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Riding the Love Train

Minnesotans (among others) want off. Plus much more.

10.30.02

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WELLSTONE DEMOCRATS
Re: Wlady Pleszczynski's A Memorial Mess:

Wlady, you have it right. After hearing Dems wail about Republicans not waiting until the former senator was buried in the ground before resuming activities (untrue I would add) it was breathtaking to see what they did there. The problem is that after Bill Clinton shock value is awfully hard to come by. It is sad. Perhaps Bill Bennett's book title nailed it down, The Death of Outrage.

Can't we do something to hide Trent Lott?
-- Roger Ross
Tomahawk, WI

Your article about the memorial to the most leftist senator to ever hold office in the United States Senate was wonderful. I have lived in California for forty years but was raised in a small Minnesota farm town and later attended the University of Minnesota. Hence, I pay perhaps more attention than most non-Minnesotans to that state's politics. Your article was right on the mark and cheered me to the extent that their ghoulishness is not going unnoticed. At least not by everyone. The mainstream media will of course make the memorial service appear staid.

As an aside, an acquaintance crowed yesterday as to how Ashcroft could not even beat a dead man. I replied that since the Democrats were noted for voting gravestones, in the case of Carnahan, it was a matter of the dead electing the dead. Afraid that the same is occurring in Minnesota unless the population is brighter than the group at the memorial service.

Thanks for your article. Keep them coming.
-- Donald R. Melquist
San Francisco, CA

I am embarrassed to be a Minnesotan. I lived in Northfield where Paul gained his strength as a prof at Carleton, and marched, based on true, hippie, liberal platforms. His passion notwithstanding, he was a unique "bird." But the summary of last night's extremely partisan and flashy rally was right on. I did not attend, or watch it for we had heard rumors that the party was going to use it to win by association and empathy. Between our former wrestling gov, former mayor Latimer who did a good job -- but had to get his points in there -- and Mr. Kahn's rally speech, it makes me want to disassociate myself from this state's reputation and history. Is Walter Mondale the best that the DNC can come up with?

Unbelievable, and what a travesty to turn what could have been a classy, discreet -- even with a little politicking -- event, into what even the directors of the Shriner's or Cirque d'Soleil couldn't do...
a Nielsen's polling event.

Thanks,
-- Jeannie Finer
St. Louis Park, MN

C-Span -- the bane of my existence. Drifting in and out of sleep, I am unable to ascertain where reality ends and subconscious thought begins. Paul Wellstone's memorial service flickers on the screen. I think a musical tribute is emanating from the screen. Are they playing disco music at a memorial? Is that "Love Train"? Is the mourning crowd cheering Al Gore's arrival? People dancing? The crowd is not booing, are they? Maybe I sat on the remote and changed the channel to championship wrestling. No...wait...there is a casket. Inside is Senator Paul Wellstone. Yes, this is the memorial service. Kneeling beside the casket are two hazy figures engaged in some sort of activity. They are coming into focus. It is Terry McAuliffe and Bill Clinton. Good God, they are casting lots. Please let me wake up.
-- Steve Earley

I had a friend that started to watch this, but said it had no class. I didn't even start to watch and I wouldn't after Cheney was uninvited, but I am glad to read your article.

I have never seen so much attention given to a Senator that I had never even heard of until he died and now a few people are insinuating that it was murder. I just can't imagine the mentality of these people.
-- Betty Wiggins

Once upon a time, I was a Democrat. Then Jimmy Carter came along and I began to re-think my position; I won't go into the gory details as that would steer me away from the subject at hand. Needless to say, I'm a Republican now, and after that appalling display last night, I'll probably die a Republican. I could launch into a rant over the spectacle I witnessed, but I won't (such language should be reserved for the "stray hammer on the thumb" moments). What I witnessed was the final, and complete, transformation of a political party that I (once upon a time) respected and admired into the party of Clinton. Bereft of honor, dignity and class.

Perhaps Mr. Mondale will ride the wave to victory six days hence, but if he does it will not be because of the superiority of his position and ideals. It will be so because he (and the Democrat Party in general) used Sen. Wellstone's coffin as a springboard. Perhaps I'm a dreamer, but I have to wonder about the wisdom of last night's spectacle. I know that the Democrat Party has been moving Heaven and Earth to keep the "hard left" of their party from bolting to the Greens, which may be for naught since the Congress's war resolution vote, but there is one other element in this mix.

As much as I dislike anecdotal evidence, about two weeks ago, on C-Span 1, they had their cute "question of the morning" on Washington Journal. The question was "will you be voting this election?": yes/no. Since I'm a working stiff, I couldn't devote that much time to listen, but what I did hear was interesting. Virtually all the no's were democrats, and their 'average' answer was disapproval/disgust/discouragement with the dems. Until I heard that brief segment of phone calls, I had been wondering why the dems had were in full turbo mode on "turnout, turnout, turnout." It will be interesting to see if Wellstone's send-off energizes the base or adds to the number of disenchanted Dems who will sit out election day since they can't bring themselves to pull the lever for a Republican.

Make no mistake, I'm no starry-eyed fool. I'm well aware of what the Dem's are willing to do to win. For the Republicans it will also be TURNOUT, TURNOUT, TURNOUT. I will vote, and talk my lungs out from now till the 5th. I can do no less. The thought of the Democratic Party, in its current form, in even partial control of our nation's future during these perilous times chills my spine. Any doubts I had about the true nature of the Democrat Party are gone.

Never in my memory have I seen a political party so unworthy of respect or power. God help us should they ever get both hands on the "wheel of state."
-- Charles D. Ahner
Cincinnati, OH

You write of the Wellstone memorial: "Oddly, Sen. John Edwards seemed most uneasy about the event and never once displayed his patented toothy grin. Good for him. Maybe it was because he'd
never been so far north.

Could be because most Southerners understand the rules of decent behavior? (Sounds like Trent Lott forgot, though.)
-- Mary M. Stolzenbach
Brentwood, TN

With the Clintons there are you sure this wasn't a memorial/fundraiser? This would be in keeping with the sleazy duo.

Great slam.
-- Don

What a great piece!!!! The only problem is that I think Democrats have long ago lost the ability to feel shame.
-- Annette Cwik

Great writeup, those folks are sick.
-- Bugs

BIG BAD BOB
Re: The Washington Prowler's Not Set in Granite:

"After all, his own Republican Senate colleagues recruited Sununu out of the House to challenge Smith in the GOP primary."

And with good reason! Bob Smith bolted the Republicans, ran a loopy "Independent" run for the presidency, excoriated the party for not supporting his buffoonery and then bolted right back into the fold after the election to get a committee chairmanship. He's adopted liberal causes to try and get votes from the PETA people and the enviro-wackos. And then he cries great big alligator tears when we Republicans here in Cow Hampshire vote for a candidate who has a chance at beating the liberal Granny Shaheen. Polls showed Bob never had a chance against her. So now his supporters have adopted the attitude that better we get a liberal Democrat twit for our senator than a decent Republican.

If Sununu loses because of Bob's bitterness, I will be organizing a "Burn The Buffoon In Effigy" Rally the day after the election!
-- Gene Smith
Contoocook, NH

ANIMAL ORDER:
Re: Richard Donley's letter in Reader Mail's After the Sniper:

The juvenile name-calling used by Richard Donley in his grossly disrespectful attack on Jerry Carter indicates an egregious inability or unwillingness to fairly comprehend what Mr. Carter is saying, which seems to be, simply put, that all lives irrespective of age have equal worth, not "higher" (or lower) as Mr. Donley mistakenly accuses Mr. Carter of claiming. Or put another way, a murderer is no more or less a murderer because he kills adults instead of children, or vice versa.

Mr. Donley also errs in his use of the bear and tiger analogy. He claims that humans, like animals, are "genetically programmed" to protect their offspring, "even at the risk of their own lives." While the higher animals do indeed protect their young, there is a limit to their efforts that generally falls short of their risking their own lives. The cheetah mother will try to intimidate and draw away from her cubs the leopard who views them as competitors that must be killed, but will ultimately abandon them instead of engaging the more powerful cat in actual to-the-death fighting. Similarly the wildebeest mother will try to drive the hyena or wild dogs away from her calf, but will in the end flee upon sensing that she herself is in danger. Finally, even the mighty lioness will avoid mortal combat with a marauding male who, in attempting to take over a pride, kills her offspring fathered by other males. The reason for this is that animals are, to once more use Mr. Donley's expression, genetically programmed to save themselves to breed again. From a zoological point of view, the loss of a sexually mature female is a greater danger to the survival of the species, herd or pride than the loss of a calf or a cub. A human, on the other hand, may or may not rationally choose to die trying to protect his or her child. But this is very different from what an animal's instinct tells it to do.

Other examples abound, but these should suffice to expose the pitfalls inherent when comparing man and beast, a practice blindly resorted to in our post-modern society where, to borrow from Buckley, nature and collectivism e.g. "the children," replace God and the individual.

Sincerely,
-- Paul M. DeSisto
Cedar Grove, NJ

ANGEL EYES
Re: K. E. Grubbs Jr.'s The Triumph of the West II:

Are you believing this?

The Angels WON the World Series! SF Chronicle headline: "HEARTBREAK"

Thanks for your loyal support.
-- Sam Haynes
Mendocino, CA

First I wanted to correspond with you once more and wish you congratulations on the Angels World's Championship. But as Angel fans bask in their team's climax, the hearts of Giants fans (even a conservative one such as myself) are not so light.

Not to say that Giants fans aren't used to it. We've watched as Bobby Richardson caught a laser off the bat of Willie McCovey in the final game of the 1962 World Series. We watched in 1971 as the Pirates would best the Giants and go on to win it all. We almost watched as Horace Stoneham attempted to do to the city of San Francisco what he did to the baseball fans of Manhattan two decades earlier. We would watch again as the St. Louis Cardinals would cause more disappointment in 1987. We would watch as the best team in the National League in 1989 wasn't even the best team in the Bay Area. We would almost watch again as our Giants threatened to say Bye Bye Baby to the City by the Bay. And now, in the second year of the 21st Century as the Giants were a handful of outs away from having the demons and ghosts of October's past silenced and exorcised forever...history repeated itself again.

Whoever it was that said "baseball is designed to break your heart" must have been a Giants fan.

Some of us know the feeling all too well.
-- T.M. Kimball
Reno, NV

A word about Scott Spiezio. A fine example of heartland America. Morris, Illinois, population 10,000 -- my home town.
-- Annette Cwik

NORTH RICHMOND
Re: Dave Shiflett's Forget -- Hell, We're Trying To:

I hate to disillusion you about your notion that Richmond was ever not considered by other Virginians to be anything other than an just another Northern Virginia cesspool of rogues and carpetbaggers hustling money, politics and peddling influence. Anyway your "real Virginian" view about not closing the schools was very bold and brave of you since you were not responsible and therefore were comfortably unaccountable. I doubt ole Marse Robert would have long tolerated such fool hearty bravado among his Lieutenants.
-- P.T. Garrett

MIXED MESSAGE
Re: Jed Babbin's Loose Canons:

Per your usage of the Latin phrase "Saddam delendus est."

I looked up the phrase in Eugene Ehrlich's book Amo, Amas, Amat, and More (Harper & Row, 1985) and the closest I could find was "delenda est Carthago." He examines the history of the phrase and states it "survives as an ironic reminder that a ruling clique in a powerful nation can have its way in crushing a helpless rival if it musters the rhetoric to stir irrational passions" (pages 98-99). In your article you spell out the reasons for war, yet you end with a Latin phrase that warns of the manipulative powers possessed by the ruling class. Which message are you sending?

Sincerely,
Jeffrey M. Gnipp
Arlington, VA

Jed Babbin replies: The phrase has nothing to do with the manipulation of a ruling class. Only the historical context you ascribe to it does. The literal meaning, "Saddam must be destroyed," is simply a recognition of the only realistic means of dealing with the threat he poses. I coined the phrase in an attempt to put the context of the Second Iraq War in that of the Punic Wars, in which the original phrase was used by Cato the Censor. I intend only for it to indicate that the same reasoning applies. Wars unfinished will be fought again and again, until they really are done. Regardless of Rome's justification for the Punic Wars, the logic applies to our situation.

TERRY TAKEAWAY
Re: The Washington Prowler's Stone Cold in New York:

Obviously Terry McAuliffe is what Robert Byrd would call a "reneger."
-- Kevin McGehee
Coweta County, GA

IN THE BLACK
Re: Lawrence Henry's Playing With the Band:

I am a 56-year-old who can still play my 48- or 49-year-old all original trumpet. There is nothing like playing those melodies you wrote of. About ten years ago, after dragging piano around the country for years I discovered a great secret that my teachers had failed to teach me -- play the black keys so you can read the music -- and now I can play the ballads and tunes of the ages, with my best the Nat King Cole stuff.

It is a liberating and lifting experience to make music -- thanks for your piece.
-- John Dunn

Lawrence Henry replies: What a wonderful letter! It appears, by the way, that some famous composers, including Billy Strayhorn (whose favorite key was Db), and Irving Berlin (who could only play in F#), could only play the black keys. Something to think about.

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