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Cautionary Verses

There was a South Carolinian whose name is Jim. Plus other ethical lessons. Also: Condi '08? Not so fast! King Kung. That Canadian again. And more.

4.28.05

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POLITICAL MORALITY
Re: George Neumayr's Ethics Indulgence:

Just wanted to say your analysis of why lobbyists exist is brilliant. So much so, I said the same thing last fall when looking at the unintended, but clearly predictable, consequences of McCain-Feingold (please, if you would be so kind, see it here).

I am a long-time print subscriber, and I visit the website daily. Please keep up the outstanding work.
-- Seton Motley

Why does it seem that your magazine is against having the members of Congress behave in an ethical manner? It is funny that you support the party which promotes what you call true values in our country, especially Christian values, is now questioning the need for ethical values! I guess that ethics should be expected only of the Democrats, and Republicans need not behave in an ethical manner. They have the right to misuse funds donated for elections, even threaten people to donate in order to buy the right that should belong to all Americans, the right to have access to their elected officials.
-- Jim
South Carolina

Bravo, George!

I've no desire to either amplify or contradict any of your superb article. I doubt that I could do either.

If this isn't the best commentary I've read lately on the sad state of ethical affairs rampant in national politics, I don't know what is.
-- Bob Johnson
Bedford, Texas

Pharisaical fervor! Damn! I wish I had thought of that alliteration. The smug hypocrisy of congress in its quest for "ethics" would be fodder for jokes in almost any nightclub if it were not so serious. Was it Jesus who characterized the Pharisees as "whited sepulchers" in that they were attractive on the outside and corrupt on the inside? The feeding frenzy surrounding Tom DeLay reminds me of the massive upheaval among Democrats when Senator Kennedy managed to lose a young female aide way back in the Senator's early days serving his country. I'm being sarcastic, of course, because there WAS NO FEEDING FRENZY! For most of these glass house dwelling parasites to raise a hue and cry about the ethics or lack of them in any of their number is an exercise in ironic comedy. All I can say at this point is that Groucho Marx (not the Marx that many Democrats are enamored of) must have been talking about congress when he declared that he wouldn't want to be a member of any club that would have him as a member.
-- Joseph Baum
Newton Falls, Ohio

The Spectator and Mr. Neumayr would be better served being a scourge of the United States Congress and not an apologist for anyone. The Constitution was intended to restrain lawmakers from running amok. As a consequence the legislature has become less a voice of the people and more a creature of pressure groups and special interests, ergo Mr. DeLay's three "admonishments!" Only Dr. Stein believes that the "Hammer" is simon-pure! I don't know, admittedly! As the former mentor of this magazine opined about the typical lawmaker, "With the right pressure applied I would be cheerfully in favor of polygamy, astrology or cannibalism." And not to overplay this quote from Voltaire, "Government is a device for taking money out of one person's pocket and putting it into another's."
-- unsigned

RICE CAPADES
Re: Mark Goldblatt's Condi and History:

I disagree with Mark Goldblatt that Condi Rice should be the 2008 GOP presidential candidate. Condi is articulate but her record as National Security Advisor shows poor judgment, thus she is not qualified to be commander-in-chief.

Under her watch September 11 happened despite repeated warnings. Remember afterwards, Condi saying naively: "Who could believe that terrorists would fly planes into buildings?" Under Condi's watch, we (correctly) went to war in Iraq with far too few troops. Under her watch, North Korea continues to build nukes with impunity, while we continue to plead with Kim Jong-il to attend the endless and toothless six-party talks. Under her watch Iran is also going nuclear, but don't worry, according to her diplomacy will convince those nice mullahs to end their nuclear ambitions. Under her watch Communist China, with the help of our giveaway trade policies, is becoming a nuclear superpower.

The real truth is that Condi is a naive dove on foreign policy. Republicans are making a huge mistake if they push for her to be a presidential candidate.
-- Lou Venticinque
Jamison, Pennsylvania

As usual, Mark Goldblatt is a dependable source for thought provoking opinion. I couldn't agree more that Condoleezza Rice would be a great presidential candidate for 2008. Hillary would probably rather not think about such an adversary, who would not only pick up a good deal of the black vote, but also pick off some of the women who might be inclined to vote for Hillary. Ms. Rice has the toughness, experience, and more than enough intelligence for the job. And while I agree that her nomination by the Republican Party would send a strong message to the left that Republicans are not racist, I wonder how the religious right would react to an unmarried woman representing the party. If we are to believe that the religious right pulls a tremendous amount of weight around the Republican Party, any lack of support on their part could be a key weakness in a campaign for Condi. I sure hope my fear is unfounded.
-- Hasani Pippins
Sacramento, California

Mr. Goldblatt advances an argument that one sees increasingly among political junkies. There are, however, several problems with it.

First, to run for President, Miss Rice will have to resign as Secretary of State no later than January 1, 2007. You simply CANNOT start the nomination and election dance in 2008 for the 2008 election. That is too late. One cannot simultaneously be Sec. of State and a partisan politician. It is NOT acceptable in our political structure.

Now I suspect that I have been following politics about as long or longer than Mr. Goldblatt has been a live earthling. I have NEVER seen anyone, of any party, elected President that didn't have the "fire in the belly" to win and serve in the job. The media anal exam that the MSM puts any candidate through is at least a couple of magnitudes worse that anything Torquemada or DeSade could ever conceive of. To go through that, you got to want the job real bad. Don't for one moment think that Miss Rice would escape such exam because of her gender. Her being a black woman, that had the audacity to run as a Republican, would make the media frenzy even worse.

Thirdly, POTUS is NOT an entry level job. Being an elected politician at any level requires a certain skill set in order to be successful. This is true for all jobs, from day laborer to brain surgeon. You must be able to give stem winder speeches that rally the troops. I have yet to see that in Miss Rice. You must mingle in masses of humanity that you do not know, shaking hands, smiling, making inane small talk, kissing and fondling babies with poopy diapers, etc. You must suffer fools gladly. I REALLY haven't seen that quality in the super intelligent Miss Rice. And here is a biggie. You have to go to parties and meetings with millionaires and billionaires and ask them to fork over large sums of money with no guaranteed return. Can Miss Rice walk up to, say, Bill Gates and ask him to take responsibility for putting together a group of his friends and contributing at least $5 million for the primary and a similar amount for the general election? Many very fine and very smart folks simply can not beg handouts like that. Remember that it would take in the $20 to $50 million neighborhood for the primary and another at least $70+ million for the general election. Could you ask strangers for that kind of money?

A few years ago, I was against Steve Forbes for exactly the reason that POTUS is not an entry level job. Now if Miss Rice were to run for and/or serve 4 or 8 years as the Vice President, an elective job, then I would be fully prepared to see her run for President.

Finally, where is it written that Miss Rice is the only person of color that the GOP can come up with that has charisma, dynamism, and electability? A partial list of such folks might contain: J. C. Watts, Bobby Jindal, Lt. Gov. Steel of Md., the gentleman that is the Ohio Sec. of State whose name escapes me [Ken Blackwell], Herman Caine of Georgia a successful businessman who has at least campaigned for the U.S. Senate. That is certainly not an exhaustive list, just one that comes off the top of my head at a moment's notice.
-- Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

I would like to expand on Mark Goldblatt's insights into "The Great Society" and "War on Poverty."

Imagine this: It's 1964 and the Civil Rights Bill is imminent. The Southern segregationists are in a panic. Lyndon Johnson, Robert Byrd, J.W. Fulbright, Gore Sr., George Wallace, Strom Thurmond (and others) had a meeting and decided to counter the civil rights movement with a counter punch. They would refer to it among themselves as "the New Plantation," but hype it as "The Great Society-War on Poverty." It would be founded on "good intentions" (a sure pathway to Hell). First, provide African Americans with welfare (not a lot of money but enough to get them into the Plantation) and at the same time break-up the family unit by forcing the man out. Provide monetary incentives to have illegitimate children. Give African Americans government schools (no choice) and make these schools the worst in the country. Give them government medical care: substandard, wait-in-line Hillary-care. Build government housing (ready-made slums), and flood the neighborhoods with drugs and guns. Create food stamps (a new currency that could be traded for guns and drugs), and make it a non-nutritional program (the real winners will be the supermarkets and food processors, not the American farmer). Diabetes and heart-disease will follow. Give them the back-handed insult of Affirmative Action, telling them they really aren't as good as whites, and can't compete. The genius of "the New Plantation" would be to make African Americans indebted to the idea that they are victims, and they are owed these tokens. Fool them into believing that the Democratic Party has their best interests in mind. This all came to pass, and Robert Byrd and his gang knew it was "all good."
-- Fred Edwards
Tucson, Arizona

ATHEIST THEOLOGY
Re: Bruce Thompson's letter (under "Kung Catholics") in Reader Mail's Cut & Shoot Republicans and Jerry Rushing's letter (under "Reforming by Conserving") in Reader Mail's Bolton's Army:

By pursuing a line of thought that is at one both misinformed and, in my judgment, misguided, the barque carrying Mr. Bruce Thompson has entered "terra incognita." There was a time when raising the points that Mr. Thompson has was considered imprudent, but not now. What purpose is served to ask that Catholics and Lutherans read about each other's faith, when most of our religious beliefs arise from the judgment that our credal precepts are true, at least to us? Viva la difference! I have some problems with Thompson's letter, so, to quote Sgt. Joe Friday, "Just the facts, sir."

"...Pius IX got Ultramontanism adopted in Vatican I." Really? The concept of "papal infallibility" (N.B.: the pontiff's rulings, speaking "ex cathedra," only on faith and morals, not nuclear disarmament and the death penalty) isn't "gotten" by anyone, let alone Pius IX. The term was first heard in the Middle Ages to describe from whence the popes came, but evolved into a principle that papal authority was necessary to confront directly the development of separate state churches, such as "Gallicanism" in France. In the 19th century, Ultramontanism was greatly accelerated, first by the revolutions throughout Central Europe, then by the Bismarckian attempt to crush, during the "Kulturkampf," the major German Catholic political party that opposed unification. Invoking of the word today, usually by Church "progressives," is but a codeword whose sole purpose is to undermine papal authority.

"The official theologian of Vatican II, Hans Kung..." Could have fooled me on that one, too. Even the indefinite article here would not make the sentence correct. Kung, among dozens of other clerics, served as "periti" or experts during the three year existence of Vatican II. Included amongst the other "periti" was a German priest, whose new title has been the subject of much ink recently. But Mr. Thompson's advice here borders on the impudent: if he had followed his own advice and read something about the Church, he would note that Kung is, to paraphrase: CINO -- Catholic in Name Only. But Thompson's questions belie even a minimum knowledge of Catholic doctrine: if people do not "accept infallibility," or question that Pope John Paul II had every right to "silence" Kung, then they can call themselves anything -- an Abrams tank, or Fidei Defensor, if they wish -- but not Catholic. Kung made a name -- and reputation -- as did the American priest, Charles Curran, for openly dissenting from the teachings of the Magisterium. I've always thought of being a Catholic as joining a club: you either accept the ground rules -- and doctrine -- or you don't. Those who try to have it both ways, Mr. Thompson, are called, "cafeteria Catholics."

Since Mr. Thompson started with Luther, allow me to close with another German, Konrad Adenauer, "Der Alte," who, I must admit, was Catholic. His words, humbly offered seem most appropriate in dealing with Kung's admirers: "How improvident of the Almighty to limit man's intelligence, without limiting his stupidity."
-- Vincent Chiarello
Reston, Virginia

Bruce Thompson relied upon Austin Cline's Agnostic/Atheist website. He took Cline's possibly misleading description of Kung or Kung as "official theologian" and made it erroneous by calling him "the official theologian." Kung was an officially appointed theologian expert or peritus. Unlike Ratzinger, he did not chair any of the committee meetings. He was not silenced any more than Governor Casey was simply because he wasn't allowed to address a Democratic convention. Indeed, Kung continues to teach at the same place. But like Charles Curran he is not recognized by the Church as being a Catholic theologian. Cline is also responsible for Thompson's conflating of a doctrine (infallibility) and a movement (Ultramontanism). But Thompson is responsible for relocating infallibility from the 19th to the 20th century as a point of contention in any real sense.
-- R.L.A. Schaefer
Dubuque, Iowa

OUR ERSTWHILE ALLY
Re: "Protecting Even Canada" letters in Reader Mail's Partial Political Abortion:

Please forward this link to "Unsigned" in Canada. It is a great list of quotes from President Bush and his reasons for going to war. All of which were made before the war started.
-- Dan Elsasser
Sioux Falls, South Dakota

The following is the text of a letter I wrote (signed) to a very liberal Canadian magazine, Maclean's. I now direct this letter to "unsigned of Canada."

Four of my children are serving in the U.S. Army. A son with the 3rd Armored Cavalry, a son with Special Operations, Airborne, a son with the Corps of Engineers (deep-sea diver) and a daughter with Military Intelligence. They were all doing well in college when they decided to serve their country. They are patriotic, courageous, and have something worth dying for, which means they have something worth living for. What does Canada have worth dying for? Homosexual marriage? Legal marijuana? How pathetic. It must be embarrassing to be a Canadian man. Canadian men are socialized, feminized, homosexualized, and now believe the
Clinton/Carter theory of "Peace through weakness." Your country couldn't afford its social welfare if it weren't for the U.S. providing for your defense.

Where were you Canada when we needed you? Even if you believed America was wrong in its Iraq-attack, you should have "backed" us up. Just like in a barroom brawl. (We would back you up.) Have some courage, some guts, instead of wimping-out.

At least the Iraq War showed us who our friends are, and obviously Canada isn't to be trusted in times of trouble.

If you don't have something worth dying for, you have nothing worth living for.
-- Fred Edwards
Tucson, Arizona

FREE EXPRESSION
Re: James Bowman's Fighting Words:

If the Utopians can invent a word like bellicist, I suggest realists strike back. What else can the essence of the Bush doctrine, aiming for democracy and the elimination of tyrants mean, except bringing freedom or liberty to individual humans?

So, I call for the use of the new word,

Freedomism! The next best thing to Hedonism!
-- James Crystal

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