HOMAGE TO ORWELL
Re: Hal G.P. Colebatch’s Orwell’s Bad Republicans:
I found Hal’s essay very compelling. It brought me back to my early years during the Reagan presidency when I gave up on my liberalism and membership in the Democratic Party and began on my road to becoming a Republican. Reading The Gulag Archipelago and Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia inspired in me a life-long hatred and dread of Communism.
Contrary to what Hal wrote, Orwell’s experience fighting for the POUM was the catalyst in his turning his back on communism. Nowhere in his text did I find anything other than disillusionment in finding that the Republican cause had been sold out. He started out with the usual good intentions of a lefty youth and became a man. The Orwell we know from 1984 and Animal Farm could not have become what he became without the Spanish Civil War. Yes, he joined the POUM all starry-eyed, but he ended up an enemy of communism. Please correct me if my memory is has forgotten details, but I believe Hal owes an apology to George.
— Doug Barth
Hal Colebatch’s comments on George Orwell are a sideshow to his overall excellent and informative review. But in a curious coincidence, that particular sideshow was not only of special interest to me, having read Homage to Catalonia, and The Road to Wigan Pier, and the better-known Orwell works, but apparently also to Mr. Colebatch.
Where I differ from Mr. Colebatch is when he writes, “I did not realize the full moral dimension of how wrong Orwell, Hemingway and the rest were.” Perhaps I have flunked reading comprehension, but my overall sense of Homage to Catalonia was that it was a first person absolute unequivocal confession of how wrong Orwell concluded he was, not so much about the Republican cause, but about the specific Republican incarnation, which of course was the mass murdering Stalinist creature of the Kremlin. I also sensed that Orwell’s later cooperation with British authorities in the matter of naming leftist security risks, for which Orwell was later demonized in the dominant media, had its incarnation in Orwell’s Spanish Civil War experience.
In any case, The Last Crusade: Spain 1936, sounds like a good read and I thank Mr. Colebatch for the review.
— Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey
Re: Eric Peters’s Alcohol Nanny Breathalizers:
Eric Peters is right. The drunk-driving problem will not be solved by casting such a wide net. However, there are steps beyond suspending drivers licenses of offenders that states could take but won’t: (1) Jail time for everyone convicted of drunk driving, moderate perhaps for a first offense but escalating for repeat offenses (2) Suspend the offender’s right to purchase a vehicle (3) Suspend the offender’s right to license a vehicle (4) Deny insurance to repeat offenders. (5) Classify automobiles as dangerous weapons for sentencing purposes in vehicular manslaughter and homicide citations.
Tough and perhaps risky steps but more sobering than merely suspending drivers licenses.
— Rose Storey
Prohibition is what the MADD is after. Drop by drop, our right to enjoy a legal commodity is being controlled by zealots who care not of the Constitution. As it is, one better not get a DUI; the penalties can exceed those of a felon. Regardless how this gadget works, if it detects alcohol and refuses the engine starting, I can see a myriad of problems even for those who have not drank a drop. Look at how many products containing alcohol: perfume, deodorant, mouthwash, inhalers, petrol products, etc.
When an emergency arises and driving is a matter of life or death and the vehicle is uesless, when this tech-no gizmo screws up, who’s going to get sued? Will those who have lost someone form their own lobbying group to outlaw inhuman technology? Not the MADD hatters, they only have one thing on their mind.
— R. Ready
MADD has become a group of neo-prohibitionists. Far shrewder than the prohibitionists 100 years ago, they are working in increments to demonize anyone who imbibes, whether or not they intend to drive.
MADD achieved their goal years ago and now they are an organization in search of funding streams and only by manufacturing issues, can they raise additional money.
Just recently, they rebuked AMTRAK for giving drink vouchers to train passengers (click here).
I refuse to give any money to any charitable organization that associates itself with the neo-prohibitionists at MADD and I encourage others to withhold their contributions as well.
— Brian Schafer
Road safety is extremely important and the responsibility of all who drive, but once again, zealotry trumps reason. Reason is key to safety and sobriety. While MADD’s aims are noble ones, they overshoot their target. What is needed when dealing with the public good is consideration of all users’ needs. The fairest and most rational manner to do so is a cost benefit analysis. If properly set up, the analysis is coldly rational and free of moral and emotional baggage. If, for example, safety is my paramount value, I can seek legislation that demands that all cars are built like tanks. Opponents of this extreme safety position can point out the extreme economic consequences of this demand. No villains and no heroes, just a rational discourse on costs and benefits.
Another objection to MADD’s overreaching: it violates the Constitution. The Fourth Amendment reads, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” MADD’s position is to assume a driver is drunk before he starts his car. Based on this assumption, the car searches the driver’s person and determines, accurately or not, that driver’s BAC is over the legal limits. (And how does the BAC detection device know the local BAC limits?) After determining that the driver is not legally able to drive, is the automobile to contact the local law enforcements agency (just like KITT)?
While MADD’s intentions continue to be noble ones, they do not speak for all citizens. It is worthwhile to remember the road to hell is paved with good intentions and can be ridden upon by even the most sober thinkers.
— Ira M. Kessel
Rochester, New York
These people are a bottomless pit.
If all alcohol was banned tomorrow, they’d be back next day for the tobacco, the day after that for the red meat, the “wrong” light bulbs, shoes or cars…
What they want is not “health” or “safety, but power over the rest of us. It’s an addiction like any other.
Maybe the administration’s critics do have a point. Maybe we do have the wrong people locked down at Guantanamo.
— Martin Owens
Couldn’t agree with you more. You may be surprised to learn that there is now an organization determined to fight back against the outrage that is MADD.
Check out RIDL, Inc.
— Jeanne Pruett
Auburn Hills, Michigan
COOL ON GREENLAND
Re: Patrick J. Michaels’s Ice Cold Bunk:
Please explain how this ice-covered island was given the name Greenland.
Pat Michaels’s column on the Greenland Ice was probably the most important single column you’ve run in a long time. The crap emanating from those sources is infuriating, nothing less.
I was in Rio last month (7/7/07) when Al Gore’s supercilious “Live Earth” fiasco was about to start, walking up Copacabana Beach from Leme, past the Palace Hotel and, there, snapped several pictures of the big new Mercedes “VIP” cars — not a Prius in sight, the damned hypocrites!
I also have challenged Al Gore to a wager; he says the water will rise 23-feet, and I say 23 inches, max, if that.
The one who’s closest wins. No taker? What a fraud.
— Jack Frost
We need to cap Global Warming tourism for the legislature a lot more than capping Carbon Dioxide. This was nothing but a probe to see how many more silly trips they could take without arousing the taxpayer.
They went and they saw what they wanted to see. Corker is my senator and this shows to me that he has a lack of judgment in this area too. There is no proof that altering the Carbon Dioxide level by making sacrifices in the economy will raise the temperature or lower the temperature.
Traditionally, the government has protected the citizen against flim flam drugs that don’t work, financial instruments and policies that don’t belong in portfolios and other schemes that result in damage to the economy (SSI not included). Carbon credit trading and green power system exchange credits are creating financial instruments that will have an effect similar to letting counterfeit money surge through the economy with the blessing rather than the resistance of the government.
— Danny L. Newton
The problem with anyone in Government having common sense about “global warming” is there is not any money in that thinking. Gore is getting rich from his company with the trading carbon hoax. Just follow the money.
— Elaine Kyle
MONEY AND CANCER
Re: Mark Goldblatt’s The Ultimate WMD:
If money is the ultimate WMD, then Muslim immigration to Europe and the U.S. is cancer.
That’s why America needs to restrict more than ever the type of people who are privileged — yes, I said privileged — to enter our country.
— Peter Skurkiss
Your recent column, “The Ultimate WMD,” made me wonder about all of the fairy tales about the Golden Age of Islam, when so much inventiveness was rampant and technology bloomed. Could it be that there is something in Islam which short-circuits creative technology? Certainly, the lack of any Nobel prizes (other than one, I believe, for Literature) given to Muslims would support that position.
The AK-47, designed for Russian peasants, and shoot-and-forget missiles, of like levels of technology, may be the limit for the Islamic mindset.
— James Pawlak
The Madrid bombings were not bus bombings — they were trains coming into the Atocha train station.
Kafeel Ahmed is not expected to die — he already did.
— Martha Demartini
Ms. Demartini is right. Kafeel Ahmed died last week. We also failed to catch the “bus” error. Sorry. Our thanks to Ms. Demartini.
Re: James Bowman’s review of Becoming Jane:
I feel as though we saw completely different movies. While I am happy to see our present society taken to task for the over-sexualization of even minutiae, I don’t think Becoming Jane did this to the extent Mr. Bowman suggests. To me, the pivotal point of this movie was the argument between mother and daughter in the garden (while Mrs. Austen had to “dig her own potatoes” because she chose to marry for love and not money). Mrs. Austen was attempting to disabuse her daughter of the notion she could make a living with her pen, and angrily made the point that Jane needed to marry, not only for her own financial prospects but for that of her family as well. The crux of this story, as with most of Jane Austen’s novels, is the relationship between actions and consequences. If she were to give up the notion of being a writer, she could help her family financially, even to survive.
Similarly, if Mr. Jarrod married Jane (note, married — not jumped into bed with), he would lose his inheritance and necessarily be unable to financially support his large family (the reason Jane chose not to elope with Tom). To Mr. Bowman’s point about the mating sparrows, please note two things: Jane did not initially find Mr. Lefroy attractive at all, much less because he was a rake. She found him intolerable. It was when he took a clear interest in her work (and her) and offered substantive criticism, with which she disagreed, that things between them took off. Who can say how people back then spoke to one another when they weren’t recording their sentiments for family and friends to predictably read?
The movie made a clear contrast between the dour marriage prospect Jane was offered with a vibrant alternative who actually cared about what she was seeking for herself. After Tom presented her with the book and challenged her notion of being more than a “female writer,” he took her to see the well-known, married but successful female writer, from whom Jane sought advice. Tom also asked his uncle to view Jane “on her own merits.” I feel the point about the sparrows was not so much about sex, per se, but Tom’s point that Jane would need to write for men as well as women, and to do that she needed to step outside of her safe writings. Today we know she did this in stories that conveyed deep sorrow at having to make adult decisions (a fact she perhaps learned from real life). Was the bathing scene unlikely? Yes. But it was not the overriding sentiment in the movie.
I understood perfectly well what kind of choices the characters in the late eighteenth century were facing and the consequences of those choices, which often hold true even today; a clear Austen trademark.
— Adele Lynn Conner
Riverdale, New York
Thank you for your review on Becoming Jane. I never watch anything pumped out by Hollywood of a historical nature. I have been disappointed too many times to count. I like to wait to read a review or two before I waste time/money on such things.
I love to read Jane Austen, although I am not a Jane expert by any stretch. I have read five of her novels at least a dozen times since high school and I can’t overlook the Hollywood rewrites of her wonderful work. I do own the A&E versions of Pride & Prejudice and Emma. I did enjoy those and felt that the director and actors had a true feel for her characters.
Why do people write screenplays and try to form history in our modern image? I remember my first big disappointment in this area. I loved Little House on the Prairie when I was a child. I watched the movie on TV and was so disappointed that it wasn’t true to the book — of course the TV show was even worse. Talk about revisionist history, Laura did all sorts of things that would cause Ma and Pa to be totally aghast. Of course, after that I decided that I wouldn’t watch movies based on history or books anymore unless assured of semi accuracy.
Thanks for saving me the time and money.
— Robin Kent
KOS I FELT LIKE IT
Re: Andrew Cline’s Behind the Scenes at Yearly Kos:
Love your article “Behind the Scenes at Yearly Kos”
It’s probably closer to the actual truth of what is going on behind the scenes!
I love articles like this, it sheds truth and makes me laugh.
Thank you for brightening up my day!
— J. Ramm
BACK TO (FISCAL) REALITY:
Re: Jagadeesh Gokhale’s Disconnected from Fiscal Reality:
It is tempting for economists to choose one index or another as proof that the economy is out of whack. Like the four blind men who felt the elephant, one feeling the trunk, another the leg, the others the tail and the stomach, different perceptions of the shape of the elephant emerge.
The world’s commerce has evolved and grown because of emphasis on free markets. It is a system that is self correcting and constantly seeking equilibrium. Inflation is the fudge factor. The world’s large economies adopt policies that attempt to hold the rate of inflation to less than 3%. Some do better, others worse. If the rate of inflation averages, say, slightly less than 3% for a long period of time, the debt that has accumulated will halve in 25 years (rule of 72), halve again the next 25 years to one fourth and halve again the next 25 years to one eighth of what it was.
If an economy fails to control its rate of inflation, its currency will fall in relation to other currencies, devaluating its assets and purchasing power, increasing its interest rates, decreasing economic activity and hopefully causing corrective measures to be taken. So the measure of unfunded liabilities is the sum of economic growth less inflation (real growth) less the growth of liabilities. If liabilities are greater than growth, they are unfunded.
Planning must always be present to prepare for events such as population shifts, natural disasters and wars. And the argument should be about these policies rather than the free market system that has allowed much of the world to live longer, healthier, productive lives and the freedom to pursue happiness.
— Howard Lohmuller
I’m always amazed at how your correspondents can write about the dangers of post-retirement entitlements and yet never mention the most fiscally reckless and insane one of them all. To wit: The Federal Pension System.
Maybe if you moved your headquarters back to Bloomington, Indiana, you would get a better perspective of what is wrong with America. You are in the belly of the beast.
— Bob Keiser
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.
PREACHING FROM THE CHOIR
Re: Lawrence Henry’s Praise Music Flunks:
I’m a little late on responding to this article, but I was only just made aware of it by a friend, and I feel that it deserves comment. Mr. Henry’s sentiment toward modern worship music is not an uncommon one, and like others with whom I have spoken who also share this sentiment, Mr. Henry’s reaction seems to be more of an emotional knee-jerk rather than a carefully analyzed critique, and seems to be based more on stylistic preference than objective truth.
I can certainly agree that there are reams of musical and lyrical dribble out there in the modern worship scene. As a worship music director, I tried for a time to stay abreast of the latest worship music, but was finally forced to run screaming from the vacuous lyrics and utter void of creativity. However, there are a few songwriters out there who have in the past and continue currently to generate thoughtful lyrics with engaging music. I have noticed that it is the songs written by these authors which actually get a foothold and become part of the culture: songs like “How Great is Our God,” “Here I Am to Worship,” “All This For A King,” “Shout to the Lord,” and “God Of Wonders.”
I believe that it is pointless to compare the lyrics of songs which are nearly 500 years old to those of today. When many of the older hymns were being written and introduced to the church, the people of those times complained equally of their triteness. All that any worship songwriter is attempting to do is to take thoughts about God and translate them into their specific cultural context, using both music and words which are pertinent to the time and place they find themselves in. Some of them take more care in their craft than others. This was true 500 years ago, and it is true today. All Christians must learn to speak the language (verbal and otherwise) of the culture, and to pursue excellence, if they are to reach their culture.
WHAT’S IN A WORD?
Re: Bev Gunn’s letter (under “Snakes and Sticks”) in Reader Mail’s Rattled and Snaked:
I would suggest that Bev Gunn has hit another home run with her latest letter under “Snakes and Sticks.” She writes, “we shut down the discussion with hundreds of thousands of quiet, but like-minded individuals, who called Congress and put the quietus on a horribly ugly bill.”
I have not heard or seen written the word “quietus” in so many years that I don’t recall the last time. It is one of those typically American words that I just love. There are so many times when it expresses just exactly the right thought. I would love to see this great word used to put the quietus on the excessive use of obscenities in modern American speech and the inane pop phrases. I mean, ya know, it is just like, ya know, it is what it is. Wretch! Blech! Yuk! How can supposedly educated folks talk and write that way. Lordy, I must be getting old.
— Ken Shreve
Re: Quin Hillyer’s Listen to Goldwater:
The candidate who is most like Barry Goldwater — that would be Dr. Ron Paul — was not even mentioned!!
Fact is stranger than fiction? Or is Mr. Hillyer a fiction writer?
— Stephanie Hamilton
Enjoying Macomber’s communiques from behind enemy lines. The picture on your banner eerily reminds me of someone. Is Markos Moulitsas Donna Shalala’s love child?
— Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California