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American Noises

Re: W. James Antle III’s All the Taxpayers Left Alone:

One of the reasons I participate in this site is that I find so many of the ideas bizarre, and Grover Norquist’s are no exception. The Leave Us Alone Coalition might more aptly be called the I’m All Right Jack Coalition. Yet it has long puzzled me why wealthy conservatives such as Mr. Norquist, William F. Buckley, Jr., and the entire Bush clan care in the slightest about taxation. Once any savvy American reaches a certain threshold of investment assets, which isn’t all that difficult to attain in my opinion, they can reasonably expect their net worth to increase over time regardless of tax policy, as long as their spending habits aren’t excessive. And if they like shooting guns, they can always find ways to do it, despite laws restricting their use by the hoi polloi. They can even belong to kooky religious cults if they like.

This leads me to believe that the underlying idea of anti-tax conservatism is the familiar “greed is good” with a touch of “ain’t America great.” For the Christians among you, I remind you that greed isn’t good. For the jingoists among you, I can only say that America ain’t that great. Human nature is more or less uniform throughout the world, and it was only an accident of history that placed the United States at the pinnacle of wealth and military power. If you pay attention to the emerging markets, you’ll have to conclude that this charmed state of affairs isn’t going to last forever, regardless of the tax code or which party wins elections. Instead of whining about taxes and big government, wealthy conservatives should start thinking about foreign investments.
Paul Dorell
Evanston, Illinois

Grover is also, from my experience with his “Politics” column in the past, one of the most economic and concise writers I’ve ever read. Uncanny ability to provide the most information with the least clutter; the clarity and sharpness of organization are impeccable.
Scott Horn
Akron, Ohio

Re: Lawrence Henry’s Beep, Beep, Beep:

I read from my home office Lawrence Henry’s article on things that beep. I did so while an excavation contractor was using his equipment to repair my flood-damaged driveway. As a result, you can guess the background noise to my reading of his article…
Mike Landry
Fayetteville, Arkansas

Great story. It’s the shrill noisy beeps at Chevron gas pumps that I hate. They shriek. Yikes. Anyway, your story reminded me that we had a “beep” that was sounding quietly and somewhat randomly. Heard it in the quiet of the night. I slowly worked my way around the house unplugging, disconnecting, standing and listening quietly. Took several days to finally find the battery-powered smoke detector on a book shelf behind some books.
Carl Davis

Cheer up, Lawrence. It could be worse — you could be working in one of our local casinos and have to hear the “doodley-doo, doodley-doo” of slot machines all day, or as a cashier in Wal-Mart: “boop, boop, boop, boop…”
Howard Hirsch
Dayton, Nevada

Funny fella, Mr. Henry. Have you noticed that more and more television commercials also beep? Rousing me out of my evening stupor. wondering what needs attention in the kitchen. Then my handbag beeps. Or rather my cell phone in the bag beeps a mournful little beep to tell me it is dying and I better hook it up to life support.

I have grown accustomed to the beeps. It is the eerie green numbers I see in the dark — each announcing a different time by a few seconds, that raise my irk level Everything in the kitchen (except the can opener) seems to include a clock. Possibly can openers do, too, nowadays. I’ll never know. My beautiful, compact, wall hung Sunbeam can opener with the original cutter has been rolling around can lids for over 50 years, its magnet still lifts the lids. It was manufactured before the notion of built-in obsolescence occurred to them.

I don’t use it anymore — it seemed a tad retro for my new kitchen, but I have a Sunbeam toaster I got as a wedding gift in 1945. Still works. And no beeping.

Be sure to check your new oven. I have a computerized one that has to be re-calibrated every time the power goes out or you will be baking at a mysterious temperature not necessarily in synch with your little beeping dial. Re-calibrating is as delicate a procedure as cracking a safe, but I learned to do it on my own, after watching oven man do it once.

“Gadgets R I,” and a good thing, too. My husband cannot program a VCR. Suggesting he might have a go at learning computer, he reacts as if I have just asked him to dismantle a ticking time bomb. But he builds beautiful furniture and his lawn looks like it was edged with manicure scissors. And he has won awards from the City Beautification Committee for landscaping. He also changes the smoke alarms.
Diane Smith
San Francisco, California

I am confined to a wheelchair, so when I am in the supermarket or other store and have to back up, I too, make a Beep Beep Beeping noise. This always elicits a smile, or even a chuckle from the people nearby.
Gretchen L. Chellson
Alexandria, Virginia

Love it.

Was in a Wal-Mart yesterday and some old lady in a electric cart had a reverse beeper on her buggy!
Mark Morgan

Re: Michael Brendan Dougherty’s Nothing But Net:

I’m so tired of east and west coast reporters bad mouthing my San Antonio Spurs by saying they don’t play good basketball, or that they are boring. What’s bad and boring about unselfish play and good defense? Have you ever watched Manu Ginobili take his man and several others off the dribble? If you did, you would know why we call this Argentinean “El Contusion” in our backwater little city. And you would be anything but bored. And Tim Duncan’s strong fundamentals are anything but boring to a purist basketball fan. Before Timmy did you see anyone using the backboard on a jumper in the last 20 years? They re-coined the term “Double/double” when he entered the league. The Spurs play like many of us were taught to play long ago.

Sure, we don’t have someone from Los Angeles accused of rape playing during the playoffs. And sure our small market team works together and doesn’t fight among themselves in public. Sure our small town Texas team listens to its military style coach that requires each of them to act professionally and sacrifice for the “Team” (whether it’s minutes, points or their body). (What a strange concept, and one that should in no way be honored or encouraged.) I guess some “experts” want more. In particular, a west coast/east coast final. It sounds like your real gripe with the Spurs is geographical.

And, by the way, Tony Parker’s father is American, his mother is Belgian, and his wife is gorgeous.
Matt Lair
Go Spurs Go

Re: John Tabin’s Barack’s Games:

Inexperienced Obama tell the leaders of anti-American and/or terrorists-sponsoring Iran, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea they’re wrong? Not possible. That requires what he appears to lack: wisdom, courage and moral certitude, but also political and national motivation.

Should he, though, wouldn’t that violate long-term associations with not only unrepentant terrorists Ayers and Dorn, but also pro-Palestinian Yassir-Arafat-apologist Rashid Khalidi as well as former pastor, spiritual mentor, racial separatist and adviser Jeremiah “God damn America” Wright?

And wouldn’t that mean Obama possessed fundamental knowledge of and concern for the electorate, particularly the white electorate — the same one he recently insulted for having religion (read: Christianity) and making it part of their lives; and for owning guns (read: hunting rifles)?

No, Barack Obama cannot be trusted to stand for America.

But with MSM complicity, we can expect his continued avoidance of revealing who he is and what his real agenda is.

He can’t reveal, though, can he? If Obama did, the electorate comprised of ordinary people — about whom he knows nothing but scoffs at some because of their faith, morality and values — would learn his brand of change is socialist, morally confused, national-security threatening and anti-constitutional.

That change would comfort Cuba, Syria, Iran, Venezuela and North Korea.
C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia

Mr. Tabin is correct in his statement, “A million dollars in debt means the bank owns you; a trillion dollars in debt means you own the bank. The idea that the Chinese would launch an economic suicide attack is laughable.” But the a priori assumption here is that Obama understands rational self-interests. This is not a self-evident truth.

In the classic Science Fiction novel, A Stranger in a Strange Land, Jubal Harshaw explains the ways of the world to Michael Valentine Smith; Harshaw teaches Smith the Randian concepts of objectivism, or rational self-interest: A man can choose logically and work for his own interest or he can act irrationally against them. The concept seems simple yet many people cannot grasp it. China does.

The Communist government of China has invested trillions in the American economy for a myriad of reasons but primarily because a dollar invested in America is a productive dollar. The return on investment for those who bet on the American business ethic (ingenuity, integrity, perseverance and optimism) is a handsome one. Yes, the stock market is sometimes mauled bearish paws, but overall the bulls have better stamina: Wall Street is one of the most reliable bets one can make.

Returning to Obama’s appalling lack of understanding of international economics and human behavior — China will not punish America by withdrawing its capital; this cowardly fear is irrationality in action and demonstrates a lack of thoughtfulness and character. A captain does not worry that the ship owner will scuttle the craft to drown an imperfect crew; he understands that sinking the craft is contrary to the owner’s interests. Further, many rats jump ship in rough waters, but rational men man their stations and ride out the storms. Premier Wen Jiabao has demonstrated a strong and steady leadership in regards to China’s economic affairs; he is not about to thrash wildly about if some Western Countries boycott the ’08 Olympics.

Premier Wen has his eyes on the long term interests of his country — because it serves his self-interests. Contrast this to people like Senator Obama and many Democrats who are salivating over the prospect of a recessions in the U.S. and increased instability in Iraq because the chances of Senator McCain winning are inversely proportional to successes in these areas. The Democrats’ schadenfreude comes not just at the expense the senior Senator from Arizona and the Republican party but calls for the suffering of the average American. The Left would do well to remember the words of the Abraham Lincoln, before he won the nomination and eventually the presidency, as he addressed the Republic State Convention in 1858, “A house divided cannot stand.” Our leftists have demonstrated, time and time again, that they are most willing to punish themselves to bring down everyone else.

Madam Clinton is not about to drop out of the presidential race and hand over the nomination to her rival, no matter what the costs are to her party. As she so pithily said, “I am in it to win it.” As despicable and unsavory as Hill is, she is at least an overt agent of rational self-interests; no sane person questions her motivation: Hillary is looking out for Hillary, no questions asked. (Just ask Geraldine Ferraro or Mark Penn). With the junior Senator hailing from the great state of Illinois, the public is left with this question, is Obama really running because he is altruistic or is he less than the rational and sartorially splendid dandy he appears to be? As Mr. Harshaw reported, “”Of all the nonsense that twists the world, the concept of ‘altruism’ is the worst. People do what they want to do, every time.”

Hopefully the American public will be so wise when they have to choose a president in these trying times.
Ira M. Kessel
Rochester, New York

I noticed the excerpt of Obama’s comments on boycotting the Olympic Opening Ceremonies wasn’t in quotations? Was this paraphrased or am I safe referring to this as a direct quote? This smacks of Carter-esque foreign policy that bodes poorly for us.
P. Scott Harmon

Re: Eric Peters’s Guzzler-Powered Green Cars:

In reading Mr. Peters’ article, I keep thinking about Ms. Fabrizio’s recent comments on how our politicians are failing us, and Mr. Ken Shreve’s response. For the most part, we Americans have played by the rules and followed the policies of our elected leaders. Long forgotten post WW II politicians built massive highway systems in order to encourage Americans to traverse the breath of our great country. Entire communities and new lifestyles grew with the convenience of safer and faster automobiles. As a result, an hour’s commute to work, in order to live in a rural community, was doable. Furthermore, energy production was keeping up with America’s growth.

But those were more sensible times, and neither the politicians nor the public were caught up in today’s overheated divisiveness. Today’s generation of leftist politicians now wish to change the rules and punish Americans for doing what we were encouraged to do. And as Mr. Shreve suggested, far too many Americans are failing in their civic responsibilities, by becoming lazy, compliant sheep, swallowing false science and leftist dogmas that seek to dramatically alter our lifestyles and our very economic existence. Mr. Shreve also pointed out that we Americans elect politicians based upon what goodies they bring home, and in return, we bobble head to their designs for their new & improved Marxist utopia.

So while Mr. Peters tells us that we Americans are still in control, demanding the more profitable SUV’s that allow for the production of the unprofitable, yet trendy, Prius and other “green technologies”; at the same time, we’re buying into a radical environmentism that seeks for the first time in American history, to lower the standard of living for future generations. We’re making a Faustian bargain that not even the Prius will get us out of.
A. DiPentima

Re: Mike Dooley’s letter (under “Boosiers”) in Reader Mail’s Staying Put and Ryan L. Cole’s Tough Crowd:

We’ve had ups and downs in dealing with our state legislators for years, now, and nothing’s happened previous to Gov. Daniels’ administration. I applaud what he’s done, and want him to continue, but I fear for the future of our state, because of the lack of common sense, and intelligence in some, almost all, of our elected officials, and even those who elected them.

The Nanny State, federally, and in-state, continues to make inroads, because people are becoming lazy to the point of letting someone else take care of their lives. It makes me sick to see grown adults act like children, and throw tantrums and fits, just because they don’t get their way. Then when they realize what’s happened, and they wake up, it’s too late, and they’re still too lazy to try to change their ways.

I know it looks like I’m rambling on, but these no-brain, no-guts liberals drive me crazy! (Or am I the crazy one for thinking about personal responsibility?)
Dave Wooldridge
Indianapolis, Indiana

Re: Roger Clegg’s letter in Reader Mail’s An Activist Named Grover:

As part of his defense of Linda Chavez, it would have been desirable for Mr. Clegg to disclose that he and Mrs. Chavez are both affiliated with the Center for Equal Opportunity. Given this, Mr. Clegg at least lacks the appearance of being an impartial arbiter in this matter.
Brad Lemler
Abilene, Texas

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