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Happy Days

What make a holiday. Plus much more.

5.27.03

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NOT SUCH A SMALL POINT
Re: Paul Beston's The Sands of J. Crew:

Paul Beston's article "The Sands of J. Crew" was excellent. I happens every year, and just yesterday it happened to me again in Macy's. At the conclusion of our transaction, the sales clerk said "have a happy holiday." Happy Memorial Day. What a concept.
-- Mary M
Pennsylvania

I agree that the Monday holiday simply becomes an extended weekend making it difficult to grasp what the event is for; all the days of commemoration need to be given a fixed date.

Also, I have already come to the conclusion that the birthdays of all the Presidents, not just Washington and Lincoln, should be made a day of commemoration (not a holiday) when the life, accomplishments, and administration of each President who is more than 10 years out of office should be studied and examined. Presidents' Day should be a day on which the office of the President of the United States as an institution is studied. Similar days could also be set aside for Congress and the courts.
-- R.D. Murphy
Imperial Beach, CA

I'm sorry but, while I'm sure Mr. Beston means well and is reputable, I am not equally sure about the source on which he draws. How do we know that John Colapinto actually wrote the piece called "The Young Hipublicans" that appeared in the New York Times on Sunday? Further, how do we know that whoever actually wrote the piece really went to Bucknell or that the folks named in the article are real people? How do we know that the NYT in its ongoing affirmative action activities isn't attempting to rehabilitate Jayson Blair by allowing him to ghostwrite for others?

We have been frequently, frequently burned by the NYT. Time and time again, it has published falsehoods and half-truths. How do we know that Mr. Beston hasn't been hoodwinked by yet another instance of NYT style journalism? It is, I believe, reasonable to expect the NYT to print some sort of statement of authenticity, some confirmation that the most basic standards of fact checking and certification have been used for everything they print. The old glib and untrue masthead representation is no longer believable or acceptable.

And, I fear, Mr. Beston has fallen to their low standards by not making such representations to his readers. We expect so much of from him than we do of the National Enquirer or the New York Times.
-- unsigned

Paul Beston's piece, which was excellent for its thought-provoking examination of 3-day weekends in general and the de-memorializing of Memorial Day in particular, contained what I consider a glaring flaw. He wrote: "This week, the New York Sun ran its final series of capsule obituaries of fallen American soldiers from the Iraq campaign. The paper puts the final tally of dead at 138, a number severe in human costs but infinitesimal from a military perspective."

Mr. Beston, from a military perspective that final tally feels more like 138,000.

From a military perspective, we lost 138 of our brothers and sisters--- all of us did. Just ask the squad leaders, platoon commanders, commanding officers, and generals and admirals. Even the reservists.

The military costs are the human costs. That is what Memorial Day is all about. That is what keeping faith with ones brothers and sisters is all about -- what being a member of the U.S. military is all about.

I think Mr. Beston is referring to a statistical perspective; based on his thoughtful treatment of Memorial Day, I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt on this one...
-- Mark Stoffel
Arlington, VA

Paul Beston replies:
I think we are just quarreling about semantics. When I wrote "from a military perspective" I meant from a strategic, or to use Mr. Stoffel's term, a statistical standpoint. Most of us, going in, would consider 138 dead a miraculously low casualty count for the battle in Iraq, given what was entailed. None of which means we don't mourn those who were lost. But where death is concerned, we have to take solace wherever we can, in this case through the knowledge that things could have gone much worse.

UNDER THE BIG TRENT
Re: The Washington Prowler's Backlot Lott:

Senator Lott's infantile behavior makes me ill. There he goes, snipping at his President and undermining his majority leader. This is a Clintonesque attempt to re-invigorate this former leader's legacy most noted for its absence of leadership while saying, "This isn't about me." Yea, right.

While he was wondering why he was at table #742 with opera glasses, his former staffers sure didn't have to wonder why they were fired after he ran off at the mouth.

One would hope he would take the advice of a more distinguished Mississippian, William Faulkner, "Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself." On the other hand, maybe the advice given by Don Imus to just about everyone is more appropriate, "Just shut up already!"
-- Rick Osial
Dumfries, VA

SHORT STOP
Re: Enemy Central's Missing the Cut:

"Naturally, there was a New York Times angle. Duffer Dave Anderson, the paper's longtime overweight jock, ended up telling Ted that Sorenstam's presence compares to Jackie Robinson's..."

More like to Eddie Gaedel's... and that's the long and the short of it.
-- Dan Leo
Miami Beach, FL

FEELING FRISTY
Re: The Washington Prowler's Leadership Lag (second item):

The problem with blaming the committee chairmen for the downsizing of the tax relief bill (or any other legislation, for that matter) is not that Grassley or Hatch or whoever is the involved Senator shouldn't accept their share of the blame, it is that it tends to let Frist off the hook for his ineptitudes and dereliction of duty. He absolutely and steadfastly refuses to enforce party discipline or impose a cost on recalcitrant Senators for breaking with the party line.

Daschle has no such qualms about doing whatever it takes to maintain effective control over his caucus. I have heard or read all the arguments about how Lyndon Johnson like leadership is no longer possible. Bull hockey! I ain't buying it. What price has Chafee, or Snowe, or Collins, or McCain, or Specter paid for their rebellions.

Frist says that he can't enforce a real filibuster on the Democrats because some of his RINOs will be inconvenienced. Poor babies. For 150 grand or more per year of our money, let them be inconvenienced.

The President's judges can't get confirmed. The President's tax bill is passed only after emasculation. These are just two of many issues that the Senate can't get resolved satisfactorily. Frist wanted the leadership. Well, now he has it. It is WAYYYY past time for him to start producing.
-- Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

THINK LOCALLY
Re: Reader Mail's Second-Hand or First Rate and Bob Collins' Selling Conservatives:

TAP readers -- and Bob Collins, though his treatment was funny -- misunderstand the mechanics of radio advertising. Rush's show is syndicated. Rush and the syndicate sell the show to local radio stations. Part of that sale is a sharing-out of ad minutes. Rush and the syndicate get some -- Select Comfort, Clean Shower, Bose, etc. -- and local radio stations get others. Daytime local radio, regardless of the show involved, sells lots of "low rent" product. The commercials you're complaining about are sold by the local station. In smaller markets, the commercials are very low rent indeed. In big cities, you get a little relief.
-- Lawrence Henry

Bob Collins replies: Good point -- though I've been listening for years, I couldn't say precisely what's local and what's not during the broadcast. For the article, I assumed that the commercials I referenced were on "my local radio station" and aimed at "this area's Dittoheads." As a point of reference, we're talking about Cincinnati, a reasonably large market, though by no means among the largest. I listen to local music stations during the day, and I hear some of the same kinds of ads during Rush Limbaugh that I'd hear on those stations (not only the ads I described but car dealers, hardware stores, etc.). My impression is that I hear more of the types of ads I described during Rush. Maybe I'm wrong; maybe they're more jarring in the context of a program that's appealing to my intellect and common sense, not just playing music.

LEFT IN
Re: George Neumayr's Diabolizing the Pontiff

I wouldn't be surprised if someone in the European community attempted to imprison the Pope for "spreading hate." I'm just surprised it hasn't happened yet.

It's well-known to us Catholic conservatives that much of the Catholic church in western Europe is hopelessly way, way out on the Left.

I chose to become Catholic back in 1981 and I've often had the experience of watching a seemingly "reasonable" person turn into a red-eyed screamer when the subject of my faith and, especially, my ideological position on many of the issues in the Church, comes up in conversation.
-- Elizabeth Whitaker

TAYLOR MADE
Re: John Derbyshire's letter in Reader Mail's Second-Hand or First Rate? and Lawrence Henry's Bring Back Word Power:

"Promised Land" was written by Chuck Berry, and like so many Chuck Berry tunes (and like Shakespeare and so much other good art), wears well in lots of different covers.

I wasn't aware JT had covered it, but for years it was a Grateful Dead
staple. Full lyrics can be found here.
-- Matt Mitchell

Lawrence Henry replies: Thanks. I do love that man, and know perhaps two dozen of his songs by heart.

HOT ON TROT
Re: "Nixon's the One" in Wlady's Corner (scroll down):

Just read your piece on Trot Nixon's brain infarct -- suffered while 35K in Fenway and millions on national TV looked on -- a couple of Saturdays ago. I feel for Nixon. He's talented, smart, and plays hard. He's put up good numbers for the BoSox (who for decades have played the roll of the American League's un-cola to the Yankees, creating unreasonable hope in certain precincts). So this one is a bit of a puzzler.

In mitigation of Trot's boner, it should be said that baseball (the wonderfullest game God ever invented) has a pretty intimidating ratio of thinking to action. Unlike other games that have more flow to them and everyone on the team is involved or potentially involved at all times, in baseball many pitches or even innings can go by before the ball goes to the player at any given position. But players can't use this time to daydream, to wonder if their agent is screwing them, or to check the stands for mini-skirts. They have to be set to be in the play every pitch. And they must decide before each pitch what to do in any of many situations -- if the ball comes to me on the ground slowly, on the ground sharply, a line drive, a pop up. Do I wait for the ground ball to get to me or do I charge it? Do I take the safe out or go for the lead runner? The right choice in all these instances depends on how many outs there are, what inning it is, what the score is, how fast the batter or the base runners are, or even what the league standings are.

So there's almost too much to think about in between pitches. But the thinking has to be done then because when the ball is knifing toward a player, it's too late for him to review his options. Whatever play is called for has to be made instantly. This is not a game for Hamlets.

It's admittedly difficult to stay at Code Red pitch after pitch when the ball doesn't come your way. And Nixon's station in right field, sort of baseball's lower 40, can have its quiet times. Right fielders aren't exactly the Maytag repairman, but they aren't nearly as busy as the catcher or middle infielders.

Having stipulated the above, prosecution has to argue that ball players are more likely to take mental naps late in a blowout, or when it's September and their team is 50 games out of first. But you'd think that late in a one-run game with the Sox just a game behind the pin stripes and the Yankees losing, that everyone could stay focused.

I was watching the game on my living room couch. Couldn't have been more pleased to see a shallow fly heading for right, because this would keep the runner on third from scoring. I was puzzled for a second when Nixon was a little nonchalant getting the ball out of his glove. Then when he looked toward the stands and started to toss the ball there, the full horror of what was happening overcame me. I leaped from the couch and yelled, "NO !!!." To no avail, of course. All I accomplished was to scare the hell out of the dog, who was dozing next to me on the couch. She's a Sox fan too, but she clearly felt I had over-reacted. My wife ran in from another room to ask what the crisis was while I glumly watched Benjy Molina (who runs about as well as I do) trotting (literally in this case) home from second.

The Fenway fans (not as pre-Miranda as Phillies fans, but not often confused with the Sisters of Mercy either) showed some class when Nixon came up in the ninth. There were scattered boos, but these were followed by even more cheers. Nixon has been a good player, and the cheers were a recognition of this. The faithful seemed to be saying, "We still love you Trot." Doubtless while thinking to themselves, "But don't do it again, Dummy."
-- Larry Thornberry
Tampa, FL

TEACHING TOOL
Re: John R. Dunlap's Identity Crisis:

How apt! I am a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College, a Catholic liberal arts school in Santa Paula California, formed precisely to create a holistic environment in which to read and discuss the Great Books. I thank God over and over again for this opportunity. Now I am teaching in a high school founded by Catholic lay people back in the sixties with the decided accent referred to in Mr. Dunlap's article. How apt! Today, my saving grace is my belonging to the movement of Communion and Liberation where I find a true safe haven and a constant provocation to compare "my attitudes" which are more often "the common mentalities' attitudes," against the method proposed by Jesus Christ Himself through his presence within the Church.
-- Christianne Chiodini

BILL BENNETT'S GAMBLING
As near as I can tell, one thing that has been overlooked is that Mr. Bennett is entitled to an $8 million tax deduction! Gambling losses, in excess of winnings, are deductible.
-- C.D. Lueders
Boca Raton, FL

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