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Unsweet Caroline

Re: Jay D. Homnick’s Taking Kennedy from a Baby:

While I am no fan of Bill Clinton (quite the contrary), I find your gratuitous reference to “hillbilly wannabes” mildly offensive to all of us from the rural South who are constantly and unmercifully ridiculed by Hollywood’s stereotypical hillbilly images. So, I wish you hadn’t used that term and urge you to look for some other way to express your well-taken contempt for the Clintons.

Worse, implying that Hillary is somehow a hillbilly caters in a supportive way to her cynically ridiculous claim to a connection with Arkansas and, thus, the South. Hillary’s sole accomplishment in life, the single bullet point in her business plan, has been to trade off Bill’s position. The fact that she passed briefly through Arkansas while doing it makes her no more of a hillbilly or any other kind of southerner than does her “home” in New York make her a New Yorker or her sham marriage make her, well, a “Mrs.”
Van Morgan
Florence, Alabama

Though “Change!” is the campaign’s one-word slogan, the Obama administration (if there is to be such) will be anything but. He cannot possibly have built up enough chits in his short D. C. tenure to have any swat, and so easily will be manipulated into the same-old same-old. Perhaps this — aside from the obvious symbolism — is what the Kennedy and their party regulars like about him.
Ty Knoy
Ann Arbor, Michigan

I hate to sound totally unsympathetic, but what the hell does Caroline Kennedy know about her father? She was 6 years old when he was murdered. All she knows is what she reads (or hears from other political types, who, being political types, are mostly untrustworthy by nature). She doesn’t really have any inside info on him. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the fact that she gave Billary a bitch-slap like she did, but realistically I don’t consider her to be the most reliable source in this matter.
Nick Andrelli
Alexandria, Va

When I heard Caroline Kennedy compare Barack Obama with the savvy politician and Cold Warrior that was her father, all I could think of was, “How could she say that with a straight face?”
Robert Nowall
Cape Coral, Florida

Senator Obama is on the verge of capturing the Democratic nomination for President. Establishment Democrats in the left wing of the party are lining up for him. The Clintons, representing the moderate wing of the party have however successfully, painted Obama as a black candidate which will be his biggest obstacle to gaining the nomination. In South Carolina, Obama got three quarters of the black vote and one quarter of the white vote. If this result repeats itself in the rest of the south, Obama will be blocked from an outright win but might still win the nomination at a brokered convention, particularly if John Edwards remains in the race.

Obama can do three things to help himself. First he can paint Bill Clinton as a pretender attempting to gain a third term, a violation of the Constitution. There is already ample evidence that he is is doing so. Second, he can extract a pledge from his supporters that they will not allow race to be a qualifying factor amongst Democrats, the implication being that his supporters will not back the Clintons in the general election if they gain the nomination unfairly by introducing race. Third he can plan and manipulate the convention starting now using the race pledge as a lever at convention time.

The left wing of the Democrats have found their candidate in Obama and they are not about to lay down and let the Clintons get away with finessing their candidate. With a few tricks of their own, they can compete and possibly put the Clintons out of the race.
Howard Lohmuller

There’s something very troubling about Jay’s article.

He speculates and interprets what is in Caroline Kennedy’s mind — “There was no reason for her to add that line. It was a gratuitous swipe, not terribly gracious by any standard.”

I find it gracious. I find it gracious by all standards. And I find it polite and honest.

What I find very far from grace is everything about the Clintons. And whoever can stop a third disastrous two-headed presidency is grace incarnate.
Phyllis Caplan

So the Kennedys are rude to the arriviste Clinton HillBillies. I had to wait more than 40 years for them to do something useful. I hope they keep up the good work.
Christopher Holland
Canberra, Australia

I agree that the GOP candidates should let the Clinton/Obama feud play out on its own, but I have no problem with GOP pundits pointing out the hypocrisy on the left here. It is simply too delicious for us conservatives to watch the Clinton’s turn their wrath on their own with the same vehemence that it was turned on the right for 8 years, plus a Senate campaign. Why should we not point out to everyone watching and listening that this behavior is not new from Hill Billy, that it is the prevailing modus operandi of the Hill Billy machine, and that the media are total hypocrites to pretend that they never knew the Clinton’s played dirty politics. We’re not trying to stop the crack-up, just trying to point out the truth to all who are watching.
Eric Edwards
Walnut Cove, North Carolina

With Jean Le Kerry at your side, and now that beloved eternal manchild Teddy and most of the rest of the Kennedy Clan at your other side, you really need someone to watch your back.
A. C. Santore

While I was pleasantly surprised at the embarrassment this all brings to the Clinton Camp, I cannot help but wonder HOW and WHY anyone can see a likeness between Jack Kennedy and Barack Obama.

JFK is most famously known for his inauguration speech, which held the following quote: “and so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.”

Reading that statement and understanding anything about what JFK stood for, how does Sen. Kennedy and Mrs. Kennedy Schlossberg match these two up in likeness.

The answer, friends, is merely on the surface: youth, vigor and likeability, young wife, two beautiful young children; and the likeness ends there.
Sandra Bellomo
Seminole, Florida

Livid is probably an understatement of the Clintons’ reaction to the Kennedy endorsement of Senator Obama.
David Shoup
Augusta, Georgia

Re: Larry Thornberry’s McCain Peaks:

Wow. That article was probably the most biased article I think I have ever read.

You will eat your words when Romney wins tonight.
Jared Aller

I guess it’s safe to say you have a love for McCain. Like most media, you seem to loathe Romney and I don’t see a reason why except maybe jealousy. He is the one that will actually “change” Washington politics for the better and do good for the working people of this country. McCain is a liberal at heart and that is the one thing the U.S.A. doesn’t need.

I am glad to hear McCain is peaking.

There are two things McCain is proud of — his family’s tradition in the U.S. Navy and his Republican heritage. McCain is a core conservative. He is religious, pro life, wants small government, is strong on national defense, adamant that Federal the budget should be balanced, keen of ethics, and utterly truthful.

McCain has a generous dose of idealism. His refusal to vote the Bush tax cut was consistent with his non-compromising idealism. He insisted that spending also be reduced. McCain intends to eliminate earmarks, a prime source of excessive spending and in some cases payback for campaign funding.

McCain will not compromise his core beliefs — not for public office, not to befriend those who call him a maverick, not to make partial deals harmful to the public interest.

McCain’s willingness to work with Democrats stems from his recognition that sometimes progress can be made no other way. The gang of 14 was a classic example of this. McCain did not yield on his desire that Samuel Alito was nominated for Supreme Court justice and he got it done without ratcheting up partisan bitterness.

There has been a lot of unjustified poison spread about McCain which stems from a misunderstanding of him. For instance, he is the opposite of a maverick. Rush Limbaugh savages McCain for the non-combative methods that McCain is noted for. Rush’s style is combat with Democrats, and McCain does not fit the pattern.
Rod Hug

Re: Philip Klein’s Guns v. Butter:

It’s again interesting that Mr. Klein mentions a Falcon 50 aircraft behind Romney and never mentions the millionairess standing behind McCain. Cindy McCain is probably worth at least as much as Mitt Romney. Why not mention her, Mr. Klein??? That would fit in your jealous little template of class envy, too, would it not?
Judy Beumler
Louisville, Kentucky

If you’re naive enough to buy Philip Klein’s guns vs. butter equals McCain vs. Romney, two questions: 1. How do you reconcile McCain’s schizophrenia, as in he’ll fight terror but grant 12-20 million illegal aliens amnesty? 2. How do you explain Mr. McCain’s endorsement by The New York Times, arguably the most liberal newspaper in the country?

Here’s hoping my fellow Floridians will have recognized the difference between genuine butter and phony guns.
Arnold Ahlert
Boca Raton, Florida

Re: Sean Higgins’s Ledger’s Final Balance:

Heath Ledger may have not been Sir Laurence Olivier, but he was a pretty good young actor. And while the author may think he’s being glib, actually he is being a tad mean-spirited in his efforts. He acts as though Ledger was supposed to be a fully formed actor at 28, when many great actors don’t become great until later in life. And while his movies may not have been to your liking, that is no reflection on the quality of his work in them. You may think The Patriot stank or that Brokeback Mountain was over hyped, but that doesn’t mean that his performances weren’t strong. To take shots at his work because you don’t like the scripts is nonsensical; you can have very strong acting in some very weak films.

And if you have a problem with how his death is being reported, don’t make it about the deceased. he had no say in how the media covered his life, and he definitely has no say on how his death is being covered. It is understandable that the Hollywood press and his home press would react this way, since for the former he was an up and coming young star and for the latter he was one of their own. If you want to criticize the press, go ahead…but to somehow Ledger into that criticism seems unwarranted. You can criticize the press without criticizing their subjects. I know, I’ve seen it done!

And oh yeah, Brad Renfro played the lead in the film adaptation of John Grisham’s The Client, and he was another young man in Hollywood who died way too young. Just so you know, smart aleck.
Eric Edwards
Walnut Cove, North Carolina

Though Mr. Higgins rather dismisses the film, Brokeback Mountain is an American cultural milestone that touched thousands of people and explains largely why so many are upset about his death. Ledger’s performance in the role of Ennis, for which he received a best actor Oscar nomination at a young age, promised great things to come. Since BBM, he impressed in the Dylan biopic I’m Not There and appears to have turned in an inconic performance as The Joker in The Dark Knight (watch for another Oscar nomination). It’s not a bad legacy for a man still in his twenties.

Re: Jennifer Rubin’s Hold the I Told You So’s:

Republicans should relish the spectacle Democrats are making of themselves. Happy days are here again! This has nothing to do with their racial or gender based politics. It has everything to do with a political party whose reason for existence is acquisition of power for power’s sake — an elitist oligarchy that feels entitled to control and rule over the American people. Clearly, Democrats do not believe in protecting the United States or securing its dominance in the world. They much prefer appeasing our enemies and pandering to our allies prejudices. Humiliating the US and destroying its economy are noting so long as Democrats dominate the country — politics is all about them and never us.

While Ms. Rubin’s article is interesting she still sounds like an arrogant Democrat when talking about President Bush and his administration. That is a recipe for disaster. Even the New York Times grudgingly recognizes this President and his administration have produced a thriving and resilient economy that any President would envy — including icons Reagan and Clinton. As the only U.S. President to actually fight terrorism (not merely skirmish with it as Reagan did) the facts on the ground are vindicating his decisions as we steadily annihilate al Qaeda with an American body count lower than the peace time administrations of Carter, Reagan and Clinton. In the realm of taxes he also has real credibility, because he’s NEVER raised them, only cut them (unlike Reagan who raised them 7 times). As for the weak housing market — in comparison to 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 (the four best years in housing history) 2007 was only the 5th best year so one can appreciate how people are disappointed, but this is nothing like the crash of the market in the 1980’s or the Carter depression.

Despite history finally catching up with political juggernaut that was the Bush/Rove team the GOP is in better political shape than when Ronald Reagan left the White House. Reagan may have left personally popular, but he left the party in shambles with a 100 seat deficit in the House and 10 seat Democrat majority in the Senate. Today, we’re down 31 seats in the House (a historically moderate off year loss that can be reversed by picking up 16 seats) and only 2 seats from a majority in the Senate. In the State Union by going after earmarks the President squarely kicked the Democrats in their collective genitalia (something Reagan never did by compromising and raising taxes and growing the bureaucracy) and set the party up for victory as the party of fiscal maturity. As for the stimulus plan more money in American’s pockets is a good thing under any circumstances. It makes one wonder why so many conservative pundits resent letting the people have more of their money?

The only thing holding back Republicans in 2008 is that too many conservatives are thinking like losers and ready to hand power over to the Democrats, because they don’t get their way all the time. Unless, conservatives abandon this myopic pity party and perpetual blues they can look forward to Democrat majorities raising their taxes, bringing back Reagan’s blanket amnesty for illegal aliens, mainstreaming homosexual relationships as marriage, surrendering the world to Islamic imperialism, stifling the free market, socializing health care and sundry other bad ideas becoming reality. Even worse we’ll have to spend four years hearing and seeing Hillary or Obama mouthing banal platitudes and the media declaring them genius — when my dogs are smarter than Hillary and Barack combined.

Rather than complaining and acting like glum Democrats or disgruntled union thugs we need to embrace the President’s amazing vigor and enthusiasm and give the Democrats a butt whipping they so richly deserve.
Michael Tomlinson
Jacksonville, North Carolina

The Clintons (or at least Hillary) may be smarter than you think. Bill is, right now, serving as Hillary’s “bad cop.” He makes her look bad, and revives all the distasteful memories of the old Clinton days.

But what if she planned that? What if, a bit later on, she repudiates him? Publicly slaps him down for misbehavior? When Bill denounced that rapperette, he put a phrase into the political vocabulary: the “Sister Souljah” moment. It’s when a candidate appeals to the center by attacking someone on his side for extremism, or corruption, or some other negative quality. In this case it would be someone in her campaign who has been most aggressive in attack.

It would distance her from those negative associations, and also refute the charge that she is dependent on him. And he might not even know she’s planning it.
Rich Rostrom

I agree that the GOP candidates should let the Clinton/Obama feud play out on its own, but I have no problem with GOP pundits pointing out the hypocrisy on the left here. It is simply too delicious for us conservatives to watch the Clinton’s turn their wrath on their own with the same vehemence that it was turned on the right for 8 years, plus a Senate campaign. Why should we not point out to everyone watching and listening that this behavior is not new from Hill Billy, that it is the prevailing modus operandi of the Hill Billy machine, and that the media are total hypocrites to pretend that they never knew the Clinton’s played dirty politics. We’re not trying to stop the crack-up, just trying to point out the truth to all who are watching.
Eric Edwards
Walnut Cove, North Carolina

Re: Laurie Mylorie’s Mystery of the WMDs:

Whether or not Saddam was telling the truth about his WMDs is irrelevant. In war only a fool expects the enemy to be honest — you simply have to expect that the other guy is trying to deceive and mislead you. The Americans had every right to suspect the worst about Saddam, his record gave no other choice, and they acted accordingly, expected the worst and destroyed the threat. The real pity is that they won the war and forgot about winning the peace — that was where the real incompetence lies. The real beneficiaries are the Iranians — the intelligence services seem to be determined not to find WMDs there, as a result of the Iraq fiasco. They thought that WMDs existed in Iraq and it created all sorts of problems for them, so the best thing to do is not to find WMDs in Iran. Being fooled by the enemy is one thing, but fooling yourself is a much bigger problem. Bush might turn out to be vindicated in Iraq, but that won’t necessarily do anything to stop Iran from stepping into Saddam’s shoes.
Christopher Holland
Canberra, Australia

Of course, Saddam Hussein had WMD. Every major Democrat in power during the 1990s stated so emphatically as they called for regime change in Iraq (you’ve all probably seen the quotes from yellow belly’s like Dick Durbin, Harry Reid, Ted Kennedy and the usual terrorist appeasing malcontents decrying Saddam’s WMD). That they chose to nothing with the evidence other than talk is typical of do nothing Democrats who prefer seeing innocent Americans die than confronting evil. A strategy of cowardice that Mrs. Bill Clinton, the Mohammedan Candidate and the ambulance chaser have all embraced.

Bill Clinton was so frightened that not only did he talk about Saddam’s WMD he established the US policy of regime change in Iraq. Being a typical military loathing and cowardly Democrat Clinton did nothing and left the problem to be resolved by George W. Bush — who in characteristic Republican fashion cleaned up the Democrat’s mess (see Eisenhower in Korea, Nixon in Vietnam, Reagan in the Cold War and Bush in Desert Storm).

It is noteworthy that until recently Clinton stated that the US was justified in invading Iraq and removing the Baathist dictatorship, because of the WMD or at least the fear of them. Now that the modern Democrat party has reverted to its natural habit of betraying the US in a time of war Clinton has changed his tune. What would one expect from the President who could have taken Osama bin Laden into custody, but refused to?

Where are the WMD? If Barack Obama is elected President he can the Syrian and Iranian dictatorships about them. For that matter if any Democrat is elected President they can ask their fellow traveler Putin or his puppet about them too.
Michael Tomlinson
Jacksonville, North Carolina

Re: Adam Creighton’s Principles Before Pounds, Please:

Wow, whatever happened to the “Citizen Legislator” ideal of a relatively short stint in public service followed by a return to private industry? And the concept of a legislator considering “What if MY company had to live under such a law?” Such a return or consideration used to be thought to rein in the natural tendency toward government overreach.

Of course, the reality of career politicians has always been problematic; thus the drive for term limits. Alas, the latter has been of limited success except in a few states and of course the Presidency.

Directly hiring a (former) public official seems merely another form of creating insider connections, scarcely different from “ordinary” lobbying and/or campaign contributions. As with those, I say the problems are transparency and the size & power of the government being influenced, rather than the particulars of the form of influence.

Not to mention, the USUAL conservative complaints are ABOUT unaccountable lifetime appointments, and overly-cushy lifetime pensions for politicians after often relatively short service; now were supposed to be in FAVOR of these???

The author mentions prohibiting the acceptance of private-industry positions in other jurisdictions (where they are not otherwise prohibited); yet how can this be stopped? Does anyone seriously think a Bill Clinton would hesitate for a SECOND to renounce his U.S. citizenship, if that is “all” that stood in the way between him and annual millions in an overseas executive position?

And speaking of Bill, in precisely what way is the author’s preferred employment in the lucrative “Speakers Bureau” circuit any superior to a private-industry position? Again, does anyone seriously think that $100K per speech is anything but a political payoff? And the author doesn’t even mention another obvious form of post-office political payoff, to wit “contributions” to the politician’s controlled non-profit organization (e.g. Presidential Library).

However, in the imperfect real world, unless and until Leviathan government is ever chopped down to size, perhaps limitations rather than an outright prohibition are in order, at least for “career” politicians (however that may be defined). Already, post-office REGISTERED lobbying is limited in some ways for some offices (e.g. “can’t do it for 1 year”). Existing limitations could be extended to cover these other, less formally recognized forms of lobbying, INCLUDING acceptance of “Speakers Bureau” fees and “non-profit” contributions, as well as private industry positions.
Kevin Amaro
Hayward, California

Adam Creighton replies:
Thank you for your correspondence. I think you raise a number of good points. I won’t address them all but I’d like to write a few things.

The crux of my article is meant to raise the issue of incentives. What are the incentives of a politician who sees his more senior colleagues accepting jobs with Zurich and JP Morgan after office, and what are that politician’s incentives when he is working for JP Morgan or Zurich? (Blair accepted another job yesterday, with Zurich, amazing really). Of course there are problems with definitions and short-service politicians, but the import of my article is less a policy prescription and more to flag the issue as one to be concerned about, and that is going to become more prevalent it seems.

Also, there may be a moral problem with the speakers circuit, but surely this vocation is transparent (i.e., members of the public generally go and report on what is being said at such speeches). Thus public policy is less easily corrupted by this route. On the other hand, private banking appointments (or any private corporate advice) are not the least bit transparent. That a bank is willing to pay Blair 2 million pounds for his services says something about the nature of those services.

Finally, the citizen legislator is a fine ideal, but in practice we now see career politicians almost everywhere (especially in the UK and Australia), this is partly the result of the great prize of political power in our times. Given this state of affairs, some limits on their post-office activity might be beneficial to public policy.

In any case, thank you again for your comments. I’ll try to make my next article less ambiguously conservative!

Re: Eric Peters’s Water’s Hot:

The piece about the abuser fees in Virginia (“Water’s Hot,” Eric Peters, 1/29/08) correctly identified the true motive of Delegate Albo for pushing the fees in the first place and being the sole member of the General Assembly to fight their repeal until the last minute. That reason, as pointed out by Peters, that he “just happened to be a big-time lawyer connected with a firm that specializes in defending traffic cases,” is an unacceptable breach of the public trust by a legislator.

One thing the Spectator piece did not mention was that during 2007, Albo’s firm embarked on a major expansion of its business by advertising for staff experienced in traffic law to work in new field offices set to open around the state. This was why he fought so hard to save the fees in the latest session, even proposing to toughen them in several ways such as making them retroactive. He only relented when he realized the vote was probably going to be 99-1 against his proposals.

I consider the type of conflict of interest Delegate Albo has displayed as unacceptable behavior by my representative.
Christopher Ambrose
Lorton, Virginia

Re: George Neumayr’s A Man for Ball Seasons:

There are few more pleasurable moments in the day than to come across an author who brings pleasure to these weary eyes, and whose words force the corners of my lips to move upward in a genuine smile: I refer, of course, to George Neumayr on a roll. Previously (3/9/05), I extolled Signor Giorgio’s trenchant wit and observations, comparing him to a sainted Supreme Court Justice. It is, then, satisfying to know that I can look forward to smiling frequently during these dark and dreary days of winter.

Anyone who is even dimly aware of current developments within the Catholic Church knows of the disarray and disorder that has made the Society of Jesus, aka Jesuits, a rudderless organization, adrift, and indifferent, if not hostile, to Church dogma and its teachings. I firmly believe that past Jesuit actions, individually and collectively, approach what would have been called “heresy” before the convening of Vatican II, and the liberalization of doctrine. I might also add that this phenomenon is not new, for my comments about the escapades of the liberal darling of the Jesuits, Rev. Robert Drinan (4/19/05), also demonstrated that, even at that time, there was no firewall to separate and silence those who merited that punishment.

Neumayr’s account of the circumstances surrounding the brouhaha involving Rick Majerus turns on one question: do all Catholic educational institutions, which should exclude most Jesuit schools, have the right, nay, the duty, to inquire about their faculty’s adherence to Catholic doctrine? Does that include basketball coaches and their “view” on abortion? At one time, teams from Catholic colleges and universities represented their school, and by extension, their Church. Apparently, that old fashioned nostrum has also gone by the boards at St. Louis University, and, I might add, most Jesuit universities as well.

Signor Neumayr is not sanguine about future action being taken against the coach of the “Billikens,” as their basketball team was known when I was young. Neither am I, for there is a very serious spiritual problem within the Jesuit order, affecting too many of them, that will not go away: they have, in large part, lost their spiritual way, and I do not say that lightly. But Christians are supposed to be charitable as well as hopeful. Given what transpired last week in Rome, I cannot be either.

At the 35th Congregation of the Society held in Rome, the Jesuits elected their new General-Director, a Spaniard, Alvaro Nicholas, as the 29th successor to Ignatius Loyola, the Society’s founder. One of the reasons why this selection is troubling to many is that Padre Nicolas’s credentials and outlook are very similar to those of one of his predecessors, Rev. Pedro Arrupe, whose stewardship of the Order coincided with the serious decline in vocations and influence of the Jesuits. I suspect the same will continue to happen with the new General-Director.

Recently, when I inquired of a well-known Catholic lay theologian what the prospects for the Jesuits were; he wrote this: “I don’t have much hope for the new General of the Jesuits. My impression is that he’s a holding action until what they regard as the Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) Nightmare is past. Then they can elect a real Hindu.”

Given current Jesuit proclivities, is that last sentence an irrational conclusion? Iacta alea est! — the die is cast.
Vincent Chiarello

Re: Christopher Orlet’s reply (under “Knowing Far Right From Wrong”) in Reader Mail’s New Jesuit Spokesman:

Mr. Orlet brings up the only example of Muslim tolerance (Albania) to show Muslims can leave peacefully with non-Muslims. How naive. One example does not a trend make.

Well, Mr. Orlet, how about Saudi Arabia? The Sudan? Yemen? How about death sentences imposed on Christian coverts in Afghanistan? There are far more examples of Muslin intolerance than there are examples of Muslim tolerance.

And please stop this canard that assimilation means adopting Judeo-Christian values. No one demands Buddhists give up their religion as a condition for immigration. There are no demands people give up their traditions except when those traditions contradict criminal laws. Honor killings are not allowed in western civilizations. Neither is genital mutilation.

Governments may not force people to assimilate, but that doesn’t mean they are powerless either. Governments can actively discourage people from coming to a country unless they intend to assimilate. Governments can demand language proficiency and job skills before issuing a visa. Governments can ignore demands that a country set aside its culture and traditions so as to not offend immigrants. And, governments can prosecute those who violate criminal laws.
Garry Greenwood
Gearhart, Oregon

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