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Holiday Moderation

Grinch Arnold. The Kermit Claus. Mel's Passion. Minnesota Americans. Atheists vs. Theists. Plus much more.

12.22.04

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ARNOLD'S EXPENSES
Re: George Neumayr's Another Losing Liberalism:

George Neumayr is right on about Schwarzenegger. We in California had the ability to get McClintock and ended up choosing Schwarzenegger instead. My only quibble with Mr. Neumayr is on the cost of Prop 71. The $3 billion in bonds must be paid back with interest over the next 20 years. So the real cost to California will be around $6 billion. What an evil use of taxpayer money!
-- Brooks Friend
Huntington Beach, California

This development may be signaling the direction of American politics in the future as the kooky Democrats fade away (as major American parties have done in history) and the Republicans split left and right with Arnold, Specter, et al. in one group and the conservatives in the other.

When I moved to Texas in the early 1960s the most important elections here were the primaries to select the "couldn't lose" Democrat candidates. And now I see again the primaries becoming important as majority Republicans deal with RINOs and their out of step positions on social and taxation issues. The good news is that this alignment might mean that foreign policy will once again end at the water's edge.
-- Charles Romer
Tomball, Texas

Great article on Arnold's boneheaded comment and the state of things in the State of cluelessness, California. Prop. 71 is the latest of many bad laws and initiatives that have been foisted upon us. I would like to point out that the final cost is $6 billion, not the $3 billion you mentioned in your article, after interest on the bonds is factored in.
-- Chris Huskins

Republicans tried liberalism, it failed. Liberals have tried liberalism. That failed too! George H.W. Bush's tax increase is the most recent lesson. It in turn, Bush was vilified by both liberals and conservatives for the obvious reasons. Why some Republicans after crushing leftism (again!!!!!!) in most states want to "reach out" to our enemies is truly insane. The media template being what it is, suggested that Republicans "reach out" after the defeat of '92, and again suggested we "reach out" after gaining the legislative majority in '94, and in 2000. Our attempts to befriend, and posit the "new tone" was met only with derision and scorn not only by the left, but by the template media as well.

Arnold said it himself: "Why should we listen to a bunch of losers?" Well Mr. Schwarzenegger, why should we?
-- P. Aaron
Huntington Woods, Michigan

Without fail, each time conservative Republicans make major gains in elections, "moderate" Republicans wake up from their dusty sleep and hear the mystical calls of duty. "OK, we're ready to lead!! Now you follow!!!"

That the "moderates" did practically zilch to get Bush elected and often give aid and comfort to our political opposition poses no moment of reflection. They are more than sure Bush owes them big time and they expect to collect.

What is baffling is the number of Republicans who feel obligated to kiss these people's tushes. Why media favorites such as Lugar and Specter aren't assigned seats on the postage stamp committee to languish there in the dark is beyond me. Democrats know how to command loyalty -- that's why "moderate" Democrats like Evan Bayh will carry their water for them every time the chips are down and most times when the chips are pretty good.

And to think some people want to change the Constitution for Arnold.
-- Mike Dooley
Indianapolis, Indiana

A VERY MUPPET CHRISTMAS
Re: Patrick O'Hannigan's Caroling With Kermit:

Couldn't agree more -- I thought no one else but me loved that John Denver and the Muppets' Christmas album. Thanks for a nice review of a hidden holiday gem! It also has a personal touch with "A Baby Just Like You" -- I grew up listening to John Denver singing "Merry Christmas, little Zachary."
-- Zach Cochran

Miss Jim Henson too. He was a great showman. I'm sorry my kids don't have him around.

Last week I was complaining about that "circus clown" issue to my kids too. They explained to me that it is really just another verse and not another typical bowdlerization. How 'bout that?
-- Unsigned

PASSIONATE ABOUT MEL
Re: Patrick Hynes's Oscaring Mel Gibson:

Why are people worried about The Passion of the Christ being endorsed by motion picture academies? I myself am holding out for complete ostracism of the film by those hip, worldly, intellectual liberals in Hollywood. Patrick Hynes seems to mean well, but even Lot knew when it was better to leave than to commingle with a hopeless element.
-- Jeff Anderson
Richmond, Virginia

Patrick Hynes' article on Hollywood's reasons, and Patrick's refutation of those reasons, for the Passion's snub was excellent. I would like to add to one point made by Patrick.

With respect to the movie's factual errors, Patrick accurately noted the Scriptures only say Jesus was flogged. As for the movie, they show a brutal "flogging." First, Scripture is often short of context for our time and requires a little "heart and mind," as Jesus said, in understanding God's word. "Flogging" to a first century person may well mean what was depicted by Mel Gibson in the Passion. In fact, I envisioned the flogging, or scourging, to be even more brutal than the movie dramatized. The practice of Roman scourging is well documented and went like this: the victim was flogged with a stick with nine pieces of different length leather attached to it. The leather had pieces of bone or sharpened rock tied to its ends. These bones or rock were designed to remove the victim's skin, much like a burn, leaving raw nerve exposed. The flogging was conducted by two Romans, one starting at the head and working his way down the front. The other started at the ankles and worked up the back to the head. This would remove most of the skin from the victim. This makes Mel's movie sanitized in comparison to the actual Roman practice.

One final note, the Scriptures state Jesus suffered more than any man before Him or after, theologically this has been understood as taking the penalty for the sins of all humans yet Jesus was completely innocent of sin. It may well also be understood to include physical suffering. The cross was no picnic as it required the victim to pull himself up to be able to breath. As the victim pulled up, the stakes holding his body would punish already open wounds, including raw nerves of the wrist and lower leg. This process could last hours to a day.

Thank you, Patrick, for your defense of the Passion and ultimately the Lord and Savior of this world, Jesus Christ.
-- Steve Shaver
Dallas, Texas

The Passion is a work that should never be lowered to the Hollywood standards of excellence.
-- Jim Flynt

CHRISTMAS LOST
Re: Peter Hannaford's The Ghost of Christmas-Future:

You forgot to include one more change that would likely occur: moving the "winter solstice" holiday from Dec. 25th to the nearest Monday, thereby insuring everyone of a three-day weekend. After all, if it is not a holiday celebrating Christ's birthday, there would be no reason not to move it.
-- Rich Renken
Ballwin, Missouri

"The Ghost of Christmas-Future" is a very thought-provoking article! I pray that it activates apathetic Americans into getting involved in protecting and defending our rights and freedoms before this nightmare becomes a reality.

Have you shared this with Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, and other conservative talk-show hosts on radio and TV? If not, it should be brought to their attention immediately, and discussed again every Christmas season until the next election.

May God bless you as you keep up the good work you're doing!
-- Judy Lamb

It is so interesting that God Haters, Atheists, and non-believers stick to their lack of believe to the opposite. My point and question is. How do these individuals survive in this country? Do they have their own currency that is acceptable in any business place? I don't think so, therefore this make them all hypocrites as the very God they denounce has His name printed on all U.S. currency in the Phrase "IN GOD WE TRUST" as well as all coins. While denouncing that God exists they spend the money that has his name on it. Still they interfere with the lives of those who believe while those that believe don't even bother the non-believers at all. Again, another hypocrisy!

It's the easiest thing in the world to be a non-believer but it takes shear guts to be a profound believer in God and Christ and devout follower and be made subject to the non-believers abuse and interference in our lives and clog the court systems to force their non-believing ways on others (these judges aren't much better). This country has a rich Christian heritage and documentation proves that fact. So to those who are among the non-believers, especially Atheists, as far as America and its rich Christian Heritage goes love it or leave it. Move to another country (Antarctica would be a definite guarantee) where they do not print God or any mention of God on their currency. Then you could call your currency the "Athie."

If you're going to be a TRUE Atheist then you must be in full denial. You must not use or possess anything that makes reference to or hints at God or Christianity whatsoever and that includes no Christmas gift giving no matter what you may call the season, no decorations, no traditional meals, etc. The businesses will love Atheists (sarcastic) for their drop in their Christmas sales. To do otherwise you are a full-fledged phony. Meanwhile, watch how you walk or you may find yourself stepping on you own toes instead of others.
-- George W. Krauss

PRO-LIFE DEMOCRATICS
Re: Sean Higgins's The Dems' Pro-Life Gambit:

The fundamental divide between Liberals and Conservatives is individual responsibility, or lack thereof and there is no better test for one's sense of individual responsibility than abortion. Either you are responsible for what happens when you engage in behavior that nature for uncounted millennia has been perfecting to produce a child, or you are not. Liberals inevitably excuse behavior, or find ways to escape responsibility for it. They can no more reason that someone is responsible for the child they have created than conclude the same for all the other difficult facts of life, be it health care, education, shelter, food or employment. They have painted themselves into an ideological corner from which there is no escape, rhetorical or otherwise, in this life or the next.

Although one might argue that abortion per se is not a single issue worthy of conditioning one's vote, it is the most reliable indicator of the overall reliability of a candidate. For if a man or a woman cannot reason his or her way to protect the most innocent and most defenseless, why would their reason be relied on in a more ambiguous context? To wit, take a look at the histories of Arnold, and Rudy and Pataki. Their "pro-choice" philosophies telegraph a failure to arrive at the right conclusions for any number of other matters.
-- Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey

If you notice in the Boston Globe piece, it is not the pro-life Democrats they now want to attract but the ANTIABORTION Democrats. Mmmm.
-- M. L. D.
New Hampshire

CHRISTMAS SPENDING SPREE
Re: Doug Bandow's Angell Eyes:

As usual, the Cato man, Doug Bandow, does a masterful job taking down another anti-free-market fool. In conventional terms, that is. It would be interesting to read his take on another new book, Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine, by Doctor John Abramson.

I caught him promoting this book on C-Span, a week or two ago, and he was devastating. Unfortunately, like Angell, he also is a proponent of Hillary-care-like solutions to the whole medical shebang, although he did pay lip service to the real solution -- personal responsibility to eat as perfectly as possible, and do elegant exercise, including stretching and aerobic-type moving that elevates the heart beat.

As an "old" young geezer, who's been on the health food bandwagon for almost 35 years, it was refreshing to have my views about taking drugs confirmed, in detail, by a real M.D., who'd been there and done that. Oh, yes, this reminds me of a college friend who became a doctor. When I visited him in 1969, as he was a freshly minted practicing M.D., he told me all about his basic job. He ruefully explained how he was flooded by salesmen pushing their company's pills, and you could tell he was in vital shock about the choice of his job -- call it a wake-up call. What happened to this guy? He had ballooned up to over 300 pounds. When I first saw him coming down the aisle in a 7-Eleven, he almost was so large he took the whole aisle up, himself! You could see how depressed he was about his job, and the future ahead. He spent all day seeing sick people, and what he did was try to diagnose their illness, and then prescribe a DRUG, hoping it would help. And, if one of them didn't, he'd try another one on his patient. Not a lot of self-responsibility going on in conventional medicine, eh?

The key thing Doctor Abramson said that made my day was the following: Americans currently spend about twice as much on health as people in other first world countries, but live far fewer years in health than they do. Sure, their healthcare systems mostly suck, what with socialism running rampant. And, yes, America is the best when it comes to cutting-edge technological advances that are vital in extreme emergencies. However, look around. Whenever I'm in a public place, such as a food store, there are so many sick and obese people; it feels like reality has become a circus. When I was young, you had to go there to see and laugh at the fat lady, but now. Not only that, but even those who are not overly fat have evolved bodies that are shot through with deposits of ticking time bomb-like crap, due to over-processed gulps of too much junk food. Add to that a lack of exercise and it's no wonder drugs are reached for.
-- James Crystal

The problem with our pharmaceutical industry is that the FDA does not provide appropriate oversight. The industry performs its own "safety" trials, and does not have to report adverse results. Essentially, they can keep reformulating the data until they get something that will pass. With regard to the Rotashield vaccine (since recalled because of numerous child deaths due to intestinal blockage) the manufacturer had trials showing a significant increase in dysentery, so they ran a trial in Costa Rica, which has high rates of same in the general population, and got approval because dysentery was now not greater than the control group.

I understand that these are companies, and therefore have no morals or souls, and that their only purpose is to produce profits for the shareholders. However, these products are dangerous and sometimes have deadly side-effects. There is a role for the government to ensure that the general population is adequately informed of and consents to the risks associated with using these drugs. Accurate trials relating to efficacy would be nice too, for a change.
-- Andrew Sloss
Clinton Township, Michigan

GOOD PEOPLE
Re: Jed Babbin's The Military Moms of Minnesota:

In his thoughtful, upbeat article about the courage and activism of Minnesota military parents ("The Military Moms of Minnesota"), Jed Babbin hits and misses in his account of Minnesotans.

Like Americans in many states, Minnesota families do reach out to support their military offspring, and they do rally as families -- often with great courage, imagination, and humor -- in the anxious days when their children and spouses are overseas in harm's way.

Another thing Mr. Babbin gets right is that John Kerry earned a political victory in Minnesota this fall. (Mr. Babbin overlooks a key point of pride among many Minnesotans, which is that our state houses of legislature came up equally balanced after the 2004 election among conservatives, moderates, and liberals.)

Where Mr. Babbin loses me is his comment that "Minnesota -- a very blue state -- must be a very odd place these days."

I live here, and I can report unequivocally that life in Minnesota is healthy, prosperous, and normal, especially on the strength of parents like the ones Jed Babbin writes about. Military parents are universally admired here by liberals, by moderates (which most of us are, at heart), and by conservatives as well. Minnesota isn't strange or "odd," and Mr. Babbin has generously proved this point.

Also, is there any doubt in Mr. Babbin's mind that moderates and liberals fill the ranks, along with conservatives, of the 13,000 Minnesota troops on active duty in Iraq? Minnesota liberals are there indeed, and they join conservative and moderate soldiers in loving our great country by defending it with their lives. Politics means nothing when you are under enemy fire. You are brothers and sisters for life in a way that non-combatants can only struggle to imagine.

In Minnesota, we try to support one another. This includes mutual positive regard among liberals, moderates, and conservatives. It includes Christians and Jews supporting Asian and Muslim refugees, non-military people supporting our courageous military and prosperous people reaching out to help the underprivileged. It's not a "Blue thing," it's an American thing. In Minnesota we love our country, and we are proud to be Americans.
-- Phil Bratnober
Minnetonka, Minnesota

Once again one of your writers has reminded all of us about courage, sacrifice and love of country. Mr. Babbin's article about the Military Moms was the most inspiring piece of prose I have read in a while. All of those families will go on my prayer list.

My husband and I have raised three wonderful children, and also consider all of our "guys" fighting in harms way part of our family. We pray for our troops daily and this Christmas our contributions have all gone to support efforts for them. We are so blessed that there are so many families in America like these in Minnesota who have raised children as they have. Our profound thanks to them and all families with empty chairs at Christmas dinners this year.

Merry Christmas,
-- Martha & Mike Larsen
Perkins, Oklahoma

SO FAR AS IT GOES
Re: S. T. Karnick's A Victory for Theism

Mr. Karnick's article states, "Theists look at all the evidence we encounter in the natural world and conclude that it is consonant with belief in an intelligent, all-powerful being behind it, whom we call God. Atheists look at the same evidence and conclude that this cosmos must have all just happened somehow. The critical point is that neither position is provable." This is true, as far as it goes. One cannot prove a negative. Thus, both claims might be "unprovable", but they are not epistemologically equivalent i.e. they don't have equal claims as knowledge.

The burden of proof lies with those making a positive claim. To see why, imagine being hauled into court and being asked to prove your innocence rather than the prosecution having to prove your guilt. When religious people look at the world in all of its complexity and conclude that it must have a cause, they infer the existence of a deity, but their inference is not proof (as Mr. Karnick would no doubt acknowledge). When atheists look at the same evidence and see nothing supporting the existence of a creator, they conclude that there is no such creator. Their conclusion is not "proof" either, but it follows logically from the facts and is the more obvious conclusion. It might still be wrong, but it is not arbitrary, it is derived from reality and it does not rest on some sort of "faith." As such, it is not equivalent to the theist/religious claim. One can recognize the goodwill of many who do believe in God, and to acknowledge that there is more "reasonableness" in their claims than, for example, left-wing and PC nihilist philosophies. But, there are rational, secular and consistent alternatives to the latter and attempts to equate the theist and atheist claims are simply wrong. I might also add that all of the political principles upon which our country was founded and which those of us on the right respect, can be supported within a rational, non-relativist and secular philosophy.
-- Anthony Mirvish

Karnick says that neither the theists' nor the atheists' position on how the cosmos formed is provable. Then two questions arise: Why talk about this at all-or what is a third possibility? Or are there other hypotheses beyond that?

There are none. Thus, if not A, then A: Either the theist or atheist must be right.
-- C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia

MACHO MEN
Re: Doug Bandow's Busybodies on Steroids:

Your recent essay "Busybodies on Steroids" was refreshing and perceptive. The importance of personal freedom for adults to make their own health-related decisions -- even ill-advised ones -- is lost amid all the media and political hand-wringing over "saving the children" and "preserving a level sports playing field." Ironically, the majority of illicit steroid users are neither teenagers nor elite athletes. They are, in my extensive experience, mostly adult males seeking to look better without a shirt on. The decision in 1990 to criminalize non-medical steroid use has done little good (steroids remain pervasive in sports and the black market has ballooned) and quite a bit of harm (mature adults have been arrested and prosecuted throughout this country for the purely cosmetic use of these compounds). Whether to use steroids for aesthetic physique enhancement should be legal to discuss between a knowledgeable physician and an informed adult patient whose decisions are beyond the review of meddling Washington politicians.
-- Rick Collins

OUR GERMAN CHRISTMAS
Re: Ralph R. Reiland's No Easy Sleddin':

Ralph Reiland shouldn't forget to mention that Christmas itself was also roundly disapproved by New England Puritans, who imposed the same kind of bans as the Dutch did in Holland. It was the good-hearted German immigrants in the middle colonies who made Christmas a popular holiday.
-- Bill Tucker
Brooklyn, New York

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