Top 10 Letters
Giants, toasters, Bobos, crooked senators, and more.
11:00 PM, Oct 27, 2002
THE DAILY STANDARD welcomes letters to the editor. Letters will be edited for length and clarity and must include the writer's name, city, and state.
I have been frustrated by the great American toaster for several years (Larry Miller, You Gotta Have a Toaster, Right?). I have taken the cheap toaster route, I have taken the expensive toaster route. None of them last for more than six months. The great American toaster no longer exists. Sorry, to break this to you Mr. Miller, but be prepared: your six-year model was a fluke. And please don't get me started on the waffle iron.
David Brooks's piece on the World Series caught my eye (Birkenstock Man vs. The Sprawl People). I noticed that the San Francisco couple listened to NPR, and the Orange County couple listened to ESPN. Shouldn't it have been FOX?
The title of Fred Barnes's essay The Worstest Hyperbole in the World--Ever! reminded me immediately of a chapter in Edwin Newman's book "Strictly Speaking" that dealt with redundancy: (actual headline from a small town newspaper) "A Fatal Slaying of the Very Worst Kind!"
If Larry Miller is distressed by buying something "Made in Mexico," then he should be apoplectic over the fact that everything else seems to be "Made in China." [Ed. note: See Larry Miller's My American Flag Was Made in China.]
Nothing illustrates this fact more clearly than a visit to that bastion of American retailing, Wal*Mart. I remember the not-so-distant days when Wal*Mart would proudly trumpet that their store primarily carried items "Made in the USA," but a recent trip to America's largest retailer would instead lead one to believe that it is actually China's largest retailer.
Walking down the toy aisles shopping for my two-year-old son proved enlightening. Not only were there no toys made in the USA, but no toys existed that were NOT made in China. I mean, seriously, can't we competitively make Play-doh in our own country?
Life truly is not fair. Here I am, an Angels fan since childhood, dutifully reading the spring training reports year after year, praying for solid pitching--I could write a book. And David Brooks thinks I wouldn't even take time out to watch a Series live, much less know much about who's playing or how cool it is to see two managers from the other "favorite" childhood team (the Dodgers) counter each other in the big chess match.
Here's a bottom line: A fan doesn't give a rat's rear-end about the Bay area effete/fan or the presumed Newport Beach preppy clan which Brooks gnaws on. A real Angels fan delights in the fact that Tim Salmon finally has a great nickname (King Fish! How good is that for a veteran fixture!!) and the Halos have a pesky shortstop who doesn't make $100-$200 million a season for staying home in October. These guys have gone through a lot--for 41 years--to get to the series. Brooks should drop the pen, close the notebook, put on his glove, and watch for a screamer down the line.
David Brooks needs a more nuanced definition of the Bobos here in Northern California:
Birkenstock man lives only in Berkeley--not Marin County or the Peninsula. He is definitely childless and probably gay. In Mill Valley, only the losers wear Birkenstocks: people with bad feet, bad breath, and unpleasantly graying facial hair. Those of us who like to think of ourselves as cool, hip Bobo parents, make it a point to look slightly less green.
Everyone around here has been to Paris and embarrassed by their choice of footwear there at least once. So the men may do Dansko clogs or the little elf slip-on sneakers, but no Birkenstocks. And make no mistake--while their wives are tooling around Mill Valley in the ubiquitous Acura SUV, self-consciously shaping their lives and abodes to resemble a Provencal fantasy, their men are working hard and scared to keep them happy. (The wives, now moms, are all former attorneys and advertising executives who are now home running the local public schools and ferociously competing with one another on everything from their children's school performance to the wholesomeness of his birthday cake to the size of their jeans.) The $2 million dollar house does not make them rich. It makes them scared to lose it. You see, Marinites are hardly laid back. Truth is, everyone here pretends to be laid back, but this is as hard-driving and competitive a place as you can imagine. It's like Manhattan without the minorities and the skyscrapers.
The fierce battle for beauty and "quality of life" that fuels Marinites is responsible for the budding conservatism here. People may pretend to be appalled by Bush's bad vocabulary and his drive to war, but secretly, they're glad he's in place.
The dot-con years left a mess here. Bobo unemployment is a growing problem. Economic worries are colliding with kid worries which are colliding with war worries. Scratch below the surface of the tanned back of any middle-aged mountain biker, and you will find a conservative waiting to happen.
Ask him if he really believes abortion is just when he fondly recalls the sonograms of his now pubescent children. Ask him if he really believes premarital sex is harmless as he gazes with fatherly pride and terror at his daughter, the teenage vixen. Ask him just how keen he is on having his taxes pay for sweeping social programs that don't work. Ask him this as he's stepping over the homeless people littering the streets of San Francisco on his way to a job that will likely not exist in six months, unless capital spending on technology improves significantly.
Republican virtue starts to make sense. (By the way, I'll be at the World Series tonight rooting for those Giants.)
Jonathan V. Last notes that the Democrats aren't fielding a candidate in the Virginia Senate race (Stop the Insanity). Why is it important to have a choice in New Jersey, but offer NO candidate in Virginia?
Actually, the failure of Schumer and Clinton to endorse the Help America Vote Act can be put in two words--Rudy Giuliani (Katherine Mangu-Ward, Holding Out on Reform). They are both scared of his post-September 11 popularity and know that they will need ever vote they can get (legally or otherwise) if they are to have any chance to beat him should he choose to run for either or their Senate seats.
New York, like Maryland and California, needs to look very carefully at the ethics of the two people it has sent to the U.S. Senate. Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton have spent the past two years forging heretofore untravelled paths of disgrace, by shamelessly endorsing propositions that had previously been considered intolerable. Instead, they credit themselves with being on the cutting edge of 21st century politics.
The senior Senator from New York suggests that judicial appointments for the Federal bench be screened based on their political reliability. And as Congress attempts to update the bankruptcy code, Schumer adds language to the bill that prohibits the discharge in bankruptcy of civil judgements brought against individuals for their non-violent protests of abortion clinics.
Then there's Hillary. As Senator, she defended her own husband's improper pardons of political friends and contributors by questioning the motives of those who inquired. And who could forget her performance after September 11? She rolled her eyes in a joint session of Congress when George W. Bush rallied America after its heart was broken.
And now, both senators, in an effort to appease leftist contributors and oppose the removal of their party's most effective tool for winning close elections, have put themselves on record as the only two members of the United States Senate who disagree with sensible election reform.
This should come as no surprise to any of us, though. A stuffed ballot box has won many a Democratic seat. From JFK's questionable victory in Illinois in 1960, to the Maryland governor's race in 1994, to the numerous charges of impropriety in the various states in 2000, to the new scandal in the South Dakota Indian Reservations, the Democrats have never been loathe to resort to illegal means to win elections.
The fact that Schumer and Clinton opposed a bill that would make it easier to verify the identity of voters and prevent phony votes from hitting the ballot box just confirms what many of us already knew. The left doesn't care about the law, and they will do anything they can to prevent its reasonable and effective enforcement.
As a middle aged user of file sharing technology, I wanted to point out to Lee Bockhorn how the recording industry has used technology to increase its sales and profits (MP3 and Me).
Before I was aware of the commercial aspects of the entertainment business, music was sold in the form of 78 rpm records. As a kid the 45 rpm single was the way music was marketed. Hi-Fi (high fidelity) was the rage. Then came the 33 1/3 rpm lp (long playing) album and stereo. Next, came 4 track tapes; followed by 8 track tapes, etc.
My point is this: As the technology changes, to enjoy your favorite artist in the new medium, you were required to purchase the vehicle (lp record, 8 track tape, CD, etc.) associated with the new technology. I have personally paid royalties to several artists multiple times to hear the same song. The only thing differing in the purchase was the medium on which the song was recorded. As I did this, the record companies never offered to rebate the royalties previously paid. In fact, they are even now using the cash paid by consumers to develop new technologies that will render the older technologies "obsolete." The new technology will then be used to extract even more cash from consumers.
MP3's and file sharing are a way to break this cycle of expendable technology on which the recording industry grows ever richer (by the way, I have nothing against being wealthy). I will continue to use file sharing as long as it is available. I might even be willing to pay to use this technology if the choice of artists and music were expanded.