Reader Mail

Happy Days

Ben and Bob at home in America. Confined to quarters in Montana. Further Civil War reenactments. NAFTA, NAFTA. Still more rallying to the president's defense.

2.1.07

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TWO GREAT TASTES
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Ben Is So Right:

RET is quite right in praising Ben Stein's articles. I recall having people come up to me at a Lutheran church, saying, "Have you read Ben Stein in The American Spectator?" That was about 1988.

I appreciate Ben's patriotism and love for our soldiers. I get to teach active duty Marines from time to time. They are deserving of all our praise. In fact, I hand them good cigars whenever I can. I gave one to the wife of a Marine who was due home soon from Iraq. She smiled with tears in her eyes and said "Thank you." We should have tears in our eyes for what they do for us and for others.

That is what Ben Stein's articles do for so many -- help us to be grateful to God for our country, our soldiers, and their brave families.
-- Gregory L. Jackson, Ph.D.
Glendale, Arizona

I am a huge fan of Ben Stein's writing, and also of R. Emmett Tyrrell's. So don't take this the wrong way when I say that, to me, the U.S. has a tragic flaw: the abomination that is abortion. As long as we continue to allow an entire class of human beings to be so completely disenfranchised as to have no protectable interest even in their own lives (like we did in Dred Scott v. Sandford), the good we do in the world will not protect us from an unhappy end. President Lincoln put it better that I ever could in his Second Inaugural Address, when he wrote of blood drawn by the whip being repaid by blood drawn by the sword. When I think of the wide coverage of last week's anti-war temper tantrum, compared to the almost compete silence in the press about the much larger pro-life demonstration, even though both events occurred within days of each other at the same locale, I weep for my country.
-- Anne T. Stinneford
Chicago, Illinois

I'm glad that R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. took a break from his "spitball heaving" to laud Ben Stein, and trust that he feels better for having done so. However, I hope that he won't give up "heaving his diatribes" against those who would cloud America's heritage and future as a democratic republic.

Ben Stein has a nice way of expressing in words something like what Norman Rockwell did in paintings. He's cozy and heart-warming, rather like a solemn Fourth of July speech delivered after a rousing parade. His columns are also welcome for their artistry and nice turns of phrase. What's not to like, as far as they go?

However, I recall something about the price of liberty being eternal vigilance. After the heady celebrations of Independence Day we need spitballs and diatribes to be heaved in the direction of those who would compromise our heritage and our future for their own selfish or misguided political ends.

Sometimes, as I read Mr. Stein's musings, I have to wonder whether or not the life in Malibu and Beverly Hills for which he is so grateful may not be a mite too comfortable? Does he never feel the urgent need to launch a spitball or two in the direction of our ruling elites? Surely his next invitation to dinner at the White House wouldn't be jeopardized by a little such naughtiness?

Of course, gassing up his verging on antique Caddie regardless of the price of gas doesn't cut into the budget for heating his lovely homes, and record profits for the oil companies (to pick a topic on which I took issue with him on this page) are all to his advantage. I don't know anyone personally whose life is as blessed as Mr. Stein causes me to believe his must be, and I appreciate his postcards from that remote domain. I find it especially gratifying that he can live and work in that domain without becoming the sort of Hollywood jackass so adored by the main stream media.

So, Mr. Tyrrell, I see no reason for you to apologize for what it is that you do so well. Indulge yourself as you see fit in a nice soft column lauding America from time to time. No doubt it's good for the soul. In the main, however, leave the paeans to Mr. Stein without guilt. As a fellow spitball heaver, I know that your appreciation for the blessings of your life in our great county is not lacking. Rather, I see what you typically do as of service to the country. TAS provides a forum for many to voice concerns about those who would abuse our freedom and our system, and I wouldn't have it any other way, but you deserve a day off now and then.

I hope that no one will read this and conclude that I intend to diminish Mr. Stein's work. I wouldn't expect Norman Rockwell to have painted Guernica (but I'd surely be curious to have seen such an attempt). I wouldn't expect to see Mr. Tyrrell doing comic turns on my television, and frankly, I hope I never will. All in all, I'm quite happy with the contributions that Mr. Stein and Mr. Tyrrell make to these pages, for what it's worth. May God continue to bless them both.
-- Mark Fallert
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

CONFINED TO QUARTERS
Re: Happy Feder's My Two Bits:

Thank you for the best article I've seen in I don't remember how long!

Mr. Feder has neatly and plainly written just what Republicans in Government and elsewhere, really need to know.

I sincerely hope they will read it and take it to heart. If they don't, we will lose in 2008, and perhaps beyond.
-- Margaret Schlosser
Bethany Beach, Delaware

I enjoyed reading Mr. Feder's "Dear Mr. Elected Republican." What a wonderful letter, which sums up so very well, the kind of incident that happens in nearly everyone's life outside Washington, D.C. An articulate, confident person confronting some folks with no manners, no civility. I, too, wish that elected Republicans in Washington, D.C. would stand up in just the same way as Mr. Feder. I sometimes wonder why even President Bush, doesn't seem to ever just stand up and set the record straight with his well-known manners. It is a puzzle. I am just tired and feel like disengaging from the nightly news clips of the uncivil discourse.
-- Kathy Ridlon
Dallas, Texas

Pardon me if I applaud Happy Feder's open letter to elected Republicans using only one hand. Near the end of that missive, Mr. Feder admonishes:

"I, along with a few others who didn't vote for you last time around, would like to vote for you the next time around. "

It's awfully difficult to vote for someone "next time around" when he lost his seat the last time around, is it not?

In the last election, Democrat Jon Tester eked out a razor-thin (less than one percent) victory over incumbent Republican Senator Conrad Burns. Meanwhile, the Libertarian, Stan Jones, garnered 2.5% (which seems unusually high) of the total vote.

The way I see it, Mr. Feder -- along with those "few others" -- is responsible for the fact that the Democrats now have a one-seat majority in the Senate. Let us hope that he is at peace with the political mischief that sad fact portends.
-- David Gonzalez
Wheeling, Illinois

I read Happy Feder's piece, "My Two Bits," with great delight. It has been a long time since I laughed out loud over something so comical. In fact the last few weeks have been devilishly frustrating and more problematic than I expected and I was glad to picture the entire confrontation and its outcome.

Our son, a pilot, is in Iraq for the fourth time. And I have had to bear listening to folks of the ilk like Hagel, "the troops don't have time to watch C-Span" and others ready to paint a target fresh each day on my son's chest. I have found my own way to give them my two bits...I printed out a Congressional directory and each time one opens their trap, I call their office. It is very therapeutic and I have e-mailed other military families the same contact information. I figure an e-mail here, a phone call there, a faxed letter...who knows what difference I can make.

Not as satisfying as Feder's encounter but I have to say that had I been in his shoes, I would have been severely tempted to push the protester over the balcony rail. Being a cattle rancher in Texas, we have our ways of dealing with mean cows like that!
-- Beverly Gunn
East Texas Cattle Rancher
Proud mother of serving officer

Thank you, thank you, Mr. Feder. The conventional wisdom says the Republican loss in 2006 was all about Iraq. I'm sure Iraq had a part in it. However, my only son is an Army infantryman in Baghdad, and Iraq did not influence my vote. I think the biggest problem by far was Republicans ceasing to espouse or assert conservative viewpoints (thinking that earmarks -- read: handouts to local bigwigs -- was salvation). I am fed up with Republican overspending and passivity in the face of Democrats espousing big ticket policies proven to have failed here or elsewhere (universal health care). Big government Republicans will be the death of the Republican Party.
-- James Bruce
Santa Fe, New Mexico

YES, I agree. Freedom of speech is being carried to the PC level, after all you are not free to scream "FIRE" in a crowded place when there is not a fire. Freedom to protest is fine IF you are not interfering with the rights of others to see and hear what is going on. The problem with liberals is that no one has any rights but them, which is the reason I never call the Democrat party democratic.
-- Elaine Kyle

Actually, Montana has only three electoral votes.
-- Howard Hirsch
Dayton, Nevada (five electoral votes)

"Maybe I should have pressed charges -- I'd never be issued another speeding ticket in Montana."

Good God, Feder! How fast did you have to drive to get your last speeding ticket in Montana?
-- Dan Martin
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

GRAND OLD AMNESTY
Re: Philip Klein's The Immigration Trap:

Philip Klein seems concerned that the Republican Party's lack of interest in confronting the unlawful presence of illegal aliens over the past six years may cause the GOP serious heartburn in the presidential election of 2008. He ruminates that there are rumblings that GOP "immigration hawks" may nominate their own candidate, and, by so doing, prepare the groundwork for the election of you know who. Why is it that people like me who wish to see current immigration laws enforced are, invariably, referred to as "hard liners?" Regarding the actions -- or lack thereof -- of the unindicted co-conspirator of this debacle, the President of the United States, we hear very little, but, to quote the title of a song of my day, "It Takes Two to Tango." I would surely hope that Mr. Klein has not been hypnotized by the animadversions of Messrs. Limbaugh and Hannity, who rail against the RINOs in the Congress who have allowed the illegal alien situation to worsen, but forgot that, as Mr. Truman was known to say, "The buck stops here."

"No other issue remains more divided to Republicans than immigration," Mr. Klein rightly intones, although I would have questioned his elision of the adjective "illegal." But what I shall dispute is his quoting the commentary of Linda Chavez, a notorious GOP "open-borders" apologist, as a legitimate source advocating "comprehensive immigration reform," which, to her, means "amnesty." Current day journalism labels people who wish to enforce immigration law as "extremists," while applying to Chavez and her cohort, Tamar Jacoby, both of whom favor rewarding lawbreakers with "the path to citizenship," the designation "moderates" on this issue. Was it not Orwell who said that the decline in the accuracy of language was a precursor toward societal disintegration?

Although Mr. Klein's clairvoyance about future GOP presidential candidates is murky at best, and even has a hollow ring about it, on one point I know he is right: those of us "extremists" and/or "hard liners" will actively work against the candidacy of Sen. McCain. Whether it be the formation of a new party, or staying home on Election Day, Sen. McCain, by his actions in supporting every aspect of amnesty, as well as his too close a friendship with Mexico's former president, Vicente Fox, is the bete noire of those to us who believe we have been invaded.

The real problem that confronts the leadership of the Republican Party in dealing with this most divisive issue is how the GOP leadership, with a pro-amnesty figure as its Honorary Chairman, will address the actions, not the words, of its likely presidential candidates to be.

Signor Giuliani may claim that he inherited 400,000 illegal aliens when he took office, but he was also responsible for an ordinance which made it an offense for NYC employees to report illegal aliens to Federal authorities. New York remains a "sanctuary city," and the ordinance is still on the books. Sen. Brownback had the delightful idea of importing about 10,000 Somali tribesmen into this country on the condition that they NOT be sent to Kansas, his home state. (They were sent to Maine!) As for Romney, although he is the best of a sorry bunch on this issue, his decision to coordinate state and federal activities and information, as well as further police training in dealing with illegal aliens who commit crimes, came too late, and Deval Patrick, his successor, cancelled the agreement.

Despite Mr. Klein's effort to show that immigration may not be very high on the list of what American voters think important in '08, this issue will, in my judgment, prove to be not only decisive, but, possibly, a divisive one as well - assuming we have departed Iraq. As for the future of the GOP, the failure to deal effectively with the myriad problems caused by illegal immigration will determine if the party stays together, or splinters, with disastrous results in 2008 and beyond.

Pax tecum
-- Vincent Chiarello
Reston, Virginia

CIVIL WAR REENACTMENTS
Re: The "General Disagreement" letters in Reader Mail's Snow Day, Reader Mail's Civil Warring and H.W. Crocker III's Robert E. Lee: Icon of the South -- and American Hero:

I read with sadness the opinions expressed by many regarding Robert E. Lee. Several call him traitor while others say he should not be called a hero because he fought for a wrong cause. Concerning General Lee being a traitor, even a cursory study of history informs us that General Lee resigned his commission from the U.S. Army before accepting the commission of the Army of Northern Virginia. Technically, his fighting for another military force would not be considered treason. I do not find any cotemporaneous writings that refer to the military leadership of the South as traitors. The reality of the situation is that General Lee was faced with a decision to continue to serve and support the United States by taking arms against his fellow Virginians or to serve and support his home state of Virginia by taking arms against the United States.

Today, we answer that question based upon the result of the Civil War. General Lee did not have any historical perspective to use to make his decision. States' rights versus Federal government rights were not as "solidly" defined as they are today.

One quick question for those who believe that slavery was the only reason for the Civil War: why did it take almost two years of fighting for Abraham Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation? What was the early part of the war about?

I'm not sure who to attribute the following words to but they certainly ring true today:

War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things, the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth fighting for is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares about more than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

Perhaps, 21st century intellectuals would have had General Lee set out the war and not fight on either side. For some that would have been an easy choice. However, being a man of honor, integrity, and character, General Lee made a choice to serve his state and did not look back.

General Robert E. Lee was a better man then than many of us are today. I believe he would no doubt agree with the quoted sentiments today. May the United States grow more American heroes like General Robert E. Lee!
-- Brian
Crossville, Tennessee

What fun! Mr. Crocker seems to have teched off a new Civil War battle. Actually more like a skirmish. General Lee has seen heavier firing. One courageous gent was bold enough to take a pot shot with a snowball. Other than that it was mostly the tiresome old arguments developed by the left over the last 50 years. Some of the responses were fairly pompous and one castrati even cancelled his subscription, sniffing audibly. And all that yapping about treason -- save it for the junior Senator from Massachusetts, whose name isn't even fit to mention in the same paragraph, and is now betraying his country for the second time.
-- W. G. Wheatley

Defending the memory of Saint Robert E. Lee, Mr. Thom Bateman writes, and I quote:

"Second, Lee did not commit treason against the United States. He resigned his commission in the United States Armed forces. He was free from his obligation at that point."

Lee may have been free of his obligation to drill the troops, carry out the orders of his superiors, and clean up the mess hall. But no one is free of the obligation -- a moral obligation, by the way -- not to commit treason against one's country. Treason, says the Constitution, is levying war upon the United States, or adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. The Constitution does NOT say that it is giving aid and comfort to the enemies of this country while you're on the public payroll.

A simple distinction, but one Mr. Bateman conveniently ignores, as did a whole generation of Southern "good ole boys."
-- James F. Csank
Seven Hills, Ohio

I am among those who have, over time, remarked that the wrong side won the civil war. Mr. Crocker's piece on Lee seems to have aroused the political correct crowd. SLAVERY -- the shibboleth with which we beat our Southern brothers over the head. The excuse Lincoln used to spill all that blood. Your letter writers use that dread word to shut up all those who might want to have in depth discussions of matters that were the foundation for the blood baths that were to cleanse us of our guilt: Bull Runs; Antietam; Gettysburg et al.

One writer opined that had the Confederates won we would have had two countries at war in perpetuity. But would we or would there have been less domination of this nation by the heartless industrial northeast with its eyes cast in the direction of Europe for its loyalties. Would the socialist left we currently observe dominating one political party and intimidating the second, have had the success they have enjoyed since the thirties?

An oft repeated charge made by the Lee haters is that he was disloyal to his country and his oath. But what was the Constitutional basis for Lincoln's prosecution of the war? Have those shrieking traitor, commented on the fact that one or more northeastern state was threatening secession prior to Ft Sumter? Would THEY have been justified had THEY seceded?

Slavery has been (especially in today's PC times) attributed to the despicable South. They practiced it in their agriculture and, for a time, it was the foundation of the economy of the South. But, what of the Yankee traders and commercial shipping interests of the Northeast? What of the African brothers who profited? How long before such a vile system would crumble of its own weight? The movie "1776" appears on the TCM cable channel from time to time. Debate over the issue raged even when considering the question of Independence. The movie was of a musical on the ruminations of the Continental Congress wrestling with the question of Independence and an instructive song was performed by the South Carolina member debating the issue of slavery with notables like Adams and Jefferson. I submit that the issues put forth like states' Rights and slavery, to name two, were not the whole story. The story was the grab for raw power by those that possessed the hard steel for war making. Great emancipator? Or something else?

Finally: for those casting stones at Lee with sanctimonious references to loyalty. Patriotism. I ask: Where do we find the highest degree of loyalty and patriotism to this great country in its current time of danger? What region of this country personifies patriotism? Contributes more than its statistical share of service in our military?
-- Morris Turkelson
Lebanon, Ohio

"To those of you who think General Lee a traitor: It's you who put the "Damn" in Yankee."
-- Stammon

Let's not forget who won the Civil War, now.
-- Gene Schmidt
Brooklyn, New York

THE NAFTA MATH
Re: Ralph R. Reiland's Subsidized "Free Trade" and the "Trading Blows" letters in Reader Mail's Snow Day:

Dr. Reiland omits the fact that Mexican exports to the U.S. have quadrupled under NAFTA, and U.S. exports to Mexico have quadrupled under NAFTA (as has our trade deficit with Mexico, no small boon to the Mexican economy). Mexicans are flocking to Canada to work in the oil fields of Alberta, as Canada allows them to do so, much to the benefit of Canada and Mexico. Mexicans are flocking here illegally, although NAFTA was supposed to allow Mexican nationals to come here to work legally. We hypocritically prevented even Mexican truckers from hauling into the U.S. as they were supposed to be allowed to do (not to mention that we stiffed Canada on lumbar under NAFTA).

We are the bad guys on NAFTA. We could use a lot of Mexican workers to help build ethanol plants in the Midwest, to help rebuild New Orleans (is that what Mayor Nagin might actually have meant in his comments about New Orleans?), to work in many sectors of the American economy, but we refuse to allow them to do so, which hurts us and Mexico. The hypocrites here are us. Mexico could do a lot more to help, such as allow private companies to help run and expand their petroleum and natural gas sectors, as Canada does. Mexico should be booming like Alberta is booming. It's not merely a question of jobs going to China.

NAFTA actually was predicted to eliminate the border maquiladoras, which shows how uninformed the professor is. NAFTA was supposed to eliminate that narrow tariff-free border maquiladora zone so that Mexicans could stay in Monterrey and do the same jobs. Hence the highways planned from Monterrey to San Antonio, etc. But the U.S. has resisted all of this. It's not so much the problem of NAFTA as our reluctance to actually implement NAFTA as it was supposed to have developed. Felipe Calderon has a more vigorous agenda on expanding free trade and the private sector in Mexico, though he faces tough odds in actually getting something done. We should be helping him out.

One way would be to allow Mexican nationals to come to work in the U.S. legally; another would be to fully implement NAFTA. Another would be to stop the insane agricultural subsidies here in the U.S. That the doctor mentions. And one day, when the Oglala aquifer runs out, we might well wish that we had such a free trade arrangement with Mexico that we could go to Mexico to raise corn.
-- Kent Lyon

In one sense, I agree with Messrs. Vondera and Brogan re: Ralph R. Reiland's anti-free-trade rhetoric closely approximates that of notorious screwballs such as Klansman David Duke, UFO chaser and radio howler Chuck Harder, and, of course, anti-Semite Pat Buchanan.

But to be fair (and, after all, isn't Reiland for "fair" trade?), the controversial (and often berated) associate professor did pen an excellent essay last October entitled "Incentives Work -- The Bush Record." To be sure, he had to take just one more drink of the protectionist witches' brew when he wrote that "on international trade, flawed policies continue to place U.S. companies and workers on the downside of an unlevel playing field." But other than that, he presented an eloquent defense of Bush economic policy rarely seen in the media these days.

I do not think U.S. trade policy is "flawed"; I certainly do not think it is part of a Jewish-banker conspiracy to destroy the U.S. Conspiracy theories are for idiots who look to Homer Simpson and Ted Nugent for intellectual inspiration, who go to Sunday monster tractor pulls for cultural enlightenment. Ralph Reiland is most definitely not part of this atavistic sect; by the same token, he is not of the caliber of R. Emmett Tyrrell, Ben Stein, William F. Buckley, or George Will.
-- Daniel K. Weir
Atlanta, Georgia

TORTILLAS FLAT
Re: William Tucker's Bush the Gasoholic:

Mr. Tucker's quote of Matthew Wald about what we all already knew -- that using corn for ethanol will shorten supply and take "food off people's plates" along with reader Kenneth Parady's response about $18.00/dozen ears of corn are all too poignant.

A little headline from BBC News today points out that prices of tortillas in Mexico, made from imported American corn, have already skyrocketed due to speculators. The poor who depend on tortillas as a staple, are now hard-pressed to afford food. What happens if and when we go full-bore with the E-85 scam?
-- Erik Litvinchuk
Sacramento, California

FURTHER ECHOES
Re: Ben Stein's The Lynching of the President:

Thanks for once again saying that which needed to be said. We can always count on you for advice that is based on good old-fashioned common sense.

One thing that amazes me, Ben, is that most of Congress has selective amnesia - not only about the things they said supporting the invasion of Iraq, but the resolution that they signed in late 2002 authorizing the use of force.

While they are blaming the President for misleading them, their own resolution states that Congress itself determined that stockpiles of WMDs were in Iraq in 1998 - two years before Bush was elected. It also states a dozen other reasons for going to war, most of which have nothing to do with WMDs, and most of which predate the current administration. It's interesting that no one has made an issue of that.

Just so you know, I'm a 1971 Naval Academy graduate, served in nuclear submarines, and have been with with Northrop Grumman, where I'm now a contract administrator, for almost 28 years. I always enjoy your commentary and your very logical approach to things.

We need a voice of reason among that hysteria, so please keep up your great work.
-- Mike Cohen
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Very well said, few people understand that after all Mr. Bush is the only President we have and we should support him. I am a retired Military vet over 70 but I would go anywhere if the President said "go."
-- Charlie Shepherd
Bossier City, Louisiana

Nicely put and thanks. I wish many people could see this and hear this point of view. I pray for Mr. Bush daily -- I would not want to be in his shoes.
-- R. Miculka

What a wonderful article and what can the little person do about the media lynching my president?
-- LH
Byron, Georgia

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