Reader Mail

Very Bad News

The deal of the century goes filibust. Plus: Kinsley's mosquitoes, Collins' electricity, Hillary's Hillary, and much more.

5.25.05

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ANATOMY OF A DEAL
Re: The Prowler's Here's the Deal:

John McCain has pulled a Jeffords. The Democrats gave up nothing. They were going to lose the judicial filibuster and all those judges would have gone through anyway. McCain and his dupes preserved the filibuster for Democrats. Bill Frist has proven to be a very poor leader. He should have banned judicial filibusters at the beginning of the congressional session. He has put us through an agonizing five months of waiting, and now McCain has filled the vacuum. It's John McCain's Senate for the next two years. Very bad news for conservatives.
--C. Baker

You either whip a bully straight up or he keeps bullying you. I'm surprised Prowler bought the insider spin on this ignominious cave-in by McCain (toady to the press) and the other six wimps (toadies to McCain). The president should make interim appointments on each of his senatorially scuttled judicial nominations. He won't, though; he's never been 100-percent resolute on anything.
-- unsigned

"There is no way this agreement that breaks Democratic obstruction can be spun any way other than as a victory for Republicans and the Bush Administration." Oh, really? Wait and see what the advocacy print and broadcast media will do when they get hold of the story, should one actually happen.
-- C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia

I don't see how the Senate filibuster deal can be characterized as anything other than total capitulation by the Republicans who brokered the deal. Before striking the deal, the Democrats were going to lose the judicial filibuster and the Republicans were going to get an up or down vote on ALL of Bush's judicial nominees. With the deal, the Republicans will get an up or down vote on SOME of Bush's judicial nominees and the Democrats will get to keep the judicial filibuster for use in "extraordinary circumstances" (which simply means the Democrats will use the judicial filibuster when they REALLY want to). Today's headline should read, "RINOs Cave, Dems Retain Judicial Filibuster."
-- Chris Brownell
Greenville, Wisconsin

The Prowler wrote, "While Democrats were able to have their 'extraordinary circumstances' clause inserted in the deal, no one anticipates that such a situation will arise, assuming Democrats keep their promise. And it appears that a number of promises were being tossed around the negotiation room on Monday afternoon."

With all due respect, how can anyone who has a pulse believe that these Democrats would ever keep any kind of promise made to Republicans? I suppose these Republican "moderates" (or should I just call a spade a spade and call them sell-out suck-up jerks) would buy that bridge to Brooklyn too.
-- James Parker

Once again the GOP snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. There are two things that this compromise has clarified: the continued dominance of the Democrats, and that Senator McCain runs the Senate.

No matter how this is spun, the many conservatives who voted in record numbers now wonder what difference their votes actually meant. The more things change, the more they remain the same.
-- J.P. Koch

I wish I could share the optimism over this "deal" on judicial filibusters, but I can't. What do Republicans have to gain from it? The Dems have basically said, "We won't filibuster Bush's nominees…unless we do." That giant loophole is going to blow up and splat all over the faces of these wussy Republican-Lite dealmakers.
-- Chuck Lazarz

If Republicans roll over so easily when in power, I see no need to support them in the future. Democrats win, Democrats control the agenda. Republicans win, Democrats control the agenda. Why bother to vote? Next election, and for the first time, I shall stay at home.
-- David Govett
Davis, California

I am certainly not as confident as the Senate aide referred to in the "Here's the Deal" article. Have our moderate Republican Senators left an escape route? Or have their political ambitions so clouded the view that they will find it difficult to locate a gate to escape through? After watching Reid, Schumer, et al., bare their teeth yesterday, it is unlikely we will have to wait long to find out.
-- Joseph Haverty
Clearwater, Florida

Your story on the filibuster compromise is missing the part where U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and former mayor of San Francisco sold its bridge to Maine's Republican Senator Susan Collins for $100.

Collins remains convinced that the $100 includes the cost of having it moved to Kennebunkport.
-- John Connolly
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

SWAT TEAM
Re: George Neumayr's The Elite's Moral Gadfly:

George Neumayr's elegant destruction of Michael Kinsley's attitude to the unborn quoted a phrase redolent of the debate that took place in the United Kingdom prior to the passage of the Abortion Act of 1967.

Kinsley described embryos as "biologically more primitive than a mosquito." In debating the Abortion Act in the House of Lords, Gerald Gardner, Labour Lord Chancellor and the advocate for the defense in the notorious "Lady Chatterley" trial, described an embryo as "a scrap of skin." Like Kinsley, Gardner was, of course, a product of the elite.

Kinsley believes destruction of other human life may help him find a cure for his Parkinson's Disease. One is tempted to rebut; however, The American Spectator is a class act, and not altogether suitable for what would be the appropriate response.
-- Martin Kelly
Glasgow, Scotland

There is a point that Mr. Neumayr did not mention in his prescient essay on the Michael Kinsley "Hey everybody, let's start an organ farm" column. Mr. Kinsley's position and that of most of his liberal friends is the perfect counterpart to their stand on assisted suicide. The two ideas go hand in hand, or organ in organ if you prefer. In the future I look for some enterprising liberal amoralists to start a 21st century "Island of Dr. Moreau," complete with body part bins and shopping carts for our convenience.

Every now and then I see an article in a column or in the news that causes me to shake my head and wonder if I have lived too long. This is one of those. The previous one is the Supreme Court considering whether parents should be notified before their child, for whom they are TOTALLY responsible, undergoes an abortion procedure. Schools which cannot give a child a Motrin, an aspirin, or a spoonful of cough medicine without parental consent in triplicate, can blithely arrange for the 13 year old or 14 year old to have a D&E at the friendly neighborhood unplanned parenthood depot, and Mom and Dad are not even informed. I wonder where Mr. Kinsley stands on this situation. Oh well, I bet I know.
-- Joseph Baum
Newton Falls, Ohio

Scientist Hwang reminds me of Dr. Friedrich von Frankenstein, played by Gene Wilder in Mel Brooks' movie Young Frankenstein, when the doctor said to the heavens when he was about to bring his monster to consciousness: "Life! Do you hear me? Give my creation... life!"

No matter how ghoulish he may be, Hwang seems to understand that his clones won't have that essential thing given by God: the human spirit. Why else would he say the human spirit must be injected into the things he's creating in his laboratory?

Perhaps the same such type of injection is needed for Michael Kinsley, whose brain may also be one like Frankenstein's assistant, Igor, said was from a fellow named Abbie Normal?
-- C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia

Since, according to Michael Kinsley, they have "less value than a mosquito," I guess his solution to what to do with the "disabled, freakish human beings created by cloning" would be: swat 'em.
-- Gretchen L. Chellson
Alexandria, Virginia

ELECTRIC ENCORE
Re: Reid Collins's Plangent Pluckin's and Reader Mail's Electric Crackles:

Someone please tell me this article was a joke -- a very bad joke. I've enjoyed many of Mr. Collins's musings over the years, and I'd be dismayed to learn he's a complete moron when it comes to music.

Mr. Collins, if it's too loud, you're too old.
-- Michael Selick
Akron, Ohio

After sampling Tuesday's letters I have to jump to Reid Collins's defense. He's right that the electric guitar has been one of the most doleful inventions in the history of the world. It's led to acute noise pollution across the republic. It's been used as a weapon against civilization itself. If I were Les Ford I wouldn't want to be sent to my account with this imperfection on my head.

I don't doubt that some artists can produce fine music on electric guitars. But for every one of these there are thousands of mouth-breathing hairballs in groups with names like "The Sniveling Snits" or "The Running Sores" who, properly equipped with the amp turned up to the threshold of pain, can disturb the peace for blocks, often miles around. The sound these anti-social villains make is not music, it's aggravated assault. They should be strung up by their thumbs or other body parts (when I'm king, they will be).

In Les's defense he didn't know these nihilistic vandals would use his invention for the destructive and soul-shriveling purposes it has been put to. But, knowing or not, he made possible something truly awful in human history. And I've not seen that he's been particularly remorseful about bringing an instrument of Evil into the world. He is in need of much prayer and sincere repentance. Les made some pleasing tunes in his day and may well be a very nice man, but he let loose a monster and I fear for his soul.
-- Larry Thornberry
Tampa, Florida

Mr. Collins, are you serious? What a foolish article laced with foolish assertions. I guess Stevie Ray Vaughn wasn't a serious musician? For you to state that Les's invention "wasn't and isn't" a guitar is myopic and frankly, stupid. I guess the application of electricity and the removal of a sound chamber renders the electric "guitar" a non-instrument. This is puritanical nonsense. Have you ever heard of Yngwie Malmesteen? For your information, he's an incredible classical guitarist who's made his name and fortune playing a log, I guess. His renditions of classicals on the electric are nothing short of, well, electrifying.

Go light your Coleman lantern and cook your food on a wood burning stove. I love Christopher Parkening, but fire up Eddie Van Halen's "Eruption," and I'm a happy boy.
-- Jesse Milligan

Reid Collins' anger is improperly targeting the electric guitar. Mr. Collins should aim his wrath at the people who decide which bands to sign to recording and promotional deals as well as the radio station programmers.

There are many fine players of electric guitar and bands that play electric instruments. Unfortunately, they play music, which has not been a part of the business model that is consolidated POP radio for more than a decade now.

Reid can criticize musicians for being lousy business people, and by all means criticize businesspeople for having lousy musical tastes.
-- P. Aaron Jones

Reid Collins replies:
It is gratifying to learn of so many music lovers out there. To say that I am unappreciative of the art forms wrought on the "log" would be to ignore my admiration for the late Jimmy Hendrix's application of lighter fluid to his "log" at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1968.

ST. HILLARITAS
Re: Jackie Mason & Raoul Felder's Saint Hillary:

Even if Hillary Clinton, the Co-Saint of Phoniness and Opportunism (along with Co-Saint Bill), could do the miracle -- it wasn't a trick, fellas -- of converting water to wine, as Jesus did, that's not to say in her case it wouldn't have been hellishly, rather than heavenly, inspired, now is it?

Her religious reinvention -- or invention, as the case may be -- in and by the advocacy press is Hill-arious, especially about her being a Methodist.

For her and especially her spinmeisters such as Anna Quindlen, in ignoble Newsweek, it's as if she's a homosexual who's come of the closet. At long last, she's free and has found the right time -- can anyone else spell opportunist? -- to publicly declare her Methodism. By golly, she's not ashamed any more. But, say, she hasn't yet used the C words -- Christian and Christianity -- or Jesus' name, has she?

That said, to which Methodist denomination does she belong? The one that believes in partial-birth abortion, abortion on demand, homosexuality and homosexual marriages? Which one is that?
-- C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia

I enjoyed the article. But, as I am sure many readers will have pointed out by now, St. Paul was on the Road to Damascus when he was converted. His home town was Tarsus, but he was Damascus-bound when he met Christ. Acts 9 provides the details.
-- unsigned

SMITHEREENS
Re: Sean Higgins's Where Have You Gone, Jimmy Stewart?:

In an otherwise fine piece on Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Mr. Higgins minimizes its point most relevant to our times -- Evil often masquerades as Good -- and how in politics it does so.

When asked by an underling what tactics to use to stop Smith, the machine boss roars into the phone, "Oh, the usual, criminal, and blocking a relief bill and starving The People!" and so not too many scenes later Smith is incriminated with fake documents, and opposed by "progressive" citizens and a press (we'd now call the MSM) more eager to demonstrate their moral superiority than seek the truth. Only Smith himself and his Boy Rangers and their little printing press (bloggers?!) stand in their way.

In one scene the dupes are holding signs that say, "Smith Talks While People Starve."

Today those signs have been updated to read, "Bush Lied, People Died," but the dupes are the same, the press is the same and Evil still masquerades as Good.
-- Leonard Oreto
Brookline, Massachusetts

ABILITY, NOT SEX
Re: George Neumayr's Does Bush Care?:

After repeated failures to win on this issue, maybe a change in tactics is called for.

All of the points made in the article and by many of those who wrote in are true, but they fail to convince anyone in Congress because the military is continuing to function. We need to recognize that virtually no personnel policy can of itself completely cripple our military. This is true of women in the military now and it would also be true if the ban on gays serving openly was lifted. The military did not collapse at the tail end of Vietnam, nor during the rest of the "Hollow Force" era in the remainder of the 1970s. And, at that time, the military had significant racial, drug and discipline problems. During the last years in Vietnam, there were fraggings, units refusing to engage the enemy, soldiers enlisted men's "councils" and all sorts of other problems. If those things didn't completely destroy the military (no matter how close they might have come), arguing against women serving broadly will not succeed.

In my opinion, the only thing that will succeed is to challenge the current spin that the women serve equally and perform to the same standard that the men historically met. Rather than looking for legislation to exempt or remove women, support should be given to legislation requiring every individual in each branch of the armed forces to demonstrate an ability to perform all standard combat, casualty evacuation and damage control tasks, to the more stringent of the current standard, the standard in place for the men prior to 1994 and the standard prior to 1976 (when women came into the mainstream of the armed forces and the women's auxiliary corps were disbanded). This would not remove women from service but it would immediately highlight how the standards have been corrupted. It would place the feminists, their allies and fellow travelers in the awkward position of having to argue against higher standards (or of trying to justify why women should continue to have to meet lower or different ones), or of supporting higher standards but watching the number of women in the military plummet as a result. They could not argue against these standards being outdated by technology given that they are basing their current arguments on women currently serving on a non-linear and low-tech combat environment. This would at least frame the debate correctly. Once that has been done, changes to policy would become more politically practical.
--Anthony Mirvish

HEATHENWATCH
Re: Shawn Macomber's Get a Life, Then a Book:

Sorry, Shawn, I just don't buy it.

I would be appalled if someone threw my Bible into a toilet. I would be particularly upset if it were the only Bible I had and I was facing an indefinite incarceration. Of course, being an American citizen, I'd call my lawyer or the American Center for Law and Justice, but those detainees couldn't do that, could they?

I don't know any practicing Christian--fundamentalist or otherwise--who would describe his or her relationship with the Bible as "Book of the Month (albeit always the same book)." You wrote that most religious people in civilized nations have "a life" before they have "a book." Well, you described yourself as a heathen, so I suppose you're excused for not understanding that a basic tenet of Christianity is "Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." In other words, the Word comes before "a life".

The tough question becomes, if you eliminate deism from government, what possible reason is there to object to any liberal reordering of society? There's no real rational argument against abortion or eugenics, for the nuclear family, for the rights of individuals, etc. They descend from the Judeo-Christian moral code. And it's a hollow code if it's not backed up by God.

The perfect example of Godless societies were all those wonderful Communist regimes which engineered society through mass murders, eugenics, re-education camps, etc. Do you really think Deism is worse than that?

Lastly, in re: the question of our government's response, Dr. Rice was correct in apologizing. When I discuss conflict resolution with my four children, the first point I make is that they can only control their own actions. They have the opportunity with every word to either escalate or reduce conflict. This is true whether they're right or wrong. Dr. Rice modelled that approach perfectly, and I applaud her.
-- Carol L. Douglas

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