those who have given so much for this wonderful country of ours. It's also comforting to know that some traditions still exist in this crazy culture. Thank you, Mr. Macomber, and a humble thank you to the quiet dignity of the Arlington Ladies.
-- Deborah Durkee
Tampa, Florida

Here in San Diego, we have the "Dignity Memorial" services every month. Destitute Vets are given a full Military Funeral Service -â€" Chaplain, Rifle Salute, Taps, and a Flag Draped coffin. I became aware of this program through a fellow Rotary member who is in charge of the local Vietnam Veterans Services. "Sometimes," he said, "there are no family members to accept the flag. Would you be willing to stand in as family some time?"

It was one of the most moving things I have ever done. The flag that covered this vet's coffin is cased and displayed by my desk. A small plague tells all that we know about him. He was born in Kentucky, served in the Army from 1-67 to 4-70 and died alone in San Diego 2-05. He is not forgotten.

Thank you for the wonderful article about the Arlington Ladies. God Bless them every one.
-- Steve Hubbard
San Diego, California

What a touching piece. Every once in a very long while I read something like this, and I find myself hovering somewhere between admiration and shame, in that I do not know if I have ever done something so simple, and yet so caring, in my life.
-- Robert E. Martini, Esq.
Glen Rock, New Jersey

Thank you for the wonderful story about the Arlington Ladies. I wish I could serve with them; however, I don't think I would have the ability to keep my emotions from spilling out. These women have so much courage and compassion. God bless all of them in their work. They are extraordinary.
-- Clasina Segura, a Navy veteran from the early '60s.
New Iberia, Louisiana

The phrase "much less publicized than the 21-gun salute" is used in this article as if it applies to all military funerals, but it does not. A president or head of state is the only person authorized such a salute.

A 21-gun salute is fired by artillery, one round at a time at measured intervals. Think back to Ronald Reagan's funeral -- that is what you witnessed. What usually happens at military services are three volleys of musketry. This is a tradition practiced since our Civil War when each side would signal that the truce to bury the dead was no longer needed by firing three volleys.

You are not alone in this misconception -- I have written editors repeatedly about this error, but the "word" apparently just doesn't get around. I guess knowledgeable veterans are in short supply in newsrooms.

The sad thing is that "you could look it up!"
-- Rod Smith

God Bless the United States of America. And God Bless the Arlington Ladies.
-- James N. Ward
Breux-Joy, France

SCOUNDREL TIME
Re: Clinton W. Taylor's Curious, George!:

George Galloway MP is NOT an "Honourable."

The title "Honourable" is given to the offspring of various types of aristocrat. Thus, Lord X will have a child entitled to call themselves "The Honourable First Name X."

Her Majesty's Privy Counsellors are entitled to the honorific }Right Honourable."

George Galloway is simply, and very regrettably, an MP, elected by Muslims in a very "dark" part of east London.

I have little doubt that "truth" and "George Galloway" don't sit easily in the same sentence. That being said, I suspect that the same can be said for most elected politicians. Lying comes as easily to them as breathing. Why else do you think that turnout in elections is so low?

The population knows that none are to be trusted.
-- Chris Palmer
Southampton, UK

TRAITOR PULL
Re: John Samples' The Quisling Gambit:

Appreciated your Quislings piece; brilliant.

McCain is an opportunistic piss-ant.
-- C. Melgard
California

As a dedicated conservative, I am getting sick and tired of other conservatives attacking John McCain. The man is an American hero, he spent 5 1/2 years of his life in a North Vietnamese prison. He is staunchly pro-life, and on the issue of the war on terror, he has been more "Bushian" than the President himself. This latest deal on the judicial nominees, while imperfect, got the great Priscilla Owen confirmed as an appellate court judge, and will see Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor confirmed as well. Perhaps this has escaped your notice, but having a sharecropper's daughter, one step removed from the Supreme Court, who is so conservative that she makes the great Ronald Reagan look like a moderate, is a stake driven right through the heart of modern liberalism. After 4 years in the judicial limbo wilderness, this is progress! The constitutional option has only been shelved, not thrown away. After these 3 are confirmed, I guarantee you the Dems will shoot themselves in the foot by filibustering Henry Saad and the remaining 3 judges, and then Johnny Mac will be back onside, pressuring the Dems to cave again.

McCain's staunch stand against pork-barrel spending is conservatism at its finest. Far too many other "conservative" GOPers are Bobby Byrd-like in their love of pork.

Trust me, this man is a right-wing conservative, and he got something accomplished, without giving [anything] away.

Cut his some slack! Do it now! Attack the Dems, and uplift the GOPers, especially Johnny Mac
-- Nicky Billou
Ontario, Canada

Remember Eric Erickson's (William Holden's) observation in The Counterfeit Traitor that he had convinced his conscience to behave like a good dog, lying quietly in the corner of the room? No problems of conscience at that point!

And so it is for my candidate for "Quisling of the Week", John Warner. Recall 1994, when Virginia Republicans had nominated Ollie North to be their Senator over Democrat Chuck Robb. Warner's conscience being the good dog, he convinced businessman J. Marshall Coleman, another Republican with a good dog conscience, to run as an "independent", and succeeded in throwing the race to Robb, one of the few Republican losses in the South that otherwise triumphant year. The "free press" mumbled for a while about Warner losing his positions on various committees, but nothing happened, the "traditions" of the Senate trumping those with something more than good dog consciences.

Warner's had a lot of practice before this week. He deserves the award.
-- Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey

NOISE MAKERS
Re: Lawrence Henry's Shut Up!:

Please pass along to Lawrence Henry that he has joined the noisy fray regarding loud commercials with his out loud comment of "SHUT UP." The proper response is ether "be quiet" or "hush."
-- unsigned

Best commercial I have seen of late was on TV. Your screen goes black like the tube just went on the fritz. Fifteen seconds later the product is flashed on the screen then it's on to the next commercial. There is no sound.

It gets your attention due to the lack of sound and gives you pause, "Is my TV broken?" Not quite as effective the second or third time but you do remember the product.
-- John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

Some years back, KABC TV in Los Angeles did a story on the loudness of its commercials when it got a number of viewer complaints. Their engineer stated that their commercials were no louder than the programming but only seemed so because the audience had become accustomed to the dialog between commercials. I decided to try a crude test of this by placing a microphone in front of the TV and watching the VU meters on my hi-fi. To my shock, the engineer's statement was correct. In fact, the dialog exceeded the commercials at one instant. However, during the commercials, the VU meter needles hovered over the max and never fell to zero, while the dialog, which has a lot of dead time, produced short peaks with long lows in between. I also noticed that commercials contain a lot of high frequencies (produced by musical instruments), which carry for longer distances and are more direct than low frequencies produced by speech, and thus sound louder.

To answer Henry's question as to why they are louder, I can only point to my experience in military basic training. Sergeants never talk in a normal voice; THEY YELL EVERYTHING because they have to get through to the lowest common denominator.
-- Gordon Paravano
Sedona, Arizona

I am with you on the loudness of commercials. I do not listen to radio much, but on television there are some that are so loud, I grab my remote and turn it off.

I resent this noise and if anything it persuades me to not buy their product simply because I am so tired of hearing the same commercial over and over again... very loudly.

The fact that I am hearing impaired should tell us something and cannot hear some of the words in a program, but the commercials are too loud for me.

I seldom listen to any commercials because of the fact they are so loud and obnoxious, and have wondered if others felt as I do. Apparently they do and I am sure there will be letters about in the Reader Mail. Should a support group be started about this problem? We could go on television and play noisy commercials on Sunday morning just to get even. It would only be fair.
-- Carole

Regarding the article, '"Shut Up!" I agree that advertisements have increased the volume level over the program's volume for years. When watching television, I have gotten into the habit of hitting the "mute" button on my remote control whenever the station breaks for ads. I will bring the sound back on when the program resumes.

When I am in the car or at home listening to the radio, I will turn the volume down when I hear the comment, "we will now break so that station can make some money." I will check back in about 4-5 minutes. If the commercial is still on, I will turn it back down. If I miss a couple minutes when the program resumes, I can usually make up for what I missed by listening to what is said after I tune in again.

I heard recently that some advertisers were thinking about extending their advertising time!!! One car advertiser was talking about going to 5 minutes for one commercial! We'll see if this happens.

Thank you for hearing my comments.
-- Bill Reynolds

Loud commercials force me to change the station or turn the radio off, especially at the "top of the hour" where too many commercials are sandwiched between bogus traffic reports and repetitive news reports. The Fairness Doctrine wouldn't have nearly the effect of silencing talk radio in comparison to loud and overly frequent commercials. By the way, I don't care for George Zimmer since he never looks at ME when he tells me I'm going to like the way I look.
-- unsigned

I cannot agree more with Lawrence Henry! My husband and I have noticed the slowly increasing volume of the commercials on our television over the years with rapidly increasing dismay. It is unfortunate, because we actually didn't mind some of those humorous ads that were out there.

Now our routine is to hit the "mute" button as soon as our show fades into advertising and turn the "mute" back off as soon as the last commercial is over. The blare of the advertisers, especially the local car dealers and mattress companies is far too exuberant compared to the seriousness of our CSI episode.
-- Traci Lunsford
Rock Hill, South Carolina

I always thought the commercials were REALLY LOUD because they knew all the audience had gone to the kitchen for a snack or to the loo for a -- well, for a break. Fortunately someone has invented the mute button and now it doesn't matter if they are loud or not. We can just shut them up.
-- Kate Shaw

JUDGING AND JUDGES
Re: Mark Tooley's Judge Not and James G. Poulos's Laying On of Hands:

It is hard to avoid laughing out loud when I see the "religious left" trying to use faith as another of their coercive ball bats to bludgeon non-believers into accepting their version of how this country should run. First of all, the term "religious left" is an oxymoron of the first caliber. If I had to summarize the liberal religion, I would do so by saying that it is a combination of self-worship (their good intentions make them gods) and the good old kumbaya spirit. Leave it to the NCC to condemn people who live their faith every day and extol those who drag it out at election time and use it as a cudgel to get votes. Second, the NCC might have a nodding acquaintance with some of the farther out bishops of this country, but as far as a relationship with the faithful, that godless organization isn't even on the same planet with regular, devout churchgoing folks. And again, some liberals underestimate, as they frequently do, the intelligence and perceptive power of the average American.
-- Joseph Baum
Newton Falls, Ohio

Regarding Mark Tooley's and James G. Poulos's remarks on Jesus' words about judging:

A common interpretation of Jesus' words about not judging is that they mean that a person cannot and thus should not make the final absolute divine judgment about a moral matter. By definition, only God can make that judgment. Limits to our abilities in that regard in comparison to God include:

1) The fact that no one, including the putative sinner, can fully know his-her own heart and intentions; and intention is one crucial factor in constituting the morality of an act. This does not exclude determining the objective fact that the putative sinner has done the particular deed. Nor does it exclude making fallible judgments about the person's intentions, with appropriate humility. Thus juries justifiably determine (with limits of fallibility and possible appeal and even executive branch pardon) both that the person did the act and what degree of intention was involved (e.g., first or second degree murder, manslaughter...). And an employer justifiably decides all the time whom to hire or not hire. And anyone who did not make a moral judgment about whether a prospective partner is worthy as a marital partner would be guilty of moral negligence. St. Paul said both that his conscience was clear (his judgment) and that even he did not know himself well enough to make the judgment that only God can make (his own judgment was fallible).

2) On some matters, there is reasonable disagreement about whether a particular objective act is wrong. One might find Christians and other humans on both sides of a particular issue, though that does not justify throwing up one hands in agnostic relativism. As Tooley points out, those who are inclined to do this on one issue, quickly abandon that moral agnosticism on other issues. The debate should continue and include religious convictions as part of the debate.

3) Circumstances have some role in constituting the morality of an act. Ascertaining what the circumstances are and what they should weigh in a particular case is sometimes difficult in a way similar to the way intention is tough to discern.

There are studies that show that a person is willing to excuse his or her own behavior based on intention or circumstances and not to do so regarding the other person. In card games and other competitions, there is a form of this: If I win, I brag about what a great card player I am; if I lose, I say that I just can't get any good cards with which to play. If you win, I discredit your achievement by crediting the shuffle of the cards; if you lose, I note your low ability.

4) Even if the act, intention, and circumstances are all wrong and thus the act is evil, humans have a future until death. Humans do not fully realize themselves (for good or evil) in one act or even series of acts. Repentance is always possible, even if unlikely in particular cases.
-- R.L.A. Schaefer
Dubuque, Iowa

My thanks to James Poulos for actually citing the scripture, Matthew 7:1-5, to which Howard Dean had alluded.

My patience with the New Testament waned considerably when plowing through the Book of Job. Nonetheless, I was confused by Dean's reference to Republicans lecturing him while ignoring the motes in their own eyes. Now that Poulos has cited the verse for us, I see that Dean must be offended by "compassionate" conservatives -- those who, on seeing a man blinded by a beam, ignore the specks (or mote, as Dean has quoted) in their own eyes, to help those impaired to find their way.

But Dean never mentions the beam. I somehow doubt that that the dear doctor perceives himself as vision-impaired by one, so where does Dean see himself in the parable? Why, he must be Jesus!
-- Dan Martin
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

GEORGE ALLEN ON STEM CELLS
Re: George Neumayr's The Elite's Moral Gadfly:

An excellent article. Once again, spot on. In regards to stem cell research, I thought you would be interested in this response I received from GOP Senator George Allen of Virginia. I wrote him to ask that he support the Smith Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005.

I also asked him to oppose HR 810, which would mandate federal funding of research using embryonic stem cells. Now to me, Senator Allen's response smacks of the obfuscation and lack of factual knowledge that is taking place concerning stem cell research. It also bears all of the hallmarks of a man who is going to take an anti-life position and is defending himself before he votes.

More than 50 diseases are now being treated with treatments developed through ADULT stem cell research. And yet Frankenstein marches onward.
-- Andy Fuller

-----Forwarded Message-----
From: senator_allen@allen.senate.gov
Sent: May 24, 2005 8:30 PM
To:
Subject: A response from Senator George Allen

Dear Mr. Fuller:

Thank you for contacting me regarding your views on stem cell research. I appreciate hearing from you and value your input on this important matter.

In the past several months, many new facts and developments have arisen concerning the issue of embryonic stem cell research. I have learned about the potential benefits of stem cells, and have carefully and prayerfully considered the ethical values and facts asserted by many well-meaning people concerning stem cell research. And, I applied my guiding principles and conscience to determine the stand I'll take on this important issue.

I do believe there is merit to allowing that promising research to continue on a limited and supervised basis. I am moved by the many stories of folks who believe their conditions or those of their loved ones -- including juvenile diabetes, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, macular degeneration, heart disease, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's -- might benefit from stem cell research. I would support medical research on embryonic stem cells that are currently frozen and could otherwise be destroyed, provided that there are strict, enforceable and ethical guidelines governing this research and medical applications. I believe funding such research may result in advancements that will save lives, but at the same time, I am uncomfortable, along with many other Americans, at the prospect of the creation of human embryos for the specific and sole purpose of destroying them. Moreover, as a practical matter, research should be focused on stem cells from other sources, rather than creating such human embryos.

On the related issue of human cloning, I believe it is wrong to clone a human being for reproductive purposes. After careful study of the various legislative proposals on the subject of human cloning, I have determined S. 1899, the Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2001, sponsored by Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), is closest to my views. Therefore, I will vote for this legislation when it comes to the floor of the United States Senate.

Once again, I appreciate you alerting me to this matter and please do not hesitate to contact me again about issues important to you. As we strive to protect our nation's cherished freedoms while embracing new opportunities for all Americans, please know that I consider it a high honor and privilege to work for you in the United States Senate.

With warm regards, I remain

Sincerely,
Senator George Allen

PERILOUS ELITISM
Re: George Neumayr's Tyranny of the Moderates:

Elitism unfortunately has been around since the dawn of humanity. Once man began to walk the earth there were those that had the bigger caves, nicer clubs, and if one was lucky enough to discover fire, he was definitely in the top of the Neanderthal pecking order. Same rule applies today, just really nicer caves though. Even amongst themselves elites continue to have an intellectual arrogance, "Oh what college did you attend, I went to Harvard, and then became a Rhodes Scholar." If you happened to be the poor sod that went to a public college, right then and there you were knocked to hunter gatherer status in spite of your hard earned sheepskin. You didn't measure up.

The vast majority of elites categorize those that do not have the cherished key to the intellectual bathroom as the hunters and the gatherers. The elites feel that it is they're functionary in life to be the lord and Shepard to guide these poor intellectually challenged souls through life, because they are unable to comprehend the basic function of their miserable window washing existence.

The 2004 election really defined the abyss that exists between the elites and the so called, "rest" of us (Jesus Landers) "The elites have this ingrained desire to always be compelled to categorize the rest of America that don't agree with them with some type of belittling title. Jesus Land, Red States and on occasion being tagged by the English elites as, "Stupid, Morons, and how could 50 million plus Americans be so stupid to elect George Bush?"

One classic example immediately after the 2004 election elites were practically throwing themselves off the cliffs of Malibu bemoaning the fact that the voters didn't hear the message and "they" just don't get it. The anointed ones cannot accept the fact that, "We" did get it and, "We" did understand they're message, made an educated decision with the information at hand and voted for the better of the two candidates. The elites just cannot fathom or accept the fact that there are Americans that actually can think for themselves, and that is what will always get they're goat time after time.

Here is a bit of advice for the anointed ones. "Y'all come down to our end of the pool, ya might learn somethin."
-- Melvin L. Leppla
Jacksonville, North Carolina

NO TALE
Re: Ben Berry's letter (under "The Homosexuality Canard") in Reader Mail's Elite of All Evils:

To clear up a few items in Ben Berry's critique of my letter, I must say that I know the colleges involved, I have known the priest involved for more than 20 years, I know one person who was directly told by the "student" in question what is related in the "fictional story," I know, and have read in the Newspapers, that the Priest resigned suddenly for Health Reasons, and that he was re-hired by the President of another prestigious University. My direct knowledge of widespread Homosexuality in the Priesthood (NOT PEDOPHILIA) has led me to write a fictional version to make a point of the seriousness of the problem.

Pedophilia is in my opinion is not the big problem in the Catholic Church, but where it occurs that priest must be brought to criminal justice. He is not and cannot be a priest.

The Great continuing scandals in the American Church -- settlements amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions -- are not primarily caused by Pedophiles (both sexes), but by homosexuals (same sex).

Ben Berry is correct that there are many other problems that must be addressed by the Vatican. I personally know many priests who left the priesthood, got married and are raising children. In my opinion, they should still be priests, or at least part-time priests.

It is my understanding that the Catholic Church considers homosexuality a psychological or psychiatric malady. If this is so, what is the logic of ordaining or keeping priests with such a condition? This condition has lead to a billion (?) dollars in criminal settlements. Don't get excited: address and permanently fix the problem.

My point is that if remedies to the problem of HOMOSEXUAL priests are not soon found, the American Catholic Church will be soon be bankrupt.
-- Pat diFide

WASHINGTON SUPERVISION
Re: Jed Babbin's Bedtime for Bashar:

Re: "Bedtime for Bashar" by Jed Babbin, especially the part where he muses, "…the Pentagon should commission a secret study of how we might intervene to restore order in the former Saudi Arabia after some massive terrorist attack annihilates the Saudi royals, taking some of the oil infrastructure up with them. When that study is leaked (to Bob Novak, of course, not the New York Times) how much more uneasy will rest the heads on which the Saudi crowns lie?..."

I am given pause to wonder, why isn't this guy running the NSA? Great idea, Jed. I hope some adult in DC saw this piece!
-- Anthony Antetomaso
People's Republic of Massachusetts

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article