Reader Mail

Tough Teddy

The hero of Chappaquiddick resurfaces. Plus much more.

4.9.04

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WAR MERCANTILISM
Re: Lawrence Henry's "Outsourcing" -- For Real:

One would wish Mr. Henry's friend well in creating 12 American jobs. One wonders, however, how representative his experience is. The article could have done with a little balance on factors such as:

• Does Toyota receive taxpayer subsidies in order to build factories in the States?

• Does every corporation that sends a customer service job overseas create another one at home, or pay a levy to the IRS for the tax income that the economy's lost?

• Does he provide his Indian guys with a retirement plan, seeing as he doesn't have to pay Social Security?

For every incentive and alleged benefit with this practice, there is an equal an opposite disadvantage, and it is not in the interest of the American economy that American earning power be sent overseas at a time of war, with soaring budget deficits. Can't these guys just look beyond profit to the national interest, just for once?
-- Martin Kelly
Glasgow, Scotland

TEDDY BARE
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Daddy's Boy:

Kerry: Hamas and Hezbollah are "sort" of a terroist alignment? Uh, no, Senator Kerry, they are aren't "sort" of terrorists, they ARE TERRORISTS, you dummy! They want to kill every Jew and any American they can. They aren't "sort" of anything but murderers and killers of innocent people.

Kennedy: Doesn't it seem like every three or four months, the Democrats drag Teddy out of whatever bar he is in at the moment, throw his besotted form in front of a microphone, where, bleary-eyed and and low-lidded, he spouts and spews out the kind of crap that only serves to hurt the morale of our soldiers, and undermine U.S. interests and goals in the Middle East? Is it just my imagination that his breath smells like scotch and Chappaquidick sea water?

Both of these guys wouldn't make a pimple on W's butt, as we like to say in west Texas.
- -Mike Webster
Dallas, Texas

Mr. Tyrrell is too kind to Senators Kennedy and Kerry. They're not just dupes, I believe they're traitors. Their statements can be construed in no other way than aid and comfort to the enemy. Just think of the encouragement the terrorists and other thugs feel at Kennedy and Kerry's spoutings. Just think of the discouragement for our soldiers and Marines to hear their "prominent leaders" urging on their attackers. The terrorists probably feel they don't need another attack on the U.S. homeland as long as they have Kennedy, Kerry, and all their allies doing the job for them.
-- W.G. Wheatley
Worton, Maryland

Historical consensus has it that FDR was so embarrassed by the antics (both political and sexual) of Joe (Kennedy) Sr. in Washington, D.C. that the President exiled him to the Court of Saint James. On his arrival in England -- Churchill looked him over and quipped, "I thought America was our ally."

Joe Senior enjoyed hobnobbing with the Nazi-loving English nobility -- giving his Boston Irish daughters a proper coming out in high society with his ambassadorial status. JFK wrote a best-selling book based on his observations of British unpreparedness for war and Chamberlain's dithering in the face of an obvious German militarization.

As for the youngest of Joe's kids, it seems Teddy's DNA got stretched mighty thin in certain areas -- but the genetics of appeasement, anti-Semitism, and treachery seem not the least diluted in the last progeny of his generation.
-- Mike Horn
Tracy, California

Ted Kennedy has every right to voice his opinion about whatever he choses to opine about, but his comments about our efforts in Iraq cross the line into giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Recently he said that Iraq is Bush's Vietnam and that same day that phrase was included in a speech given by Rev. Al-Sadr. If Ted experiences any lucid moments he might want to reflect on how what he said might have served to embolden the enemy and demoralize our own troops.
-- Dick Melville
Ozone Park, New York

It sounds like Teddy is trying to make a case early for Enemy of the Year.
-- Phil Winsor
Bridgewater Corners, Vermont

CALLED ON THE CARPET
Re: Paulette Sonnen's letter ("Heckler") in Reader Mail's What Makes Us Different:

Paulette Sonnen of Woodburn, Oregon, writes regarding Jed Babbin's Condi at the Bat:

"I was sorry to see the untrue facts printed by Jed Babbin. It is a sad thing for the American People that people like Jed write things that just are not factually true and try to have people believe the untruths -- kinda like going to war on WMD????"

What, specifically, did Mr. Babbin write that was untrue? I'm sure that others, aside from myself, would be interested.

Does it occur to Ms. Sonnen, and others of her persuasion, that Saddam was a WMD, e.g. murdering hundreds of thousands by the use of gas, industrial shredders, torture, shootings, etc.?

What about the shipload of WMD's, including nukes, that Qaddafi gave up to U.S. and British authorities? Did the Libyan tyrant, perhaps, imagine a red dot on his forehead in light of the capture of Saddam?

Could it be possible that what Saddam did to his own people, he might do (or help others do) to people in Woodburn, Oregon?

Do Ms. Sonnen, and people of her persuasion, consider the possibility that they kinda might be suffering from an infectious mental/spiritual pathology???

Looking forward to answers.
-- Carl Gordon Pyper
Monett, Missouri

LOUNGING AT THE CAFE II
Re: Eric Peters' and the "Engine Ears" letters in Reader Mail's Strokes of Genius:

Psst: somebody give Eric Peters a clue and tell him about the mid-sized 2004 Prius sedan, which exceeds CAFE II standards while offering performance, comfort and low emissions. The technology for significant reductions in petroleum dependence exists and is on the road now, the splutterings of neo-reactionaries and luddite oil industry shills notwithstanding.
-- Richard Schumacher
Dallas, Texas

Without harping too much on Kerry, who has many ideas unmolested by the touch of reality, most American vehicles do have a number of areas where limited regulation would make a large difference in safety and efficiency. Some industries will get away with whatever they can get away with, especially when there are only a few players. The welfare of the public is an interest only in making sure that they are usually alive to make the payments, kind of like the way Big 6 consultants treat their clients. The auto industry, to a degree, is one of those industries. I can point to a number of areas where automakers have just not bothered to introduce new things because, well, they were lazy and wanted to go for the sure thing. Mileage is just one of those issues. (You can point to ridiculously small fuel tanks, requiring people to use 5W-20 motor oil in a desperate effort to save fuel while destroying the engine, tiny oil sumps for lower drag losses, too-small oil filters, non-existent power steering fluid and gear oil/ATF filters, and so on, and so on, and so on.)

Right now, I can buy a perfectly good VW Passat for about $25k that gets 28mpg around town and about 36 on the highway with an automatic transmission and seats five 6' people pretty well and four 6'2" people very well. (I am 6'1" and I fit fine in the back seat.) It has a small diesel (2l, 130bhp). They went on sale this week in Houston. I can get a diesel Golf wagon (sold in the U.S. as a Jetta Wagon) for $18k with a diesel and it gets about 35/45 (more with a manual) and will fit four 6'+ people pretty well (and did, plus a rottweiler, last week from Houston to San Antonio, without anyone getting upset or feeling cramped). I bought one last year and I normally get 44 around town and 50-52 on longer trips (Houston to Midland or El Paso, for instance) at 75mph. I can buy at 6,000 pound Dodge pickup truck (crew cab, long bed, 4x4) with a 325 bhp Cummins turbodiesel with 600 foot pounds of torque and it gets 20mph around town if you don't drive it like you just stole it (the RWD versions get 22). (I have nine friends with these trucks -- and I have a new one on order -- and it is really difficult to get under 18mpg without risking life and limb.) Quite soon (June?) Mercedes will offer a mid-sized sedan (at the usual MB USA price of $45k) with a 200 horsepower diesel that can cruise at 130mph all day long that gets 31/38 (that was what I was told and it seems to fit with the EC fuel economy reports, more or less). So, where, exactly, is the problem meeting substantially higher CAFE requirements? Well, the industry is populated by a lot of lazy people and they don't give a damn. (And not just at Volkswagen North America, either, although their behavior over the last ten years could be a book full of HBS case studies.)

If the cost of fuel went up to $3/gallon, we would see tons of these cars, the size of a Taurus with slightly slower 0-60 times and dramatically better mileage. If you put a VW tdi engine in a Taurus, you would get exactly the same results, and Ford has those engines in Europe. So does GM. And Chrysler is now MB, so that is MB and MTU, as well as Cummins, Perkins, and Onan. There is no excuse for a 12mpg family SUV at this point as a base offering (sure, if you want a Ferrari, that is another thing, but to make the standard offerings as thirsty as they are is really stupid). If there was a relationship between weight, cruising range, and mileage, we would see tons of them. That would be a good thing. The issue with Kerry is not that he would like to see better mileage but that he is going about it in a stupid way. Of course, if car manufacturers did not assume that most of their consumers were idiots, he wouldn't have a leg to stand on. But his basic idea, that fuel economy would be a)not too expensive to improve and b)could easily improve a lot, is not incorrect. A tdi option adds about $800 to a VW. The Cummins adds $5k to the Dodge, but the four cylinder, which Dodge has flirted with for years, would be about $3k. Tell me how this makes a huge difference? At the bottom end, a car goes from $16k to $16.8k. Broken out over 60 payments that winds up being a Happy Meal. A Taurus right now gets about 22-24 in town (I know two people with them) and will flirt with 30mpg on the highway. If you put in the VW diesel or something like that, you would increase the mileage by 50%. Making a cracker barrel assumption about 12k miles a year and $1.50/gallon, that would make a savings of $250 a year, paying for the $800 in three years. This will not break the bank. And automakers don't do it because they are lazy and don't give a damn. Yes, Kerry is on the wrong track, but he is not wrong per se, and the auto makers have set themselves up to be pounded like cheap veal by taking the easy way out for the last 15 years.
-- Brendan Todd Corkery

SLG SEASONING
Re: The "Slgging It Out" letters in Reader Mail's Strokes of Genius:

I would like to say to SLG about choice, that no one should be able to tell his/her daughter what they can do with their body. Neither can they do whatever they want to the body that lives within them. You are not your mothers body, you came into this world through her. A woman has a right to choose, but they do not have right to choose twice. They have a right to have sex or not to have sex, that is their choice. When they get pregnant, if that was their choice, they cannot make another choice, because they will be taking the fetus' choice away from it.
-- Rudy Mercado

Pro-choice equates with murder? Or, pro-choice means "holding pro-abortion opinions"? That's an astounding misrepresentation of the word "choice" in our English language; a bit of a stretch. In fact, it kind of sounds a lot like Randall Terry trying to stage a comeback; self-appointed authorities who presume to speak for God, perhaps? Yet, can't help but wonder if God is maybe more concerned with the 2.2-million abused or battered children. Hope they're not carrying firebombs. Zealots can be scary; and dangerous. Makes my skin crawl.
-- slg

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