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Without a Prayer

Thoughts on the Right to Worship. Nuclear reactor jitters. The German intruder. Primary care. Plus much more.

9.28.07

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LET US PRAY
Re: Ben Stein's Right to Worship:

Ben is absolutely right. Though I fully believe that his statement is exactly what the Framers were going for in the First Amendment, it is apparent that the current incarnation of our courts has lost all its historical reference. I'm officially an Agnostic. I have my problems with Christianity in a personal fashion. But the blatant attacks on its institutions, worship, and holidays by anti-Christian institutions, such as the ACLU and others, sicken me. Especially when upheld by the Courts.
-- Charles Campbell
Austin, Texas

Ben Stein is a smart guy (I'd never be able to win any of his money), and he's a lawyer.

As such, Mr. Stein should realize that these words:

..."the right of Americans to worship as they please in public and private places shall not be abridged unless such worship poses an imminent threat to safety and public order, but that no one shall be forced to worship against his will at any time in any circumstance."

Would give carte-blanche to judges, school administrators, local police chiefs, magistrates, BATF agents, special prosecutors, and dog-catchers everywhere.

Judges will write lengthy opinions defining, and limiting, "worship." Those same opinions will define, and expand, "imminent threat." The sages will contort "safety" and "public order" beyond all understanding.

After all, if they can't understand this:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

Why should we confuse them further?
-- Dan Martin

What a crybaby! Ben Stein gets himself into trouble by aiding and abetting a dishonest creationist film production, and now he wants a prayer-rights amendment to the Constitution. The Iraq war having gone south, his pals in Washington streaming out in disgrace, he apparently has decided to reinvent himself as a religious rights activist. Since when does anyone in this country need a constitutional amendment to pray?

I had sworn off reading or writing to TAS, but this is too much. Why does Ben Stein get carte blanche to spout his whimsical, self-serving -- often immature and irresponsible -- opinions on this site? I guess you're hard up for celebrities -- even ex-game-show hosts.
-- Paul Dorell
Evanston, Illinois

With regard to Ben Stein's plea for a Right to Worship Amendment, there already is such an amendment in the Constitution. What makes Ben think the courts will interpret his amendment any more accurately than the one we already have?
-- Glen Hoffing
Shamong, New Jersey

"...pay for [an increase in the military payroll] with a surcharge on the incomes of the VERY rich."

Trouble is, the very rich don't have incomes. This is why wealthy congressmen have no compunction about raising taxes -- the taxes won't apply to them. Nice dream, though.
-- John McGuinness

Your few words on prayer just hit the right chord with me. Our son, Ben, an AF Cpt, just left for his sixth tour in a war zone. I pray for him nearly every waking minute and when I rise first thing in the morn, besides thanking the Lord for another new day, I ask Him to watch over my son, and the sons and daughters of others who fight for my freedom. And I remember to ask the good Lord to give a few of the idiots in Congress, a few good swift kicks, when He has the time.

Thank you for praying for my son.
-- Bev Gunn
East Texas Rancher

Ben Stein replies:
Thank you, Bev. God bless you and your son.

REACTOR JITTERS
Re: William Tucker's The Nuclear Renaissance Begins:

I can well remember the events leading to the demise of the fledging nuclear industry over forty years ago. At the time I worked for Westinghouse that was on the leading edge of both nuclear technology and nuclear fuels as was General Electric. We thought we were on ground floor of an exciting and expanding industry, but after the three-mile island incident, presidents Ford and Carter's ban on reprocessing nuclear fuels, sensational negative media coverage, failure of the reactor suppliers to agree to standard plant design in order to expedite licensing, and an absence of the comprehensive plan for handling spent fuels, the reactor and fuel business came to a screeching halt.

Note to Mr. Tucker: when you find a publisher, please let know so I can offer my book, Confessions of Cold War Warrior, for their consideration.
-- T.P. Bullock

For a couple of reasons, William Tucker's article on the first application for a new nuclear power plant in 34 years gave me a sense of deja vu all over again.

First, he writes that the 300+ employees of NRG Energy (a cute, if redundant, name) "work in one vast room sectioned by neat rows of parallel workstations." A company spokeswoman says that this is "very conductive [sic] to getting things done." My first job out of college was at a large aerospace company where maybe 1000 people worked in one extremely vast room. It was not conducive to anything positive. It did save a hell of a lot of money on modular furniture.

Second, he quotes the "cultured Princeton graduate" who runs NRG as saying "we're the new breed of energy company." The last guy I recall making that claim was also cultured. His name was Ken Lay.
-- Glen Hoffing
Shamong, New Jersey

I have long been against nuclear power but am open to being persuaded that it is safe and affordable. Among my concerns: Radon gas and other radioactive pollution released during uranium exploration and mining. The massive public subsidies we have seen in the past, including, who besides the American taxpayer will provide liability insurance? And do emergency safety systems actually work now, they didn't 25 years ago, so what exactly has changed? The article left a lot of questions unanswered. Otherwise, I'm all for it. I don't see carbon dioxide as a pollutant, the sun has been the source of global warming and cooling for eons. But oil, coal, etc., should be conserved for so many other practical uses. Considering the character of those nations who sell us most of our oil, a move toward energy independence is all to the good.
-- Gary Ogletree
Lawton, Oklahoma

Why is Mr. Tucker having a hard time finding a publisher for his new book Terrestrial Energy: How a Nuclear-Solar Alliance Can Rescue the Planet?

Are the publishing houses afraid of the subject?
-- Brian Jones

INTERNATIONAL INCIDENT
Re: Rory E. Morty's letter (under "Joke's on Us") in Reader Mail's The Leave Us Alone Condition:

How ironic that Mr. Morty excoriates Columbia University's President Bollinger for speaking uncomfortable truth to evil in his opening remarks before Ahmadinejad's sermon from the mount. Then he berates President Bush with the usual leftist canard about the U.S. being the world's leading violator of human rights. What a joke!

Mr. Morty, your ignorance and hostility towards two courageous individuals -- Presidents Bollinger and Bush -- is quite ironic in its hypocrisy. The megalomaniac who runs Iran kills homosexuals, sends armor piercing weapons to terrorists in Iraq to be used against American soldiers, imprisons and tortures academics in his universities, terrorizes women for the crime of showing a wisp of skin or hair, conceives of himself as the second coming, is building nukes to airmail to your country, Israel, France, the U.S. and other 'infidels,' and you are outraged that Bollinger didn't ass-kiss this pint-sized despot?

The U.S. rescued the world from a similar megalomaniac your country brought to power 68 years ago. Maybe you are sorry Hitler didn't succeed and you secretly wish Ahmadinejad will finish that German's messianic mission. Had it occurred to you that maybe Hitler got as far as he did because there wasn't a Bollinger to confront him in 1933? My only regret is that Bollinger didn't 'insult' Ahmadinejad more by demanding answers to his questions, rather than allowing the monkey to sanctimoniously sermonize, lying about or evading every issue Bollinger cited.

The U.S. spent the precious blood of 400,000 young men and women to rid the world of your 20th century tyrant. We will continue to rid the world of "petty dictators," You don't "engage and reconciliate," in Bollinger's words, with messianic ideologues who have said they will stop at nothing short of the annihilation of the Great and Little Satans, the U.S. and Israel. You destroy these miscreants! The UN, which Mr. Morty seems to think can solve all the world's problems, is impotent. It is deserving of far more strident 'bullying' than anything President Bush might have said.

And to answer your last question, Mr. Morty, we Americans ARE proud of the example of courage President Bush, our elected leader, and Columbia University President Bollinger displayed in the face of the rest of the world's cowardice towards despotic evil. You, a German, should well know about national cowardice in the face of evil.

Armed with the lesson of history which you conveniently ignore, we Americans will again rise to the call of duty and nip in the bud this petty Iranian despot -- before he gets to the point of power to which your Germany's Fuehrer was allowed to rise on the backs of cowardice you so perfectly exemplify.
-- Robert
New Jersey, USA

Thanks for your insightful letter. Never read it put that way before. How about showing us how well "dialog" works by taking a hike down Iran way and talking to their illustrious and "Distinguished" head of state, what's-his-name. Upon your arrival In Country, if we never see you again alive, with body parts intact, nice knowing you.

Morty? You're not really a German are you?
-- Carl Gordon Pyper
Monett, Missouri

I guess in Germany they just stab people in the back rather than the front. However insulting the president of Columbia University was to the president of Iran, the writer (Mr. Morty) doesn't seem bothered by what Iran's president actually does rather than what he says and how "insulting" that is to the world. Which says more about the German writer than it says about Mr. Bollinger (and should I say the whole German nation since he judges Americans by what one person says?).

That was one of the problems with the Columbia invitation to Ahmadinejad -- it gave Iran's president the excuse to play the victim to the mean old Columbian University president, which only gives America's haters another talking point. Well, boo hoo. We truly don't care what the leftist haters of America think. We'll continue to protect you from yourselves, although I truly don't know why.

In a complaint about Mr. Bush's presentation to the United Nations (a bunch of tinpot dictators and bureaucrats who only succeed in blowing big bucks and bashing the U.S. and Israel), Mr. Morty goes on to say, "In an age where engagement and reconciliation are emerging as the only avenues through which we can solve the massive political, economic and environmental problems we are presently confronted with, I think it is now patently clear that the United States is not fit to lead..."

By all means, Mr. Morty, take the reins of power. Let's see how much your country can accomplish. Let's look at what you've done to fix the Iranian problem. Let's keep talking until there's a mushroom cloud over Europe. Let's see how much better the world will be when there's no more United States to come to the rescue, you ingrate.
-- Deborah Durkee
Marietta, Georgia

I think it's been a couple of years since we've heard from our German reader friend, Herr Beaman, but Rory E. Morty does a fine imitation. First, get your facts straight; Ahmadinejad was not an invited guest of the U.S. He came under the guise of UN "business." Yes, he was invited to Columbia, and Bollinger was indeed shameful, but for reasons that are beyond your morally bereft comprehension. Funny that you refer to Ahmadinejad as a "distinguished guest;" some Americans were speculating the very thing, if Hitler would have been deemed a "distinguished guest" back in the late 30's. I suspect we know your answer.

You also forgot to mention that President Bush's promotion of human rights also includes having American troops in Germany still defending yours. I'm sure our soldiers in Iraq would welcome the added help. And finally, if America is not fit to lead, than anytime Germany and the UN want to fight this enemy with the tools of "engagement" and "reconciliation," have at it. We could use a good laugh.
-- A. DiPentima

In respect to Rory E. Morty's letter to TAS in connection with Jay D. Homnick's Funny Bone of Contention, in which he, amongst other things, compares Mr. Bush's apparent record of human rights abuses with those of President Ahmadinejad and then, in a fit of pique, condemns by inference the American public for not being ashamed if they are themselves not terribly ashamed at the atrocious example set by their leadership, I would like to ask him what he eats or drinks. Mr. Morty, is this not the leadership that bankrolled NATO during the Cold War so that countries like Germany could sleep safe at nights? Is this not the leadership that effectively keeps the UN solvent, and then suffers the various barbs from that den of iniquity? Is this not the leadership that supports freedoms in countries like yours, so you can feel so cozy about the wrongs done by the Ahmadinejad's of this world. How you can call that monster a distinguished guest is beyond my comprehension and possibly beyond that of my American cousins, too. Sleep well tonight Mr. Morty! I wonder if everyone in Iran will, under Ahmadinejad's "leadership."
-- G. Constable
Sydney, Australia

A question for our German letter-writing friend Rory Morty. How is your study of Arabic going? You are going to need it, pal. (Not that I disagree with a word you wrote about Lee Bollinger).
-- Glen Hoffing
Shamong, New Jersey

MOVE-OFF
Re: MSNBC's Erroneous Bully:

Mr. Shuster's reporting used to be held in high esteem in my household a couple years ago. Now not so much, at least since 2004.

This incident just goes to show the incredible laziness and unvarnished bias held by the drive-bys. It also shows how incredibly beholden everyone on the left-left and far-left (maybe not so much the moderate and center-left) are to extremist groups.

Looks like the only refuge now controlled by the mainstream is "gotcha journalism."

Don't expect to see an on-air correction to the record.
-- Owen H. Carneal
Yorktown, Virginia

No disagreements from me that Shuster and Matthews et al are hit men for Democrats and Move On. However, I checked out Tennessee congressional districts 7 (Blackburn) and 8 (Tanner) at this site.

It seems that Bon Aqua, Tennessee is just inside district 7, a little south of I-40, down highway 46. Just for the record.
-- John S. Cross
Birmingham, Alabama

David worked for Fox for a while, I think they must have seen the problem there. Reporters can ask the questions, but who do they think they are when they get arrogant and nasty, such as Schuster did and the guy he works for at MSNBC, Mathews. OH such a windbag!! They are so smart, I think they should be running for President, and other offices, they know so much more than anyone else!
-- Rita Nelson
Minnesota

A DAY AT THE OPRAH
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Health Care Is In:

Having been in various waiting rooms these last several weeks, I am made more aware of what is driving this health-care issue and who Hillary Clinton's base is. Daytime talk-show television is rife with hosts (hostesses?) who are promoting health care, nationalized insurance, and "for-the-children" rhetoric. The anti-Bush administration jokes are grist for the mill in the "discussions." Until some credible, enlightening, and entertaining conservative guests counter this message with an opposition, Market-based viewpoint, the votes will be heading to Hillary and more nanny-state government. The View, DeGeneres, and Winfrey are shaping the "women's vote..." unfortunately.
-- Kathleen

Today's St. Petersburg Times (September 27, 2007, Page 10A) carries an interesting article with the headline:

"Veterans health care still slow, incomplete"

It starts out

"Months after pledging to improve veterans care, the Bush administration [my note, OF COURSE] has yet to find clear answers to some of the worst problems afflicting wounded warriors, such as...providing personalized care, investigators say."

There is more, but, my question would be:

Will Hillary and the Democrats guarantee that their proposed nationalized health care solutions will be a major improvement over what the Government currently provides our veterans?

If the answer is "YES," our veterans aren't going to be happy.

If the answer is "NO," how is the population going to respond, knowing how Democrats complain about the lousy care provided by the Veterans Administration?
-- William Ackerman

PRIMARY CARE
Re: Peter Hannaford's Primary Relief Is on the Way:

What a wonderful idea!! However, Mr. Hannaford is absolutely correct. The regional primaries idea is so sensible there is absolutely no way, in heaven or hell, sixty our one hundred, prancing, preening Senators will ever agree to it.

The Senate's general rule of thumb is if it isn't complicated, convoluted and arcane, they aren't interested.
-- Judy Beumler
Phoenix, Arizona
P.S. If this idea comes to pass, I will personally apologize to each of the sixty who vote for it.

As to the Primary mess: Why can we only accept two candidates on Election Day? So what if there are 17 people to choose from in November? So what if 8 of them had a D after their name and 9 a R? I say, we lose the primaries completely and leave the whole race open. I also think that Electoral votes should fall to an Electoral district and not the State. I think that between these two improvements of the current system, we would see a serious third party option start to emerge. And maybe even more than three parties. Then maybe, just maybe, we could have real change in our Government.
-- Charles Campbell
Austin, Texas

Reform is needed, but it all still takes place too soon. Maybe we should hold primaries in September, conventions in October, and the election in November. The less opportunity we have to know who the candidate is, the less time we have to get sick of him.
-- Robert Nowall
Cape Coral, Florida

SO SUE ME
Re: Shawn Macomber's Nannies Come Home to Roost:

The Nanny State is holding hands with the Tort Lawyers, Tweedledee and Tweedledom. What happened to the time when if someone hurt themselves by their own negligence, they didn't need to find someone to sue?
-- Fred Edwards

POTENT PEBBLES
Re: George H. Wittman's The Wild West in Baghdad:

This heavy use of contractors by the military in Iraq puts me in mind of The Sand Pebbles book and movie. In order for the sailors to stand watch, they let Chinese workers take over the running of everything else on board their ship.

As I recall -- it's been awhile since I read or saw either of them -- the end result was disastrous...
-- Robert Nowall
Cape Coral, Florida

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