FAIR AND BALANCED?
Re: Ben Stein's The Lynching of the President:
Their isn't a sane man alive today who would not wish that Stein's article on the lynching of the President be read aloud to every man woman and child in America. Good insight, Ben, and more power to you.
-- Robert H. Mounce
Ben Stein is correct in his article about the media trying to bash Bush into low approval ratings. The media Bush bashing played a large part in the last elections, sending many Republicans out of office as a consequence.
However, Mr. Stein sounds like a liberal Democrat with his class warfare rhetoric. In fact, he even sounds like Senator Webb on that point. There is no inequality in our economy. (That is a bunch of Leftist B.S. straight from their old Marxist rhetoric.). Our free market economy should be the only distributor of income and wealth, and our government should not interfere or try to reallocate what our free market economy has allocated. Mr. Stein calls himself an economist, but he is not much of one if he does not understand that point.
-- Carl Harris
San Antonio, Texas
I agree that our President is a good man who deserves our support. The amount of criticism and absolute cruelty directed his way is unconscionable. What can ordinary citizens do to counter this criticism?
-- Dr. Verna Benner Carson
While reading Mr. Stein's article I was waiting, breathlessly, for him to arrive at the logical conclusion of all his arguments about how the media are lynching the president. Mr Bush was correct to go into Iraq.
Mr. Stein needs to make that one final step and I believe he will find peace as to some extent he is a tortured soul. That final step is to understand that the Iraq war is not a blunder, a mistake and a huge misstep by Mr. Bush.
Why is the Iraq war not a blunder? It goes back to many things. First and foremost the festering sore of a UN unable to follow through on its own resolutions. Secondly, like a Darfur and a Rwanda where the U.S. was and is being criticized for not doing something, Saddam was up there with his atrocities. The payment of money to families who send their children into Israel to blow up innocent people and themselves. Yes, the WMD threat. All intelligence agencies, the Security Council as well agreed that he had them and that, based on past activities, he would use them. His pursuit of nuclear weapons which could be passed on to others. Then, and this is important, even in hindsight and not known at the time, the exposing of the oil for food debacle, to say the least, which was driving the inability of the UN to follow through on its resolutions because half of the security council were in bed with the murderer. The best example of unintended consequences. Then the no fly zone violations after his defeat in his Kuwait adventure.
All the above can be dismissed and replaced by the destruction of the Afghanistan Taliban and the logical next step, the democratization of both Iraq and Afghanistan. Why Iraq and not just Afghanistan? Simply because the foreign policy of the U.S. had been one of stability at all costs which meant supporting dictators as the trade off. Bush overturned the Yalta syndrome and put forth a policy of non support of dictators. Either the UN resolutions had meaning or did not have meaning.
Now Mr. Stein can find peace and with all his correct and courageous rationale as to what the media are doing he can now add the fact that he has finally seen the light about how the Middle East can and should be transformed.
-- Peter J. Paola
In a dubious defense of Bush, Ben Stein states, "But we all know we are getting out soon." Who does he think is responsible for us "getting out" and getting out "soon" (if that is even possible at this point)? Getting out is certainly not going to be credited to the Bush defenders and collaborators. This war will end only because of the persistence of its critics in congress and the American populace. And, with no thanks to Mr. Stein.
Also, let's face it, the media is not to blame for this debacle. The media is as fickle and transparent as Mr. Stein's cats and most of us know it.
-- David P. McClary
Traverse City, Michigan
Ben Stein seems to have conveniently forgotten that journalists sell newspapers (or web advertising) by exaggerating controversies. In fact, that is exactly what put The American Spectator on the map. Mr. Stein himself would have done the president a great service if he had implored him not to attack Iraq in 2003. Instead, Mr. Stein has been a patriotic cartoon of a troop supporter for nearly four years. Only now is he willing to say that the invasion was a mistake. For those of us who cringe at the sight of George W. Bush and enjoy listening to NPR with our cats, this is a moment of vindication. Don't worry, we're only going to shower Bush with the ignominy that he deserves -- we don't do lynchings, since we oppose the death penalty.
-- Abe Grossman
Pleasantville, New York
I too am utterly disgusted with the MSM, in fact I loathe it. My preference for media content has vastly narrowed over the years with my awareness of virtually any type of programming whether it is entertainment, news, or documentaries; conveyed through theaters, books, TV, or radio; all have their liberal ideology bleeding through.
I wouldn't mind it so much if conservatives had a fraction of the influence that liberals have over the MSM. But it demonstrates the power of media when a duly elected Republican majority is intimidated from using its own power vested in them by the people to do what they have been elected to do.
-- John Nelson
Your words, Ben
"True, we are mired in a war without end, costing us far too may great young and old Americans and too many limbs and wrecked families and vastly too much money. But we all know we're getting out soon. It was a huge mistake."
If everyone, politicians, the Media, Merle Haggard, the Dixie Chicks, etc., repeat the SAME thing over and over, even Ben Stein will believe it!
I am very sorry for the over 3,000 American deaths that have occurred in Iraq, but isn't war always a trade-off between objectives and casualties? What is the ultimate value of removing an imperial regime with its eyes and claws craving, and at times, seizing, control of territory in a region with vital Western interests? (Yes, that means oil, but if it was cut off, or we were held as economic hostages, what would our lives be like? The Depression would be a picnic by comparison, Ben!)
Is it in the interest of everyone in the world to give democracy a chance in such a moribund and dangerous region as the Middle East, the incubator of death for us infidels?
Was it good to remove Saddam from power just before he achieved his goals of removed sanctions and renewed WMD development? Wasn't that the chilling conclusion of the Duelfer Report? The maniac had tasted the blood of mass destruction within his own borders, and he DID preserve the means to continue his WMD programs that he had spent millions upon.
Would it have been better to let him loose and let him develop his weapons? To place them upon his steadily increasing range missiles? How "calamitous" would that war have been? Would it have ranked up there in the list of times of "unparalleled adversity?"
So, this war is calamitous? Compared to what other war? The war of Jenkins' ear?
Speak to my dad, who ran for the bunkers when the V-2s came raining down. If you could speak to the parents of the "Greatest Generation," could you defend your characterization of this war as being a mistake, with so many things at risk? American military deaths alone during WW2 exceeded 400,000!
Talk about calamitous and unparalleled adversity!
The West has become weak indeed if this all it can take and all it can do.
-- Jerome Ellard
I am a fan of yours, I like your sense of humor. But you are very naive if you think, "But we all know we're getting out soon."
GW and his cabal have long term plans for Iraq, and it doesn't matter to him how many kids have to die for him.
You believed in Nixon, he was a fraud and a loon. Now you're a cheerleader for another nut. When will you open your eyes? Perhaps when someone close to you gets killed by Bush.
-- Bill Remer
Ben Stein whines about the bankrupt, gas-bag, left-wing politicians and media lynching the President.
What in the hell is wrong with this White House -- why aren't they fighting back by simply telling the truth. A recent example: frail, little Lynne Cheney, who took Wolf Blitzer apart. Wolfie collapsed like the subversive gas bag that he and others of his ilk are -- vacuous. They cannot stand up to the truth!!
Why isn't the White House simply telling the truth and presenting the progress and accomplishments in Iraq. If the left wing politicians and their willing media accomplices are misrepresenting the Iraq situation, why won't the administration set up a camera crew with Tony Snow or someone else comfortable with a microphone and in front of a camera and present a weekly series of photo journalistic documentaries of conditions before our intervention and what has been accomplished to date (like FDR's fireside chats)?
We get little snippets here and there that Iraq is largely peaceful and their economy is booming -- why aren't we seeing this and so much more?? If the left-wing politicians and media won't, why isn't the administration taking charge and presenting the truth directly to the American people, like Reagan did so successfully.
Does this administration realize or understand the damage they are doing to the Conservative movement by hiding in the White House with the drapes drawn and allowing this leftist propaganda to prevail??!!
-- Robert Dickman
A Reagan Conservative
In your editorial you state: "My second point: no one elected the media to anything. If we let them lynch the man we elected as President we are throwing out the Constitution with the war in Iraq."
While true that no one "elected the media" in the sense that the President was elected, if 60 percent of the American people disapprove of the job the President is doing, and 60 percent of the media is expressing disdain for him, is that not representative of the will of the people who did elect him?
Another way to look at it:
While true that no one "elected the media," the people and pundits that you see "lynching" the President are there because people have voted for them with their remote controls. When they say something the American people don't like, the American people will change the channel and watch something else.
You are right to look upon the media with a cynic's eyes. They are a series of corporations and their interests are as self-serving as anyone else's. However, I believe you are wrong in assuming that those interests are politically motivated. Rather, I think, they are putting their backs to the winds of the polls in an effort to boost their ratings by telling the American public what they already want to hear.
After all, do you really believe that they would be saying these things about the President if his approval numbers were still posting north of 70 percent?
-- Justin Yandell
In response to Ben Stein, I must draw the comparison to President Carter's recent book. If the former President is being skewered by the press and the majority of the Jewish community for his word choice, then Mr. Stein should also be reprimanded for a lack of creativity and sensitivity in his decision.
To compare the criticism of Mr. Bush's administration to a lynching is to do a great injustice to those victims of real lynchings; a segment of our collective history that we are too quick to gloss over. Just as apartheid raises the specter and memories of the South African government and its abuses, so lynching reminds us of the hangings, beatings and torture of countless African-Americans throughout the country during the 20th century. Mr. Stein should rethink his word choice and remember that the press, having fallen asleep at the wheel for most of 2002 and 2003, are only trying to compensate for their lack of critical thinking in the build up to war. Just or not, that is part of the job description that Mr. Bush agreed to when he raised his right hand in 2000 and 2004.
-- Matthew Plunkett
Brooklyn, New York
Please advise Mr. Stein that an impeachment is a political process and the President can be impeached in the House, tried and convicted in the Senate, thus removed from office for cause, any cause. If it is deemed that he, Bush, is incompetent as Commander in Chief (my belief), then the body politic could remove him from office. We don't have to wait until he has consensual sex with another adult.
-- George Kernan
San Francisco, California
I guess Ben Stein is just going to ignore "The Thumpin'." OK.
But I believe that kind of ignorance will result in the majority of Americans remaining Democrats -- as they BECAME in 2006, like it or not -- for a decade, if not a generation.
Ben Stein can keep believing that it's all "the media's fault" that Bush is considered an incompetent failure by the voters. Or he can realize that the American people are the ones who now consider Bush an incompetent failure -- without the help (or hindrance, in the case of Fox News) of the media.
But if Ben continues to choose baloney instead of facing the Truth, his Party will not be trusted by the voters for many years to come. And November 2006 will be the beginning of the end for the GOP.
Ben Stein, keep up the great work...for the Democratic Party. (Yes, that's the proper grammar. Only ignorant fools enjoy the sound of a noun being used as an adjective. Now, wasn't I just taking about ignorant fools? I think I was.)
I've always liked you and I couldn't agree with you more about the media. However, I take issue with two of your points.
1. To the extent that Iraq is not won yet is because we didn't go in there Dresden-style. The reason for that is the successful feminization of the culture. Thanks a lot Liberals. Bush has made mistakes by holding the military back, but Iraq is not anything until it is finished, one way or another. To claim it a "mistake" before its conclusion is merely a prediction. You should write for ESPN as well.
2. Although I don't agree with corporate corruption, (I don't think any conservative does, unless he's a crook, but there are crooks on both sides of the ideological spectrum) what's with the anti-capitalist reference? "Although this is very unevenly distributed"? Maybe I'm not catching your sarcasm, but wealth is either evenly distributed (socialism) or it's not (capitalism). I've always known you to be a capitalist, so have you changed, or am I misunderstanding you?
If I'm right on 1 and 2, why are you writing for a conservative periodical like The American Spectator?
As usual, Ben Stein is graceful in his writing. Although, I disagree with his premise that invading Iraq was a mistake. Fight them there or fight them here? I choose the former.
If I were questioned in a national poll, I would register unhappiness/discontent with the war. My discontent would be that we are fighting politically correct battles and not kicking some serious ass. When soldiers must go through seven steps before they shoot a terrorist, something is very wrong.
Maybe this surge will finally permit soldiers to shoot to kill and sort it out later. We must scare the hell out of our enemy. It's the way wars have been won for four centuries. Now, hop to it -- please.
This President is a good man and a good President. He stands head and shoulders above his detractors who are Lilliputians in comparison.
-- Judy Beumler
I surmised a while ago that publishing one positive article about Iraq was the equivalent of knocking out a terrorist cell. The media and the Democrats must have figured this out too because they are fighting with the terrorists that are trying to topple Iraq and hand the U.S. a loss there.
War is ugly, and so is the media's reporting of it. The reaction of the uninformed (mainstream media feeders) is just as ugly. These guys like Hagel aren't even fighting and they have donned their own form of body armor.
We will win this war the day the media decides they can write positive stories about our president and our military. Until then, they are an enemy as much as the terrorists.
-- P. Aaron Jones
Huntington Woods, Michigan
The only reason the liberal media and white trash like Merle Haggard can rag on President Bush is because too many conservatives have joined the left in trashing him too. Well in about two-three years when Clinton-Obama starts raising taxes, reintroducing restrictive regulations on capitalism, unions have veto authority over business decisions, the military is gutted in the name of reform and fiscal responsibility, homosexual sodomy becomes enshrined in federal law as equal to traditional marriage, neo-NAZI legislation is passed condemning those "not worthy" of life to death, the First and Second amendments are shredded and Islamic terrorists are blowing up on Martha's Vineyard (one can only hope rich white appeasers will be their primary targets) the nation and conservatives will realize how short sighted they were with regards to President Bush....
-- Michael Tomlinson
Jacksonville, North Carolina
When did Ben Stein become embarrassed by his success and wealth? What happened to him to cause him to apparently believe he has not earned or is not worthy of the good fortune he is blessed with? I really used to enjoy reading his accounts, wifey and all, but now it seems impossible to get through his writing without some comments about unequal wealth distribution or some veiled reference to modern day robber barons of the boardroom.
Free advise is indeed worth what you pay for it but I still have some for Mr. Stein. Find the path you used to be on and follow it, it suits you much better.
-- Roger Ross
Ben Stein is an American Treasure...
Wonderful Ben Stein piece. Thank you.
-- Malka Rabinowitz
COURAGE UNDER FIRE
Re: John Renehan's Of This World:
As a veteran myself, I can attest to the authenticity of LT Renehan's feeling of disconnection as he leaves for the Middle East. And I can attest that he'll have that same feeling -- perhaps even more pronounced -- when he returns. No one can know what combat soldiers go through unless one has "been there." Intellectual understanding is nothing; it must be felt in the gut. That's why -- when I talk to soldiers, as I frequently do -- their pronounced support for their current mission, and their Commander-in-Chief, carry far more weight in my mind than the I-support-the-troops-not-the-mission crowd here at home. True support of the troops means supporting the mission for which they're giving so much. They hear, and they know that words are cheap.
-- Steve Ross
A beautiful piece, written by a hero, even before he goes into battle. John, hopefully you and your men will wield horrendous destructiveness on the enemy. They truly deserve it and you will be forgiven by God and your fellow man, do not worry about that.
Your men are very fortunate to have you as their leader and your girlfriend is very lucky indeed. Do not worry, she will wait for you.
God bless you and your men.
-- Gene Hauber
FOR WHOM THE BELL CURVES
Re: Paul Chesser's Who Needs Brains?:
It appears that Paul Chesser has misunderstood the thrust of Charles Murray's arguments, as set forth in Murray's three-part series on IQ and education in last week's Opinion Journal. The central theme of Murray's articles was that, due to a failure to appreciate the psycho-structural limitations imposed by IQ, contemporary American social policy unwisely emphasizes broadly improving general education at the K-12 and college levels as the key to bettering individuals and society. Murray takes a rather dim view of the potential for the "bottom half of the bell curve" to understand mathematics above simple arithmetic or the rules of proper grammar and spelling, let alone to engage in higher-level thinking and reasoning skills. What we commonly think of as a "liberal education," Murray argues, is the province of the IQ elite.
Contrary to Chesser's feel-good spin, Murray certainly is not arguing that "everyone can be a productive member of society, regardless of their brainpower and education, if they recognize both their limitations and their natural gifts." While Murray recognizes that a college education, as presently conceived, is of limited value to many people who go to college (including apparently Chesser himself, who did not finish college, but probably has a high IQ), he is not arguing that everyone has "natural gifts" or can be productive "regardless of their brainpower or education." Indeed, Murray argues that a more appropriate form of education, which he generally refers to as vocational education, is needed precisely to enable people with lower IQs to be more productive in life.
Ultimately, Chesser's closing point -- that "individuals are capable of great accomplishments despite intellectual mediocrity. Proof abounds that the same person who runs the floor shiner or the produce department can also end up running the company" -- is 180 degrees opposite of what Murray is arguing (and contrary to 99 percent of real world experience). Murray does not believe in the world of "equal opportunity" as envisioned by Chesser. Murray believes that the unequal distribution of IQ imposes much greater limitations on individual achievement than is suggested by Chesser's piece. Murray's views may be right or wrong, but Chesser's interpretation of them does not accurately convey the thrust of his arguments.
-- Steven M. Warshawsky
New York City, New York
Trying to put everyone on a college track sets too many students up for failure, delaying their pursuit of a more appropriate career choice. What really bothers me though is the arrogance of those who believe a college education is the only indication of intelligence. I have a brother in-law who can build, fix or assemble anything. Plumbing, electricity, carpentry and engine repair are simple common sense to him. I don't know how his IQ stacks up to the high-IQ types who spend their entire lives on college campuses, but I do know that the really high-IQ types who cannot function anywhere but on a college campus generally face income limitations of their own and they have fewer career options than those who have very high levels of mechanical knowledge.
-- Gregg Geil
Re: Mark Tooley's Getting Green Religion:
Rev. Cizik and his cabal of allies speak only for themselves. I was astounded that someone claiming to be an evangelical would say "If we believe that God will judge us for destroying Creation...." According to the Bible, I assume the ultimate authority for Rev. Cizik, it is clear that God, not man, will bring about the destruction of the created order.
Also, I find it incredibly fortuitous that when Rev. Cizik organized his "private retreat" to review the science, only those scientists and evangelical leaders sharing his ideological and political perspective on global warming showed up. Was that a clear message to Rev. Cizik that the Lord had placed His imprimatur on his cause? Perhaps that explains how he can speak with such moral clarity on an issue that most of the rest of the evangelical community does not find so clear cut.
Many evangelicals, myself included, find no moral imperative based upon the current scientific evidence to petition the federal government to act on behalf of either side of this issue. Neither can we justify a call to all evangelicals to stand in solidarity with those predicting immanent doom for our planet based upon our interpretation of Scripture.
The fact that the NAE does not take an official stand on global arming indicates that it too recognizes that Christians can hold divergent views regarding this issue without undermining Biblical morality. I am all for Christians standing up for Biblical principles that are backed by the authority of the Word of God. I applaud those who work to ensure government does not intrude upon the rights of people of faith. However, this appears to be an attempt by left-leaning members of the evangelical community to promote a political agenda at variance with the views of the majority of Christians and they are trying to sell it by cloaking it with a veneer of religiosity. I find that repulsive.
-- Rick Arand
Lee's Summit, Missouri
How seriously can God-fearing Christians take these evangelicals preaching man-made doom to the earth by global warming? Do they not understand that God's green earth is far more durable than anything man can do to it? This is not a license to excess or irresponsibility, but these doomsdayers should show some humility before thinking that our normal human activity actually alters the very earth God so perfectly created.
-- Peter Murphy
W. Sand Lake, New York
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Bad News for Sandy Berger:
I hope, when Sandy Berger is put on the lie detector under oath, he is also questioned about whether President Clinton or Senator Clinton had knowledge or requested the document theft.
-- Art Smith
I have been very upset with this administration's handling of anything from the Clinton era. They let them get away with trashing the offices as they leave, they roll over, belly up when the Dems complain about anything. The Republicans don't fight back over the corruption from the left, they just play nice and overlook it. The fact they let Berger off without jail time is just the last straw.
-- Elaine Kyle
Surely Mr. Tyrrell is way too knowledgeable about politics to wonder about the discrepancy in sentences in the incident cases. Surely Mr. Tyrrell knows that the reason that "Socks" Berger didn't go to jail, and that he hasn't taken his lie detector test, is because President George Bush does not want to cause discomfort to the Democrats. If Bush wanted the law enforced, it would be enforced. If Bush wanted the lie detector test administered, it would be done. All it would take is an off-hand remark to his chief of staff, or his communications director, or Dick Cheney, and word would be immediately sent to Atty. Gen. Gonzales to "git 'er done," and Bush wouldn't have "meddled" in law enforcement issues, don't you know.
At bottom, this is no different than when, on Jan. 21, 2001, the newly inaugurated George Bush decreed that the Clinton staff would not be bothered about the thousands of dollars of damage that they did to the executive offices in the White House and the Old Executive Office Building on their way out of office. It seems to me that Bush has spent his whole Presidency excusing the Democrats for something or other. That and sending Bubba on all kinds of missions with his own father. I believe that Dubya said that Bubba was just like a brother to him now. And look how much the Dems appreciate how nicey-nicey Bush has been to them. Sure changed the tone in Washington, didn't it?
-- Ken Shreve
If his name was Scooter instead of Sandy, he would be in jail.
-- Tom Bullock
West Covina, California
Re: A. DiPentima's letter (under "Writing Class") in Reader Mail's Going With the Wind:
A. DiPentima writes "it was TAS's reader rabble, something akin to the bleacher creatures who inhabit Yankee Stadium, who alerted Mr. Tucker to the
hockey stick fraud and the Medieval Warming Period."
Please advise Mr. DiPentima that this card carrying member of the aforementioned rabble never stooped below general admission tickets ($1.50 at the time) at the "House That Ruth Built," and once he had something better than a paper route religiously treated himself to lower level reserved (same level as box seats, and $4.50 at the time).
Duh noive uv dat guy!
-- Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey
REAL SPEED LIMITS
Re: Eric Peters's Speed Limit Senses:
Remembering Eric Peters's recent speed-limit article in TAS, here's my idea on speed limits and how to set them.
Highway computers monitor traffic on the interstate and calculate the average speed of the traffic. This number is radio-transmitted to electronic speed-limit signs, which display it.
That's how fast you're allowed to drive. Too much faster, and you get nailed. Speed limits are automatically self-adaptive to ideal values for the prevailing conditions.
-- Herb Flanagan
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