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Breakfast Talk

National Catholics. Plus: Remembering the tech ride. Loose nukes. Breaking glass. Insourcing. Code fiction.

5.4.04

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NATIONAL CATHOLICS
Re: The Washington Prowler's Guess Who Didn't Come to Breakfast:

Your website is applauded for providing inside information from inside the beltway that isn't reported on anywhere else. But the 4-28-04 edition of the Prowler report contained several inaccuracies.

First and foremost, you state that Cardinal McCarrick refused to let us use St. Matthew's Cathedral. The fact of the matter is that we never planned, nor asked, to use the cathedral because the logistics of getting people from the Cathedral to the Breakfast would be impossible. The fact is that Cardinal McCarrick was very supportive of the breakfast. He gave his immediate approval to our efforts and would have been present if he had not been in Rome meeting with the Pope. Moreover, Cardinal McCarrick sent his letter of greeting and asked his vocations director to read it and speak to the group.

Secondly, Domino's founder Tom Monaghan wasn't involved in anyway with the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast. The breakfast was an all-volunteer effort, apart from our official jobs, started by myself (who works for one of Mr. Monaghan's entities) and several other Catholics, who saw the need for a non-partisan gathering of prayer and fellowship.

Also, we never heard from anyone at Kerry's campaign asking to be invited to the breakfast. If they had asked, we would HAVE welcomed them to come and eat with us. Though, no Catholics, of either political party, who go against Church Doctrine on the matters such as abortion, would be allowed to speak at the gathering.

Regarding President Bush, we understand that he has a demanding schedule and we are very happy that he was able to send his letter of greeting and that Secretary Tommy Thompson was able to speak at the event.

Thanks for your coverage of the breakfast and feel free to contact me directly about the breakfast in the future. We plan on holding this breakfast every year.
-- Joseph Cella
President
National Catholic Prayer Breakfast

THE OLD NEW THING
Re: W. James Antle III's Hell of a Ride:

I loved the piece by W. James Antle, It describes what myself, my husband and many of my friends went through as well. Although we were more on the "geeky" side to start and many of us "played" with mainframe computers BEFORE the desktop revolution. (And I am NOT that old!).

It was indeed a "heady" time and I often questioned my own, and others' sanity to remain on active duty in the military (even if it was the Air Force) when so many peers and subordinates were getting out, joining the multitude of "dotcoms" and it seemed, making a lot of money!

By the time I retired, the "bloom was off the roses" and although I was doing an instructor gig at the time, even I could see (in 2001) that the jobs were disappearing as fast as patches of melting snow.
-- Sandra Dent

Mr. W. James Antle III''s article was very informative. It just shows that the dotcom boom did benefit more people than just the founder(s) of the company. It is a refreshing story and it does look like a modern day real life example of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." I just wish he had included his amount of pay at each job from beginning to end.

Thank You,
-- Jeff Brownell
Herndon, Virginia

W. James Antle III replies: Let's just say that the "Clinton economy" treated me well...

LOOSE NUKES
Re: Jed Babbin's CIA Independence Day:

Jed Babbin's missive on the pre-emption of terrorist plots hits home in so many ways. The shadowy links of terrorist alliances (of convenience) come and go with frightening rapidity. Nation states such as Iran and North Korea openly flaunt their support of terror and showcase their capabilities with some regularity.

The Japanese probably had TO CHANGE THEIR DRAWERS TWICE -- once when the North Koreans fired a test missile over Japan, and a second time when they realized what the consequences might have been if a nuke warhead was attached.

The United States, with its Homeland Security forces of National Guard support for first responders -- National Guard WMD response teams -- is in a much better position to contain and handle an unthinkable CONUS terrorist occurrence than some of our allies might if their homeland were attacked.

While King Abdullah of Jordan spoke at the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, his government came close to being decapitated when four trucks (still unidentified) laden with explosives, chemical weapons and concrete penetrator battering rams were intercepted at the Syrian border. (Hey HANS BLIX -- think we're closing in on the locations of those WMD's?) The plot was not an attempt at blind terror -- but an attempt to eliminate Jordan as a support base for U.S. operations in Iraq with one fell swoop!

BEWARE being an ally of the United States is the neon sign being turned on all over the world. The success in Spain has emboldened Islamo-fascists everywhere. Hunting season has commenced -- no license necessary!
-- Mike Horn, LTC, MI, USAR, ret
Dublin, California

What no foreigner and few Americans now seem to understand is that, were there to be a terrorist nuke attack against America, American rage would be so explosive that thermonuclear attacks would be launched against dozens of cities in states that sponsor terrorism, effectively destroying the states for decades. However fantastic and improbable this solution sounds, furious Americans would have no patience for a legalistic terrorist identification process. They would administer retribution quickly and devastatingly against all potential targets, without waiting to identify the parties responsible. Americans would just want terrorism to end, immediately, and would make that happen. Though that would entail killing many millions to stop hundreds, terrorist states can count on it. Those that don't little understand the American character. They had best consider their options now, while time remains to them.
-- David Govett
Davis, California

Regarding Jed Babbin's "CIA Independence Day," there is a problem with the author's idea on how to prevent North Korea from distributing nuclear weapons. While an air strike on the Osirak Nuclear Reactor stopped Saddam Hussein's plutonium production program, and while a similar strike on Iran might have the same effect, Yongbyon is a storage facility for nuclear material. The material would not simply disappear after such a strike, it could pollute a large area including the territory of third party nations. Also, the heavier chunks of material could be gathered up. There is an enormous amount of nuclear material at Yongbyon.
-- Daniel Morgret
Blacksburg, Virginia

OUR GLASS HOUSE
Re: Jacob Laksin's A More Humble Euro-Basher:

While reading Jacob Laksin's excellent article, I couldn't help but reflect how pathetic we Americans are at pointing fingers. How ridiculous the Europeans look with their ineffectual efforts against terrorism! All the while, our own TSA, responsible for keeping our airlines safe, will fine any airline which questions more than two Arab fliers on any one flight. The Homeland Security Department's other watchdog, the Border Patrol, cannot prevent the invasion of people, drugs, or who knows what else, from flowing across our borders with Mexico and Canada, due to woeful undermanning, and over-regulation.

The Western world is caught up in globalization. One of its most dangerous manifestations is the hijacking of an already militant religion by the modern day terrorist. We smugly point to how amazingly destructive our modern, hi-tech military is, and delude ourselves that we are safer now than we were on September 11. I submit that only time will tell.

We have become a litigious society, no longer able to keep a common core of values, because expression of any one of them is certain to offend someone else. Our courts routinely dispense politically correct, legally incoherent decisions, trampling the basic underpinnings of decency, common sense and our economy.

We have been invaded by an army of illegals, whom the PC crowd insists on referring to as '"undocumented" immigrants. This same army, and its sympathizers, insists on all the rights of U.S. citizens, medical care under Medicaid, driver's licenses, the same tuition as any in-state resident, in our state funded colleges and universities, etc., without any understanding that the first responsibility of a citizen is to obey the law.

People in glass houses.. .., but keep throwing them anyway. Maybe the crash of falling glass will wake up the residents before it is too late.
-- Ralph Goodson
Vero Beach, Florida

INSOURCING
Re: Patrick Hynes's reply in Reader Mail's Coming Attractions:

In his reply to John McGinnis today, Patrick Hynes repeats one of the arguments most commonly used to justify outsourcing -- that it boosts GDP. However, using the example that he quotes of the GDP being boosted by $230 billion over seven years as a result of IT outsourcing, we can deconstruct the argument in favor of the practice completely.

The figure that he quotes comes from the Institute for International Economics. They have a round figure of $230 billion. That looks fantastic on paper. However, what no outsourcer is prepared to admit publicly is -- that $230 billion was already there.

It was simply locked away in labor costs. Although that $230 billion has been returned to investors, while it was a labor cost it was not just sitting there. A portion of it would have been consumed in taxes to fund useful programs like the U.S. Marines. A portion would have been spent on goods, keeping other Americans in productive jobs. A portion would have been spent on mortgage payments, keeping the banking sector afloat, and a portion probably invested back on Wall Street, preventing total financial collapse.

That's the big truth on outsourcing. Although it's a quick, easy and cheap way of saving money for some people, it is not justified by the concomitant losses to the whole economy. That's even before you factor in the decline in social stability it causes.

When a plant closes, its locality becomes depressed. There is less money, so the divorce rate increases. Drug and alcohol dependency increases. The costs of replacing a manufacturing plant are so high that the only large-scale replacement employment that can be made available is something like call-center work, and a call-center operator will never earn the same as a skilled machinist. So everyone loses.

Has the middle-class American taxpayer (presumably TAS's core readership) seen any particular trickledown prosperity from outsourcing? If they have the means to invest in stocks and have a small to medium size portfolio, possibly. Have they found any reduction in the price of goods and services as a result of IT outsourcing? I would be prepared to bet a Scots penny that the answer to that one would be a definite "No." And I would be genuinely surprised if anything like 10% of it has been re-invested in the businesses that sent the jobs overseas to begin with.

Outsourcing is nothing more than a way of redistributing money that is already there. It does not follow in the American tradition of innovation and wealth creation. It is unconservative, and if a flat tax rate of 85% was slapped on outsourced goods and services it would stop forthwith.
-- Martin Kelly
Glasgow, Scotland

CODE FICTION
Re: Patrick O'Hannigan's Dan Brown Debunked:

Okay, I'm a little late to this but I can't help responding. First, I'm Catholic...well, I was raised Catholic and did the whole parochial school thing. I consider myself much more educated than the average lay person on religion and philosophy because a) I didn't have a choice and b) I am truly fascinated by both theism and atheism (and everything in between). Put me in the "it's just a book" category. It's not my fault that I can read a book for the fiction and escapism that it is and not take anything Mr. Brown asserts as fact as, well, fact. It didn't take too long for me to Google search "Illuminati" and come to the conclusion that, while fascinating, Mr. Brown took extensive liberties with the secret organization. Ditto Da Vinci's involvement with it and a host of other things in the book. Still, it was a fun read if not flawed. Dare I say, a page turner? Calling Larry King...

Maybe it's the skeptic in me to doubt anything that is presented to me is fact. I'm immediately suspicious. Given that someone has to write a book "debunking" a work of fiction is proof positive that we (still) live in a world of easily impressionable people who will believe anything as long as you state from the start "This is a fact" or "This really happened." It's the oldest trick in the book. It's the reason Internet hoaxes spread like wildfire. Better yet, start your hoax with a byline and everyone assumes that the USA Today or NYT actually reported on the true story of two guys and an unfortunate gerbil. Come on folks, it is a work of fiction regardless of what the author purports as facts.

If Catholics and Christians are so ignorant of their own history and tradition, then I give Round 1 conclusively to Brown. Now, how long until I can expect a thorough ripping of "Angels and Demons"?
-- Brett

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