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Not So Hot

Re: Ryan L. Cole’s Keeping Cool With Coolidge:

While limited government has its advantages, Ryan L. Cole makes a strange choice in arguing for the personal and political merits of Calvin Coolidge. In domestic matters, Coolidge’s response to the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 — or more notably, his lack of a response — left hundreds of thousands of Americans to fend for themselves in makeshift refugee camps. At the same time, his staunch advocacy and enforcement of Prohibition marked an unprecedented expansion of the federal government into the daily lives of ordinary citizens. In foreign affairs, Coolidge is best remembered for the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which may generously be termed a quixotic agreement to outlaw war. Needless to say, it did not work. What Cole sees as Coolidge’s simplicity should better be thought of as a chonic inability to harness the potential of his office, the result of which was the thinnest record of accomplishment of any 20th-century President. When informed of Coolidge’s death, Dorothy Parker is alleged to have asked, “How could they tell?” I cannot fathom what is to be gained from attempting to rehabilitate such an uninspiring figure.
Jacob M. Appel
New York, New York

Mr. R.L. Cole concludes, “Indeed, Coolidge’s qualities — thrift, recognition of the limits of government’s responsibilities and capabilities, and presidential modesty seem positively antiquated today.” But if a man of such beliefs were to have run against The Messiah of the Left, we might not be holding a coranation on January 20th of this year. And certainly the nation would be better off by far.
Ira M. Kessel
Rochester, New York

Re: Matthew Vadum’s De-funder of the Left:

Wow! A lot of left-wing organizations now have to go begging for money because of the Madoff scandal. (Although I must admit, I find it difficult to believe agencies that fund abortion are considered “charities,” but I digress.)

Think of the consequences of this loss to left-wing organizations. How can average Americans be protected if the ACLU isn’t fully funded? Who is going to do all of that community organizing that worked out so well during the last election if ACORN can’t count on funding? This Madoff scandal has clouded the future funding of some very prominent left-wing organizations.

Well, I guess that goes to show that every storm cloud has a silver lining…
Garry Greenwood
Gearhart, Oregon

Doing a little fast math before I head off to work on the Picower Foundation loss with Bernie the Thief…if they had $1B with the Thief Madoff and were getting the sustained 12%+ return that was the flame used to attract all the lefty moths, then the foundation’s take over the 9 years (not counting 2008) was slightly in excess of $1B, of which only $189M was disbursed.

My question is: Where’s the other $800M? My next question is: Should not these foundations be given a fine financial review to see where the money has gone? Realist that I am, I will not be holding my breath while waiting.

Happy, Healthy New Year to you all!
Reid Bogie
Waterbury, Connecticut

Re: The Prowler’s Beyond Bill Richardson:

At least Mr. Richardson had the good manners to recuse himself. I expect that the phrase “vast right-wing conspiracy” will be resurrected very soon, just as soon as the confirmation hearings for Mr. Obama’s cabinet begin.
Greg Mercurio
Vacaville, California


Editor’s note: Because Monday’s Reader Mail was posted late yesterday morning, it’s being held over today. The following letters are from Monday’s edition.

Re: Paul Beston’s Between a Rock and a Sinatra:

I am from Illinois. I met my husband who was a Marine and found he was from N.J.

In my lifetime of 71 years I know/knew three of the most terrific men from N.J.: my Marine Corps pilot husband, now deceased, my middle son, and Ole Blue Eyes.

I can attest to the fact that at least two of my children were conceived with Frank’s music playing in the background. Lovely, simply lovely.
Jo Dermody

Sinatra is really of my parents’ generation, but I was fortunate enough to see him perform twice. The highlight was “My kind of town” on Chicago’s Navy Pier with a deep orange August sun setting behind the skyscrapers. The most appropriate song in the most appropriate setting that didn’t include a lady.
Gary Duff

Paul Beston’s “Between a Rock and a Sinatra” piece ended with a short line that, for me…pretty much defines what music is to a lot of us: It’s a distinctive sound, lyric and personal rhythm that, in many ways, inspired and moved us along as we cruised life’s early food chain and headed toward that basic thing our folks always hoped for: seeing us all grown-up, and staying out of jail.


At the risk of sounding like I have a Ph.D in Fuddy Studies from the University of Barney Fife, our early musical memories, whether from a jukebox, vinyl, c.d. or iPod (or that thing called a radio), tend to hang with us for a lifetime. After all, listen to how many times you hear the good ol’ days bantered around over a cup of coffee and a platter of Mom’s muffins.

Beston wrote: “…it was you who knew better, and your poor old man didn’t know diddly.” Looking ahead a few years, I suspect some hipper-than-thou 17 year-old will be parked in front of the family TV along-side his grizzled ol’ dad; watching one of the 246 music award shows that get prime time every year. Take it to the bank that at some point, ol’ pop will reach up and scritch his graying corn rows, then kind of sneer at his all knowing adolescent: “Man, if you and your pathetic posse think that stuff you’re listenin’ to is music — then you guys don’t know Diddy.”

As The Who once sang: “Talkin’ ’bout my generation.” And as those generations continue their never ending squabble over who’s the hippest and coolest, I guess it all kinda’ depends on…who’s generation your talking about. Yours or…mine?

As much as I like the early-morning, tears-in-beer loneliness of 1950s Sinatra, his voice reminds me that a mobster threatened to kill Tommy Dorsey, to get Sinatra out of his contract with the Dorsey band. A discordant mixture of beauty and immorality — that was Sinatra.
David Govett
Davis, California

It is perhaps one of the indignities of time that Mr. Beston was born in 1966 rather than ten or so years earlier (I was born in 1953). Mr. Beston’s “generation” (for the lack of a better word) came into their teenage years glorying in “London Calling” of Punk Rock. Punk Rock turned out to be a bunch of phonies who, while rightly complaining about stale lifelessness of late 1970’s Rock, themselves could not deliver the goods. What we got was precisely the loud, self-centered, emptiness Beston attributes to Rock. On top of saying Punk Rock was phony, I also lay the charge that it was responsible for the musical backlash of the over-produced/ keyboard/ and drum-machine music that dominated the 1980’s.

As Mr. Beston says, things do not wholly translate well when history is lived backward. I was born during the early years of Rock. Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran and the like had no resonance with me until my twenties.  As far as I was concerned, Rock didn’t begin until the first time I saw The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. In the same way, I suspect Beston doesn’t have the same kind or depth of affection for The Beatles, The Stones, Cream or even Led Zeppelin I have. Likewise, both those born in the 1950’s, 1960’s and afterword have difficulty hearing Sinatra “up close.”

I was never impressed with Sinatra’s hipster, swingin’, Jack-and-CocaCola aura and, to tell you the truth, I’m still not. To my young ears, Sinatra’s music sounded cold and emotionless — a crooner who would sing anything you’d put in front of him whether it meant anything to him or not as long as turned a dollar or two. In this sense, Sinatra is a lot like Bill Evans to jazz piano. One’s first impression of Bill Evans is that he is just another piano player anyone could find in any seedy bar in the rundown parts of town. Then one day, Evans beautiful introspective soul jumps out at you from between the notes and he never sounds mediocre ever again. In the same way, in a private moment one day, Sinatra breaks through and you’ll never hear him the same way again.

Over the past fifteen years, I have quietly brought most of Sinatra’s extant recordings. Often times, Sinatra recorded the same songs he recorded ten years before. Every time, there is something new and a shade underneath the previous record did not anticipate. Some like everything Sinatra: his recordings. TV specials, films, and the various written firsthand accounts by his friends and associates. With the exception of a few of Sinatra’s movies, I’d say we should just stick to his records.

To his friends, there were two Sinatras. The first person was what they called “Sinatra.” That cool, self confident and generous gentleman singer — a man for the women and a man’s man among alpha males. The second Sinatra was “Frank.” “Frank” had considerable overlap with “Sinatra”; but “Frank” was also a crass loudmouth. “Frank” had to have attitude—and not the good kind either.

Maybe his friends thought “Frank” was Frank Sinatra behind the scenes and seen by few. But “Frank” was the Frank Sinatra that clearly came through to me as a boy and then a young man. “Frank’s” loutish excommunication of rock and roll did nothing to help. Only when older did my image of Sinatra soften. It was not so much Sinatra’s music changed (indeed, how could it?); it was that I was older, been around the block a few times, and seen my share of disappointments and failures — my own and those of I grew up with… We always thought we would be better; but what we found out was that we were only human. There is no real point in comparing and contrasting the “art” of Frank Sinatra with that of Rock. It makes as little sense as publishing a monograph on the merits and demerits of jazz measured against Classical music. Country music compared to Jazz for that matter.  Often times such contests are the kiss of death to the “better” music. If I am disappointed in rock music, it is because the music I still love so much from my past hasn’t continued to be created and carried on today. The Beatles, Cream, Traffic and Led Zeppelin are gone.  (And what in the hell happened with the Stones?) I only feel sorrow that many of those rock musicians I enjoy so much are no longer with us. I don’t feel the same way on this anniversary of Sinatra’s death.  If I was forced at the point of a gun to choose, I would not trade “Come Together,” “Gimmie Shelter,” “Sunshine of Your Love,” “Layla” and “Black Dog” for Sinatra’s enter catalogue. The beauty is you don’t have to.

For all his faults, Frank Sinatra was a great man and singer. When he was on good behavior, Sinatra was warm, personal and charming. But then there was that voice and that creative musician. He was a professional in the very best sense of the word. He was touchingly generous while hinting at our most interior lives. At times, he could be sublime. What more could you ask of anyone?
Mike Dooley

Wonderful piece regarding Sinatra. I was born in ’58, and I am steeped in the rock and pop of the 60s and 70s. Much of the music I still love today, and I still find some great new rock music I enjoy very much.

I always respected Frank Sinatra, and loved some of his songs. The lyrics and melody of the haunting “Something Stupid” (sung with Daughter Nancy) stood out for me. Then a friend turned me on to “Sinatra at the Sands — 1966” and everything changed. The original elpee has been recast as a complete concert on CD. For those who are not aware, Mr. Sinatra sings with Count Basie and his orchestra, conducted by a then-upstart, young Quincey Jones. One of many highlights is Sinatra singing “One More For The Road” with Count Basie alone on piano. Beyond beautiful! Beyond genius.

Pop music, like rock music, shows brilliance only fleetingly. Frank Sinatra showed musical brilliance his entire life and it seemed easy for him. Perfectionism wasn’t something he seemed to worry about. He just was, when singing, perfect.
Jimmy Z

Re: Rachel Alexander’s Changing of the Guard:

We have but seen the tip of this iceburg; it will be Titanic in size.
Ken Roberts
Lebanon, Ohio

Is it any wonder that Mr. Obama is hiring incompetents? He’s never had a real job, more than likely not had good mentor/supervisor relationships unless his Grandmother filled that role. He’s making the same mistakes all new supervisors make in staffing by hiring people who are less bright than himself, apparently fearful that they may be smarter or more capable than himself. The MSM will not vet any of his appointments in any meaningful way, and the U.S. will suffer domestically and internationally because of it. I would place a sizeable wager that most of the people who voted for this neophyte spent more time interviewing their current babysitter than they did researching Mr. Obama’s qualifications for the position he will have in 3 weeks. We are in for a very rough patch.
Greg Mercurio
Vacaville, California

Thank you, Rachel, for a concise and accurate summary of our outgoing governor’s résumé. You hit all the high points of her administration, and boy are we glad to be rid of it.
Alan Waters
Phoenix, Arizona

Think about it. What left wing loony is qualified to run Homeland Security? Yep. That’s correct, nary a one. The loonies are good at tearing down the institutions that made this country great. They hate the Christian religion; personal responsibility, initiative, freedoms, and most of all they hate America.

So who better to preside over America’s first nuclear attack? Ms. Napolitano will dither and ditz, make wonderfully resonant speeches and disassemble all the protections Homeland Security now provides.

I’m guessing that by this time next year we all ought to be searching the skies for a mushroom cloud.
Jay Molyneaux
North Carolina

Re: Jordan Allott & Daniel Allott’s Cuba’s Hidden Heroes:

I applaud Jordan and Daniel Allott for their article on behalf of Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, but must point out two errors in the essay: First, Cuba became a signatory to International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights in February of 2008. Cuba not only signed the UN Human Rights Declaration on December 10, 1948 it also had an important role in its drafting. Second, Dr. Biscet’s month of freedom was in November 2002.

In 1945, when Cuba was a democratic republic with an anti-communist government led by Ramon Grau San Martin two very capable diplomats were representing the island nation before the recently created United Nations: thirty-year-old Guy Prez Cisneros , and Ernesto Dihigo, a Cuban law professor whose draft of a human rights declaration was among the first considered when the U.N. Commission on Human Rights began work on what would eventually become the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Not only did they have a great impact at the United Nations but before that Ambassador Dihigo successfully pushed for the Organization of American States to adopt its own American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and to establish an inter-American human-rights court that continues to operate to the present day and in many ways is superior to the UN Human Rights Council. Both charters are an enduring legacy of the Cuban republic and the aspirations of Cuban democrats. Ambassador Prez Cisneros had played a crucial role in the debate to bring about what became the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and actually made the final speech calling on all countries to vote for the declaration.

Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet founded the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights and expanded his focus from strictly pro-life to a defense of the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He organized efforts to distribute copies of the human rights declaration on the streets of Havana. On May 21, 1999 in Havana Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet representing the Lawton Human Rights Foundation along with other Cuban dissident leaders invited Cubans to take action in an open letter stating: “Yesterday we celebrated the birth of the Republic of Cuba, the pride of all Cubans. The ideals of justice and freedom of its founders remain as a goal for the Cuban people. For this reason, next June 7 a group of brothers will raise our voices to demand the observance of human rights and the freedom of political prisoners in our country, with a fast start at 10 am on the above mentioned day and culminating 40 days later in Tamarindo 34 apartment 5 []in the city of Havana.”

The 40-day-fast was successfully carried out despite repression, intimidation, and state security operations carried out by the dictatorship. Approximately, 2,093 people visited the apartment “to join in the fast or offer their support,” and 42 opposition groups in other cities staged sympathy fasts. According to Dr. Biscet the purpose of the fast “was not to lose weight or to chat. It was a fast to protest against the violation of human rights in Cuba and to demand the release of political prisoners.” Oscar Elias added that Cuban authorities “did not assault us directly — they only cut off the electricity in this building — but they did mistreat many of our visitors.

On December 6, 2002 police re-arrested Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, who had been released on October 31, 2002 after serving 3 years. The authorities arrested Biscet and 16 others to prevent them from holding a seminar on human rights education and nonviolent civil disobedience. The authorities later released 12 of the detainees, but charged Biscet, his associate Raul Arencibia Fajardo, and two others with public disorder, which carries a sentence of up to one year. On April 10, 2003 following the March 2003 crackdown Dr. Biscet was charged and sentenced to 25-years in prison although he had already been in custody since December 6. He is still imprisoned today, an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience.

The dictatorship views the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a subversive document and has presented possession of it as evidence in trials against Cuban dissidents during the March 2003 show trials. That is why it is so important to not overlook the role played by a democratic Cuba in the creation of this document and its ratification in 1948 to contrast that with the thuggish behavior of the dictatorship today.people who may believe in God, but are being taught that he is irrelevant.
John Suarez
Free Cuba Foundation

Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.’s Proportional Israel:

“They have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” — Winston Churchill, visiting bombed Coventry (comes from Hosea 8:7)

This thing of “proportionality” is a child’s, or an idiot’s, idea of warfare. It’s Rachel Maddow’s idea of warfare: “First of all, there’s the question of proportionality as to how many people those rockets have killed versus how many people the Israeli bombing has now killed.”

So according to that imbecile, “You’re only entitled by the rules to kill as many of them, as they killed of you. Once you reach that number, the whistle blows, the game ends, time out, go back to home base.”

By liberal rules, after Pearl Harbor, we would have been entitled by the rules to kill a few thousand Japanese, and then the war would have ended. On what planet do things work like that?

The question for liberals is really, how to get the country they hate — Israel — from retaliating against the people they love — the Palestinians. So liberals like Maddow busy themselves inventing sophistries, double-talk, and evasions to support their bias. Israel is our ally; therefore liberals oppose every action Israel takes in her own behalf. Israel shares our Judeo-Christian heritage, instead of medieval heathenism — therefore the heathen liberals oppose Israel. And they lie, lie, lie. That’s American liberal journalism today.
Larry Eubank

The current Israeli attack on Hamas is comparable with the U.S. surge in Iraq, rather than with the previous Israeli attack. It is successfully killing Hamas leadership and armed personnel on a daily basis with virtually no Israeli casualties and with reduced civilian casualties.  

The reason for this difference is new Israeli smart bomb technology which allows Israel to deliver a 100-pound bomb with the destructive effect of a 1,000-pound bomb and to hit specific targets with extreme accuracy.

The result is that Hamas and its supporters are now desperate to obtain a cease-fire that will enable them to declare another “victory” because of their survival.  This time, however, Israel does not wish or need a cease-fire:  it does not need to escape from a costly and not really successful ground military operation, it needs to continue until its surge is successful.

As with the U.S. surge in Iraq, those opposed to Israeli operations are claiming it can never succeed and its failure is inevitable, but, as with the US surge, if we wish the hostilities to end on at least a semi-permanent basis, we must support the current Israeli surge. It has never been a problem to end Israeli attacks responding to Hamas violence. But Hamas has never actually stopped its missile attacks and has always used any cease-fire to declare “victory” and to improve its missile capabilities.

We should support this Israeli “surge” and not award Hamas another false “victory” by its survival. Nor should we treat Israeli responses to ongoing Hamas provocations and violence directed solely against Israeli civilians as equivalent to those provocations and violence. 
Richard Udell

Re: Paul Beston’s The Usual Suspects:


Every few years we slip and fall
For new phrases. Our language, after all,
Loves idiom and slides with ease
Into what’s new and catchy, “but, please!”.

Must we start every sentence with “I mean”?
It’s time for “24/7” to leave the scene.
Remember saying “how nice a day”
Without the needless “of a” getting in the way?

“Yeah, right?” exists in modern repartee.
What it means is some kind of mystery.
“A thrill down my leg” can’t be thought of as wit.
“At the end of the day” will hang around for a bit.

I suppose “like” and “ex-cetera” are here to stay,
And “ya know” for stumblers won’t go away.
The most amazing people are caught in their sway,
(Even news anchors have been known to stray).

Listing this year’s preferences can be fun.
“With all due respect,” “betcha” you’ve got more than one!
Mimi Evans Winship

Re: Peter Ferrara’s What Conservatives Must Now Do:

Very, very good  article!

I am sending an e-mail that I sent to every important Republican that I could find the e-mail address for. I did it after the 2006 disaster.

An open letter to the R.N.C.

Educate Via Ads

I strongly believe that the RNC and/or conservative groups should advertise. The ads must be run well in advance of the political season. I strongly believe that this advertising should be simple, attractive, and upbeat. These ads should quote from the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the writings of great Americans. They should celebrate important people and events in American history, the ads should present the real facts about big picture issues, (the economy, the family and immigration) and reveal the truth behind common liberal rhetoric (e.g. government spending = tax payer dollars). The government creates no wealth, just redistributes it. Our citizenry needs to understand that “Free health care” is not FREE.

The left plays the envy/race card with: “tax cuts for the ‘rich.’” The ‘rich,’ the top 50% of the population, pay 96.54% of the taxes, and the top 1% pay 34.17%. Americans value fair play, and the fact that we over-tax the producers and reward the non-producers goes against our country’s most basic beliefs.

These ads should NOT focus on narrow policy debates or highly controversial issues (e.g., capital gains tax cuts, abortion), but should be aimed at promoting core conservative values of limited government, private property, free enterprise, personal responsibility, strong national defense, and patriotism. The ads must be rigorously nonpartisan. Any open party affiliation will undermine the integrity of the message. Cultural and political transformation, not partisan point scoring, must be the touchstone. The ads must have a website attached for further information.

Both parties spend 10’s of millions on ads at election time. Don’t wait until election time. Educate the citizenry about true conservatism before election time and you won’t have worry at the polls. Conservatives are working at saving our nation. Ronald Reagan will NOT be riding in to save our country. Why not use what he did best? Go straight to the people over the head of the MSM. How can you hear the line: America, the shining city on the hill and not feel proud to be American. Or, how can you not have a tear in your eye when you hear the line: These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. Americans want to feel good about their country. You will be making converts for life. We are not selling people/candidates, we are selling ideas!

It can be done with advertising.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and Happy New Year, 2009 (the year we bring conservatism back from the wilderness). God bless you and all at the Spectator.
Larry Jordan
New Bern, North Carolina

In the area of “communicating the message,” I want to throw in my analysis of Obama’s victory. Hans Christian Andersen wrote, in “The Emperor’s New Suit,” updated that for the recent election:

One day two swindlers came to this commonwealth; they made people believe they were the makers of a new order, and that they could make the finest changes this country could imagine. Their changes were not only beautiful, but full of hope. But this hopey changey new world order would only be invisible to anyone who was unfit, stupid, racist or bigoted.

The two swindlers made sure to repeat the message over and over, saying, “The only reason you wouldn’t buy our new order, is you’re stupid, racist, and bigoted against people not like you.” When no one attacked them or criticized their merchandise, they were reduced to making mock attacks on themselves. They imitated how those stupid, racist, bigoted opponents would attack them if they did attack them: “Oh, and have you heard? Their changes and hopes are invisible!”

So huge crowds shouted back, “We’re not like those stupid bigoted ones! We see your beautiful new hopey changes!” The whole populace, in order to prove they were not stupid, racist and bigoted, ran headlong to grant acceptance to the swindlers’ merchandise. And they gave a huge beneficent gift to the swindlers, in advance, that they should set to work without any loss of time.

The moral is: people will fall for any kind of stupid crap, and believe anything, if you first convince them that believing it is a sign of great inner moral worth and goodness. That’s the whole key to understanding liberals.
Larry Eubank

Re: Christopher Orlet’s Myth of the Secular West:

Ms. Scalia’s essay is accurate, but inarticulate in a post-modern world. Her use of the word “faith” presumes a theistic world-view. So Mr. Orlet is attacking the wrong thing when he says that she is wrong because America is religious. We are religious, but most people do not have a coherent or consistent theistic world-view. The enlightenment was largely humanistic with a deistic flair, and our current secularism is the fruit of that foundation. And the secularists have made sure we do not actually have separation of church and state. Our current public school system is actually a state-church according to the Establishment Clause and the Supreme Court ruling in Welsh vs. US. We are educating agnostics — people who may believe in God, but are being taught that he is irrelevant.
Rev. Jim Whittle
Douglasville, Georgia

Re: Tom Bethell’s The Good War? Maybe Not:

Mr. Bethell: While a case can be made that the alliance with Poland was a foolish exercise, it ignores the real issue:  Poland should never have become the flashpoint of the War. Beginning in 1933, Hitler made it well known what his plans were and in fact began carrying out much of them. His speeches, published writings and actions all pointed to a determination to rebuild the German empire and seek revenge on the perpetrators of the Versailles Treaty. Yet every tangible step he took in open violation of treaties and international law was met with a wink and a nod giving him license to move further toward his goal. Even he was surprised by the lack of any tangible reaction to his moves.

The bottom line is he could have been stopped many years before Poland became an issue and in due course perhaps overthrown or defeated by the German people in an election. If we assume that England et al. should have ignored any alliance with Poland and allowed Hitler to conquer it unopposed then at what point and at what cost in the future would the western democracies confront the most powerful military power in the world armed perhaps with nuclear weapons and controlled by a madman?

It is quite easy to sit in comfort seventy years from the events and view them through a prism of today but to those who died or managed to survive the worst of the War the fault does not lie in whether Poland should have been defended or foolish alliances made, but why did those who had the power impose Versailles on the German people and why did they not stop a madman from fomenting a World War.irrelevant.
Stephen J. McCann
Salisbury, Maryland

Re: Quin Hillyer’s Unsurprising Bigotry:

I wonder if there exists a divine causality between decreased religiosity and falling newspaper sales. Could the god of newsprint be angry?
David Govett
Davis, California

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