Re: Gene Healy’s Freedom Is in the Air (cough):
The smart money in New York City has it that Mayor Bloomberg will make smoking “licenses” available to bars and restaurants willing to pony up the fee; that this, in fact, was his plan all along. We’ll see.
— Rich Meade
DRIVING ALONG IN MY AUTOMOBILE
Re: Eric Peter’s Unsafe at Any Speed:
I commend Eric Peters for his piece exposing the incompetence of American drivers. But the primary reason Germans have lower accident and fatality rates is this: they do not drive drunk. Their penalties for drunk driving are an effective and tangible deterrent. It’s that simple.
Best wishes for the holidays,
— Stephen “Doc” Watson
Great essay! States have to start treating a driver’s license as the privilege it is instead of the right most people seem to assume. The essay was especially pertinent for me today since I will be making the 45-minute drive from my home to downtown Denver using Interstate 25. This travel time will be spent dealing with and trying to avoid police radar, left-lane cruisers, and other generally passive-aggressive incompetent drivers. My teeth are on edge already just thinking about it.
— Evelyn Leinbach
Fort Collins, Colorado
It is acceptable to have increased highway deaths, insurance costs and prices of goods shipped by truck. The States have ceded their responsibility in the traffic area to the insurance companies, i.e., if you can get insurance, you can drive.
— Bruce Peek
Eric Peters’ article made me want to drive on the Los Angeles freeways as fast as I can, which is about 40 mph and only for a very short distance.
In 1965, I purchased a 360 HP Pontiac GTO. I was 18 years old. The driving test I took for that car was the same test you would take for a 80 HP VW bug. What’s wrong with this picture?
Today’s driving test should include how to operate communications and entertainment devices at speeds above 65mph. The “training” the average U.S. driver receives is a violation of minimum health and safety laws applied to almost any other activity, not to mention common sense. Yes, the method to obtain a license is way beyond reform and the backlash would crush any attempt to change it.
But this seems common in almost everything in the U.S. population today. If you don’t like a law, protest against it, ignore it, etc. Thus the need for red-light cameras at intersections. After all, red lights are just suggestions.
— Len Labounty
Please also consider the fact that trucks in Germany stay in the far right lane and DO NOT speed. They do not pass autos at any time. I believe this is a main reason that the highways are safer in Germany. Even smaller trucks or towed vehicles are relegated to the right lane. I never saw a truck with three trailers either. This is a subject that surely needs investigation and hopefully changes in our laws in the U.S.
Thank you for your consideration,
— Marianne Mosley
On a trip last spring from the Niagara Peninsula to North Carolina with a route through West Virginia on the interstates, I found it particularly hairy and scary trying to overtake on the sinuous mountainous roads because of the parkers in the passing lane. The problem is in the signage. “Slower drivers keep right” is an invitation for some people, who decide that they are not slow drivers, to stay in the left lane. The more sensible message, keep right except when passing, would probably go a long way towards eliminating the problem of left-lane parkers.
In 2000, I bought a brand new VW Beetle. And, the car just keeps stalling. It’s been in the shop more often than I can count. And, part of the problem is that I didn’t know I had a lemon.
It’s in the shop, now, again. It stalls out when I’m at long delay red lights. It stalls out when I accelerate from a stop. And, I’ve gotten lots of excuses from VW Service, too. “Loose wires,” has been a standard.
The battery died at about 7,000 miles. Today, I’ve got about 15,000 miles on my car. And, now when I stall my battery takes four or five starting attempts before it kicks in.
And, you’re telling me that the German’s know about cars? HA! They sure know how to fool you. They’re very polite at service. And, they count on the customer being dumb. Sometimes, I think they just keep the car for a week before they even return it. How would I know? My car stalls only intermittently. (About every 400 miles, before it kicks in. And, then it ‘”passes.”) I even drove with the engine light on for one week. Because Service told me they had no open appointments right away; but that I shouldn’t worry. As long as the light wasn’t blinking.
— Carol Herman
San Marino, California
James Bowman’s review of Master and Commander was spot on when describing some dialogue out of the nineties and post-Vietnam sensibilities rather than the period it was meant to be. It seems a screenplay tends to give away the era it was written. Being an aficionado of sea stories I cringe when they appear. In Cameron’s Titanic, the fictional characters were right out of the nineties while the re-creation of the ship herself was so good, probably 95% of the public could not appreciate the degree of accuracy that went into portraying a real Titanic.
Sea stories are especially difficult to re-create in film because with each generation, we are getting further away from the skills and knowledge required sailing great ships. Until Master and Commander, the best movie representing of sail in action in my opinion was Captains Courageous circa 1937. The schooner race to Gloucester was breathtaking.
The Yankee-built ship and model referenced in the movie supposedly built for the French is our own USS Constitution, a fast 44-gun frigate that drove the British Navy crazy pursuing her during the War of 1812. American ships’ lines were finer which meant faster and they were sturdily built; hence “Old Ironsides” as cannonballs bounced off her hull and their speed outrunning the enemy was valuable to live another day. Superior design was used to advantage in war and commerce throughout most of the 1800s. French warships of the late 1700s and early 1800s had beautiful lines too but not the muscle built in American ships; they usually lost a battle when equally matched.
I agree with Richard McEnroe’s description of the special effects and cinematography, magnificent right down to the details like the cramped, crowded feeling between decks, even hearing water gurgling alongside the hull. Despite some problems with the dialogue, for anyone who loves history, beautiful ships and a good, old-fashioned action yarn, there are so few movies of this caliber, Master and Commander is a must-see.
— Karen Kamuda, Vice President
Titanic Historical Society and Titanic Museum
Indian Orchard, Massachusetts
Re: Paul Weyrich’s Hats Off to Senator Frist:
Very sadly, Paul Weyrich is illustrative of so many former Conservative leaders who over the years have accepted the fact that Conservatism can’t win. It is obvious that things like the Partial Birth Abortion ban and limited tax cuts are far outweighed by massive spending increases, huge new entitlements, unresolved filibuster threats, failed energy initiatives, and an under-sized military. A new fact needs to be accepted: you can’t win if you don’t fight.
Weyrich blames Conservatives for Frist’s failure to end the filibusters. If Weyrich is not willing to name names, it is hard to take him seriously. But perhaps, he is talking about some of the CINO’s, Conservatives in Name Only, who lead the movement today.
— Mike Rizzo
ISN’T IT RICH?
Re: Brandon Crocker’s Kerry Jumps of the Deep End:
So, President Kerry (cough, sputter..) would “undo the harm already done to our relations with the Islamic world” by calling a “summit of world leaders” that would include the Pope and the Dalai Lama. That’s rich.
Perhaps the Pope could explain to President Katsup how important it was for the U.N. Security Council, including the veto-wielding Soviet Union, to be on board with the whole liberation of Poland thing. I’m sure he feels much better about the fall of the Iron Curtain knowing that Reagan was careful to obtain the permission of Cameroon before engaging the Evil Empire. Then the Dalai Lama could explain how critical gaining the blessings of the Red Chinese would be before any action be taken on behalf of the oppressed people of his beloved Tibet. I’m sure his conscience (or whatever Buddhists have) would rest easier knowing that East Timor approved before any liberation attempts were made.
Of course, none of this would faze President Kerry. Since he has already taken upon himself the role of Arbiter of Legitimate International Action, the opinions of a couple of moral lightweights would be of little more consequence than that of the evil W.
I will look forward to more of Mr. Crocker’s observations on the Krazy Kerry Kampaign, especially prescient ones like “Senator Kerry and his handlers apparently believe the way to catch Howard Dean is to dump the image of experienced statesman that they had previously tried build, and instead try to come across more like Dennis Kucinich on PCP.” Keen commentary like that is what keeps me coming back to the Spectator.
All the best,
— Wylie Merritt
WHY THEY SERVE
Re: Paul Beston’s The NFL’s Lonely Hero:
First of all, thank you for writing such a great article and for realizing the respect that service men and women all over the world deserve. It gives me great enthusiasm to read an article, such as yours, that depicts the overpaid and pompous players in the NFL, like Sapp, Rice, and Shockey. I am enthused and motivated because I realize that it doesn’t matter what people like the ones mentioned above, and others like them, think. We don’t serve our country for pride and glory, we do it because it’s our duty and we care about the citizens in our society. We want them to enjoy the freedoms and liberties our forefathers set out for us so long ago. The money, publicity, and fancy material items that our society thinks measure success do not matter to those who are fighting for their country.
Of course, I love professional sports, especially football, and I think there are some truly admirable players in the league. However, I think people need to realize that some of the athletes we admire as children should not be the ones we emulate as adults. People like you and the soldiers should be the ones we try to take after and learn from. Well, thanks again from service men and women everywhere. You are a true patriot and speaking the truth is always more admirable than thinking, because you are famous, you have a voice that matters.
As for Mr. Tillman and his brother, I respect them and they are in my prayers. They are doing the right thing and doing it for the right reasons. They have a daunting task ahead of them but I know they have the heart, desire, drive, determination, and skills to complete their tasks and accomplish their missions. I emulate them. Thanks again.
— CDT/SGT Jonathan King
Bowling Green State University
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