Reader Mail

Preventions and Interventions

Campion not officially Catholic. Tobacco's end of the road. PBS dissed. The pursuit of OxyContin. More Uncle John. Frank Natoli responds. Plus much more.

5.16.05

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CAMPION AND THE CARDINAL
Re: The Prowler's Clerical Losers:

Your May 11 article about Cardinal McCarrick is not entirely accurate when it states he "prevented the founding" of Campion College D.C.. Campion, should plans to create it come to fruition, would be an independent, lay-run two-year Great Books institution that voluntarily subscribes to Catholic principles. You rightly say that Campion would be a feeder school for other Catholic institutions, but we believe it would also give students who plan to finish their undergraduate work at a secular college or university a strong foundation in Catholicism and Western culture. It is true that Cardinal McCarrick has publicly expressed his belief that the Washington area does not need such a college. We hope that the cardinal or one of his successors may some day come to appreciate what we hope to do. But since Campion was never intended to be an officially Catholic college, the cardinal has not nor can he "prevent" its founding and operation.
-- Robert Royal
Campion College of Washington, D.C.

Thanks, great report, I imagine a few Bishops are a little nervous too, like the new hierarchy of the USBC who recently put on a Chicago style election that would have made old Mayor Daley proud.
-- G. MacAulay

END OF TOBACCO ROAD
Re: Doug Bandow's Smokeless Kennedy-DeWine:

Native American tribes got to love it. They own the casinos and, if the anti-tobacco grunts win, the Indians will own tobacco. Maybe that's poetic justice?
-- Nelson Ward
Ribera, New Mexico

Doug Bandow writes:

"The legislation has picked up one unusual endorsement: cigarette maker Philip Morris. The company cited the benefit of having clear rules under which to operate

"Critics noted that limiting advertising would help freeze industry market shares, protecting Philip Morris from competition. That was, in fact, one of the outrageous effects of the tobacco litigation settlement: it purported to bind even new firms, solidifying the lead of existing producers. Unsurprisingly, the Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs figured that the Kennedy-DeWine legislation would actually improve Philip Morris's bottom line."

That's right. Jeremy Siegel's The Future for Investors, which I reviewed last week, spends a lot of chapter space analyzing the most successful U.S. stock of the last 50 years: Philip Morris/Altria, with a near 20% total annual return for that entire period.
-- Lawrence Henry

If the anti-smoking zealots put as much time and effort into fighting the war on drugs as they do on smokers, the drug czars would have been out of business years ago. It is amazing that most of these SAME folks actually support measures that decriminalize or legalize the current illegal drugs.
-- Richard Woitowitz

Mr. Bandow paints Kennedy and DeWine as the opportunistic, micromanaging, top-down, central planning, never saw a reg we didn't love swine they are.

But he misses one likely result of passage of such tripe. FDA won't need that army of agents roaming the hinterlands. Just as the Clinton gang eliminated about half the licensed gun dealers in the nation via changes in costs of licensing, many retailers will cease selling tobacco as the costs of compliance grow.

Fewer sellers, no new agents needed. The nanny state prospers, personal choice is whittled away a bit more, and the slavering old pig from MA toasts his success with his new sty mate, DeWine.

All the best,
-- L. Lane
Humble, Texas

I don't care how much someone smokes as long as they don't exhale.
-- Elaine Kyle
Cut & Shoot, Texas

PLEDGE WEAKENED
Re: George Neumayr's Bring It On:

Instead of trying to force government-funded broadcasters to balance their politics, it would be easier simply to bar them from any news reporting or political commentary. It is impossible to balance political coverage as a practical matter. It would be much easier to say, if you want taxpayer money, you stay out of politics, including "news" reporting. If you want to get political, go find another source of funding.
-- John Friedman

One of the reasons I dropped PBS from view is the insufferable Beg-a-thons they ran every few weeks, where they played reruns of the best BS of PBS, and promising to quit when their pledge goal was reached. Had they had one pledging to go off the air I would have been interested. These people blather about their self-serving importance and commercial-free programming while playing what would appear to be ads for the leftist foundations they get funding from and running the drivel filled Beg-a-thons. I am not aware that Big Bird has ever contributed, though he and his buds have taken in millions from the public sector. It's time for PBS/ NPR to have to subsist on their own or go off the air. Public funding for this stuff is an insult to the taxpayer.
-- GMS
Media, Pennsylvania

Don't worry. I emailed the link to George Neumayr's story to all six people in PBS's viewing audience....
-- unsigned

THAT HAPPINESS THING
Re: Lawrence Henry's On Banning Things:

Thank you, Mr. Henry, for standing fast for liberty. We ought not blame things for "causing" wrong acts committed by people. Nor ought a free people subject themselves to the loss of their own possessions merely because some selfish men misuse those things to hurt others.

No "thing" has a rational mind. No "thing" has a soul. No "thing" has a conscience. Only mankind holds these blessings. With them Almighty God gives us the duty to behave ethically. That includes the duty to do right with all the "things" (property) with which God also blesses us.

Many commentators have puzzled over Thomas Jefferson's phrase in our Declaration of Independence: that man has a God-given right to "the pursuit of happiness." Most folks today would generally presume that he meant something along the lines of "the right to enjoy myself, if necessary with assistance from OxyContin or other aids." I show my college students precisely where the true notion arises. Jefferson cribbed the key concept, I believe, from William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England. All the Founding Fathers would have been well aware of this work.

On the second page of his introductory lecture "On the Nature of Laws in General" Sir William gives us this choice evidence of the infinite goodness of God: "...the Creator... has graciously reduced the rule of obedience to this one paternal precept: "that man should pursue his own true and substantial happiness." This is the foundation of what we call ethics, or natural law. Blackstone sets out his equation in the lecture as: human ethics = universal natural law = the Will of God. (No wonder Blackstone is never studied in American law schools anymore.)

So, to achieve true and substantial happiness, a man must obey God's commandments. We could rephrase Jefferson in this way: our untransferable, God-given human rights include "the right to do what is right." (A better word would be "duty" to do what is right.) God commands man to do what is right. Because man does not, he requires laws, governments, and force to restrain his selfish desires.

Sinful man naturally strives to avoid this kind of vertical accountability. Blackstone points out that man's "reason is corrupt, and his understanding full of ignorance and error." Man wants to believe that he is morally and ethically "good." Any "badness" is caused by externals, "things". Consequently, in all branches of government our lawmakers cater to man's pretensions. They ban "things" -- medicines, alcohol, fireworks, guns, tobacco, hemp, atom bombs, you name it.

Rulers who would ban things rather than punish people for their misuse deny our "right to pursue our own true and substantial happiness."

Always enjoy your articles. Keep writing, Mr. Henry.
-- David James Hanson
Fayette, Iowa

OxyContin is an opioid analgesic that truly is a double-edged sword.

Yes, it can be dangerously addictive, particularly to those for whose use it's not intended. It's a major cause of crime, violent or otherwise, in Central Appalachia, particularly southwest Virginia and southern West Virginia. It's so powerful that people still from their families, each other, write forged checks, batter each other -- with or without weapons, you name it -- to get the money to support hundreds-of-dollars-a-day habits.

As a former reporter on a small daily in that region, I covered the police beat in a county seat, the county itself and the state police barracks there and in an adjacent county. One day, at the local barracks on a story, I chatted with some state cops -- one, a sergeant who was the detachment commander in the adjacent county -- about drug-related crimes and Oxy arose.

The sergeant told me and the other trooper about a woman in his county who did terrible things with her body to get money for Oxy fixes. Her reason? The cop said she once told him that Oxy's high was a 1,000 times greater than anyone could imagine a sexual orgasm to be. By the way, I've heard undercover state cops, including ones that worked on a regional drug-and-violent-crimes task force, say they've heard the same thing from other addict-criminals.

Oxy's other edge -- and this is where I wonder if we should ban such pea-brains as Rep. Lynch from holding office -- is that it is a powerful painkiller for people with terminal cancer. My late brother, who died in early February from brain cancer that metastasized from his right lung to his brain, had that prescribed, as well as morphine, Percocet and Hydrocodone.

I have yet to meet a nurse or doctor who said such drugs were anything less than wonder drugs for pain management for terminally ill cancer patients. But they emphasized its intended use is pain management.

Rep. Lynch is way over his intellectual and political head with his knee-jerk suggestion. May he never have to learn first- or second-hand the medical power of Oxy. But may he learn that banning the symptom isn't addressing the root of a problem. Perhaps he's never heard of law enforcement? Perhaps he can direct his brain in that general direction?
-- C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia

SHELVED
Re: Christopher Orlet's Get the Funk Out:

Our Richmond City Library situation is not quite as bad as the one in St. Louis (nor is it as nice looking; it got a hideous facelift in the 1960s). But the idea of library as homeless shelter was a phenomenon that was totally new to me until I came to Richmond in 1996.

At least the Richmond library has some rules. There is no public bathing to date. And it has a sheriff's department officer on duty. Though the need for that should seem just plain weird in any normal society.

My thanks to Christopher Orlet for highlighting this post-modern absurdity and, perhaps more importantly, another example of liberal "charity" at others' expense... including the homeless.
-- M. Anger
Richmond, Virginia

How did Houston get away with this? Richard Kreimer, a "homeless" and definitely stinky man got a liberal judge to give him over $200,000 when the Morristown, New Jersey library tried to eject him.
-- unsigned

The article by Mr. Orlet on the public library should serve as a wakeup call but it won't. We have become too used to seeing this riff raff hanging around every public entity out there. Anyone remember "Skid Row," especially the Bowery in NYC? That is where all the down and outs used to congregate away from "decent" folk in the old days. If a child slacked in school or someone wasn't quite up to snuff in the work ethic, people would say "they're going to end up on skid row" and that usually was enough to prod them some to buck up. Now skid row is Main Street USA. Everywhere you go, small town or big, you are confronted by these dregs of society. This is the result of mainstreaming and the ACLU's effort to drag the rest of us down to the level of bums. Up in Vermont, in a mythical place called the Northeast Kingdom, where the myth that was Vermont is still recognizable in some places, the City of Newport built a waterfront project along the lines of the one in Burlington (a bigger city -- 10,000 vs. 40,000 population), but on a scale to match. After the work was all done and they had the Grand Opening for all to see, lo and behold, don't you see the bums lolling around in their drunken stupor and shopping cart suitcases. Some I even recognized from Burlington, so they not only copied but they must have imported the "color" from Burlington also. Until we come to our senses, put these bums back where they belong (most should be institutionalized) and reclaim our public buildings for the public's use (not bums abuse), Chris Orlet is going to have a lot to write about on that subject.
-- Pete Chagnon

A FEDERAL MATTER
Re: Michael Van Winkle's Social Security Psychology:

Why is everyone so surprised that the attempt to privatize Social Security is failing? The administration is trying to sell risk, however small, to the taxpayers without putting the employees of the Federal Government to the same risk. Again, however small.

I am referring to federal pensions. Privatize them first, and it will be a cakewalk to partially privatize Social Security! I am including the pensions of our elected representatives in this scenario. The U.S. Federal Pension is the best pension in the world. It has regular cost of living increases and is 100% subsidized by the American taxpayer. If the state of California with the 16th largest economy in the world (and probably the same size bureaucracy) can run a privatized pension system then so can the U.S. Government.

If the President and his legislative allies want to sell a privatized Social Security progam to the voters they are going to have to lead the way by putting their own money where their mouths are at first!
-- Bob Keiser
Wilkes Barre. Pennsylvania

DOWN ON THE FARM
Re: Shawn Macomber's Uncle John's Cabin:

This was incredibly entertaining piece to read. The author managed to fully expose the hypocrisy of our so-called down to earth politicians. I enjoyed reading it and the author has a great deal of talent.
-- Ovi

"I'm sitting at the desk in the study now and there's nothing on top of it," Elizabeth Edwards laughed to the Washington Post from their Georgetown home as it was being emptied. "It doesn't look like anybody lives here anymore."

This quote reminds me of another quote that reminds me some things never change. I was watching "What's My Line?" on the Game Show Network, and Kitty Carlisle, wearing enough diamonds to feed a small country, said (paraphrasing), "I must be the only person in America who's never been to the Ritz-Carlton."

Right. She said that in the 1950s, but Heinz-Kerry/Edwards-Edwards could say that today, and the MSM would swoon and genuflect as always.

The elite liberals just don't understand America on so many levels, and that's one reason Democrats will keep losing future elections. There's nothing new under the sun.
-- Michael Selick
Akron, Ohio

I'VE BEEN STONED
Re: The "Jesus Was a Carpenter" letters in Reader Mail's Let the Games Begin and Frank Natoli's letter (under "Who's Next?") in Reader Mail's Firing Offensives:

It is a bitter morning to be electronically stoned by four of four of my conservative friends, but just as the American Catholic clergy has invented a Marxist Jesus, my friends have painted a Goldwater one.

Mr. Briner is of course correct that Democrats are the most "compassionate" people when writing checks on someone else's wallet. But while Democratic demagoguery may itself be sinful, and a misrepresentation of Jesus' words, that does not change the fact that Jesus said nothing positive about accumulating wealth FOR ANYONE, and conversely quite a bit about how possession of wealth BY ANYONE would almost inevitably prove a fatal hindrance to salvation.

Mr. Jones quotes the Apostle Paul post Ascension, the apostle taking a position quite consistent with the Protestant work ethic but arguably contrary to everything Jesus Himself said. Mr. Jones also rewrites the parable of the rich man who refuses to follow Jesus if that meant losing his worldly possessions; Jesus did not enumerate how the rich man should or should not dispose of his worldly possessions; He simply said "sell all of them and follow me." Not much wiggle room there!

Mr. Anderson accurately asserts "High taxation, gross inefficient bureaucracies and a welter of counter-productive programs and entitlements, which are exclusively the Democrat agenda, were never encouraged by Jesus in His ministry." However, neither did Jesus ever comment on the necessity to improve one's physical lot in this life, with the uniquely inconsistent exception of the parable of the talents. To the contrary, success in improving one's physical lot in this life was, in Jesus' words, always a correlation to if not causal of damnation. And regarding Mr. Anderson's nausea, I doubt it will improve if I note that Jesus was an unrelenting unequivocal pacifist. He found no excuse, ever, to not turn the other cheek. I cannot think of a Republican with such a view, but one can certainly find any number of Democrats.

I could not agree more with Mr. Pandich that the American economic engine, that allows anyone to be as much a success or a failure as they choose, just as theological free will allows anyone to be as much a saint or a sinner as they choose, would appeal to Jesus, were he to appear in the flesh in America today. And that Jesus would find the excesses of big government leftists to be far more harmful than helpful. The problem is, just like the Constitution is silent on some matters, so was Jesus. He did not comment on the American economic engine, and the benefits of a rising tide lifts all boats. He simply had nothing but bad things to say about any material success, regardless of how widespread it might be.

For the record, I am a weekly church going Catholic, Jesuit educated, and a rock ribbed Conservative Republican since my political epiphany in the late 1970s (so don't ask how I voted in 1972 and 1976). Most of all, I am a strict constructionist in the Antonin Scalia mode, and must acknowledge His words and His laws even when I do not agree with them.
-- Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey

Mr. Natoli's conclusion that based on two versus of scripture Jesus would be a Democrat, belie his complete misunderstanding of the meaning being conveyed by them. More importantly, I think, it also belies his understanding of what it means to be a tax-and-spend, big government, pro-homosexual marriage, pro-abortion, anti-growth liberal.

Jesus certainly did say "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the gates of heaven."

In my opinion, and based on other scriptures, Jesus was simply warning rich people, which would include, by the world's standard, each and every person in the Democratic or Republican Party, not to let their possessions become more important to them than their love for God.

Some people believe, wrongly in my opinion, that what Jesus meant was that only poor people were going to heaven. Granting to Mr. Natoli this simple minded and literal interpretation of Our Heavenly Father's statement, how does the statement make him a Democrat?

Jesus didn't say "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a self-reliant man who becomes rich through hard work and diligence".

Jesus did not say to the rich young man:

"Go out and collect other people's money, keep most of it for yourself, use some of it to pay off a loyal constituency, and then give whatever is left over to a few needy deserving people."

If Jesus had said that, I would agree with Mr. Natoli that Jesus would be a Democrat.

The idea that because Democrats support higher taxes, more regulation, more government spending on failed social programs, they are somehow more Christ-like than Republicans is ludicrous.
-- Charles Sampson
Melbourne, Florida

JUDICIAL PASSIONS
Re: Ben Berry's letter (under "GOP's Last Stand") in Reader Mail's Let the Games Begin:

I care! I care a lot!! Unlike some of us who apparently cannot see beyond tomorrow, I am concerned about the coming years where, if the Democrats have their way, we will be saddled with even more activist justices who abandon the Constitution with gay abandon. Couple that with the inevitable swing of the political pendulum when once again (aghh!) we have a Democratic White House and/or Congress and the country will indeed be abandoned to the gays.

And just to clarify your misapprehension of who brought about this disgusting logjam in Congress, it wasn't the Republicans! If it were not for the Democrats and their filibuster, the Senate would be well on its way to confronting your shopping list of pending tasks.

"Poetry of the campaign" indeed! Methinks you've seen The Phantom of the Opera too many times and are listening to "The Music of the Night."
-- Bob Johnson
Bedford, Texas

This last election my wife and I for the first time registered as Republicans not Independents and also for the first time sent money to a candidate, President Bush. We went to a campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan in July 2004. By far the largest and longest response from the audience was on the issue of confirming the judges and issues relating to judges imposing their policies on the nation. The 10 judicial nominees, the Terri Schiavo case, gay "marriage," and abortion are all tied together. If the Republicans can't do something to break this filibuster and get conservative judges appointed then electing Congressmen, Senators even Presidents won't matter as everything they do, that the Left doesn't want, will be ruled unconstitutional.

These things Ben Berry wants Republicans to focus on, "deficit, illegal immigration, out of control spending, ethics violations, tax reform, and the lousy stock market," even if I agreed (and I don't) that they all were problems, pale compared to a tyranny of leftist judges. I also, unlike the left, believe our government and people are capable of solving more than one problem at once.
-- Geoff Bowden
Kalamazoo, Michigan

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