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In the Know

Cardinal Mahony's PR firm questions TAS over Enron. Plus much more, including private accounts, Bush achievements, Ben and Tom, and unsigned heroes.

4.14.05

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HIGH FLIERS
Re: George Neumayr's Protection Racketeers:

Although I am not a fan of Cardinal Mahony, it was the practice a few years ago by TWA, and I assume other air carriers, that Cardinals were given automatic first class upgrades.
-- Fr. Howard Vinette

Thank you for your article on Cardinal Mahony. I could not agree more with your assessment of this man who sadly is damaging the Church worse than Cardinal Law. You know who else has been given a media pass: the Jesuits, especially the California province which in my estimation is rife with moral corruption. It seems like they are getting a pass because they are perceived as liberals by the same media that is ignoring Mahony.

All the best.
-- Fr. Leonard F. Villa

"The media even as it huffs and puffs about Cardinal Law will provide a platform over the next few months to a liberal Los Angeles cardinal who populated his inner circle with pedophiles. The media will ask him his opinion on this or that phony issue, but it won't ask him why he knowingly made a pedophile, Carl Sutphin, the associate pastor of his new cathedral; why he housed Sutphin in his old and new rectory; why he refused to turn in Michael Baker (a pedophile so disgusted with himself he begged Mahony to call the cops on him but Mahony refused) and even brought Baker into a circle that vacationed at Mahony's Yosemite cabin. "

Sounds like you need to go to Rome, George. These are certainly the questions I would be asking him if I (or LifeSite) could afford the airfare.

Doesn't the Spec have a travel budget? Got any friends in Rome?
-- Hilary White
Toronto, Ontario

I'm curious where George Neumayr got the idea that Sitrick And Company ever represented Enron. His 4/12/05 Media Matters column was the first I've ever heard of it, and I suspect I would know.
-- Allan Mayer
Managing Director
Sitrick And Company
Los Angeles, California

George Neumayr replies:
On May 30, 2002, the Associated Press reported:

"The nation's largest Roman Catholic archdiocese has hired a public relations firm to help deal with the ongoing priest abuse scandal.

"The Archdiocese of Los Angeles tapped Sitrick & Co., a Culver City-based company that has dealt with high-profile cases. Among the company's clients were bankrupt energy company Enron, actress Halle Berry following a traffic accident and comedian Paula Poundstone after her child-endangerment case...." (Emphasis mine.)

BEN AND TOM
Re: Ben Stein's The Truth About DeLay:

Tom DeLay and Ben Stein, TWO GREAT AMERICANS whom I will always admire and respect. Great piece and keep up the great work.
-- Tony
Burlington, Kentucky

I just read Ben Stein's article regarding Tom DeLay and there are millions of us out here that totally feel the same way about this and many other issues that the liberal judges and liberal press can get away with on a daily basis and no one is holding them accountable. If the wimpy versions of so-called "I don't want the press to write bad things about me" Republicans don't start acting like the Republicans that we elected, we need to tell them right now that we are actively looking for someone to replace them in the next election if they don't start representing the "majority" that elected them in the first place. The grassroots patience is starting to get a little thin. If these folks don't think we are keen to what is happening in Washington and don't care simply because we are not fanatically screaming like Democratic losers, they will soon learn that we talk with our vote. Get some balls, Republican senators and representatives, or one day soon they will be handed to you.
-- Ed Meysenburg
David City, Nebraska

Thank you for the story by Mr. Stein reference Leader DeLay. We definitely need to stand by him now more than ever. These holier than thou liberal Democrats are the face of hypocrisy. We must back Congressman DeLay, he deserves our loyalty. We Republicans are always upset at the leaders and members of Congress who do not have a spine and do not stand up to the liberals and/or the press. Well now we have a Republican with the fortitude to say what he believes is right and what he really means and we must back him 100%.

Thanks for the article and bring on some more,
-- Mercy
Miami, Florida

In conceding that Tom DeLay is a staunch Republican, a Texan, and a religious conservative, why is he nicknamed the "Hammer"? Is he really a Phil Crane type conservative or better a Dick Armey conservative, bringing a reflective and disinterested intellect to the people's house? Stein should be addressing whether there is any smoke in the handling of his PAC and perhaps any undue enrichment for direct family members! The incumbency rates in both parties are so high, courtesy of too much money in electioneering that it is tantamount to fixed terms. A letter of marque for rascality! Clear the air on that issue and you have made yourself lucid. Gladhand a pol, known as the "Hammer" and your rhetoric is threadbare, at best!
-- Edward Del Colle

Tom DeLay is a good and brave man; the Democrats are smearing him. We love you, Tom; we love you too, Ben.
-- C. Melgard
California

DEMOCRACY'S LAUNDRY LIST
Re: Ralph R. Reiland's Bush, Reconsidered:

Hooray for Ralph Reiland. He did a great job with his article about a single liberal, Martin Peretz, editor of the New Republic, who is on record applauding President Bush's world vision. I only wish Reiland had included a list of historic events having occurred during President Bush's watch. But, since he did not, permit me provide a brief, non-exhaustive, list.

* Pakistan, a Muslim country, supportive of the war on terror, and a loyal ally to the United States.

* Libya, a Muslim country ruled by the authoritative Kadafi, which has forsaken its weapons of mass destruction program.

* Afghanistan, liberated from the cruel and despotic Taliban, and having experienced its first democratic elections ever.

* Iraq, with its brutal dictator having been brought to justice, and democratic elections.

* Lebanon, with the fall of its Syrian puppet Government, the imminent withdrawal of Syrian troops, and a chance for true democratic reform.

* Ukraine, with its peaceful overthrow of a corrupt communist style Government, followed by a true democratically elected government, and a break from the old Soviet Union influence.

* Egypt, with its leadership, at least, giving lip service to permitting other political parties to exist.

* Saudi Arabia with its local democratic elections.

* Palestine, with its first ever free election, resulting in a moderate Government which may, actually, become an ally of Israel in addressing the caldron that is the middle-east.

* Iran and North Korea being isolated by the world community, and having no choice except to deal with regional neighbors.

* Other old Soviet Union satellites having begun to find their own way to democracy.

In sum, President Bush's leadership has seen developments no less dramatic than the fall of the Iron Curtain and the crumbling of the Soviet Union. And, I predict, there will be more such developments to come. But, still, only a handful of liberals will give him credit. The only reasonable conclusion is that liberals are more interested in regaining their lost political power than what is good for the country and the world. It's sad but, at the same time, disgusting that these people obviously care more about themselves and their power than they care about their country and mankind. And, this is why they are destined to fall by the wayside in the rush of history.
-- A. A. Reynolds

REALITY-BASED SOCIAL SECURITY
Re: Philip Klein's Too Great For Its Own Good:

If Social Security is so great, then all these Liberals should join this wonderful plan and get off their Thrift Savings Account plans. Ditto for all government employees. That way they can enjoy the great success that is Social Security. They should force the employees of Galveston, Texas and a handful of other counties to start paying into the Social Security System again so they too can enjoy the great success that is Social Security.

It is beyond belief that people don't understand how much richer individually and as a country we would all be if we put the 12.4% of our wages that goes into Social Security into a real pension fund even it was just IRA's, or CDs, or even simple savings accounts that pay miniscule returns of 3%, which is still huge in comparison to returns on the great success that is Social Security.

Our great success that is public education prevents the average Joe from understanding things like compound interest, rates of return, and fractions. Liberals think people are stupid because the education system they created is geared to turn ordinary minds into mush and extraordinary minds into conservatives. And mush can be molded into whatever form is desired.
-- RW
Cow Creek, Texas

"Critics may counter that there's no guarantee that the U.S. stock market will do as well in the next 40 years as it has in the past."

It never ceases to amaze me that this argument is never countered by the fact that there is NO guarantee that SS will perform as in the past. Not only has it not, there is nothing to stop Congress from cutting benefits further by raising taxes or the retirement age, again.

Chris Adamo offers us another reason politicians want to continue the current system: "...political operatives are having a field day dipping into the coffers, essentially robbing from one citizen in order to purchase the loyalty of another. It is perhaps the biggest deception of the Twentieth Century to portray Social Security surpluses as anything other than a supplemental income tax, further burdening the citizenry while enabling big-government liberal Democrats from both parties to perpetuate their 'business as usual'...Thus, the phony outrage among liberals, intent on maintaining the system in its present form, offers proof of their real loyalties."

Then there is the claim that SS provides a "safety net." Predictions of dire poverty come from those who are unaware of, or wish to conceal, the government's alternate "safety net," the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program. Most ordinary citizens simply do not even know that it exists. This is a program that is administered by the Social Security Administration but is funded out of the general revenue, NOT SS taxes. The monthly cash benefits are needs-based and only a little less than SS. Unlike Social Security, there is no work requirement, but recipients must have limited assets. While not providing a middle income level standard of living, the benefits do not leave recipients to face "dire poverty." To get SSI benefits, you need not even be a citizen nor have even worked nor paid a tax.

The biggest problem with the current SS system is that no one owns anything nor does anyone have any right to any benefits at all, as was decided by past Supreme Court decision. If privatization ever goes through, Karl Marx's dream of the workers' owning the means of production will have been realized, only it will be owned by individuals and not through the government, as is the case with communism. Therein lies the biggest threat to liberals: with individuals acquiring personal independence, who needs them?
-- Gordon Paravano
Sedona, Arizona

The liberals do have a point on the success of Social Security. It is a perfect system for the half of us who choose to be ignorant about the workings of the world's economy.

I have actually had seemingly intelligent people tell me that investing in the stock market is gambling but buying in a hyper inflated housing market in San Diego carries zero risk. They point out that I have little or no control over the companies whose stock I trade but they, in spite of not having title to their real-estate, tying up most or all of their accumulated wealth, and committing an all time high portion of their future earnings have all the control and no risk. They fail to recognize the ravages of nature, insurance companies, property tax collectors, adjustable rate mortgages, and unforeseen repairs. If they own property so they can lease it out the assumption is renters will take care of their property and always pay. They choose to ignore the historical impact on housing valuations from interest rates, recessions, and housing supply.

Where do they get these ideas? They get them from their leftist media and their parents who are wedded to the current Social Security system. It nicely reinforces their choice to forgo being plugged into the rapidly changing world on a daily or even monthly basis.

I am convinced that we will not see Social Security reform coming out of this administration. But the President deserves credit for getting the conversation started and keeping it alive even if the ostriches among us refuse to contribute to the dialogue.
-- Diamon Sforza
San Diego, California

How about private accounts now?

In what appears to be an interesting development the Tennessee TennCare system received the go ahead to reduce benefits. Story here.

So the interesting question to be asked is -- if the recipients of the TennCare system had a choice would they have preferred HSA's? And by corollary would not a private account have been better for you?

Extrapolating, it points out that what the government giveth the government can taketh away. A copy of the 11th circuit's ruling should be sitting on every Senator and Representative's desk. It's a testament that private accounts are the only thing that give the little guy any chance for some sort of safety net.
-- John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

One of the things I don't understand about President Bush's campaign to promote personal retirement accounts is that I never hear him or anyone in his administration talk about Chile's success. Here is a country that has tried it with enormous success and has the support of its people. Are there any other countries that have created personal accounts? If so how are they doing?

Enjoyed the column, you wrote what I've been trying to articulate to co-workers and friends. Thanks for helping me make the argument for personal accounts.
-- Steve Winheim
St. Louis, Missouri

UNSIGNED HEROES
Re: Jim Berreth's letter (under "Calling All Cowards") in Reader Mail's The Tall Cardinal:

I agree with Mr. Berreth. He stated, "However, I'll never understand why you run comments by people who don't have the balls to sign their name." He's right. Almost all major (and probably most lesser) newspapers require complete identification before they agree to publish anyone's letter to the editor.

Most of the well reasoned letters disagreeing with your articles are signed. And I certainly don't mind reading a different viewpoint, and have been convinced of the merits of those on more than one occasion. But I'm damned tired of reading some of the witless diatribes published in your Reader Mail castigating many of the things I believe and hold dear, especially from some yoyo who's too cowardly to identify himself. At least change the designation from "unsigned" to "coward." Thanks.
-- Tim Jones
Cordova, Tennessee

Regarding Jim Berreth's comments about "wimps" and "people who don't have the balls to sign their name." A lot of people who contribute to these pages have not lived 50 years let alone put that much time into a career. As such they are used to having their e-mail address inform the recipient of their mail as to their identity rather than by signature. I have been an unintentional "unsigned" here a couple of times myself. It is not that I'm a coward or an unknown bomb thrower, it is just that I do not attach my name and address to about 95% of my e-mails and some times by force of habit I forget to do so here. I, for one, like the fact that the Spectator does not censor my opinions simply because I sometimes forget to identify myself by traditional means.
-- Scotty Uhrich
Glyndon, Minnesota

DISSIDENTS AREN'T CATHOLIC
Re: Father Phillip De Vous's letter (under "The Fruits of Church Liberalism") in Reader Mail's The Tall Cardinal:

I am in virtually total agreement with the good Father but must quibble (most respectfully, because that is how I was raised) with the term "dissident Catholics." I know that this will sound quite simplistic; however, I have to say that I divide us into Catholics and non-Catholics. If you disagree with articles of faith and morals, and take a stance against the pronouncements of the Papacy in the encyclicals, you are not a Catholic. John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, and other big name liberal "Catholics" are not Catholics at all. You cannot be among the faithful if you reject the faith. This is what they have done. I have the same thoughts about "liberation theology." There is no such thing. There is Protestant theology and, while I may not agree with it, I can respect it because of its relatively courageous beginning (for the most part).

I am always puzzled by the idea that one can separate one's religious beliefs from the way that one lives. This is what the above mentioned politicians have tried to do. I guess that this concept of religion fits in the box with "I support the troops but oppose the war."
-- Joseph Baum
Newton Falls, Ohio

LAST WEEK
Re: Wlady Pleszczynski's Chip Shots and Papal Funerals:

What have we learned?

We've learned that even the most celebrated people die and are forgotten as soon as the media spotlight moves away. In other words, nothing.
-- David Govett
Davis, California

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