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Scurvy Knaves

Re: Roger Kaplan’s Piracy Then and Now:

The main difference between piracy then and piracy now is those who were pirated then were willing to take it right into Tripoli. What chance of that happening now?
Robert Nowall
Cape Coral, Florida

Re: Christopher Orlet’s Crisis of Faith:

I have to disagree with a basic premise of Mr. Orlet’s column. There is no identity crisis in American Catholicism. The doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church are clear and unambiguous. The most important of them, after obedience to and reverence for God, are those that deal with the sanctity of life. There is no debate and none is possible on these matters. An identity crisis is a debate over how a group will conduct and purport themselves. No such crisis exists. Catholic doctrine is not up for debate.  

And yet there is a crisis among us. It is a multitude of individual crises among the members of the Church who can’t, won’t, or don’t follow the Church’s teachings. That these people are not true to their faith is their identity crisis, not the Church’s. Those people should engage in prayer, reflection, and study. They should open themselves to the light of Christ’s truth and love for them. Only then can they resolve their own conflicts and follow in Christ’s footsteps. In one important regard, the Catholic Church is no different than the Lions Club or any other organization. If you agree with what the group believes in, then you are a true member of the group. But don’t claim to be a member of the group, but act in variance to the group’s core beliefs. I don’t insist that everyone be a Catholic; but if you are going to call yourself a Catholic, you must follow Rome. And Rome is very clear. Since the time Our Lord walked the Earth, and even before, abortion is murder and murder is a sin most heinous.
Marco Pizer

As a Catholic American I have often contemplated the subject of your article. It seems to me there are two philosophies at odds in this debate I carry on in my heart and mind. The first is my faith. It is deeply important to me and provides the core of my identity and behavior. Then there is another deeply respected doctrine in the actual fibre of myself as an American. The separation of church and state. 

These are always in opposing tension. I want to live by the dictates of my faith. But I truly believe that I can only impose those standards on the public at large by what is to me the crystal clarity of their moral superiority. I ought not to try to impose any on people by force of law because that creates a theocracy which is what drove my ancestors from a Protestant England.

My solution is one I have structured, believe in, and follow strictly. I will never vote for a pro-abortion candidate because I believe abortion violates God’s commandments. Period. If Catholics I am in contact with let me know they have voted pro-abortion, I suggest to them that a) they should leave the Church, and b) that I will pray for the souls they have murdered and theirs as well. I have also been in the Communion line with them and I do let the priest know they are pro-abortion and ought not to be given Communion. (The radical anti-abortion groups have similar failings. They use violence to achieve their goals so I eschew them as well as the faux Catholics.) 

This is my personal solution to a moral dilemma. Not perfect but then neither am I.
Jay Molyneaux
North Carolina 

Re: Eric Peters’s Fixing GM in Three Easy Steps:

Well, I’ve only owned one American car in my life, and the experience convinced me of the innate superiority of Japanese cars — particularly Hondas. Shortly after my second child was born, a neighbor moved out to Singapore on business, and sold me his 1996 Dodge Grand Caravan for a song. The ten years I owned that thing were a litany of miseries, most notably the transmission, which was evidently carved out of a block of Swiss cheese (actually, it was a car transmission that was not robust enough to take the weight of a minivan). I had to replace the damned thing twice. But, on vacations, we sometimes had to rent a minivan to haul the family and gear around after flying in to a destination, which gave me the opportunity of driving all three versions of the Daimler-Chrysler best-seller; the Pymouth Voyager, the Dodge Caravan, and the Chrysler Town and Country. I now understand the logic behind multiple labels for the same car–it removed any need to exercise quality control over suppliers. Rather, as the parts come in, they are inspected and dumped into three bins. The best parts go to the quality brand, the mediocre parts to the mainline brand, and the inferior parts to the “economy” brand.

Observations seem to confirm this theory. The Voyager was indeed the cheesiest of the three–not only was the interior knocked together out of cheap plastic, the cheap plastic did not even fit properly, while most of the accessories either did not work, or did not work well (remember, this is a rental car with all the bells and whistles). The Caravan I knew all too well. While the interior appointments had a certain degree of solidity, the actual moving parts tended not to fit well, and the automotive components were junk, particularly the transmission and the suspension (which caused the van to wallow like a barge, even on upgraded springs). The Town and Country had a nice interior — faux wood paneling, all electrical doors and windows, a better stereo, a heater that actually heated and an air conditioner that actually cooled – -but still, I would describe it as a barely adequate minivan.

I say this because a couple of years ago I bought a 2002 Honda Odyssey, which was a real eye-opener. I’ve owned several Civics dating back to 1979, and each was a pleasure to drive. All the controls fall right to hand; the vehicles handle well and give a good, fun ride; they are economical to own, and reliable as all get-go. Stepping into the Honda van was like stepping into a slightly bigger and taller Civic. Not only did it feel like a Civic, it handled like one, too, with lots of power, and a transmission that actually matched the vehicle. I had the Odyssey and the Caravan both for a year, and drove both (though my wife insisted on the Honda whenever she wanted to go somewhere.

We later sold the Caravan and got a Honda CRV for my daughter, which it turns out is one of the really fun small SUVs. Now that my daughter is off at school, my wife drives it most of the time, leaving me with the Odyssey. I’d prefer more time behind the wheel of the CRV, but at least I am not driving that clunker of a Dodge. And, when the kids are gone for good, I am saving up my pennies for a Civic Si Hatchback (I think I’ve earned a midlife crisis car).

So, as far as I am concerned, the Big Three can go pound sand. I won’t miss them in the least, since I will never buy another one of their products as long as I live. If they go belly-up, so what? Honda, Toyota and Nissan will buy up their assets, move their factories to some productive state, and build more decent cars right here in the states. They’ll be built in America by American workers, for American consumers — so from my perspective, they are American cars.
Stuart Koehl
Falls Church, Virginia

Right on the money, except for the parts about the unions not being the problem, and that sub-par workers get fired. I’ve worked in unions for almost 30 years, and the lack of productivity by many of its members not only is widespread and costly, but it is difficult to fire them, due to onerous union rules.
Dale Mader

Re: David Mark’s After Allard:

It’s terrific that Senator Wayne Allard is showing interest in the position of President of Colorado State University.

His eager submission of application and his lining up with other qualified candidates for the interview shows his agreeable willingness to follow the great American way of protocol.

Perhaps if accepted by the CSU Board of Governors, he’ll be able to convince The Nature Conservancy to return some of the millions of dollars he secured for them (To partner with the U.S. Army in purchasing land in South East Colorado.)

It is our understanding that because the Army indicated they’d exercise eminent domain, TNC withdrew their co-partner capacity, leaving them with several million of those dollars un-used.

Since the TNC was the recipient of tax-payer dollars anyway, it’d be totally acceptable if they returned it to us via educating our young at Colorado State University. Or, while he’s still our U.S. Senator, he could persuade TNC to do that… regardless.
Chuck & Roni Sylvester
La Salle, Colorado

Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.’s Interesting Times Are Here Again:

Oh, dear me, here I am disagreeing with Mr. Tyrrell. I’m doomed, I tell you, doomed!

My British friends who read this will be rolling around the floor gasping for breath and holding their sides from unstoppable paroxysms of hysterical laughter.

Gordon Brown a model for economists? Hardly.

Now, is there such a thing as a “negative model”?
A. C. Santore

I almost fell out of my chair reading your endorsement of Gordon Brown. That man is the economic equivalent of Attila the Hun: He has spent years destroying individual and corporate wealth on a massive scale. He has taxed, borrowed and squandered unimaginable amounts of wealth, turned the public finances of his country into a horror movie, destroyed the pensions of millions of his own citizens and his regulatory failures have resulted in financial catastrophe for the whole British financial sector. Congratulating Gordon Brown is like calling a arsonist a model citizen for calling the fire department to report a burning building that he set on fire himself — what on earth were you smoking at the time.?
America will have more than enough to worry about with the economic policies of Barack Obama — recommending Gordon Brown as a role model isn’t throwing gasoline on the flames, it is throwing the contents of an entire tank farm. Take a long, cold shower before writing your next recommendation is my advice.
Christopher Holland
Canberra, Australia

The Chinese have a curse, “May you live in interesting times.” With the financial bailout, world wide recession and the election of the rawest and most inexperienced man (of any color or stripe) times are about to become down right fascinating.
Ira M. Kessel
Rochester, New York

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