WRIGHT OR WRONG
Re: Jay D. Homnick’s All Is Not Wright:
It is at least arguable, as Homnick asserts, that religious people and others in structured disciplines are fools when it comes to political opinion.
But one thinker (Heilbruner?) put it differently. He said that any trained expert (academic specialist) tends to mistakenly think that he-she also has valuable opinions in any other field. After all, he knows he-she is intelligent.
The results — one might surmise and the thinker seemed to say — are that the expert might turn out to be more biased than others in that other field or area of human thought or activity, or at least more blindly and stubbornly opinionated.
Even the case of Linus Pauling might not be an exception. He excelled and was honored in several fields of science and also almost won the race to discover DNA besides. But he was badly mistaken, if not obsessive, about Vitamin C as a remedy or preventative for the cold. And — cf. Homnick, I admit — his judgment in political matters was at least questionable, though surely extremely strongly held. This adds another angle to the old saw about academics learning more and more about less and less: they don’t know what they don’t know and think they do know — Rumsfeld’s Unknown Unknowns — but Thought Known.
Even when it might be argued that a judgment is within one’s field, there can be blindness. Jesuit theologian-philosopher Fr. Bernard J.F. Lonergan identified three distinct thought-worlds: theory (in all its forms, including science, theology, and philosophy), common sense, transcendence (religion, Mystery). When the Challenger was launched, common sense might have questioned a launch during bad weather. Reagan drew upon language about transcendence, not about theory or common sense, to help the nation through the tragic explosion. And the contribution about frozen O-rings by a major renegade scientist to the panel investigating the explosion seemed to owe more to common sense than to abstruse scientific theory.
Psychology Today once mentioned a test about who makes the best jurors (best in the sense of more open to the truth). It turned out that scientists tested poorly. They were too biased to be open to the truth. The least biased and most open to the truth? Religious ministers.
— Richard L.A. Schaefer
Mr. Homnick misses the main point of the Rev. Wright controversy. Few informed people, be they of the left or right contingent believe that Mr. Obama shares the views of this extreme cartoon character. However, many feel that for twenty years, Obama used the Rev. Wright and his church to build his political machine in South Chicago and now his disgust for this low-level pastor is evident. We also feel that in the same manner he is now using the media and the American public as he claws his way to money and power. One gets the feeling from his remarks that he and Michelle do not like most of the great unwashed Americans, be they white or black. It is becoming more apparent that he is just another politician, albeit smoother and more clever than most in contorting to the masses expectations.
— Bill Cramer
Jay Homnick’s point, that he, like Barack Obama, knows “a number of people whose religious views and behaviors impress me a great deal, yet they are political fruitcakes,” misses a critical point, which he himself makes in his opening paragraph. The issue is not whether we all have friends and acquaintances who hold the occasional bizarre opinion.
The issue is what we do when they express them.
In citing the story of the Jewish law scholar whose students used a parable in order to restrain his asides, Mr. Homnick demonstrates a course of action that never seems to have occurred to Barack Obama, who blithely sat in his pew for over twenty years while the Reverend Wright spewed his venomous harangues. When, exactly, did he attempt to get his pastor to moderate his political rants? What parable did he use to express to Reverend Wright that perhaps the United States government did not deliberately introduce AIDS into minority communities? What story of the Bible did he read to his spiritual mentor in order to show him that America was not a terrorist state, or that God should not be damning us? When did he take a stand against the vicious slanders that his pastor shouted from the pulpit? Where is the record of Sen. Obama’s objection to these statements? Where is the video of him standing up in the pew and rebutting his pastor’s slanders of the nation? When did he walk out of the church? When did he inform the leadership that the reverend’s statements were unacceptable? When did the senator, who is known for his eloquence and passion, bring that eloquence and passion to bear in defense of his country’s reputation? That is the issue that Reverend Wright’s sermons have raised, and that is the issue that they would very much like us not to discuss.
— Mike Harris
MAJ, US Army
Jay Homnick suggests, “If a rabbi is wrong about politics, that does not make him a fool.” What it makes the rabbi is not so much a fool as an impostor. The fool is probably the student still listening to the rabbi once he ventures from Talmud to politics.
Experts who claim the cover of credentials, while straying from their field of expertise, are deceivers and should be confronted. Nowhere is it more egregious than with men of the cloth, whether rabbi, minister, bishop, lama, swami, or ayatollah. Abusing one’s spiritual commission to flog a political agenda goes beyond foolish into sinful. When Jeremiah Wright, or Homnick’s rabbi, purports that his religious scholarship makes him an authority on politics (or economics, history, medicine, literature, biology, statistics, etc.), it compounds his foolishness with deception. He is now a charlatan. All honest folk ought to castigate him.
The same goes for Mr. Homnick’s friends “of high intellect and moral probity who believe conspiracy theories,” of whom he notes, “It takes an effort of will to overlook these craters of bad judgment.” Instead of overlooking them, making the same error that Barack Obama did with Wright, Homnick might consider politely inviting his friends to put up or shut up. He may not convince them they are wrong, but allowing them to go unchallenged is enabling behavior, which carries its own burden of responsibility. That Obama is paying a political price for his own enabling role should arouse not empathy, but scorn. He isn’t a victim, he’s a fool.
— James Bono
THINGS HAVE CHANGED
I wish in time I could go back
To before I elevated Barack.
I caucused for him.
He made my heart spin.
Of self assurance I had no lack.
But that was then, and this is now.
My great hopes are faltering. And How!
The man behind the curtain appears,
Manipulating unmeshing gears.
Worry lines have creased by brow.
What a mess! This is insane!
Doubts are tearing through my brain.
The lady is strong,
But she is wrong.
I have no choice. I’ll vote McCain!
— Mimi Evans Winship
In Rev. Wright, we are dealing, not with Trotsky or even Shaka Zulu, but with Elmer Gantry. He is not stating his religion. Quite possibly not his own beliefs, even. He is hustling. The “info-tainment” infection we complain of in the news media has long afflicted the pulpit, too. How do you attract and keep parishioners? With ecumenical showbiz: Ecu-tainment. Give ’em sock-o sermons, marches, speeches, an arena without the lions.
Spice your act with radicalism, that never-fail opiate of the elites. Give ’em their tithe’s worth, and put your pews on the A-list. A national press tour? Hallelujah! The Obama flap is publicity the Reverend gentleman couldn’t buy, and if he isn’t promoted to bishop for it, he’s resting on his laurels.
What we have here is a cabaret act, carefully pitched to the secret itch of the powers that be. It reinforces the liberals’ narrative: nothing but angry victimized blacks, all present and correct. And gives them their favorite peep show of guilt, violence to come and corporate conspiracy to blame for it. The Apocalypse is coming after all, only it’ll be the Revolution and it’ll be ours. But take heart. The leaders of these hostile hordes can be dealt with, given the right entitlements and programs. And they’re available to speak at lunch engagements.
And when the whooping is over, after the Rev has defied the wickedness without on everyone’s behalf? Everybody leaves, suitably inspired go right on doing what they were doing before. And Wright drives home, through the lighted streets of this nation that’s supposedly out to kill him and all his kind. To a house worth two million bucks.
— Martin Owens
For all his rabbinical wisdom-mongering, it appears that Jay Homnick is more than a little naive regarding the matter of Obama/Wright.
Obama was more than receptive to Wright’s ideas twenty years ago and more. His books reek of resentment and narcissism — with the belief that white privilege has denied him his just desserts. Indeed, the idea that someone of his meager record could even think of running for President gives excellent insight into how ego-driven he is, not to say how paranoid. He has chosen to believe that he deserves the highest secular honor American society has to offer, which it is attempting to deny to him for purely racist motives.
As for Wright, the question is to what extent he truly believes the racist nonsense he spouts, and to what extent he has taught himself to believe it. He, like many black (and white!) agitators before him, going back at least to Adam Clayton Powell, has found the route to worldly success via preaching — preaching not so much the Gospel but self-satisfying excuses his parishioners want to hear. It has paid off well for him, gaining a huge increase in church membership and a more than huge increase in his fortune.
But the idea that Wright has somehow Pied Piper-like led little Barack toward the evil river of racism is giving him far more credit than he deserves. The seed of hate (to switch metaphors) fell on fertile ground. Obama was more than ready to have his resentment enhanced and buttressed by Wright’s particular brand of “Black Theology.” Homnick need have no sympathy for Obama — the man has been a more-than-willing participant in the blame-America propaganda.
And now, as Jeremiah so appropriately put it, the fowls have returned to the coop.
— Richard Donley
New Lyme, Ohio
I would be very interested to know who you are talking about? In your discussion of the rabbi’s political opinions.
If I was sitting in a synagogue for 20 years, and the rabbi was a certifiable lunatic, I think I would leave.
— Stuart Bornstein
In regards to Sen. Obama’s troubles concerning Reverend Wrong, all I can say is: “The chickens are coming home to roost!”
— James Van Alstyne
Las Vegas,, Nevada
OUR MAN IN CARACAS
Re: Clinton W. Taylor’s Dunderhead Diplomat:
How can the United States ever have a coherent and unified foreign policy, when this country has, Bill Richardson, Nancy Pelosi, and Jimmy Carter jetting all over the world interfering with a sitting President’s foreign policy agenda?
So members of the Legislative Branch and a former President take it upon themselves to talk directly with dictatorial despots, and known murderers of American citizens. It is as if these legislators and the peanut farmer are so sightless within their own vanities that they are not capable to fathom and or recognize the damage that they are doing with their freelancing foreign policy.
Jimmy Carter, Nancy Pelosi, and Bill Richardson should not constitutionally be allowed to meddle in affairs that are normally left to the State Department, and guided by the President’s direction. They may have the best intentions in their own convoluted way, but when a country is at war, good intentions have been known to get Americans killed. A quote by Benjamin Franklin sums this situation up best. “A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.”
— Melvin L. Leppla
Jacksonville, North Carolina
Who can save us from the Richardson Juggernaut in the next State Department? That’s easy: John McCain.
— Andrew J. Macfadyen, M.D.
THE “G” WORD
Re: Lawrence Henry’s The “W” Word:
I would like to profoundly thank Mr. Henry for his column. He has taken as his sermon a quirk of our modern society that absolutely drives me up the wall. We might as well be speaking and writing in text message language. Why bother learn spelling. We only need to know what letter a word starts with. Come to think of it, a large percentage of our citizens really can’t spell correctly anyway. Oh, and that doesn’t even start to talk about the people that don’t know when to use the correct form of “there,” “their,” and “they’re,” or any of the similar spelling/definitional differences of words in the English language.
I do have one small nit to pick. The use of the word “gay” has gotten totally out of hand. Mr. Henry writes of “‘gay marriage.'” I thought that ALL marriages were supposed to be “gay” events. Unfortunately, Mr. Henry is writing about homosexual couples getting married. I have had occasion to become acquainted with quite a number of homosexuals in my life, both biologically male and biologically female. It has almost universally been my experience that they are “gay” a good deal less frequently and to a lesser degree than the heterosexual population at large. Simply put, there is nothing “gay” about most of them. Could you, Mr. Henry, get some remediation on the misuse of that perfectly good English word. If so, it would definitely improve the gaiety of my day.
— Ken Shreve
Lawrence Henry replies: That’s why I put the phrase in quotes.
TOLERANCE IS FOR SOFTIES
Re: Christopher Orlet’s Sense and Sensitivity:
“Wilders is no friend of freedom either; he has advocated the banning of the Koran and other Islamic books and on more than one occasion suggested that the Dutch constitution and European Convention on Human Rights should be suspended to protect citizens from Islamic extremism.”
This is a common, but fundamental, misunderstanding of Wilders’s philosophical and practical position. What is the point of being “for freedom” if it means allowing a group that is fundamentally antagonistic to freedom to slowly destroy freedom’s ground?
What Wilders has concluded is that Islam is incompatible with the Western idea of freedom. Therefore, it is simply a matter of self-preservation to delimit the influence of Islam. This is what Orlet, and many in the West, simply do not (or will not) understand.
— Michael Presley
Re: Eric Peters’s Plug In — And Pay Up:
Sorry, Eric, the Prius doesn’t work either. My ’99 GMC PU has a lower overall cost. Which is also true, the PU, when compared to my wife’s Lexus 430 LS. It is not true (the PU) when compared her ’93 Buick Park Avenue or ’90 Buick Reatta.
— Stan Bennett
Mr. Peters claims that a $40,000 hybrid is “probably going to run you around $500 per month, for four or five years. Maybe six.”
Uh, no sale. At $500 per month in five years you have paid only $30,000 — assuming you had a no interest loan. It also assumes you had a $10,000 down payment.
Let’s assume you get a 5-year loan, make a 10% down payment, and get a really generous 5% interest rate. By my calculations that works out to payments of around $660 per month.
Gee, maybe $5 per gallon put into my (paid for) 2000 jeep wrangler really is a better deal after all.
— Garry Greenwood
As far as your view that hybrids are not a good idea, there is no argument there, that is your opinion. First and most important it is a well-known fact that our electrical grid could handle millions of electric vehicles being plugged in at night before any strain was put on the grid.
I thought it was strange that you only took the economic aspect into account in your article. What about getting America off of foreign oil? There are peaceniks that love the idea of not having to deal with Middle East countries anymore. Personally I myself am pissed off that the technology for all electric cars has been proven 20 years ago and yet the automakers claim it’s not possible or in demand. I find it a tragedy that automakers were allowed to dismantle public transportation in every major city and now they are getting paid off by the oil companies to keep using oil. Phev’s are the first step towards all electric cars.
You say that you could power your car with “solar arrays” for free? Show me where they’re handing out solar panels for free! There is an initial investment with solar panels. BTW do some research on solar power. There are huge advances being made with solar panels and prices are dropping. Soon it will be cheaper to use pv’s then to burn coal. Solar thermal is just as promising.
I personally believe that world oil production has peaked and even if it hasn’t peaked yet the huge demand from China and India will keep gas prices climbing. So $5 a gallon may end up being a conservative number
I almost forgot: every time I see a price mentioned for the Chevy Volt they say it will be priced at 30k so I don’t know where you got the 40 — 45k, but let’s hope it’s closer to 30.
I read with interest Eric Peters article that claimed poor economics for plug-in vehicles. Most of his math was accurate enough, unfortunately like most gigantic blunders — he made the mistake by basing them on false assumptions. GM has NEVER said that the Volt would cost $40,000 to $45,000 to produce over its lifespan. They have said that the car would initially be a money loser at $30,000, which I might add, is a long way from Peters’ imaginary $45,000 price tag, or his equally absurd claim that it would cost $30,000 more than an equivalent gas-powered job. Peters obviously hasn’t been following the development of this car. He is quite clearly not in possession of the knowledge required to write such an article. Any knowledge he may possess of gas powered cars is of no value in making estimates of EVs.
It has been widely reported that Lutz noted that a large portion of the increased price over the original (“nicely under $30,000”) that he provided is due mostly to ignorance about exactly how much that 10 year battery warranty that GM is putting on the Volt will actually cost. Since these batteries haven’t even been around for 10 years, such costs are based on manufacturer’s estimates and GM must increase the battery warranty costs in such uncertainty. It could very well be true that the Volt’s true price for those initial cars will turn out to be closer to $25,000 than $40,000.
Peters main blunder, however, is that he assumes those battery costs will continue at their very high level (about $10,000). That’s totally absurd — A123 Systems (which, along with Continental AG) is one of the competing battery companies, has publicly said that battery costs will fall quite a lot over the next 5 years — perhaps to match the price of NiMH batteries, which cost about 1/4 of those in the Volt. That would decrease not only the price of the battery pack, but its warranty costs as well, and provide a vehicle very competitive with a gas powered job, which would make it far more economical in the short and (especially) the long run.
As to the Prius, the Volt uses about 12 times less gasoline than that car when used as a commuter and for most activities. When it comes to reducing either emissions or oil dependencies and oil based deficits, the Prius is simply not competitive with the Volt.
This points to the main reasons people are enthusiastic about the VOLT — it can easily avoid gasoline altogether — the methanol we produce and will produce over the next decade are far greater than the liquid gas requirements of a fleet of Volts.
Talking about the Volt purely in terms of (incorrect personal economics) is Peters’s other big blunder. We are just as much committed in this country to avoiding dangerous foreign oil, which is the major funding mechanism for terrorists, as we are to reducing carbon emissions from electricity production. The fact that there will be costs above what we now pay is irrelevant. And not sending all those billions to foreigners for their oil is a big economic plus. Peters’ main problem in understanding the plug-in situation is that he narrowly casts it in terms of personal economics, and uses bogus economic data
in doing so.
— Kent Beuchert
When anything new comes out it will always be expensive no matter what the product is. We have to start somewhere, some time. The whole country will not be switching to plug in overnight, not to mention the surplus power at off peak. We seem to crunch the numbers on these new products and never figure in the costs to the security of the country, fighting over oil, and what it’s doing to our economy. People who have the money should feel encouraged to purchase these products, use them, and trade them in at a discounted cost for others to use, all the while allowing the country to use less oil. Hype is a start, trying something new is a start, buying the next generation of automobile is a start.
Automobiles get more expensive every year, why do we have to beat this payback to death? What’s the payback on extra cup holders, self-parking, 20″ rims, and GPS? What’s the payback on clean air, free trip to mall, dinner, school, national security? No one ever figures in the additional mileage some one would use if they didn’t have to buy gas.
Perhaps let’s just do nothing and hope for the best, or better yet, wait till some other solution comes up? Oh, sorry, that’s where we are now.
— Don Borkowski
Yes, the GM Volt will initially cost “serious coin.” But here’s hoping there are enough “early adopters” to keep the manufacture of such cars going.
A lot of technologies would have withered on the vine if it hadn’t been for a small, select set of early adopters. Think of the many computer-related devices, which were so expensive when first produced. Here’s just one example (quoting Wikipedia):
“The first laser printer for IBM Compatible personal computers was introduced in 1984 by HP as the LaserJet….It was a 300-dpi, 8 ppm printer that sold for $3,495.”
I think electric, plug-in cars offer a solid opportunity for eliminating some — not all, but a significant amount — of our demand for petroleum. That’s assuming the spoiled brats of the environmental (or industry-obstructing) movement can be overruled so as to allow us to build more nuclear power plants.
— Larry Eubank
RACE TO THE FINISH
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.’s The Tragedy of Campaign ’08:
Obama has been using race from the beginning. When Bill Clinton characterized his anti-war stance as a fairy tale, the Obama campaign screamed racism, even though his voting to fund the war makes the criticism debatable. When Geraldine Ferraro said Obama’s race is a major part of his success, they again screamed racism, when pointing out being married to Bill Clinton is a major part of Hillary Clinton’s success would have been more to the point. And his supposedly “healing” statements on race, “typical white people” fearing black men, their fears exploited by unscrupulous politicians and talk show hosts, losers in the global economy clinging to church, guns and bigotry, are insulting and demeaning. No white politician could get elected making comparable statements about blacks. Nor should they. Neither should Obama. And if he loses, it will be the contradiction between his carefully constructed image and what he says and has written, not the racism injected in the campaign by politicians, that will be his undoing.
— Mark Moscariello
Where was Mr. Tyrrell when the judgment on O.J. Simpson was read before a national television audience. It is hard to believe that was 13 years ago. The camera panned a group of blacks cheering loudly, gleefully at Mr. Simpson’s acquittal. The camera then pointed its lens at a group of whites betraying faces of shock and disbelief. No matter the mans guilt, as we all know he was ,it was all about the color of his skin. This was the antithesis of Dr. King’s dream of there being a day when we would judge a man by his character and not by the color of his skin.
That day was three plus decades from the passing of Civil Rights in this country, why would one think that much has changed in just another 13 years.
The difference in the issues of ethnicity in Mr. Tyrrell’s neighborhood of his youth and the black vs. white issues that persist in this country today appear to rest in an unrelenting attitude. It is the “in your face” attitude of Mr. Obama’s pastor that festers behind the doors of a church and within much of the black community in general. It is an attitude that feeds on past sins committed by whites on blacks that the black community refuses to relinquish. I believe for as long as there are Jesse Jacksons, Louis Farrakhans, Al Sharptons, Reverend Wrights and voter hungry Democrats in the world there will continue to be an ever increasing divide between our two communities.
If Mel Gibson revealed his true beliefs about Jews while under the influence of alcohol and Trent Lott did the same with regard to blacks at Strom Thurmond’s Birthday celebration and countless other whites who had a slip of the tongue or had the intent of their words twisted have been unduly held accountable, why should the standard not be the same for Senator Barry Obama sitting for “20 years” before a pastor filled with venom for America and white America in particular.
— Jim Jackson
THE BITTER STING
Re: Re: Michael Roush’s letter (under “Roush Call”) in Reader Mail’s Going for Barack:
Mr. Roush apparently thinks conservatives will feel the bitter sting of the reversal of fortunes when liberals will switch roles with “us” in the executive branch. As always, we tend to be more concerned with what Hillary will do with her executive powers than the fact she will have them. The claim that Bush and company forged into new territory in executive power is simply counter historical. It is true many of our esteemed Senators and Congressmen have cried bloody murder; but the legislative branch and the executive branch have been in unending tug of war about who has which power since the founding. This is no different.
The Left has been keening “exercising the unlimited, unchecked executive powers claimed by Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney” for quite some time now. Oh, come now. Congress always had the ability to stop whatever they wished. If you want to get mad at somebody, take out your wrath on them. The fact is they didn’t have the guts or didn’t want it bad enough. Guess which one I think it is.
Conservatives have been amused once again how the Left has come to believe their own propaganda. They really believe that their freedom of speech has been taken away from them, they will be thrown into some secret prison for having the wrong opinion, and Uncle Sam will be listening in when Eric Leftist exchanges cookie recipes with Susie Liberal over the telephone. We can always use another good recipe for chocolate chip cookies; but, honestly, how you guys do puff yourselves up! You simply aren’t that good at being martyrs. In a word, you’re no fun. We no longer get the vapors when we are treated to the fairytale that we are breaking out the white sheets and firing up the ovens.
As far as Hillary and Bill abusing their powers, well, being they have done it before without the benefit of Bush and Cheney, they are confident they will remain true to form.
— Michael Dooley
George W. Bush and Richard Cheney aren’t running for reelection. Bush hasn’t done anything during time of war that is even on the same page as the Democrat Icon FDR did during WWII. Cheney hasn’t done anything not authorized by the President or outside his power so delegated to him by the President. We pay the VP a lot of money to just invent the internet and network for a future High Priestess job in a new religion. The President can delegate powers.
Four Democrats are running for President, no Republicans. All are to the left of an old time Democrat like Zell Miller. Miller agrees with much of what George W. Bush has done. No secret there. The best of the four Democrats running is so unpredictable that no one has any faith in what his true character is. The other three are all just different flavors of the same Marxist cool aid. I can’t do anything about the sorry state of affairs in Presidential politics but we are still in a war rather we like it or not.
All the enumerated rights in the Bill of Rights have been under assault since the 16th amendment was passed. It shouldn’t be hard to figure out how the 16th amendment destroyed the central tenet of the Constitution and once that was breached the rest is history as they say. Not a one is in tact and we have this situation not because of an Imperial Presidency but because Congress has abdicated its legislative responsibilities to unelected career bureaucrats and the Supreme Court and its associated Federal Court system have become a Super Legislature that creates laws out of thin air. You don’t have three branches of government, each a check and balance on the others if one or two are AWOL for decades. An ignorant voting society is the glue that holds this mess together. The horses have been out of the barn for decades. The root problem here is not who sits at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. They can certainly make it worse but the foundation for all this was laid a long time ago when the bulk of this population gave up any pretense of principled governance. Any power can be abused and usually will be at some point. That’s why the Founders structured the government the way it is (was) and crafted a tax system that did not reward graft, pandering, sloth etc. That’s all gone and been gone for almost 100 years and we see what you get. I’m in more government Data Bases than those with criminal records simply because I have obeyed the law regarding matters that criminals typically avoid.
— Thom Bateman
Newport News, Virginia
FROM THE ANTIPODES
Re: Nathan Maskiell’s letter (under “Party Crashers”) Going for Barack:
Mr. Maskiell checks in once again from the antipodes to comment on the penchant ordinary Americans have to elect rubes, hicks, mountebanks, frauds and economically incompetent lovers of freedom as their leaders over elite academics much like that schoolmarm, John Howard, whom his countrymen elected and so recently discarded.
I believe that Mr. Howard is mostly famous for disarming the citizenry of Australia, thereby turning a nation of robust, freedom loving, beer loving “Crocodile Dundees” into an elite, effete conglomerate of wine sipping, “Prancing Matilda’s” who now revel in their new, left-wing leadership.
Misery enjoys company! Right Nate (er…mate)!
— Bob Keiser
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
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