Reader Mail

Grace Under Pressure

CNN's Nancy fails the Britney test. Ben Stein's Idaho secret. Huckabee fair-taxed. Seitzmograph readings. Classifying Reader Mailers. Plus more.

8.14.07

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SPEARS CARRIERS
Re: Ben Stein's CNN Must Be Crazy:

Ben Stein's little piece online about Nancy Grace and Britney Spears is of course exactly right. But he is forgetting two very important things.

First, CNN is not really a serious news network outside of its regular news hour. At midnight they don't count for anything.

Second, and more important, Nancy Grace is not a serious person. She takes herself seriously, of course, but that's not enough to qualify. She's sort of like Walter Winchell but with a worse voice. She's a voyeur, a sight-and-sound scandal sheet, a humorless, ghastly woman that no man could possibly stand. And besides, no one (relatively speaking) watches her, especially at midnight.

Don't worry about her, Ben. It's like worrying about the National Enquirer.

You should be fevering your brow about the New York Times and their front page the other day trying to bring about our defeat in Afghanistan now that they have failed to stop the surge in Iraq.

The New York Times is worth worrying about. Nancy Grace is not.
-- Stacey Lippman
West Palm Beach, Florida

Ben Stein is half right -- societies that much out of whack do not survive. But think of it this way. What is the easiest thing to do if you have the intelligence and attention span of a fourteen-year-old (which makes you an average citizen)? Do you focus on something simple and easy, like a silly, social cripple celebrity like Britney Spears, or do you think about the things Ben listed in his article? Britney wins every time. It isn't insane, but it sure is sad, pathetic and in the long run, highly self-destructive. This is why leadership is so important, to encourage people to move away from moral dead ends like Britney Spears and instead value the things that really matter. The real problem that Ben should have mentioned is that this level of leadership simply does not exist anymore, at any level or in any sector or institution. Britney Spears is the symptom, not the problem itself.

When a society dynamites every institution and belief that has real social value -- faith in God, belief in your country and what it stands for, the importance of marriage and family, the rule of law, the right to be born and to live, the importance of individual self discipline and responsibility -- then the only thing left is cheap, meaningless trash like Britney Spears. Don't expect a liberal to ever tell you that that this is the price you pay for buying their ideas.
-- Christopher Holland
Canberra, Australia

Whoa, Ben, chill, dude! That's not the news you're watching there. It's Nancy Grace. This is a woman whose lead story for months on end was Anna Nicole Smith, and when Lindsey Lohan skips a news cycle, she's got to go somewhere. (Disclaimer: I know this only because they go straight into that drek right on the heels of Glenn Beck, though sometimes he's not any better.) You might as well expect battlefield coverage from Oprah.
-- Stephen Foulard
Houston, Texas

Shhhhhhh; not so much on Sandpoint, Lake Pend'Oreille and northern Idaho. Everyone will want to go there! Many of us have tabbed that very most special place in the world as our final resting place upon retirement. But if you must brag about the place, don't forget the wonderful, friendly and supremely courteous citizenry and French-fried and twice-baked potatoes having no peer anywhere on this planet. And we love the trains.
-- Chuck and Donna Livingston
Ft. Worth, Texas

Right on, Mr. Stein!

The navel-gazing of our media in this country never ceases to amaze me. I am convinced they will all eventually implode, but I could be wrong.

After all, both you and I grew up in an era when children were still being educated in the school systems, and reality was still the norm.
-- R. Goodson
Vero Beach, Florida

I read your publication frequently, and much more often than not appreciate the ideas and arguments your writers proclaim, not least of all Mr. Stein.

However, I do take issue with his vehement decrial of the obsession our great American people have with Britney Spears' perceived shortcomings as both as mother and a person.

You see, what Mr. Stein fails to realize is that without Ms. Spears' faults to examine, we might have to look at our own. And no one likes introspection; it's so... blase'.
-- Rich Vana
Dallas, Texas

Ben, I love ya. I really do. But if you have cable...watch FOX! Duh!
-- P. Aaron Jones
Huntington Woods, Michigan

They're as crazy as loons, Ben. Nancy Grace is a disgrace.
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

BLUE DOGGIES
Re: The Prowler's Ready, Ames, Fire!:

Pleaseeeee give me a break -- how does being for higher taxes, national health care, cutting military spending (the first act of all Democrats was to cut funding for military housing and refuse a GOP request to expand VA benefits), increasing the size of the government bureaucracy, empowering labor union thugs, voting for the highest pork spending in U.S. history, doing nothing to support the pro-life movement, embracing homosexual unions, defending homosexual adoption rights, pushing for the emasculation of the First and Second Amendment and appeasing Muslim terrorists make one a conservative? The so-called blue-dog Democrats are NOT conservatives. They are sham conservatives or liberals cloaking themselves in moderately conservative rhetoric. Arlen Specter, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe and Chuck Hagel are more conservative than these charlatans.

As for Tennessee liberal John Tanner, he's Nancy Pelosi's "water boy." He insures that, if any blue-dog has an independent thought or thinks about voting for something good for the country, that rare independent thought is stifled and the errant Democrat toes to the party line. Stalin's henchmen weren't nearly as accomplished as Tanner in keeping the boss happy.

Describing these liberals as conservatives is a Democrat/media trick to dupe voters. This is the most radical Congress in U.S. history and the blue-dogs (what an insult to dogs) vote in lock step with their fellow Democrats on major issues. What problems have they caused for Nancy Pelosi? They all voted to make this acknowledged radical Speaker of the House just as their counterparts in the Senate voted to install "porker" and "conflict of interest" Harry Reid as Majority Leader. Maybe this is why the conservative movement is in disarray -- too many on our side cannot recognize a conservative and are easily fooled by frauds calling themselves conservatives (blue-dogs).
-- Michael Tomlinson
Jacksonville, North Carolina

Your idea for a fair tax is good in theory. But as long as you allow for a different rate for similar products but viewed differently politically we will have the same type of mess we have now. So if you allow a higher rate for say an SUV and a lower rate for a hybrid vehicle you allow the tax system to be used as a way to control what people purchase. This is one of the major problems with the current tax system we have now, it is not really set up to be a way to fund government but as a way to control what is produced and purchased.

One of the popular ideas currently is to raise a tax on fatty foods. It is designed to make it cost more to purchase fatty food and reduce consumption. The premise is not to raise more money to fund government but to control a type of product. This leaves is up to the government to decide what is fatty and what is healthy which depending on what is PC at the time changes all the time. Just look at the FDA reports and how many foods have changed from good to bad in the life of the FDA. To me if you really want to change the tax system is to make what ever goes through flat, or the same rate for everything or just eliminating taxes that are just designed to control production or consumption.
-- Luke Williams
Anchorage, Alaska

LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE
Re: Jennifer Rubin's The Primary Shuffle:

The following, and last, passage in Ms. Rubin's column is a laugh:

"So perhaps the only thing that is certain is that the candidate with the best organization, the most money, and the ability to spend time and money in multiple places will in the end cover his bets and come out ahead."

It seems to most voters, myself included, that the candidate with the best message "will in the end cover his bets and come out ahead."

Whether Iowa, and/or New Hampshire, and/or Nevada, and/or South Carolina is the first, or the best, or the last in the nation matters not a whit. What does matter is what the candidate brings to the table from a leadership standpoint. Big ideas will win the day, not trolling pundits who post their marginal conclusions when analyzing the timing of primaries.

Keep your eye on the ball!
-- Owen H. Carneal, Jr.
Yorktown, Virginia

As long we are looking at "what if" and who might do well with all the shifts in the primaries, maybe we can start looking at shearing and pairings as well. If Senator Thompson declares his candidacy soon, he will be able to run well in South Carolina, and then, according to recent data, Romney is not likely to place in the top two spots there. A third or worse place run will effectively cripple Romney's candidacy.

Further, with Senator Thompson campaigning well in the south, he can threaten Mayor Giuliani's front running status, but as Ms. Rubin noted, after South Carolina comes Super Duper Tuesday where America's Mayor and the other candidates face a much less socially conservative constituency; Giuliani has an excellent chance to regain his front runner status and knock Romney out of the race completely. Once Romney is out, it is a two-man race between Thompson and Giuliani.

Certainly Giuliani is known well as wearing a thin skin, but as long as Thompson and his team don't make their adversarial pursuit of the presidency personal, Giuliani is wily and sagacious enough to know that a Giuliani/Thompson ticket could be highly appealing to voters across the political spectrum and geographical boundaries, similar to JFK, adding LBJ's southern appeal to Kennedy's Eastern Establishment bono fides. This would nicely offset many of the strengths of a Clinton/Obama ticket. Social conservatives may not be happy with their choices for president, but it is worth remembering that sometimes a fair entrée can be saved with the proper side dish.
-- Ira M. Kessel
Rochester, New York

BUY ME STATES
Re: Andrew Cline's 'Turnaround King' Mitt Romney Buys Iowa, Expects Huge Profit This Winter:

Vermont's for sale and I think it could be bought for less than New Hampshire. After all, the flatlanders and Yorkers have been buying it up for pennies on the dollar for years, I'm sure they'd be happy to sell some of it. The only dominant industry we have up here is government largesse, so it shouldn't be too hard.
-- Pete Chagnon

ANOTHER URBAN LEGEND
Re: Lawrence Henry's In Praise of Yuppiedom:

Don't understand the reason for that column. It was so trivial and the subject so frivolous that I was very surprised it was published.

"Men helped with the house." Wow!!

It is very enjoyable when there is humor in the articles as long as the subject is not inane.
-- Kevin Thompson
Sleepy Hollow, Illinois

WHEN READERS ATTACK
Re: William McNeill's letter (under "Imagine That") in Reader Mail's Building Bridges:

William McNeill's letter this morning in response to Lawrence Henry's recent TAS article perpetuated a pair of stereotypes that are objectionable. To be fair, Mr. Henry was similarly off the mark in citing Yuppies (whatever that really means) for a special role in urban renewal.

First, McNeill complains that AmSpec readers are not appreciative of gay men who have brought their talents and sensitivities to bear in rehabbing decayed urban buildings. I was simply not aware that it was armies of gay men who brought life back to the many of our cities. I foolishly thought that such cities have been gentrified by people of all types -- gay, straight, single, married, black, white, male and female. Most of us are just thankful for the hard work and investment of EVERYONE who has made many cities more livable. Gay males merit no more consideration than other people -- including Yuppies -- who have contributed to this effort and I would wager that most AmSpec readers (if not writers) feel no need to single out one type of person for special recognition.

Second, I have apparently been operating under the misconception that gays were (and should be) part of American society as a whole, virtually indistinguishable from the rest of us. Mr. McNeill dances perilously close to the line in suggesting that gay males are somehow better equipped to have conducted urban gentrification than others. The image of gay men with fabric swatches, antique lamps and tasteful art may be a stereotype best put behind us.
-- Deane Fish
Altamont, New York

SEITZMOGRAPH
Re: Russell Seitz's letter (under "Newsweak") in Reader Mail's Building Bridges and Paul Chesser's Newsweek: Alarmed by Deniers:

Mr. Chesser claimed that Sharon Begley cited the 4th report by the Panel on Climate Change and Russell Seitz made it clear that there is no way she should be citing it if she can't even look at it yet. Somehow this ends up being a criticism of Mr. Chesser which I don't understand.

It is a giant surprise that the news part of the Wall Street Journal is a conservative enterprise. I guess that it might appear that way if you lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts. If Begley was citing something she hasn't looked at, why should we find her more credible if she was a conservative or wrote for a conservative newspaper? Why does Mr. Seitz reason this way? There is something to learn here. When Al Gore makes some ridiculous claim, it never seems that science community gives him much of a hard time, but Mr. Chesser gets it for Sharon Begley's sins. Of course Sharon and Al err on the side of more funding for government scientists. The details are not important if the heart is in the right place. This is the most important modern scientific principle.

Mr. Seitz can dress up "could," "possibly," "potentially" and "may" all he wants, but they tell a story. It definitely doesn't sound like something that is settled as many politicians say without criticism from any scientists. They are very soft ways of saying almost nothing. They are in fact weasel words. We expect "probably" or "definitely" from something that is called established science. In fact those soft words are just requests for more money to study the problem further. Mr. Seitz says that apparently non-scientists should say nothing while the scientific community get this all straightened out. This might make sense if there weren't purely political hacks trying to radically change our economy (strangely enough in a way they always thought it should be changed) based on the above-mentioned soft science. Most citizens can understand that we shouldn't make radical economic decisions based on climate models that aren't predictive. Only an academic would think this was a good idea.

I was hoping that Mr. Seitz would comment on the recent corrections to warmest year on record. Is this how science works? Hide information from your critics and when you get caught change things quietly? What about peer review? Why was an obvious systematic error found by others and not by the rubber stamping peer reviewers. I am sure that the lesson that James Hansen learned was that next time he should hide more information. Science has been corrupted by government funding and the in-bred science community. Unaccomplished salesmen are not measuring up well with the great men of the past.
-- Clifton Briner

I have a bone to pick with Mr. Seitz, and hopefully, it won't end up sticking in MY craw. Mr. Seitz questions Paul Chesser's usage of "weasel words" when describing the qualifiers "may, "could, "possibly," and others. Mr. Seitz considers these as nothing more than "candid acknowledgement" of the limitations known to exist in science.

And if that were absolutely true of the users of this "data," then I would agree. However, one need only look at the insistence of undertaking draconian measures in response to the "may" to understand that there is a vast "industry" out there that has no intention of accepting these scientific limitations.

One of the worst offenders is The Weather Channel. Recently, one of the talking airheads stated that if we implement the Kyoto agreement, then global warming will only increase by about six degrees F. If we don't implement Kyoto, than temperatures will rise by 25 degrees F.

How did they come up with this? Most of us have seen the "predictions" that global warming will produce increases ranging from about six to 25 degrees F. This range represents the results of various models, with some models predicting the lower six degrees, while other models predict 25 degrees. And if memory serves, most models predict that Kyoto implemented will only result in a decrease of about one degree F across this temperature spectrum.

So what does The Weather Channel do? Well, it isn't very spectacular to say Kyoto will only result in a one degree F lessening in global temperature increase. So they "mix" the data and take the results of the lowest "possible" increase as being the result of Kyoto implementation and the highest "possible" increase as being the result of no Kyoto. In simple words, with Kyoto we'll only see a six-degree increase. Without Kyoto, we'll see a 25-degree increase.

Is this part of the "candid acknowledgment" of the limitations in the scientific data? No, this is gross manipulation of data to push a particular point. It's the instant conversion of "may" to "will." It's an attempt to scare the bejezuz out of those who don't understand the "may, could, possible, etc," are indeed qualifiers and not absolute. But then, you can't shove policy down someone throat on a "could." If the warmistas would stick with the caveats, well, we wouldn't have to hear from them after a while.

The hilarity is seeing the same Weather Channel talking head go on about "building a lot of trust" after 25 years of service. Trust? I'd rather trust a viper. It won't lie about the weather.
-- Karl F. Auerbach
Eden, Utah

Here we go again. Mr. Seitz's artful manipulation of some words might lead the unwashed to believe that there is, indeed, chaos in our immediate future, of a nasty warming with sea-levels rising 'n all that stuff.

So I'll repeat the same wager (if Congressman Goodlatte hasn't outlawed it, as he attempted by legislating the Internet Wagering ban) offer as before, one still not accepted by Al Gore: The former Vice President and purveyor of all climatological knowledge states that the water's going to rise 23 feet -- and I say it won't even reach 23-INCHES.

Closest wins. Russell can suggest an amount, state the terms, or whatever...

Still, I doubt if he, Mr. Gore, the Daily Kos, Sheryl Crow, George Soros or NASA's prognosticating goofball/chief will accept; that ol' "put your money where your mouth (typing fingers) is (are)."
-- frost

UNCLASSIFIED READING
Re: Michael Tomlinson's and Mike Roush's letters (under "Paleoliberal") in Reader Mail's Building Bridges:

This is one of the things that I truly enjoy about TAS: the variety of people who read and comment on your articles.

You have people who correspond regularly with TASwho fall into easily defined classifications; paleocon, neocon, liberal, uberliberal, religious, irreligious, etc. There are also a large number who are just plain folks. They have, and voice, their own opinions; not conforming to the definition of any one group. They can be very conservative fiscally on the one hand and subscribe to current liberal global warming theories on the other. Some are patently kind, compassionate, religious Christians who also are strong proponents of strict border security and enforcement of current immigration laws. Like most of us, they seem conflicted, but are really people who develop opinions on each issue independently.

I will not embarrass myself or anyone else by attempting to classify anyone who corresponds with this publication by name. However, I hope that all of you continue to share your thoughts and opinions with the rest of us. It is thought provoking and just plain fun.
-- Michael Tobias
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

"The 'left' has nothing on the 'right' when it comes to lunacy." So states Mike Roush in his observations on comments about the newest fascist religion, "Global Warming." I would submit that there is a very valid and easy quantitative analysis of the difference between the Left and Right.

Add up the scores from the Nazis, Mao, Pol Pot and Stalin and you get over 200 million humans slaughtered in the name of fascist ideology. I see no difference in the probable outcome of the hysteria of the left on Global Warming and any of its other religions. Especially behind enemy lines in Seattle where you are screamed at in the street if you don't joyfully join the latest protest.

In fact, in consideration of the millions that have died of malaria as a direct result of the Left/Greens obtaining a hysteria based ban on DDT, it would seem to me that the New Left has a real jump on the scores of the old heavy hitters.
-- Craig Sarver
Seattle, Washington

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