Reader Mail

Courtside Seats and Horsemeat

Horse country. NBA dribblers. Hangers on. Decriminalized shooters. Pennsylvania in the red. Plus much more.

11.23.04

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A LITTLE OFF
Re: Trent England & Paul Rosenzweig's Horsing Around in Congress:

State Rep. Charles Morrow challenged: "If you can eat Bo Peep, Bugs Bunny, and Bambi, why can't you eat Mr. Ed?" The Representative misspoke. Bo Peep is a shepherdess, not a ewe.
-- David Shoup
Augusta, Georgia

I have a quick comment on the article written by Trent England & Paul Rosenzweig entitled "Horsing Around in Congress." An excerpt from the article is as follows;

"The bill is really morals legislation. For Hindus, cows are sacred and not to be eaten. But do the Hindus run around trying to criminalize beef? No, at least not in America. But certain pious horse lovers will not be satisfied until the federal government criminalizes all those who don't share their values."

I found this to be ridiculous and incongruous with the conservative platform that your paper espouses. Aren't conservatives trying to legislate morals constantly? If not, then how else would you describe the effort to pass a constitutional amendment banning gay marriages. To use these two gentlemen's words, [conservatives] will not be satisfied until the federal government criminalizes all those who don't share their values?"
-- Tiffany O'Connell

I am only going to quibble with one or two items in an otherwise excellent article. The main purpose in this dreadful legislation is to prevent slaughter, for lack of a better word. The Chronicle of the Horse has done a lot of work on this subject. It really has nothing to do with horsemeat and everything to do with the methods used to get it. People do not realize that old, sick, and "unwanted" horses meet the same fate as their canine and feline compatriots in animal shelters every day. The difference is that there is profit in sick and cheap horses. There are weekly sales in this country and any horse that sells for less than $750 has an excellent chance of ending up as horsemeat on the boat to "old Europe." The do-gooders want to end the pain and suffering, but have made the problem worse by shutting down these places all over the country. So now when a horse goes to one of these places, it is a LONG ride. But what is do be done with old or sick horses? This is the dirty little secret the compassion fascists don't want to face. I do not like the slaughterhouse, but what is the humane alternative? There are people who try to save some, but it is akin to putting a finger in the dike.

As the owner of a 32 year old horse, this is a subject close to my heart. She is one of the fortunate few who will be buried. That is illegal is several states. Most of my friends have buried one or two. This is not a widespread concern in this country, but remember! Creeping socialism is spreading like kudzu. Just this week, the meddlers have succeeded in banning foxhunting in Britain. I guess the bleeding hearts do not realize that the foxes will now have to be shot. I am certainly open to suggestions, but this is a very bad bill and needs to be tossed out and begun again.
-- Janis Johnson
Independence, Missouri

Selling horsemeat for human consumption is already a crime in most states. It's even a crime in Texas, home to two of the three horse slaughterhouses in the U.S.

Trent England and Paul Rosenzweig would have you think HR 857 is an unnecessary law. It isn't. Horsemeat for human consumption in the U.S. is only legal for export in most cases. Texas state law doesn't allow even that, yet Beltex and Dallas Crown (both foreign owned) got a federal judge to overrule state law in the interests of international trade. That's why we need a federal law, to uphold our individual states' laws against foreign interests.

The horseracing industry is in strong support of this bill. Our horses are athletes, not meat. Also, as athletes who travel regularly and face different stresses than farmed livestock, they require therapeutic medications that are not approved for animals intended for human consumption.

California, which no longer had any slaughterhouses, banned the export of horses for slaughter in 1998. Since then, reports of abuse and neglect have decreased, and horse theft has dropped by more than 30%.

HR 857 does not ban slaughter for other reasons, because there are no other reasons. The Pet Food Institute, which represents 97% of the market, reports that none of their members use horsemeat. Most dog food in the US is made from chicken, lamb, and beef. Renderers process already dead horses, they don't kill them. Slaughter for human consumption requires mechanical methods, not chemical euthanasia. Horses are slaughtered by having their throats cut, after stunning by captive bolt.

According to the American Horse Council, the horse industry in the U.S. has a total impact of $112.1 billion on U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It provides 1.4 million fulltime jobs, and pays $1.9 billion in taxes. The French and Belgian owned horse slaughterhouses pay no export or excise taxes on their approximate $40 million annual meat sales to Europe.

If other countries want to eat horsemeat, let them eat their own. But they have no right to enforce their practices on us, to the detriment of our American horses, jobs, and culture.
-- Janine Starykowicz
Chicago Barn to Wire

LOOK BACK IN ANCHOR
Re: The Washington Prowler's Chairless Democrats:

Can a single individual replace Terry McAuliffe? That's asking a lot. Is it possible to find another so incompetent, so bloviating, so terminally off-putting to such a large segment of society, and so very wrong about such a wide range of subjects? It's doubtful that another so-many-faceted person could ever be discovered. In Mr. McAuliffe's favor, though, he is perfectly suited to succeed Dan Rather as CBS anchor.
-- Warren Mowry

With respect to McAuliffe, I'll bet dollars to donuts most people knew, or at least sensed, that behind the sharp mind, fast tongue and frequently smiling face, was one of the most mean-spirited and just plain meanest SOBs you could ever hope to find. But at least McAuliffe knew how to smile. And it's not as though he was untelegenic.

Ickes, on the other hand, is everything McAuliffe was...and less. Unsmiling, unattractive, thoroughly unlikable, at least from a TV point of view. If this is the guy who will become the literal and figurative face of the Democratic Party, then I'd say that the Right has its own poster boy for the duration of his term.
-- Charles R. Vail

COURTSIDE SPECTATORS
Re: Reid Collins's You're Under Artest:

Having watched nearly every game during the "Bad Boys" 1985-1990 era of the Detroit Pistons, delivering "hard fouls" like Indy's Ron Artest fellow did is nothing new. Ex-"Bad Boys" Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn being less able athletes (than the NBA players these days) were still able to deliver ferocious and better fouls without drawing the attention of the Refs. Also to their credit, the "old school" thuggery of Detroit Ball was practiced when the game mattered. Artest, being the rank amateur he is, was obvious, blatant, and the foul did not alter the game's outcome (Indy was well ahead with less than a minute to go.) Three strikes and he's out! And this is Indy's "Franchise Player"?

I don't blame Ben Wallace for losing his cool so much because the Refs failed to seize instant control of the situation. Thus, the fans seized control and Artest has demonstrated once again that "well-paid" professionals doesn't always come with decorum. Perhaps finishing classes should be requirements with collegiate sports scholarships?

I've felt for a while that the NBA's expansion into many more teams has watered (swilled?) down the talent pool to an almost "summer basketball" level with simple flourishes of athleticism replacing the psych-out jobs that guys like Earvin Johnson, Larry Bird, Laimbeer, and Mahorn were famous for. Perhaps Commissioner David Stern has too realized this and is experimenting on ways to get the ratings back up to acceptable numbers.
-- P. Aaron Jones
Huntington Woods, Michigan

If I wanted to watch boxing I'd watch wrestling? Since Argentina won the basketball gold medal at the Olympics and we Americans got the bronze, I suggest we watch Argentina's pro basketball league on cable and see the real thing. Why settle for third best?
-- David Govett

Artest was not shoved in the face, but on the shoulders, after he had committed a dangerous foul. A player in the air for a lay-up is vulnerable to landing on his head and breaking his neck. The game was fought, played I mean, 30 miles north of Detroit.

Nobody covered himself in glory in this one, did they?

Where was security in this field house? Why doesn't this drunken fan try throwing a beer in Artest's chest (not face) out on the street sometime?

Artest had plenty of provocation, but he is the professional. Real professionals don't go after fans in the stands, no matter what. He has had problems with anger control before.

I'd like to root, root, root for the home team. But I can't.
-- Guy H.

HANGING ON
Re: Jed Babbin's Man in a Hurry:

Whenever I begin to feel that the future of the world is hopeless, I dig up some of your words of insight.

Your analysis gives me hope that Dubya is the right man in the right place at the right time.

Keep writing.
-- Diana Zapalski
A Conservative adrift in Sonoma County, California

You are on my short list of people whose every word I hang on. Includes Gingrich, Dennis Ross, Monsor Ijaz, G. Bush, and a few others. Keep up the good work.
-- Al Gaynor
Menlo Park, California

LONG DISTANCE INFORMATION
Re: Wlady Pleszczynski's Bad Moves:

In his piece re the Ron Artest episode, Wlady Pleszczynski refers to "some fine second-half play from Madison Square Garden by Syracuse and Memphis State on ESPN2." Wlady, Denny Crum has been calling them Memphis for 25 years. They've officially been Memphis, not Memphis State, for 10 years now. Hey, man, "nobody wants to be disrespected like that." Heh, heh.
-- Tim Jones
Cordova, Tennessee

Two story lines I have not seen regarding the NBA brawl:

1) What kind of person has a full cup of beer remaining with 45 seconds left in the game?

2) The tremendous financial commitment to thuggery demonstrated by throwing a full cup of NBA-priced liquid refreshment at an NBA player.
-- Glen Hoffing

FANATICAL FANS
Re: George Neumayr's Rap Sheets:

These players don't realize where they would be without the NBA. But then again, that's what you get when you recruit a bunch of high school dropouts.

I've written the NBA off just like professional baseball and hockey. These spoiled brats and thugs don't understand that the fans pay their ridiculous salaries, and I for one will not contribute to the continuing madness.

College and high school sports are more competitive and civilized.
-- Ed Krach
Austin, Texas

Neumayr's condemnation of the "criminal element" among American basketball players is shrill, simplistic, and just this side of bigoted. What he implies in essence is, once a criminal, always a criminal -- especially if you are a black man.

There have to be behavioral guidelines, whatever the sport, whatever the job. Human beings of any and every background always perform best, act best, in an environment of limits -- logical, clearly stated, consistently enforced limits.

As some of the more knowledgeable sports people have pointed out in the past few days, the NBA has permitted basketball to become a Contact Sport, where it once was more of a slick, fast (ballistic?) game of finesse and fine-ness. If you allow more contact of the sort hitherto punished, you allow more friction -- physical and emotional -- between players. (You rub two sticks together long enough, you get fire.)

More contact on the court seems as well to lead to more of an imagined "right-to-contact" on the part of the fan-atics, who will also need to be parted from their imagined rights, if the game is to thrive.

The NBA may in fact not want to tell their referees to clamp down on this asphalt-and-blood type of game, for a welter of different reasons. None of these is justified; and any one of them is sufficient grounds for laying the onus on the NBA upper crust itself, from Commissioner Stern on down to the owners. Unless the game is changed -- from the top on down through the colleges and high schools -- Detroit will soon fade into memory as merely the first big brawl. (If I were commissioner, I'd mandate prison terms for the ball-palming and traveling infractions that players take these days -- but that's another story…)
-- Jeffrey S. Erickson
Davidson, North Carolina

I thought the article was very informative regarding the NBA'S recent problems. I do agree that the problem lies with the "sports executives" who will anything for a dollar. Things only change when you hit bottom but I do not think this is the bottom. Change will come to the game the NBA puts on when attendance decreases and television (cable/satellite) viewer ship declines. Since that game is secondary (they need to adopt international rules or maybe raise the basket to 12 feet) for it resembles the World Wrestling Federation in presentation (on timeouts and TV breaks some entertainment is going on the court). The NBA advertising has reduced the competition to between the individual stars of each team instead of between the teams. I think if they change the rules of the game and make it harder to play then the players attitudes will change and it will be enjoyable to watch again.
-- Jeff Brownell

The situation in the NBA and in other areas of professional sports reminds me of what happened in the '60s. The Rap-Hip Hop sub-culture that has sprung up across the nation takes me back to the sub-culture of drug-using "do your own thing" people who "tuned in, turned on, and dropped out". The similarity is that both are sub-cultures which cannot exist without the main culture accommodating them. The so called "hippie" movement was so nihilistic and unproductive of itself that it parasitically attached itself to the overculture of the mainstream. So also does this rap-hip hop present day movement. The people that Bill Cosby is exhorting to wake up and join the mainstream before it dis-enfranchises another generation of black youth are, in large part, the generation that was dis-enfranchised by its sub-culture parents years ago. The only way to break this cycle is for the mainstream culture to stop accepting, promoting, even tolerating all of this bizarre behavior with its flaunting of anti-social behavior, obscene language, and tuneless "music." As long as the mainstream continues to reward these people with extravagant salaries and idolatrous notoriety, they will flourish. Hey, we can't complain about NBA violence and continue to pay $120 for a courtside seat.
-- Joseph Baum
Newton Falls, Ohio

I think that violence in our culture has an extra and exaggerated component theses days that comes from years of being trained in the public schools and parenting self help books on the importance of self-esteem. The real world is not paid or cajoled to keep up the fantasy that we are all above average and worthy of praise. Feeding children a steady diet of counterfeit praise creates confusion about what is right and wrong. Thus, we should not be surprised that the actions taken to recover self esteem also have blurred distinctions about what is right and wrong.
-- Danny L. Newton
Cookeville, Tennessee

GEARING UP FOR 2008
Re: Shawn Macomber's Dear Leader in Exile:

I was so hoping Mr. Kerry would disappear from the public's eye and ear for a bit, if not forever. But, then, I've been hoping that about Al Gore for years.

I don't think Gore will allow the Bay Stater to be co-curmudgeon-in-chief of the Democrat Party. But I do think Kerry will reprise his role as doubter-, whiner- and refuter-in-chief about all things related to the president. That includes his self-appointment as the nation's watchdog to monitor the right-wing assault on the country's values of which he now accuses President Bush.

What a disconnected egotist Kerry is. Perhaps he doesn't understand the campaign ended and he lost? Or that his brand of politics and his pessimism were rejected? Actually, given some of his recent statements, he appears to have begun his campaign to be the 2008 Democrat presidential nominee. But not even the voters of the Bay State want that, if results of a recent poll there are credible and representative.

But four more years of Kerry and Gore? Get out the industrial-strength Alka-Seltzer and earplugs.
-- C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia

SEEING RED
Re: Ralph R. Reiland's Rustbelt Economics:

Great Article. A must for all freshman civics classes. Pennsylvania also has very high fuel taxes and maybe the worst roads in the country. It pays to be a politician.
-- Don Shoemake

Kudos to Ralph Reiland for his analysis of Pennsylvania's economic backwardness.

Governor Rendell is creepy abut let's put blame where it belongs: The Republicans.

Tom Ridge presided over almost two full terms with a Republican legislature and it was nothing but one new government program after another.

My own state rep, a perpetually unopposed Republican in the safest of Republican districts, sent out newsletters boasting of all the new programs, without a word about controlling spending. Never mind rolling back the recent income tax increase. Of course, he also once introduced Arlen Specter as a "fiscal conservative."
-- Tioga Joe

HIGH PRIESTS OF TIMES SQUARE
Re: Chris Reed's A Timesman Goes Ballistic:

Maybe I am not the first to point this out. I write in relation to the New York Times and its writer Chris Hedges (in "A Timesman Goes Ballistic").

I certainly mean no offense to the writer Sol Stein when I quote from Chapter One of his excellent book Stein on Writing. Just as one of the high priests of Jerusalem said of Jesus "It is expedient that one man should die for the people" with unintentional irony, Mr. Stein comments on the New York Times with similar unintentional irony.

"The Times has also been in the vanguard of publications using the techniques of fiction to enhance journalism."

Thinking back to bias and plagiarism charges, one has to say: "How true!"
-- Jim Hitching
Manitoba, Canada

CAMERA READY
Re: Shawn Macomber's Out Town and D.J. Prengel's letter (under "The Shot Heard 'Round the School") in Reader Mail's Gunning Around:

D.J. Prengel's response to Macomber's piece about the young shooter's picture being excluded from the high school yearbook is interesting. Political correctness is becoming ridiculous in this country, but there are two very interesting segments to Prengel's response.

First, he makes some vague mention of qualifying the photo if it was done professionally off-campus. This is seemingly reasonable.

However, then D.J. continues with a rambling discourse on firearms being banned from schools, teen suicide and the dangers of violent video games. He then continues on with a heartfelt testimonial to how much he loves his children and fears that they will become the victims of random teenage violence.

Now almost no one reading this would advocate the general carrying of firearms on school grounds, but that is not what the controversy was about. It was about inclusivity. The young man was not only a hunter, but, according to some reports, an avid competitive trap and skeet shooter. Trap and skeet are sports which, like other sports, require a great deal of time, effort and skill in order to become proficient. This young man was deservedly proud of his acquired athletic skills and wished to showcase them in his high school yearbook. He was not advocating the ownership of guns, he is merely displaying his "hobby," much the same way as a tennis player, a member of the baseball team or a member of the chess club would pose with the accouterments of their hobbies.

It is interesting to see this incident be used to spark a reaction against firearm ownership and possession, though I suppose that is inevitable. The argument that all firearm carry, in public areas, should be limited to law enforcement officers is interesting, but misses one glaring point. There is a certain lawless element in our society which refuses to obey the laws, hence the need for law enforcement officers. While we live in a relatively safe society, sometimes personal protection is required. To arbitrarily deny a person the right to provide for their own defense, is wrong. Personally, I would rather that my young adult have access to a firearm with which to defend himself than have him beaten to death by three or four thugs with baseball bats.

But, as I said previously, this was not about the pros and cons of firearms ownership. It was simply about a young man's desire to showcase an athletic endeavor in which he had pride of achievement. Political correctness has now cast a shadow over what was a harmless action that would have brought a young person much joy and satisfaction.

One's perception of reality is merely a perception. Reality is.
-- Michael Tobias
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

LAME LEFTY
Re: Carl Lemieux's letter (under "A Traitor to the 20th Century") in Reader Mail's Little Rock Man:

As a faithful TAS reader, I always get a rise out of the opposition-penned letters that make their way into reader mail. Today's offering from Carl W. "Lefty" Lemieux, is no exception. "Lefty" points out that the Boy President doesn't have a monopoly on scandal, and goes for a weak jab with his "reich-wing" label of the editors. A quick lookup of the website after his name, public advocate.com, reveals Lefty's only offering is a lame piece about the extensive voter fraud not being covered by MSM. Please, Lefty, give it up. Despite the handicap the MSM has afforded Kerry and Clinton, you and the former lost, and you and the latter have no legacy worth celebrating.
-- William H. Stewart
Boston, Massachusetts

IDEALISTIC JIM
Re: Steve Heafey's letter (under "Justice Turmoil") in Reader Mail's Little Rock Man:

I would like to respond to a comment Mr. Heafey made in his letter on Specter concerning Jeffords' voting record. Mr. Heafey, I beg to differ on your comment that Jim Jeffords voted with the party (Republican) most of the time. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The only time Jeffords voted "Republican" was when it was in line with his own liberal idealism. His reputation in Vermont was with the liberal RINO section of the party, of which quite a few are still left. When he jumped ship, he was being honest for the first time in his political career. Since you are from California and I am a real Vermont Republican, I would think I know this man more than someone looking in from the outside. To the editor: I realize I have a letter printed already and I shouldn't engage in an attack which could seem personal, but this has to be addressed. I've known Jeffords ever since I enlisted in the Naval Reserve (1967) because he was one of the officers in the unit. Further, I have been engaged in Republican politics for the better part of 20 years, even holding office. Jeffords' reputation has been well known for quite a few years up here and his voting record in Washington completely disgraceful. In fact, Jeffords is looked upon as a joke by the conservative wing of the party.
-- Pete Chagnon

TITULAR CLAIMS
I am writing to help us both out. Occasionally I like to go to the online American Spectator to read a story. Often I'm acting on a recommendation by Lee Rodgers, the estimable host of the morning show on KSFO radio in San Francisco. I often am glad I read the story by your organization that he recommended.

I even go to your site to browse once in a while, but when I do so I am often annoyed and put off by what I see. What I see is a lot of stupid, flippant and overly brief titles that are utterly incomprehensible. The subtitles are similarly lame. Sometimes the summary line beneath the subtitles are better; sometimes not. The titles and subtitles that I see right now (see the time/date stamp of this email) aren't so extremely bad -- I can come close to getting an idea of what the story is about -- but usually they are quite bad. Today, it's the redundant hot links in the upper right corner that are very bad, and they are always very bad.

I do not find anything about the serious political and military matters that we presently face to be funny. You're not editing "Variety" you know. I certainly would not regard it as an accomplishment to think up a flippant title. I would think that to be childish.

I can add that Barron's Magazine has somewhat the same bent, and I canceled them. Since you don't charge, I had to write!

Why don't you go a month with straight, informative titles, subtitles and summary lines. No short, flippant anything -- anywhere, not a word. See if things pick up.
-- Mike O'Connor
Palo Alto, California

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