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Sparks Flying

The real Harry Reid. Russert's bias. Panderers' penchants. Credit where it's do. Getting along. Beautiful writing. Plus more.

12.9.04

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HARASSING HARRY REID
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Obscure Minority:

"They believed that despite the fact that their presidential candidate was the most ridiculous presidential candidate since, well, since General Wesley Clark, who could not have been more preposterous if he had run as a nudist. Of course, if Franklin Roosevelt were resurrected and forced to enunciate the positions of today's national Democratic Party he too would probably have lost in 2004."

This is so wrong!! How could you say that?

Kucinich was more preposterous than either D.
-- Sherri

Having read Mr. Reid's caustic analysis of Justice Thomas' tenure on the Supreme Court, I decided to visit the senator's website to gain some glimmer into this legal giant's bona fides. As one might imagine, Mr. Reid is a legal mediocrity of the first order. By his own admission, his legal benchmarks consist of a stint as Henderson City city attorney as well as serving on the Nevada Gaming Commission. A vague reference to private law practice offers no accomplishments during this tenure. As is the case of many professional lawyer legislators, Mr. Reid is long on politics and short on legal accomplishments. Perhaps if Mr. Russert had made some inquiry of Mr. Reid's legal acuity, after his "learned" analysis of Justice Thomas, we all could have enjoyed a good laugh over this pompous legal lightweight.
-- A. DiPentima, Esq.

One of the many advantages of living in Nevada is the close contact we enjoy with our elected political leaders. Due to the relatively small population, Nevadans enjoy frequent contact with all sorts of politicians, in all sorts of venues.

I have had the opportunity to listen Harry Reid speak at Town Hall meetings, Rotary Club meetings and Service Academy days at the local high school. On all those occasions, I found him to be an uninspiring, second-rate politician, who is incapable of answering a question with a straight answer. Sadly, that describes the majority of politicos, regardless of ideological stripe.

However, Harry's comments regarding Justice Thomas are a huge embarrassment to me, and I suspect many of my fellow Nevadans. I am ashamed to call him my senior Senator, and I sincerely hope the Republican Party can put forth a formidable opponent in 2010, when Harry comes up for re-election. The last time he faced a solid candidate from the Republican side, in 2000 when he ran against our junior Senator, John Ensign, he won by the slimmest of majorities.

Once again, Harry confirmed my view that he is at best, a mediocre statesman and his position of Senate Minority leadership assures me of the Democrats' continuing status as the minority party.

Harry professes to be a Pro-Life Democrat. Daschle started out that way as well. I hope someone puts the question to Harry so we can see how deep his Mormon roots are and how much he will "dance" around that issue. He's as slippery as the Texas Governor character played by Charles Durning in the Burt Reynolds movie, "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas."

By the way, his campaign ads focused on Harry's small town upbringing in tiny Searchlight, Nevada. We were constantly reminded of his nickname, "Pinky." I wonder if that refers to his political leanings?
-- Chris Cook
Sparks, Nevada

If Mr. Tyrrell is having a hard time getting past Sen. Harry Reid's pomposity and morally superior attitude, I've got more bad news for him. Sen. Reid has the unique ability to herd cats which is essential to lead the liberals in the Senate and he is a vicious political in-fighter. I hope I'm wrong but Sen. Reid's tenure as Senate minority leader may very well make us look back with fondness at the Tom Daschle years.
-- Jerome J. Brick
Beaver Dam, Arizona

R. Emmett Tyrrell's stiletto-like comments about the new Senate minority leader (Senator Harry Reid of Nevada) were wondrous to read but, I suspect, his is merely an early offering among a tidal-wave of such commentary to come from center-right punditry. Although, who except Tyrrell will come up with such characterizations as "born blank" or "preposterosity" to describe the good senator?

But, Reid's comments on "Meet the Press" that Justice Thomas is an "embarrassment to the court" and that his opinions are "poorly written" were no worse than Tim Russert's failure to ask the obvious question: what opinions do you mean, Senator?

This failure by Russert was not a surprise, however, because his record of bias against conservatism is obvious -- and it was especially so during the recent election campaign. For months leading up to the election, Russert had as guests on "Meet the Press" various liberal partisans such as Richard Clark, Joseph Wilson, Robert Byrd and others to bash the Bush administration. Yet, not a single Swift Boat Vets, or other such guest, appeared on "Meet the Press" to comment on Kerry's bogus war medals or his treachery as a war protester after he returned from Vietnam.

On the other hand, when President Bush gave Russert an hour interview, about half that time was spent by Russert badgering the President about missing WMD and other aspects of Iraq. Similarly, when he interviewed Condi Rice, Colin Powell, and other Bush administration officials, he was relentless on the subject of Iraq and especially the missing WMD. He just couldn't be restrained; he was a pitbull; he was, well, he was just obnoxious.

That all changed, however, when John Kerry appeared on "Meet the Press" and admitted having committed war crimes; and he insisted his accusations about wide-spread atrocities being committed by other veterans were true -- although he (Kerry) may have, somewhat, overstated the allegations. As with Reid, Russert didn't bother to follow up with any hard questions about the nature of the war crimes Kerry acknowledged having committed, or the accusations against his fellow veterans having been proven untrue by scholarly research in recent years.

It's a travesty that Russert has a reputation for being fair and reasonable. He's not. He's as biased, or more so, than any of the other ranking members of the "old media."
-- A. A. Reynolds
Chula Vista, California

Lay off Warren Harding. He was a good President who gave did his best for America, and had on the whole a very successful administration. His posthumous slander is the worst that any American has ever suffered. Harry Reid is racist scum. Harding was a strong proponent of civil rights. The two men should never be considered similar in any respect; especially not by anyone who calls himself a Republican.
-- Doug

COMMISSION RESULTS
Re: Shawn Macomber's Exploiting Tragedy and the Washington Prowler's Patriot Coup:

Bullseye!
-- James Poli

Remember how this bill was pushed by the Democrats when/if we have another terrorist attack in the U.S., because all the world will remember this (the MSM won't let it forget) as a Republican bill forced on the nation! Republican House, Republican Senate, Republican President! How can the American people trust the Republicans when all they do is create new government empires instead of fixing the problem!
-- Michael McDaniel
Retired Army Counterintelligence

The juxtapositioning of the Washington Prowler's "Patriot Coups", Shawn Macomber's "Exploiting Tragedy," and an article in Slate by Fred Kaplan titled "You Call That a Reform Bill?" lead one to an inexorable conclusion: the Bush Administration possesses legislative prestidigitorial skills that would make David Copperfield green with envy.

This "Intelligence Reform" political sleight-of-hand masterpiece is a sight to be wondered at. It doesn't reform intelligence, if what Mr. Kaplan has to say is correct, as the vast majority of intelligence control and budgeting is left with DoD. It leaves out the provisions regarding secure driver's license standards and immigration reform that the 9/11 Commission said were a sine qua non of any legislation that would significantly improve our ability to identify and track illegal aliens of nefarious intent. But, and this is the cake-taking bit, it does include nearly all of "Patriot II" and does so without a whimper of objection from the civil-rightists!

A flash of light, a puff of smoke and voila! -- a large chunk of the American electorate and politicians of pandering penchant are pacified and sidestepped. I would I love to be a fly on the wall in the Oval office when this subject is discussed! Karl Rove's got better moves than Tony Manero.
--- Dennis Sevakis
Bloomfield, Michigan

FROM THE GEORGIA DELEGATION
Re: David Hogberg's Delusions of the Day:

The biggest long term financial problem facing the new generations of this country is not simply the annual deficit, as David Hogberg surmises, but paying off the trillions of debt that legislators since the 1960s have accumulated. Both major parties have engaged in this spending orgy, which is why I should wear a paper bag over my head when I vote. There is a solution. Sell off federal assets to clear the debt for future Americans. At the end of the Revolutionary War, public land was issued by a cash-strapped government to clear financial obligations. Let's do it again.
-- David Shoup
Augusta, Georgia

David, Bill Clinton never "balanced" the budget. In fact the budget he proposed that year was for a $200 billion deficit and got not a single yeah vote in congress.

The balanced budget that was approved was the one formulated by Republicans. Clinton, seeing the direction of the wind, signed on.
-- G.B. Hall
Marietta, Georgia

While Mr. Hogberg's rebuttal of Jonathan Chait's L.A. Times piece on the economy and the deficit is generally correct, there are a couple of facts I believe warrant further discussion. Mr. Hogberg claims that Bill Clinton "eventually turned it [the budget deficit] into a surplus. Clinton balanced the budget without making major cuts in spending programs." This is partially true, but equal credit must be given to the Republican Congress, who insisted on at least a modicum of spending restraint, and which pushed a capital gains tax cut which greatly increased tax revenues. Much more significant is how the deficit was eliminated. I'll reprint below noted economist Brian Wesbury's explanation in your own March 30, 2004 edition:

"Bill Clinton was able to cut defense spending from 5.4 percent of GDP in 1991 to 3.0 percent in 2000. This 2.4 percent drop in defense spending as a share of GDP is exactly equal to the 2.4 percent of GDP surplus that the U.S. experienced in 2000. Coincidence? Hardly."

It is unlikely that President Bush will have the luxury of similarly cutting defense spending, even if we do withdraw our soldiers from Iraq. So there most likely will have to be some serious spending restraint if Mr. Bush is to meet his goal of halving the deficit by the end of his second term. Without the divided government we had under Clinton I doubt the Republican congress will have the discipline needed to rein in spending.
-- Paul M. DeSisto, CFA
Cedar Grove, New Jersey

DUCK, DUCK, GOOSE
Re: The Washington Prowler's Snow's the Man:

Kudos to The Prowler for throwing light, disturbing as it is, on the attempts by a person or persons unknown in the White House to undermine Treasury Secretary John Snow's position in the up-coming Cabinet. The back-stabbing disease that seems to infect operations like the State Department and the CIA is now finding its way into the White House. The sad part about the situation is that Snow has proven himself to be a strong Bush loyalist (something that was totally alien with former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill) and a dedicated supply-sider, dedicated to formulating and moving ahead with the president's tax reduction plans. It is evident that Secretary Snow wants what most Americans want (a simplified tax plan), and if President Bush is dedicated to the same policy, then he needs to more strongly indicate that Snow must remain. Otherwise, we're being sold a bill of goods.
-- James J. Bjaloncik
Stow, Ohio

OK, So John Snow is staying, many are departing. When are we going to hear that Clintonoid Mineta is going? He should have been the first. DOT needs a change.
-- GMS
Media, Pennsylvania

ONE AND THE SAME
Re: Theodore B. Olson's Hats Off to Larry:

Loved Ted Olson's take on McMurtry's review. Still, could this be the Larry McMurtry that wrote "Lonesome Dove" and "The Last Picture Show"? That McMurtry somehow transcended time and date, but could make you taste the trail dust and smell the cows. Is that what he's doing here?

Just a thought.
-- S.

PEACE, LOVE, AND BIPARTISANSHIP
Re: Ben Stein's We Shall Overcome:

Ben's words are exactly the words and thoughts of we blue voters in the other 40+ red states. If you had put a Kerry bumper sticker on your car here in Lee county, Florida this election cycle you had to worry about your car getting keyed as well, or your windows smashed in, and maybe even that you would be harassed, as I was, at stop lights. Having 3 little boys in my minivan most of the time, I felt a little irresponsible at times keeping that sticker there, since my kids might have suffered as a result of my political activism. But we do live in a free country, and I'm going to cling to my measly little right to don a bumper sticker.

We Blue voters in the red states feel the same sense of solidarity when we discover another blue voter. My son was the only child to vote for John Kerry in his entire class of 28 children (he attends a faith based school), and his teacher approached me secretly after class that day whispering that she too, was voting for Kerry.

Ben's feelings are probably the very ordinary result of living in a democracy. We don't all feel the same about life and the choices we make. But that's supposed to be okay. I constantly hear Republicans talking about how they have to defeat, conquer, or grow to outnumber Democrats. Just listen to one Tom DeLay press conference and you wonder if a civil war has been declared without your consent.

We don't have to rise up and conquer the other side, or stand at Barbra's gates as Ben so menacingly writes. We just have to learn to live together side by side, accepting each other's differing views. Our movement doesn't have to grow larger and win, we just have to both win every once in a while, especially on issues that are truly important to us. The GOP won on many issues this year, but none of you win if you can't figure out that the country has got to meet the needs of all it's patriots to be truly great. How has that basic principle been lost?
-- Lynne Wiehe

I work on the campus of a private liberal arts institution and it's though I were living with the Hollywood left or with the major news journalists. I could certainly identify with Ben Stein's article because we conservatives on a liberal college campus also know one another, wink and give the 'vee' sign, and send emails spoofing democrats. We were the ones with the smiles on our faces when the election was over.
-- Golda Young

I live in Massachusetts and have most of my life. I am a life member of the NRA, and I vote Republican. I live on Cape Cod, and I am Jewish. I am a WW2 veteran. Now, that's a minority. Please do not publish my name. I am too old to pick up rubbish from my front lawn.
-- unsigned

THE WRITTEN WORD
Re: Reid Collins's Fight Songs:

The article written by Reid Collins is beautiful. I did have to look up the word "melismatic" and this applies well. One of the occurrences that has contributed to my absence as a TV viewer of sports is the desecrations of our National Anthem at these events. This is usually mouthed by some blabbering idiot who has not one iota of understanding of what the word "sing" really means. I think that on occasion I have seen some of the referees actually vomit during these terrible renditions. At least they seem to be holding their caps over the mouths as though some think like "puking" may happen.
-- Robert L. Hatton

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