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The Pursuit of Happiness

Southern convictions. Saturday Night Relived. Don Regan on the money. High on Gregory Peck. Low on Sammy Sosa. Plus much more.

6.16.03

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ALYOSHA AND THE AXE
Re: Hunter Baker's Pryor Convictions:

I remember Georgia Governor Lester Maddox using an axe handle to keep Blacks from his restaurant but never have I seen in print or photo an axe in the hands of George Wallace when he made his "stand" at the door of the University Of Alabama. Show me the axe!
-- Harold L. Richardson
Montgomery, Alabama

How refreshing the article was by Hunter Baker telling how one court nominee stood up to the inquisition and answered truthfully about abortion. It is murder on the scale of the Jewish Holocaust of the 1940's. Like slavery in the 1800's, the so-called intellects cannot understand that the unborn baby is decidely human as was the Negro slave. There can be no justification for this mass slaughter and history will condemn it along with the other great tragedies.There will come a time when those who promoted this will face the same condemnation as the Nazis and those who condoned segregation based on skin color. It is good to see that some people are not hiding behind the "law of the land" to avoid telling the truth about one of the greatest tragedies in modern history in this country.
-- Pete Chagnon

The question asked of Alyosha in The Brothers Karamazov is impossible to answer. The premise requires the construction of some alternate universe in which happiness carries some distorted meaning. It is understood that the question is merely a hypothetical one, but even hypothetical questions must have some basis in reality, and the universe as it is currently understood cannot support any less of a definition of happiness.

How could happiness include the willful dislocation of one's thoughts of peace and tranquility, from the direct connection to a torturous and malignant act? It would require the citizens of such a realm to go about their daily lives with the knowledge of an atrocity deeply imbedded, but continually rebuffed.

Happiness requires a knowledge of pain, not a refutation of it. The awareness of living in a world where both entities exist is a key component of happiness. Therefore, a cursory look in the direction of someone else's pain is not the act of a truly happy person. Futhermore, the awareness that the "happy" world in which you live was bought at the price of an unwilling participant in a torturous act could never dispell the lingering feeling of the existence of its opposite.

It is impossible to conceive of a society that is peaceful and tranquil, in which all men are happy, where the citizens of such destiny are aware of the torture of an innocent, and that this act is the one event which brought about the current beneficence. It is equally impossible for such a society to exist if the populace were ignorant of the act, therefore, the question may be hypothetical, but it is also thoroughly bogus.

In contrast, Christianity proposes that a world of happiness can be built on the suffering of one willing individual, and that such a society as this can greatly benefit from knowledge of the act. Furthermore, ignorance of the event's direct influence on the world of happiness constructed by it benefits that world not at all.

Think about that the next time you hear of a city council's decision to abandon the public display of a Nativity scene at Christmastime.
-- Brendan R. Merrick
Budd Lake, NJ

Article by Hunter Baker -- Bill Pryor is Catholic, not evangelical.
-- Vance Troutman

TUMBLE TOWN
Re: Enemy Central's Don't Mention It:

After reading Enemy Central's take on Hillary's lies (or as I call the book: not beLiving her revisionist History) and Dick Morris' tales of brawling I thought about "Saturday Night Live."

The late (and missed) Phil Hartman, along with Jan Hooks, did the funniest skit on the Clintons. Hartman played Bill as the abused husband of a violent Hillary like the abused wife in any Lifetime movie. During another battle in the kitchen a state trooper shows up, yet again, and we get all the dialogue as if watching COPS which the skit satires . The officer asks Bill why he stays with her and he responds, "but I love her." It's hilarious.

Now we have the perfect sequel and can add Dick Morris to the play. Maybe Jon Lovitz can come back and play him and Jan Hooks could reprise her roll of Hillary. And though we lost the brilliant Phil Hartman, Darrell Hammond does a great Clinton.

Just think -- Dick Morris could save the increasingly unfunny SNL.
-- Greg Barnard
Franklin, TN

RUMMY FIZZ
Re: Francis X. Rocca's Diamond Don:

A little too nostalgic, Mr. Rocca. We have Rumsfield in the here and now and he certainly doesn't seem like a man who guards his words! Oh yea, he has F*** you money!
-- John Vecchione

One of the funniest things about Don Regan is buried in his official portrait at the Treasury Department. Apparently, when he was secretary, he would often yell at people, "F*** you and the horse you rode in on." If one now looks at his portrait, you will see some books to his right (on the left side of the picture), available here:

The title of one of the books is, "And the horse you rode in on."
-- Bruce Bartlett

THE LOOK OF LAW
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Get Off Stewart's Case:

Mr. Tyrrell says, "Vaguely written laws are a great benefit to two kinds of people, the inveterate criminal and the bullying prosecutor. Law-abiding citizens do not want vaguely-written laws."

That's a good point. Vague laws have been used by all totalitarian countries to make sure the "right" people are punished. Laws like the USSR's laws against "anti-Soviet agitation" have always been a way of saying, "Anything the ruling clique objects to is illegal."

The principle is: If you want mob rule, or rule by politically-correct sentiment, make the laws vague.
-- Larry Eubank
Bloomington, IN

HESTON'S FRIEND
Re: "Gregory Peck, RIP" in Wlady's Corner:

As usual, Wlady's so right. What I remember about To Kill a Mockingbird is Scout's chagrin (or was it her brother's) that Atticus, the middle aged bookish and ultimately heroic Southern lawyer, wouldn't play football with the Methodists. (My adult children seem to remember more about my dubious exploits with the corporate legal staff softball team and about eccentric team mates than anything else I was doing in those years.) Incidentally, the odd little boy, with no close male relatives, who visited from Memphis every summer must have been based on Truman Capote, who was a life long friend of Harper Lee -- she accompanied him to Kansas when he researched In Cold Blood.

I'll try to forget Gregory Peck's regrettable association with the likes of Norman Lear and Ted Kennedy in their borking of Judge Bork and rather
remember the nobility reflected in Keys of the Kingdom, The Gunfighter and Moby Dick, and above all that he remained close friends for the rest of his life with Charlton Heston after they made The Big Country. (The latter film was frustratingly bad despite the association of William Wyler, Jean Simmons, Charles Bickford, Burl Ives, Peck and Heston.)
-- J. R. Wheatley

I agree with your take on GP except for one thing: You never mentioned his greatest film, Twelve O'Clock High. It is the penultimate liberal comeuppance film, in which the know-it-all liberal (Peck), albeit a Brig. Gen., is placed as the leader of an 8th Air Force bomb group and -- lo and behold -- starts acting like a human being.

The funny thing about Twelve O'Clock High is that it shows that anyone in a particular position of leadership can succumb to stress, no matter where they come from or what they know going in -- even a liberal!
-- Mark Quinty

ON WITH THE SHOW
Re: Paul Beston's It's All About the Show:

Fine article. I particularly liked Mr. Beston's mention of the "home run hitter's perp walk," and Mickey Mantle's contempt for it. I remember reading something else about Mantle on the same subject. When asked why, after hitting a home run, he put his head down and trotted around the bases at a good clip, avoiding any theatrics, he replied that he didn't want the pitcher who had given up the home run to feel bad. Very classy. And, unfortunately, very "quaint and outdated."
-- Paul DeSisto
Cedar Grove, NJ

Paul Beston's article on Sammy and the entertainment that is professional sports reminds me of a question posed by someone who is far wiser than me. Commenting on professional sports as a career, he asked, "What kind of man is it who makes his money playing at children's games?" I think that is a very insightful question and puts the adulation of sports "heroes" in perspective -- after all, baseball, football, basketball and the like are really the games of children. For the most part, success is reserved for the precious few who have been blessed by the Almighty with the gifts of physical strength, agility and a high degree of hand-eye coordination. Most of us have great difficulty of putting a letter in an envelope, quickly selecting the proper key to the front door or even putting the kitchen garbage in the can in one smooth motion.

The sports I enjoy are few in number. They include professional football for the sheer joy of watching 22 monster sized men in modern armor trying to knock each other silly to possess a leather pouch filled with pressurized air. Baseball's only redeeming value is its use as a cure for insomnia and the idea of basketball where a number of very tall millionaires dressed in their underwear run up and down a perfectly good dance floor makes no sense. Golf, a.k.a. cow pasture pool, makes baseball look exciting and whispering Brits are dull as dishwater.

Of late I have come to really enjoy NASCAR for a few reasons. (1) It is truly an American sport. (2) It involves the skills of many separate specialties -- drivers, pit crews, mechanics and automotive engineers. (3) It is a sport dominated by the good old boys of the South -- something that ticks off the snobs of the Northeast. (4) I enjoy the accents of the South as in "puttin' ar in the tars" or "awl in the injin." (5) NASCAR is fast paced and a moment's inattention can cause you to miss something very exciting. (6) The commentators, especially Darryl Waltrip, are funnier than any stand-up comic. ( 7) I admit to the thrill of the "big one," the multi-car wreck that stops the race as millions of dollars of scrap metal is hauled off and the fact that seldom is anyone injured much less killed. (8) The stage is shamelessly patriotic -- something to admire and celebrate.

As those who fret over a cork-stuffed bat, I will settle in on Sunday morning and wait for the green flag to drop and Darryl Waltrip shout, "Boogity, boogity, boogity. Let's go racin'."
-- Al Martin
Depoe Bay, OR

I enjoyed your article on Mr. Sosa and his travails, but I think you were too kind, both to Mr. Sosa and to baseball.

I think it entirely possible that Mr. Sosa had more than one doctored bat, and either he or his friends simply removed the others from view as soon as the umpire picked up the broken bat. I would be slightly more convinced if they had checked all bats in the Cubs locker room/clubhouse.

Secondly, baseball (the commissioner, to be more precise), aware that the Yankees-Cubs series was upcoming in three days, decided to "investigate" the incident, cycling 76 bats through a CAT scanner. This process gave them opportunity to delay announcing the penalty for several days.

They should have announced the penalty the next morning, Mr. Sosa's appeal would then have been announced and adjudicated by Friday, the opening game of the Yankee series. He would undoubtedly have been sitting in the stands, an eventuality unacceptable from a "show" standpoint.

By going slow on the penalty announcement, the timing of the appeal and its adjudication allowed Mr. Sosa to play in all the Yankee games.

Finally, is there much difference between Mr. Sosa's cheating with a doctored bat and Pete Rose's potential cheating by betting on baseball games (if that's what he did). After all, it's not the bet that is the problem, it's the possibility of intentionally losing a game to favor the bet that is the problem. The fact of the bet only provides motive for intentionally losing a game. Strong evidence, true, but it is throwing a game that is the real fault in that case. Perhaps a penalty more like that given to Mr. Rose (lifetime ban from baseball) would prevent corked bats.

No proof, of course, of these theories; but clearly the pressure to put on a good "show" comes from both external (media) and internal sources, both individual and organizational.

Despite my suspicions, even if correct, I still enjoy baseball as a spectator more than any of the other "major league" sports. They all have their own set of peculiarities. Recall George Carlin's routine comparing terminology used to describe baseball to that of football. Field vs. stadium. Cap vs. helmet. End zone vs. home plate. He had many more. Similar contrasts can be drawn between baseball and basketball, hockey and other sports.
-- Richard Renken
Chesterfield, MO

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