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Straight From the Heart

Fan mail. Unions did their job. Democratic culpability. Judge of judges. The New Deal got old. Plus much more.

2.21.05

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"THE STUPIDITY OF YOUR MAGAZINE"
American Spectator: It is probably not possible for me to read more dumb articles in one place.
-- Erik Levanowitz
Lindley, New York

RETIRE THAT AD
Regarding the images on the AARP ad, what the HELL is wrong with you repugs? Are you all closet homosexuals? All I see anymore from you guys is homoerotic images! Not that there's anything wrong with that!

Do you really think that you've brainwashed people so much that they'll believe that their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents hate the military and believe in guy marriage?

This administration hates the military: not one of them served in a war, they did their best to avoid going to war (seven deferments for big Dick himself). Buy, but they sure love gay sex. Especially in the White House press room. Especially from prostitutes.
-- Tina Norwood
Houston, Texas

The advertisement on your home page that purports to depict the AARP's true agenda (appearing on Feb. 21 and linking to USA Next) is despicable. You should be ashamed of yourselves for accepting such drivel, and purposely dumbing-down the American public.

Please behave like adults.
-- Dan Henry

THE UNIONS' INTELLIGENCE DEMISE
Re: Lawrence Henry's What Really Happened to Labor Unions:

Mr. Henry's insight into what happened to the unions in America is, in my opinion, only one component of the larger story of the demise of organized labor.

I grew up in a very blue collar neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA, a very blue collar city. My grandfather was a craneman at one of the small steel mills that lined the Allegheny River, within walking distance of our neighborhood. Almost all of the men in the neighborhood worked in the mills and almost all of them walked to work. Grandpap was part of the union organizing movement in the 1930s and a proud member of the United Steelworkers of America (the USWA) for his entire life. My Father and my uncles all went straight from High School to the mills. And while my uncles eventually moved on to other jobs, my Father stayed with the small company where he originally started. He joined the USWA local at his mill and became an active member, eventually becoming president of the local for two years in the 1970s. In the 1980s the floor fell out of the domestic steel industry and the mill my Father worked at closed, as did so many other steel mills across the country. My father and all of his friends were convinced that the shut down was temporary and that the mill would come back. To his dying day, Dad never understood why it didn't.

No small part of the problem was the union leadership. Not that the leaders were corrupt (although many were), but I believe that the main problem was that they were grossly incompetent. The men who organized the Unions in the '30s and led it through the three decades that followed were hard, tough, and intelligent. Then they retired and there were few good men to follow them, mainly because of the very success of the Union.

Fifty years ago, I and my brothers would have followed our father into the mill. Growing up, I was raised in a union household, surrounded by talk of Union matters and happenings. My father would no more have crossed a picket line than she would have missed Mass on Sunday.

But working in the mill and joining the union were never really an option for me. Working in a steel mill is hard, brutal and dangerous. Thanks to union wages, my father made enough money to allow me to go to college, the first in my family to do so. I became an engineer and eventually went to law school. My brothers' stories are variations on that theme. Grown now, with families of our own, we have all moved out of the old neighborhood and live in the suburbs. My father never quite knew how to handle the fact that his sons had become part of "Management." On one hand, he was proud of our success; on the other, we had joined the other side.

And our story was repeated all over the neighborhood, all over the city, and I suppose all over the country. The best and brightest of a whole generation of young men who would have replaced their fathers in the union were suddenly not there for the labor movement. The men who did manage to find jobs at mills that remained open were, frankly, the men who were not bright or ambitious enough to get ahead elsewhere.

Today's Union leaders have inherited an organization that they had no hand in creating. They are small men trying to fill very big shoes and not doing a good job of it.

Technology certainly played a part in hurting the unions, as did foreign imports. But in the end, I think it was the lack of leadership that hurt most of all.
-- Robert F. Casselberry

PARTY TO SLAVERY
Re: John Carlisle's Slave Disclosure Shakedowns:

I think there is a major point that is not being addressed here. We should be looking at what political party profited from slavery. Did they make laws that allowed companies to profit from slavery? If so, how can a company be held responsible for following the LAW? These city councilmen are supporting the same party (Democrats) that defended the lynchings and brutal conditions we as Black People had to live with. I think the Democratic Party should be held responsible for its past deeds. If we look at party history, these race hustlers won't have a leg to stand on. Liberalism is the most dangerous form of thought control.
-- Keycie Lyon

John Carlisle left out a couple of important names related to the JP Morgan/City of Chicago slavery shakedown: William (Bugsy) Daley, Midwest Chairman of JP Morgan, and Richard (Mugsy) Daley, Mayor of the City of Chicago. The origin of the word "Chicago" comes from the Potawatomie Indian term which meant "strong smell" because of the onion fields along the lakefront. Today, when something smells in Chicago, there's usually a Daley connected to it
-- Jack Hughes
Chicago, Illinois

So glad that someone has finally discovered the relevance of the First Amendment clause that forbids attempts to enforce ex post facto laws. Now how about looking into the relevance of the same clause as it forbids bills of attainder? As for instance, disparate-impact legislation. Since the one decision that defines the reach of the attainder clause -- Justice Field's decision in 1866 -- indicates that whole groups may be reached by laws that violate that clause, what about federal agencies that have in the 1960s and 1970s investigated businesses that have "statistically" discriminated on the basis of hiring that took place before the 1964 civil rights statute was passed? Do not such statistical tests in effect interpret hiring acts that occurred before 1964 according to that act, and threaten punishment accordingly? Also: what about the Office of Civil Rights of the DOE which requires school and college administrators in effect to usurp the function of the judiciary when they are required to enforced regulations against sexual harassment, and pass judgment on guilt and innocence against those so charged?

The attainder clause, which has had an admittedly checkered case law history, has yet to be seriously investigated as something which the whole civil rights regime at the very least flirts with violating and may in actuality violate. Archibald Cox when a liberal lawyer in the DOJ writing rules for enforcing the 1965 Voting Rights Act discovered that enforcing the law only in the South constituted a possible violation of the attainder clause. He told his underlings to invent a classification that was neutral as to a state's location that would nevertheless incriminate only Southern states. See Hugh Graham Davis' "The Civil Rights Era" for this eye-opening anecdote.
-- Michael McCanles
Wauwatosa, Wisconsin

John Carlisle's Slave Disclosure Shakedowns misses the central point about reparations for slavery. The suitable target is the organization most responsible for the retention and defense of slavery: the Democratic Party.

I figure the D.P. owes black folks big time. And also the descendants of soldiers killed or injured in the Civil War.

Of course, this would bankrupt the Democratic Party. Cry me a river.
-- R. Alazar

LESS LITMUS, MORE JUDGE
Re: Timothy Lynch's Here Comes the Judge from Fox:

Actually have Napolitano's book on order. Wish he had his own show on Fox; he is one of the better contributors in their stable.

There is an opportunity here that the Republicans should exploit vis-Ã -vis judicial appointees. The Democrats have been successful in making single point issues a litmus test. Abortion and the environment come to mind. Most Americans are of passing acquaintance with the Bill of Rights.

It would seem reasonable that with the appropriate emphasis a greater case could be made for appointees by placing their Constitutional viewpoints to the forefront. Deemphasize the litmus tests by pointing to the greater danger. Now this might place judges on the bench that might not be in alignment with Republican notions. But I surmise that Republicans would have fewer qualms with such judicial appointments than the Democrats who I assume would have apoplexy over such candidates.

What would be sweeter than Bush standing there stating that without changes the Judiciary has in the past, will in the future, place American's freedoms at risk. It has teeth, has resonance and would sideline litmus test Dems.

It's a solution.
-- John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

Shouldn't Judge Andrew P. Napolitano be a nominee for the Supreme Court?
-- Pasquale DelVecchio

DONKEY INFLATION
Re: The Prowler's Demzilla Devours Dean:

If the population of the USA is 281.4 (2000 US Census) million, how did 175 million become DNC donors with voting records? Are roughly 62% of the US (including infants) Democrats? Dropping the youth (about 20%), the adult population is about 225 million. So the DNC is listing almost 78% of the of-age population as donors and voters?

Either the 175 million number includes corporations and other groups, or the DNC's spinning some pretty tall tales.
-- Newt Love
Annapolis, Maryland

The 2/22 Washington Prowler column says that the DNC donor list contains 175 million names. That's about triple the number of votes Kerry received in 2004. Obviously, Demzilla contains an awful lot of duplications.
-- John Loftus

As heartening as it was for me to read this piece, I am impressed with the detail of the piece most of all -- a superb piece of journalism. The back-biting at the DNC is not very attractive (boy do I ever love reading about their infighting!), but learning for the first time that McAuliffe's DNC did not share donor info with the DSSC or DCCC is most interesting. I'm not sure how they thought they could run national campaigns, never mind manage the party itself, without sharing such information.

Now, Dear Prowler, what can you tell us about who got special or under-the-table access to Demzilla data during McAuliffe's tenure?
-- Mark Stoffel
Arlington, Virginia

In a county with fewer than 300 million citizens, it seems a bit of a stretch that there would be 175 million donor names on that list. The 2000 census didn't even report 200 million voting age citizens. Oh, wait. I forgot about Charley Trie and his countrymen.
-- Corey L. Fish

A CHILD AFTER NAZI RULE
Re: Shawn Macomber's A Child Under Nazi Rule:

Just about everybody who grew up in the '50s had a WWII veteran father, and just about everybody else's father was one too. The only questions were "what branch" and "what theater." But one difference for me was a "war bride" mother, who spent four harrowing years under the Nazi occupation of Belgium, her Rotem not that far from Titia Bozuwa's Breda. She spent the last year hiding in Brussels, without appropriate papers, her name on a list for deportation to slave labor in Germany, having been forewarned by two cousins in the civil service who were later shot. Without any exaggeration, her mass of experiences were "scarier," both to me as a child and even now as a middle-aged man, than my USGI father's, who fought in the Ardennes and through Germany to the end of the war. He could fight back and did. She was completely at the Germans' mercy.

What is curious is how quickly the lessons learned by Titia and my mother are lost. In 1939, Belgium, Holland, Denmark and Norway were neutrals, confident in their helplessness that consummate evil would leave them alone. After the war ended, all four were founding members of NATO. But today, the millions who shared the experiences of Titia and my mother are either in old age or gone, and the generations that followed cannot or will not remember.

What is amazing is that so many Americans, with no living memory of those horrible events, nevertheless are aware of them and derive the correct conclusions. It is just one more reason to thank God for being here.
-- Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey

The review of In the Shadow of the Cathedral reminded me of a book I am reading right now. Published in 1985 by Wayne State University Press (Detroit) it is called A Private War, by Bruno Shatyn. Shatyn is a well-educated Polish Jew who from his early teenage years, living on his own, managed to get a college education and open a specialized law practice in Cracow. World War II broke out soon after and Shatyn tell of his tales of working in Poland with false papers, hiding his family's identities and the identities of friends and people in need of shelter from the Nazi occupiers.

A really moving read. It is quite telling of the times.
-- P. Aaron Jones
Huntington Woods, Michigan

KNOWING IT'S OVER
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell's Retire the Depression:

I would amend Mr. Tyrrell's conclusion: What really offends the Bush-bashers about the President's Social Security reform is that they sense in their gut -- quite correctly -- that it is the beginning of the end of the self-anointed running the lives of the people. If someday the average family can put together a million dollars in investments between Mom, Dad, Gramma, and Grandpa, (very feasible given current numbers) then they will be able to handle most problems -- college tuition for kids, down-payments for new houses, seed money for small business, medical expenses, primary education -- by themselves, without needing to beseech their "moral superiors" in big government for hand-outs.

That is why left-wing activists so hate inheritance (or allowing a Social Security recipient to pass his account on to heirs), not because -- as they claim -- it's "unfair" and unleveling, but precisely because it is leveling, a mechanism for bringing all working families up to a level of financial independence. Such independence must be destroyed in every generation, or risk letting the next generation escape the sheep-fold of government.

It's not just the loss of big-government careers and pensions that frightens them. If you promised every left-wing big-government activist in the land a rich retirement package today to go away and leave the rest of us alone, they would refuse. It would violate their deepest religious convictions.

They believe deeply in their heart (though they may not admit to others or even themselves) in the moral and intellectual superiority of the elite, and their absolute moral right to rule the lives of their inferiors. If you push a leftist hard enough to upset him (not too hard) he blurts out the truth, that he doesn't think ordinary folk will "do the right thing" with their own money. The leftists' deepest, religious conviction is that humans are not fit for self-rule and self-determination, and that individuals do NOT own the value of their labor (!) and that individuals should not be allowed complete economic self-direction.

This putrid darkness in their moral souls is a throwback to the worst atavistic, primitive state of man, and a rejection of all the best ideas of the Enlightenment. A really good political opposition would press them into revealing their deepest rancid assumptions, which Bush has been doing through actions, not words. Some are puzzled by the hysterical spittle-drenched fulminations of the Left, given how utterly non-combative Bush has been. But Bush doctrines of the liberty of the individual have offended them in their deepest souls, and attacked their god and his anointed high priests.
-- Eric Richter

FDR's greatest legacy will always be the encroaching power of big government. Born not out of necessity, as the scions of the left like to argue, but as a means to an end itself, his governmental largess was the product of an age in love with socialism and the concept of central planning. Central planning grew from two aligned forces, the appeal of Marxism as a 'scientific' approach to government and the love of Darwinian natural selection as a tool of social engineering. Lest we forget, it was the same calm and oh so reasonable voices which heralded Social Security that also called for segregation of the races and eugenics.
-- Bill Sluis

Mr. Tyrrell, I could have a choice between giving all my Social Security tax money to the government, and maybe in 14 years (I'm 53, so I'll not be able to receive full Social Security benefits till I'm 67), they'll give me a small monthly check till I die. Then it'll be over. Or, I could invest part, or maybe even much, of that withheld amount in the stock market, and have a lot more to show for it, and I can pass anything that's left onto my wife and/or kids. And John Kerry, and Teddy Kennedy, and Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi, and Howard Dean don't even want me to have the option?

These same five insist that my minor granddaughter be able to choose to have an abortion without her parents' knowledge, but won't let me choose which retirement plan I'd prefer. And they think they just haven't gotten their message out?
-- Tim Jones
Cordova, Tennessee

Now that all the senators, congressmen, pundits, and journalists have informed us of how investing money in stocks, corporate bonds, and mutual funds etc. is such a Risky Scheme* and will doom us to a penurious retirement, I make the following modest proposal.

All senators and congressmen should be required to turn over all of their own stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc., to the Treasury Department. The Treasury shall sell all of them and perhaps use the funds to pay down the national debt that so worries these politicians. They will be reimbursed for the value of their portfolios with new Social Security Trust Fund Lockbox Bonds. These bonds will have the following characteristics common to the other Social Security Trust Fund Bonds that they have been forcing me to put my money into all my life. They will earn 1.9% interest. They will NOT be backed by the Full Faith and Credit of the US Government. This is so they may be repudiated if needed while not effecting the value of Real Treasury Bonds. Upon your retirement at an age to be set at 65 years or perhaps later, you may receive a monthly check of around half of your highest five-year average income up to a maximum that will most likely be 3 to 4 thousand dollars per month. Upon your death your spouse will receive your check until they die and will get $255 to pay for your funeral. Upon their death all unused Social Security Trust Fund Lockbox Bonds will become the property of the Treasury Department. If you die before reaching 65 then all of the bonds return to the Treasury. Seems like a fair deal to me.

But why stop here when so many other at risk groups are basing their retirement dreams on the same Risky Scheme*. We should immediately move to apply the same wonderful Social Security Trust Fund Lockbox Bonds to the Thrift Saving Plan of all Federal employees. The pension plans of the State, County and Municipal employees, Public School Teachers, AFL-CIO workers, UAW, and Teamsters all are using the Risky Scheme* investment method. For the welfare of all these hard working people their pensions should be converted to the Social Security Trust Fund Lockbox Bond plan. It's only fair.

* Risky Scheme is copyright DNC
-- Geoff Bowden
Kalamazoo, Michigan

CASEY MAGIC
Re: The Prowler's Santorum Up:

Back in the 1980's I lived in Washington, PA. The county elections featured a Bob Casey who was just piggybacking on the name of the Robert Casey of your story. It worked: he put out a pittance for his campaign budget, and was elected on pure name recognition. I was a Democrat back then, and heard stories of his gauche behavior, but the name "Robert Casey" was political magic.
-- unsigned

FRENCH IN BEIRUT
Re: Shawn Macomber's Transforming Terror:

I read with interest your article "Transforming Terror" on the American Spectator website. I think Americans all remember the 242 US Marines that were killed there in 1983. What some of us do not recall was that I believe the same attack killed some 80 or so French soldiers as well. So Franco/American cooperation in Lebanon is not new, although in truth, it now proves only the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
-- David Sonenstein
Las Vegas, Nevada

ELEANOR'S INSPIRATION
Re: Beverly Gunn's letter (under "Spending Time with Corporal Quinones") in Reader Mail's A Day in the Life:

After passing along the wonderfully inspiring quote mentioned by Beverly Gunn (in response to Ben Stein's "How Was Your Day?") to several friends, I received an inquiry into its origin. After some Internet research, I found that several sites attribute the quote to Eleanor Roosevelt. Here is the quote in its entirety:

Dear Lord,
Lest I continue
My complacent way,
Help me to remember that somewhere,
Somehow out there
A man died for me today.
As long as there be war,
I then must
Ask and answer
Am I worth dying for?

I found this quote so inspiring and beautiful. Thanks to Beverly for making it known to me.
-- Angela Seeley
Clarksville, Tennessee

ARTFULLY TRASH
Re: John Corry's The New York Clothesline:

John Corry is quite correct in his contemptuous review of Christo's latest heresy, The Gates. I beg to be permitted to suggest that The Gates is to the art world what Lewis Carroll's famous Jabberwocky verse is to the literature world, to wit: "Twas brillig, and the slithy toves/ Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;/ All mimsy were the borogoves,/ And the mome raths outgrabe."

Widely acclaimed as the greatest nonsense poem ever authored in the English language, I submit it now has its counterpart in the visual arts world in the form of The Gates. "Beware the Jabberwock, my son!" said Lewis Carroll. Beware Christo, my son!, says I.
-- Mark Wisniewski

CIVILITY SUIT
Re: Greg Bernard's letter (under "Loser Pays") in Reader Mail's Our Many Insecurities:

In a letter, Greg Barnard took exception to a letter I wrote regarding tort reform. While I don't take offense when someone disagrees with me, I prefer civil discourse.

I beg to differ with his charge that my letter is ridiculous or inaccurate. For obvious reasons, I am careful not to present inaccurate information. Ridiculous, obviously, is in the eye of the beholder.

I am neither a trial lawyer nor do I work for one nor do I have "a job at some political activist group against common sense," as he suggests. When I write about tort reform, I speak for no one but my mother and myself and victims of medical malpractice. Mother lives in a nursing home. If tort reform is enacted, those nursing home owners who provide poor care will not have a critical disincentive to keep them from providing even poorer care.

If Barnard could bring himself to do some research, he would find that "out of control jury awards" are not putting good doctors out of business, but that insurance companies are, if, in fact, they are being put out of business, which, according to a Government Accountability Office report, is not a concern of any consequence.

Perhaps Barnard will find the following instructive. Weiss Ratings, a firm that provides ratings and analyses of financial services companies, found that doctors from 1991-2002 suffered a 48 percent increase in annual premiums in states with malpractice caps despite a lower insurer payout. The study found that among the 19 states that instituted caps during those years, only two states experienced flat or lower medical malpractice rates.

According to Barnard "it's wrong and unnecessary to gouge the good to protect people." By the good, I presume he is referring to good doctors. I sympathize with them when they are gouged by insurance companies, but I would find their goodness more laudable if they would police their ranks and remove from the profession the relatively small number of doctors who are responsible for over half of the incidents of medical malpractice in this country.

Barnard is right when he speaks of protecting people. According to a Harvard report, 98,000 patients die in hospitals every year as a result of medical malpractice. That does not include those people who die in other medical venues, nor does it include those patients who are maimed by medical malpractice

He said that I am a typical left-wing zealot. He has the distinction of being the first person to call me that. Referring to left-wing zealots, he said, "Didn't think there were a lot of them in Clarksville, TN given the fact so many people living there are in or support the Army at Ft. Campbell, home of the 101st Airborne." Sometime ago, I worked at Ft. Campbell. My colleagues' opinions ranged across the political spectrum. On the rare occasions we discussed politics, our conversations were marked by civility.

If Barnard responds to this letter, I hope he will research the subject before doing so.
--Jane Marshall
Clarksville, Tennessee

HOLLYWOOD INSIGHT
Re: James Bowman's Masked Players:

James Bowman's critique is simply brilliant.
-- Brian Hoskins
Ashburn, Virginia

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