Reader Mail

Not So Sharpton

Reverend Al & friends. The Gutless Old Party. Brooklyn's native son -- an A-Rod connection? Groping in Iraq and school. Consumption fever. Plus much more.

4.12.07

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IMUS IN THE MOURNING
Re: Ben Stein's Sharpton in the Morning:

I remember discovering Imus in my teen years during the early Seventies, when he first came to New York. His shtick then consisted mostly of skits, such as parodies of Southern radio preachers and crank calls (he once famously phoned an exotic car dealer in Indianapolis on the weekend of the 500 and tried to rent a Ferrari with its headlights taped for the afternoon), sandwiched in between the Top 40 tunes that were the bread-and-butter of his station. I listened on and off over the years when I lived in the NYC metro area, but quit about fifteen years ago while driving to work and suddenly realizing that listening to people loudly arguing and insulting each other was not the way I wanted to start my day. It's the same reason I don't listen to Howard Stern or Al Franken or Opie and Anthony or most rappers, or watch the various "comedy" specials that litter the cable airwaves. Life is short and filled with travail, anger, invective, and incivility, so much so that actively seeking such out as "entertainment" strikes me as masochistic and self-loathing.

Thanks to Ben Stein for his anecdote about the blowhard and evil hypocrite Sharpton -- I'd never heard that particular gem about Linda Fairstein. Despite my other feelings about Imus, I always thought he was intelligent and a savvy broadcaster. As an old radio hand myself, I've known since day one that the person with the mike always gets the last word, and that he thought he could accomplish anything by appearing on Sharpton's hatefest was sheer idiocy.

A last word about Sharpton. Imus hurt peoples' feelings with his foul and intemperate remarks. Sharpton ruined Stephen Pagones's life and directly led to the death of Yankel Rosenbaum and the seven employees of Freddy's Fashion Mart through his repeated racist and anti-Semitic screaming. Imus may have the tears of the Rutgers basketball squad on his hands; Sharpton has the blood of innocents on his.
-- Peter J. Lyden, III
Rumson, New Jersey

Ben Stein, the elegant writer states "...pitifully face-lifted Nancy Pelosi (I would bet a lot she's had a breast job, too--can you imagine that we have a Speaker of the House, third in line for the White House, so vain and superficial that at her age she has her breasts done?..."

MEEEEOOOOWWW, Ben!

If one of the girls had written this, everyone everywhere would be all over them for catty remarks. You go, Ben!
-- Judy Beumler
Louisville, Kentucky

I'm not a fan of Don Imus or Al Sharpton -- or Ben Stein. Mr. Stein's reference to Nancy Pelosi's hypothetical breast augmentation is tastelessness at its worst and is indicative of sophomoric judgment. Maybe he should make a formal apology too....
-- Abe Grossman
Pleasantville, New York

Way to go, Ben Stein.

I sat in complete disbelief as talking head Matt Lauer sat and "interviewed" Don Imus and the Rev. Al Sharpton and then asked the Rev. Sharpton if Mr. Imus's apology was good enough... indeed. I am no fan of the bumbling, stumbling Imus, who is a bore and is not in the least funny (except when he tries to be serious), but I couldn't believe he sat and took it from the likes of Sharpton. It didn't, however, surprise me that the collective vacant thinking of the talking heads in the media let Sharpton drone on without holding him accountable for the lies and racist remarks he has made in the past. I don't know so much that the media take him seriously. I think he is on because he attracts people's attentions -- much as a car wreck does.
-- Mike Kennedy
St. Cloud, Minnesota

Mr. Stein: Great short article -- right on. Thank you for speaking your insight. In the movie The Devil's Advocate -- where Al Pacino plays the Devil -- his last line in the movie is "Vanity defiantly my favorite sin." This movie is pretty graphic but is very telling, especially what's going on with Pelosi, Reid, Sharpton, Jackson and others lately. Sometimes movies do imitate life.
-- Kathy
Arizona

GUTLESS OLD PARTY
Re: The Washington Prowler's Republican Wimps:

When Pelosi and Waxman made their journey to Syria to communicate and influence Syria to settle a dispute with the United States, thus undermining the power of the President to conduct foreign policy, this is a clear violation of the Logan Act. It is a felony with a prison sentence up to three years. John Kerry did this when he met with North Vietnamese diplomats during the Vietnam war.

Do you think our spineless Republican House Representatives or our feckless Attorney General would call Pelosi on this violation of American Law?

Whatever happened to the investigation of the New York Times numerous outings of National Security Programs and CIA Operations? What about the treachery of Sandy Berger?

Nothing happened.

I would also recommend that any of President Bush's staff to exercise their fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when called before any of the Congressional hearing/investigation. The questions that would be asked would be ambiguous and tricky, with the intent of getting a charge of perjury.

The gutlessness of the Republican response to all this is demoralizing .
-- Fred Edwards

This is where the Republicans are losing ground and credibility. It is also at least a part of the last election losses. When the leadership and the elected representatives are gutless, spineless wimps, the base repudiates them. Nobody likes a patsy. That is what we are sick of. Grabbing your ankles for the liberals and waffling when a firm defense is required only encourages more demands. I guess the GOP leadership has learned nothing since 2000 and wants its minority status sustained. As long as they are spineless wimps, that is what they will have
-- Glenn Strong

And this surprises you, why?? I am very afraid that most Republicans we put in office just do not have a backbone.
-- Elaine Kyle

An apropos label for the spineless, squishy bunch of doormats Republicans have become. Unfortunately, once Democrats smelled blood in the water their appetite for political carrion became insatiable. With a relentless passion, eerily similar to that of Islamic extremists, they continue to hammer away at any perceived vulnerability of the GOP. They will continue to do so until Republicans put a stop to it by exposing their prevarications and distortions for what they are. Republicans resist confronting San Fran Nan, Harry Reid and the rest of their band of miscreants who are busily sowing seeds of discord by inventing scandals where none exist. Why?

I've never seen anything so pathetic in my life. Political discourse in this day and age has degenerated into spats between a party of whiners with no agenda except a list of grievances and a party without enough backbone to defend itself against even the most scurrilous attacks. This battle pits the craven against the complainers with the latter winning almost by default. It is time to call the mess in Washington what it is -- a cesspool -- and prepare ourselves to do what we do at home when we need to dispose of crap. Flush it all down the toilet!
-- Rick Arand
Lee's Summit, Missouri

I can't believe the Prowler is just now noticing the "wimp factor" in Republican Congress members.

Like Rush Limbaugh said the other day when relating the story of a man who had a testicle removed because it was diagnosed as cancerous. As it turned out the surgeon removed the wrong one, and the operation had to be repeated, which, as Rush stated "qualified the guy to run as a Republican for Congress."
-- Jim Karr
Blue Springs, Missouri

I hate to say this, Mr. Prowler, sir, but this surely in not news. There is nothing "new" about it. I am burdened with a good memory, and a long lasting one. I remember when the GOP staffer was able to access the Dems' files on the Senate computer for the Judiciary Committee. The Republican chairman, Orrin Hatch, had a hissy fit. He notified Senator Leahy, he ordered the accessing of the files by GOP staffers to cease, he turned all the documents over to the Dems, and he fired the staffer that made this strategic breakthrough, even though the documents proved that the Dems were playing partisan politics with judicial confirmations.

The GOP never did get serious with the scandal involving the intercepting and publishing transcripts of the telephone conversation between Newt Gingrich and John Boehner (sic). Look at the way that Dennis Hastert and other GOP "Leaders" chastised the FBI for the seizure of the "cold cash" and documents in a Dem member's office.

How about how Bush forbid the prosecution of Clinton staffers that vandalized the White House. How about the way that Bush refused to order Gonzales to prosecute "Socks" Berger to the full extent of the law. Or the way that no news media, nor federal bureaucrats suffered from the publication of National Defense secrets.

The Dems have always taken politics seriously. The GOP refuses to do so. That is why the GOP is called the "Stupid Party."
-- Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

Now you see why the Republicans are in the minority and the crazies are in charge. NO BACKBONES.
-- Pete Chagnon

Ho-hum........What else is new?
-- Judy Beumler
Louisville, Kentucky

A BROOKLYNITE'S VIEW
Re: Lisa Fabrizio's An American Hero:

While it is true that Jackie Robinson lived the last years of his life in Stamford, Connecticut, he was informally adopted by the Borough of Brooklyn as its native son when he arrived in 1947 to play for the hometown Dodgers. The Brooklyn connection never left the man, even after his death, for one will find highways, parks and schools named after #42. He is also buried there.

As a Brooklynite of ten when Robinson was brought up from Montreal, the Dodger's AAA farm team, I saw Robinson play over the course of a decade until 1957, when the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to their current digs in Los Angeles. Their crosstown rivals, the NY Giants, moved to San Francisco the same year. That said, Lisa Fabrizio's elegiac account of Robinson does, in my view, blur the distinction between fair reporting and hagiography.

Few of the younger readers of this site can understand what baseball meant to many Americans after World War II. It was not only "America's pastime," it was "the only game in town"; no other professional sport rivaled it for attention. Further, the game of baseball exhibited the virtues and vices associated with what might be called our traditions: the open spaces, the slow pace of the nine innings, and, like much of America, was segregated. Robinson, who started out playing first base, became an instant success in Brooklyn, and, to coin a phrase, "the rest is history." Almost. What Lisa Fabrizio has done is focused on the political side of Robinson. I shall leave to others if John Roosevelt Robinson was a Rockefeller Republican or not, but his "storied career" needs some clarification.

Robinson came to the Dodgers in 1947 at the age of 28, after service in World War II. In that duty he was far from alone, for many not only served, but, as in the case of one of baseball's great natural hitters, Ted Williams, had their careers interrupted again during the Korean War. In those years, baseball careers were subordinate to the national interest. Over the course of the next decade, Robinson would achieve a lifetime average of .311; good, but not extraordinary. His fielding excellence was limited by his inability to "go to his right," which led to his being moved from second to third base. Although not as fast as other players, on the base paths Robinson was extraordinary; he made a reputation by his ability to distract opposing pitchers, and to steal home plate. But what must also be included in this man's athletic career is, during his time with the Dodgers, he never was a major asset to the team during the Worlds Series. During Robinson's decade with the Dodgers, he played in six World Series: the Dodgers lost five; hence, the mantra: wait 'til next year. Clearly Robinson's hitting average did not help the Dodger cause: his hitting average for the six Series was under .230. In short, he was not a major factor during the Series, even when the Dodgers won in 1955.

Nonetheless, because of his breaking the color barrier, not, in my judgment, due to his extraordinary baseball talent, Robinson entered the Hall of Fame in 1962.

Pax tecum,
-- Vincent Chiarello
Reston, Virginia

TOUCHY FEELY EDUCTATION
Re: G. Tracy Mehan, III's Groping for God and Country -- And School:

I would like to comment on the article by G. Tracy Mehan, III regarding women in the service. I am a member of the National Guard and deployed to Iraq from March 2004 through Feb 2005. I was in a transportation unit stationed at LSA Anaconda north of Baghdad, with a primary mission of supplying the Marines at TQ (Al Taqqadum) outside Fallujah.

I disagree with the premise of the article that it is the men who assault the women. While that may be true in some cases, what I witnessed was women using their sexuality to utmost advantage in manipulating men. Whether it was inviting "boyfriends" over to their tent, requesting special assignments on convoys (I want to drive with so-and-so), or twisting schedules to be with their special someone. Nothing was apparently off limits and partnerships sprang up between both single and married soldiers, regardless of rank. In one case a male soldier was assaulted by a female when he refused her sexual advances. Not only did the women in our unit enjoy two to three times the private space in their tent (same size tent, one-third the people), but they put up privacy curtains all around so they could spend time with their boyfriends.

Some things may be excused during war time, but this type of behavior should never be. Not only did I see a soldier leave his post to assist a female companion change a tire during a convoy run, but inappropriate behavior and relationships caused as much trouble as any operational military concerns we had. Women in general tend to be emotional, and when you combine that with the stress of the situation we were in, it left many of us wondering which "person" we would encounter when we had to work with our female soldiers. Would it be the competent, professional soldier or the jilted lover?

As with all things, respect must be earned. For the first time in my memory, the Army is attempting to bring back the "warrior spirit" by instructing soldiers on close-quarters combat. Like the high school wrestling, this involves intimate contact with women as you are encouraged to choke them, lock elbow joints and otherwise subdue your opponent. Unlike wrestling, it could mean your life if you lose. Women claim to want equality, but when it boils down to it, few can compete on an equal footing with men in the arena of physical combat. So when a woman can actually defeat an opponent she earns respect. The forced bravado, foul language, tough demeanor adopted by some women in the Army all tend to diminish respect, not engender it. True equality means the job dictates the standard, regardless of who does the work. In the future, mechanical or robotic devices may allow soldiers of both sexes to lift heavy loads with ease, but what happens when that equipment breaks? Will everything come to a halt?

Women make a significant contribution to the military every day, but do not view them as the inherent victim of sexual harassment. From what I saw, women not only craved the attention, they flat out demanded it!

Warm regards,
-- Douglas J. Strock
Midland, Michigan

Thank you, Mr. Mehan, for your essay on this matter. Like you I also have a son who wrestles on his high school team. While he has so far in his three years of being on the team not yet had to wrestle a young lady from another school, the dread (that is the correct description) of such an occurrence weighs on both him and us, his parents. If you have never witnessed a boy/girl wrestling event you probably cannot understand how brutally creepy it is. No adult watching the match can feel that it is OK. It is very much school-sanctioned molestation. If this were a "date" the young people were engaged in, the girl's father would have every right to pommel the young man in defense of his daughters honor.

I have told my son to feel free to forfeit such a match with his parents' complete approval and support. While I have not discussed this possibility with my son's coach, I feel he would also support the action.

Also I might add, every time I have seen a boy/girl wrestling match the boy never goes full out. The aggression is noticeably toned down by the boy. Possibly we are still raising our sons to be gentleman.

Thanks again for your article.
-- Chuck Kazen

"...wrestling is not ballroom dancing which would be the ideal way to introduce young people to the opposite sex in an active, physical, yet relaxed manner, allowing for conversation and social interaction."

I am all for maintaining civility and a respectful distance between men and women; but...what planet did you come from?

As a young teenager, the prospect of meeting female teenage types and dancing with them terrified me and my friends. I would rather have been beat-up in gym class. They came with different -- most of us guys would say "more interesting" -- equipment than we had. They were (at that age) taller. And they made no secret of the fact they were much smarter than we were. Nothing like dancing to start off a young man's adventures among the opposite sex with an absolute failure.

Okay, when I was a young man dinosaurs roamed the earth. Fortunately, before my first driving license, I discovered girls were a lot more fun than basketball. Still, I learned more about respect and friendship for my girlfriends' going to our high school basketball games together than I ever did at a dance.

Dancing? That's not the hill I would want to die on.
-- Mike Dooley

CONSUMPTION JUNCTION
Re: John Tamny's Subprime Misunderstanding:

While I appreciate the larger point Mr. Tamny is attempting to make, my inner economist (BA '96, Drake University, alma mater of reigning Masters Champion Zach Johnson) cringed reading his article on the relationship between subprime lending, consumption, and economic growth.

Tamny refers to consumption spending as "simple transfers of wealth." Consumption spending is an exchange of wealth, not a transfer of wealth. Party A exchanges some portion of his wealth (say, money) for a mutually agreeable portion of Party B's wealth (say, a television). Both parties increase their wealth, as they themselves perceive it -- A now has the TV he wanted more than the money, and B now has the money he wanted more than he wanted the TV.

Tamny also says that buying a movie ticket enriches the actor but makes him $10 poorer. Not correct. Mr. Tamny would have presumably received some value from watching the movie. Again, there was an exchange of value, Mr. Tamny's $10 for the experience of watching a movie. He is not poorer (unless the movie was Beaches or The Warriors). Tamny repeats the same error when he says "...while the purchase of an expensive dinner makes the restaurant commensurately wealthier and the consumer less so..."

On the larger point, Mr. Tamny is correct in believing that the shakeout of the subprime lenders will lead to more efficient allocations of capital, i.e., to those that can put it to more productive use. I seriously doubt there will be any significant tightening of credit, however, because there is so much liquid capital in the world that must be put to use somewhere. I would expect interest rates to stay relatively low because of this, but with closer scrutiny by lenders of a borrower's ability to repay the loan. All in all, a good thing.
-- Sean Parnell
Vice President - External Affairs
The Heartland Institute
Chicago, Illinois

John Tamny replies:
Mr. Parnell makes good points about lending. Still, it's a simple reality that one man's consumption due to loans is another man's savings. There's no net consumption. Be it an exchange or transfer of wealth, capital is diminished when it's offered up for consumption rather than investment. If we consumed all that we had, we would be poor and would have no wealth. Simply put, there's no way to build net worth if every dollar coming in is spent.

As for the movie and restaurant visits, there are certainly life-enhancements to be gained from them. Having said that, while I might gain something from the next Vin Diesel movie doesn't change the reality that consumption without regard to saving would diminish capital and our economy.

IN DEFENSE OF THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT
Re: Abe Grossman's letter (under "UFO Seitzing") in Reader Mail's Down on the Pharma:

It has always been puzzling that many such as Mr. Grossman in the TAS letter section go out of their way to lob a few fireballs at conservative Christians and their dapper attire in blue suits and flag lapel pins. What is it about these intelligent people who embrace philosophical materialism so tightly that they feel the need to cast aspersions on those who are told are less gifted in the smarts department? People all over the world believe all sorts of things. Why get all worked up because some people who are obviously outside your social circle believe that the earth is only 4 thousand years old and that what exists now is how is always has been? As far as it goes, haven't you already won that battle?

For all their faults, whatever "conservative Christians" believe is less a function of what they believe about themselves than about what they believe about their God. These Christians couldn't care less about themselves being at the center of the universe than that they miraculously are the object of their loving God's concern. Why many intelligent people assume visitors from Mars or some more distant world would undermine the faith of these folk displays a lack of trying to understand "conservative Christians" as they understand themselves.

I am not a "conservative Christian" by your lights -- and they wouldn't have me. Yet, as I received the lessons of the catechism, I noticed even as a ten year old that neither the Apostle's nor the Nicene creeds said anything about men from Mars, the placement of the Sun to the earth, or the age of the world. That is because the Word of God isn't about any of that. The first chapter of the Gospel of John literally states that the Word pitched his tent "among us". No one actually believes "tent pitching" was the real import of those words. They speak volumes about the love of God. Only a radical materialism could believe empty space or vaguely earthly distant planets have anything to say about that.
-- Michael Dooley
Indianapolis, Indiana

NO MORE VIAGRA COMMERCIALS
Re: Letters under "Bitter Medicine" in Reader Mail's Down on the Pharma:

I always notice when anyone talks about the drug companies, they stress the high R&D costs. If these stupid companies would stop all their advertising and let the doctors prescribe, I'll bet they would save as much money as actual R&D.
-- Judy Barrett

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