Reader Mail

This Time of Year

Supremely moving. GWB, swimmingly. The Dutch anti-Vatican school. Plus much more.

12.28.03

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GOD BLESS
Re: Shawn Macomber's Caroling With the Supremes:

Just a quick note of thanks for a very moving story by Shawn Macomber about the Christmas Carol experience with Chief Justice Rehnquist and Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. I actually became a bit emotional with this revelation of decency on the part of these two powerful, institutional members of the "Establishment."

God bless them and you.
-- Rich Sharland
Camp Humphreys, Korea

ENEMY OF THE YEAR IS NEAR
Re: G.M. Strong's letter (under "To Hillary and Back") in Reader Mail's Season's Gratings:

Pardon my over-anticipation, I misread the EOW line. Please consider my previous letter as a nomination for EOY for the Red Queen. Sen. Rodham Clinton Rodham has manipulated her way into the top with skill deserving of recognition. While she bakes holiday cookies in Chappaqua and Der Schlickmeister sequesters to the Harlem office, the rest of us await the award announcement.
-- GMS
Media, Pennsylvania

EVERY MAN'S MAN OF THE YEAR
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Our Man of the Year:

Your columns are always excellent and I always love reading them, I can't remember when I haven't enjoyed one and agreed with you, but today may be your finest in recent times. Thank you for so eloquently recognizing the achievement of our President as your Man of the Year. He is so deserving and truly a gentleman. What a difference a term makes. When I read that Time had recognized the American soldier I thought they were very deserving but Time had chosen them just to avoid having to recognize President Bush. Your column is great!

Have a very Merry Christmas and a happy and blessed new year!
-- Matthew Elias
Duncanville, Texas (a Dallas suburb)

I just got through reading your excellent analysis of President Bush. I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed it and I will share its wonderful insights with all who will listen.

President Bush is a great man, and perhaps in the afterglow of history in say 20 or 30 years, it will be obvious to all what extraordinary and dangerous times we live in, and how a humble and sincere man, who never really wanted to be President, presided over our country in our greatest crisis.

Thanks once again for your wonderful article.
-- Steve

I completely agree with your assessment of Bush as a Gent. Because I live in Texas, I had a few chances to meet with him while he was Governor. One time, I had my then 12 year old daughter with me so she could shake his hand. I joked with Bush that my daughter was a "Good Republican." He responded with "more important, is she a good student?" I said, yes straight A's. He reached out and patted her on the head. Now, isn't that a classy thing to say? The President has his eye on the important things rather worrying about his "legacy."
-- Mike Bergsma

I commend you on your sage choice of President George W. Bush as "Man of the Year." It is ironic that publications that tout themselves as being "mainstream" and "news leaders" are unable to comprehend the meaning of "Man of the Year," unless it is someone who is totally undeserving of such an honor, for example Jimmy Carter, aka "Mr. Chicklet Grin," or any of the other leftist chowderheads which are consistently foisted upon the public.

I believe that President Bush will go down in history as the greatest President of the 21st Century, just as Ronald Reagan will surely go down in history as the greatest of the 20th. No doubt in my mind.

In that same vein, I invite you to read over my commentary explaining why even leftists and liberals will ultimately end up
voting for President Bush in November 2004 which is located on my humble blog for this date (Dec 27, '03).
-- J.B. Corrigan

Oh boy, are you EVER right about "W." Great article, Mr. Tyrrell. Thanks.
-- John C. Donahue

Re: "... I suggest ice on both knees and wearing a neoprene sleeve on them when you run. If that prescription fails, face the fact of your middle-aged hinges and ride a stationary bike."

What's wrong with swimming? ;-)

Merry Christmas,
-- Dan Martin

The ice and the Neoprene sleeve are probably a good idea, but the bike may not be. I've got the same problem with my knees (quadricep tendonitis and the beginnings of osteoarthritis), for which I've just finished a round of physical therapy. The therapist has specifically told me to stay away from the stationary bike (which I used to ride for "miles"). Perhaps the President should become a swimmer?
-- Paul

George Bush for Person of the Year? Once again you've nailed it dead on. Keep up the good work.
-- Mike

Your article is suitable for hanging on the wall. Thank you !!!
-- unsigned

CHOICE CUTS
Re: Paul M. Weyrich's CARFA '04, Where Are You?:

This is a good idea. Our local paper, the San Antonio Express-News, ran an article not long ago complaining that our area was losing money because many people eligible for food stamps were not applying for them.

It did not occur to the paper that people still had to buy the food even without stamps so it is not true that the stores and other food producers lost the money.

More importantly, maybe people prefer not to give the government power over them by applying for this aid. Many aid recipients are charged with crimes every year for running afoul of the food stamp program.

Maybe cutting back on this and many other programs would be a good thing.
-- Raymundo Aleman
San Antonio, Texas

SPEECHLESS
Re: Patrick Hynes's The Intolerant Left:

I read with great interest Pat Hynes's latest article about the deleterious effects of the Campaign Finance a/k/a Incumbent Protection Act. He made some excellent points about how the most fundamental right of being an American citizen -- the power to voice disagreement and displeasure with our government -- is being infringed.

No matter what side of the political fence a person comes down on, the right of a citizen to criticize the government was so important, the Framers decided to make it the very FIRST amendment.

While I may entirely disagree with the Sierra Club, the have every right to criticize President Bush and his policies at any time they please. The "special interests" that have been demonized in this debate are nothing more than like minded citizens who have banded together to amplify their voice and their views. Also, "special interest" donations to candidates/officeholders are easily accessible to anyone that wants to see them. If enough voters disagree with the candidate/officeholder aligning him or herself with these "special interests" they can use the power of their vote to voice their displeasure. Last time I checked a "special interest" couldn't cast even one vote.

I hope Mr. Hynes continues to point out the utter hypocrisy of the Democrats -- you know, the ones who rail against the Patriot Act curtailing our civil liberties -- on this issue.
-- Eric Fabrizio
West Lawn, Pennsylvania

SIM CITY
Re: John Corry's Sing Praises to Alastair Sim's A Christmas Carol:

Kudos to John Corry for his appreciation of the Alastair Sim version of A Christmas Carol. It was a Christmas staple in our house when we were growing up. In addition to the priceless moment where the maid smiles and nods to Scrooge to enter the drawing room, there's the scene where Scooge says "I don't deserve to be this happy!", bends himself to his work, then straightens up and throws the quill pen over his shoulder, "but I can't help it!" Or the sad, future scene where the Cratchits await the late return of Bob, who has stopped off at the cemetery. The minor characters (the housekeeper, Mr. Jawkins, Scrooge's nephew, even the boy who says "I should say I do!" when asked if he knows the butcher shop on the corner), are all splendidly done. It's out there on videotape, and I suppose, DVD by now, and deserves to be on everyone's Christmas list.

Merry Christmas,
-- Bob Fitzgibbon
Rome, New York

DEAN STREETS
Re: The Washington Prowler's The Era of Big Clinton Is Over:

About the Washington Prowler on Dean's endorsement by Gore:

I would have thought Clinton would be more open to sucking up than Gore.
-- David Brown

The latest news reports has Dean talking about his "Christian" faith and how he trusts Jesus. What? On reading the article, we find him confusing faith with liberation theology, which is basically Vommunism disguised as religion. Let's take a good hard look at this man's "religious" beliefs, starting with his statements during his last gubernatorial campaign where he stated the biggest danger in this country was the Christian Right, an assertion he continued to hammer out in the early days of his presidential campaign. Next let's take a look at his political background when he was a Planned Parenthood shill as a State Rep. from Burlington. After all, he was on that organization's board of directors, plus his opposition to school choice because people might choose a religious school over the public. Next comes his advocacy for "gay rights" and his civil unions, which is the same as marriage. I thought Clinton was a phoney the way he carried a Bible around at times (when he had his pants up anyway), but this is takes the cake. Next this person will be saying he advises the Pope on Catholic matters. Is there no end to what he will do? This man has no shame or integrity.
-- Pete Chagnon

SEASON'S POETRY
Re: Kathy Shaidle's Banned by AOL:

Thank you for reprinting that hilarious "poem." I remembered seeing it somewhere, but couldn't remember where, and after my elder daughter sent me a [gag] Kwanzaa online greeting card, I was dying to find it. Fortunately, Yahoo! doesn't censor (so far), and I have forwarded the poem to everyone I can think of. Merry Christmas!
-- Lawrence G. Hawk, JD
San Francisco, California

GOING DUTCH
Re: George Neumayr's Diabolizing the Pontiff:

I was pointed recently to your column "Diabolizing the Pontiff" of May 23. It states the ongoing activities of several Dutch members of the European Parliament to remove the Holy See from the United Nations.

Although actors in this movement changed during the centuries, Anti-Papist movements in the Netherlands have been a mainstay since the 16th century. Strengthened by the fact that the most prominent leader of the Netherlands liberation revolt, William of Orange, was killed in 1584 on demand of the Holy See, despite his insistence on freedom of religion.

Since that time an often strange coalition of orthodox Calvinists, republicans, and anti-clerical libertarian thinkers have made attempts to reduce the political position of the Vatican as a recognized state. They once succeeded in the Netherlands in the 1924, when Rev. Korsten, the representative of the orthodox Calvinist Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij (Political Reformatorian Party), provided the swing vote on a decision to withdraw the diplomatic ties with the Vatican of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and created a cabinet crisis with it.

Recently left- and right-wing proponents of gay rights have re-ignited this political stream, but it might be of interest to you to know that Joke (Johanna) Swiebel, a lesbian rights activist, elected for the Labor Party as backbencher, has never been a visible politician in the Netherlands; her activities on this point seem to have totally missed Dutch mainstream press.

The activities of Henk Krol, during the seventies spokesman of Hans Wiegel, former vice-prime minister for the Dutch Peoples Party for Freedom and Democracy (the largest liberal party promoting the political ideas of Friedrich von Hayek), widely regarded as the most visible and influential Dutch conservative politician for decades, can be considered as a typical representative of libertarian political ideas.

Anti-papism in the Netherlands is thus a far more subtle issue from a political point of view than you represent it. It is not only the ballpark of libertarians, liberals, social-democrats or socialists promoting Enlightment principles of separation of church and state. Even a substantive number of conservative Protestants tend to subscribe to proposals to reduce the remains of secular power of the Vatican.

It is rather difficult in this case to assess who is more out of touch with their constituencies today in this non-discussion: the Vatican or the gay rights activist. But it is outside any discussion that the historic track record of the hierarchical driven political influence wielding of the Holy See in Europe has not allways been as beneficial to the European people as the last decades' activities of Pope John Paul II in Eastern Europe.

Too many Dutch Catholics have experienced during the two decades after World War II the pressure of priests to procreate at any price and received episcopal prescriptions on how to vote in democratic elections with the threat of religious exclusion. This attitude of the Catholic clergy changed in the seventies with large scale public approval. However, since the restoration of conservative Vatican moral doctrine under Pope John Paul II has set in, Catholicism has experienced a strong backlash and church flight. As a consequence, all recent attempts of the Catholic Church to translate religious doctrine into a political-moral position is met with serious scrutiny or even distrust.

America is probably too remote from the Vatican and politically too much dominated by the religious and social norms and values of Protestantism and the freedom of religion, established against Catholic moral doctrine in the sixteenth century, to be aware of the sometimes peculiar kinds of social pressure and political behavior of the Vatican during the last five decades that alas involved several rejectable anti-democratic positions, like the support offered to the German Nazi government and Mussolini's Fascists and the Franco (Spain) and Salazar (Portugal) dictatorships.

As all these activities have been presented in religious moral cladding, it is these kinds of moral missteps in the recent past that cause the continuous scrutiny of Vatican political activities and the ongoing intent of many political groups to reduce its powers. The position of the Holy See on homosexuality is simply the new stick found to restart Vatican-bashing. As might be clear from the above, this has been put aside as nothing more or less than an instance of Dutch political folklore and was not even mentioned in the Dutch mainstream press.

It did not go quite so far, in particular as the current political climate in the Netherlands has moved substantively into a conservative direction. The Dutch (Protestant Christian Democrat) prime minister is also pushing for a reference to [Europe's] Judeo-Christian roots and even in Miss Swiebel's own LaborP party her Vatican-bashing stance is not more than a faction position.

France, as always is a very different case. The Bourbon kings suppresed Protestantism and religious freedom fiercely before the French Revolution, which partly created the strong political secular tradition in the French republic since that event. Chirac's opposition against referral to Judeo-Christian roots must be earmarked as simply conservative. As his Gaullist party is indeed a conservative republican one.

As far as I can see, you are overstating the importance of the specific event but also underestimating the general suspicion of the Vatican's political moves in the (conservative) Protestant countries of Northern and Western Europe and republican France. Your link at the end of the column of anti-papism with attempts to rooting out conservative republicans is therefore not appropriate.

With kind regards,
-- Hendrik Rood

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