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Eternally Grateful

Ben Stein visits the White House (though not everyone approves). Also: Jimmy Carter has a huge lobby of his own. So does Michael Savage. Plus much more.

12.13.06

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AMERICA'S HOME
Re: Ben Stein's Dinner With the Bushes:

Once again, Ben Stein, you remind us of how lucky we are to live in America. My parents came from Ireland and were eternally grateful to be here. My son is serving his 18th year as a pilot in the military, and is willing to perform that duty as long as he is needed. My job is teaching ESL at a community college, so I hear first-hand what a glorious place America is. Keep spreading that message. Happy holidays.
-- Margo McNally

Once again, I'm reminded of why Ben Stein is one of my very favorite pundits (among the many hats he wears). I will never tire of hearing Ben point out how blessed we are to be Americans!
-- C.D. Hill

Thank you for providing this. Please let Ben Stein know that I so appreciated the simple reminder of the greatness of this nation:

"Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. And, of course, Happy Hanukah, to us all."
-- Rich Brown
Owasso, Oklahoma

Mr. Stein, THX again for a thoughtful note. Even on the few occasions when we might disagree, I find your insights to be positive and uplifting. In your article you mentioned that President Bush appeared "A challenged, thoughtful man." I would think so.

Can you imagine what it must be like to have done everything you could to protect your country from a proven enemy, only to have not only your adversaries, but those who had styled themselves your friends to leave you standing virtually alone. How must it feel to be continually denigrated and criticized for doing those things that any patriotic national leader would have done almost unthinkingly just a generation ago? What must happen next to arouse us from this stupor we've fallen back into since 9/11? Knowing that most of the US and world political establishment is retreating in the face of a foe that is relentless in the belief that we and our free society must be destroyed must provoke dark thoughts in this man. And what a farce that the previous president, so hollow and frivolous and self absorbed, is popular and celebrated, though much of what he did, or didn't do, brought us into the sad and dangerous circumstances we now find surrounding us.

I believe that history will ultimately vindicate Mr. Bush, much as it has Truman and Reagan. But even if it doesn't, because after all, history is written by men, I know that he'll stand in front of his God and hear, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." Many of those who now abandon this fight, and this president, may well hear, "Depart from me, ye who work iniquity. I never knew you."

Thank you one more time for standing fast.
-- Tim Jones
Cordova, Tennessee

Regarding the online article, "Dinner with the Bushes," Dec. 13: Will editors please put a moratorium on the pundits-dining-with-the President articles, where gaga lapdogs soak up the White House during White House-organized calculated, obligatory business functions to impress the peasants (that's us) by asking their representatives -- the pundits -- to an evening supper to fool them into thinking they -- and by extension, their listeners/readers -- are part of an elite in-crowd. Yes, for the mere price of acting interested, the White House and star politicians reap the reward of dutifully impressed pundits/columnists displaying starstruck, teenybopper attitudes and who report back to the masses about their contact with the stars in subsequent columns and broadcasts. It's quite a scam, designed to impress the little people (that's us) with the faux grandeur of the type of PR ploys movie execs use in press junkets, where the critics get to mix in with the stars and pretend they're important, crowding out the realization the organizers consider the whole thing just another "useful idiots" occasion. Are any of these people invited to the White House asking about the illegal alien invasion, returning money back to the taxpayers that elected officials stole to live their lifestyles and feed their circling shark lobbyists, or telling them to mind their own business when it comes to federalizing schools and healthcare? No, that would be in very bad taste, and they would not get invited back. I have special respect and admiration for those pundits and talk show hosts who don't get asked to the White House. At least I know they stand as independent observers and commentators.
-- Caroline Miranda
North Hollywood, California

This is America? Indeed. Amen and shalom! Always
and forever! With tears in my eyes.
-- SPC Snuffy Smith
Back from Iraq

THE CARTER LOBBY
Re: Joel Himelfarb's Jimmy Carter's "Jewish Problem":

I can understand why the Jewish lobby wouldn't care much for Jimmy Carter. Besides his recognition of the Palestinian cause, he was generally an ineffectual president. But in Carter's defense, many of the economic woes that confronted his administration were beyond his control. And his message is primarily one of pacifism, not of choosing favorite allies. I am puzzled why conservatives, who supposedly include in their ranks many devout Christians, are troubled by the concept of pacifism. Or perhaps I've missed something and The American Spectator has been purchased by AIPAC. America needs more people like Jimmy Carter and Tony Judt to break the stranglehold that one tiny country has on its foreign policy.
-- Abe Grossman
Pleasantville, New York

The name Jimmy Carter has been known to us for a long time now (would that it were not so) but every once in awhile I think about my first reaction to that name. What adult refers to himself and demands that others refer to him as "Jimmy"? We should have known from the very first that this man was not normal. Perhaps he's always been an anti-Semite, but perhaps he's just going with the fashion now just as he went with the fashion of the '70s when we all tried vainly to remain young by, among other things, calling ourselves by our childhood nicknames. In any event, he's the canary in the coal mine. He's saying what all the fashionable people are thinking. We have been warned.
-- Pam Lange
Chagrin Falls, Ohio

"...he understands that Carter is losing his tenuous grip on reality." I think Joel Himelfarb is being kind to Joel Stein AND Jimmie Carter. I, for one, am astounded that an educated, Jewish man such as Joel Stein could work for Jimmie Carter AT ALL. Hateful, small minded and racist -- all those traits were obvious from the very beginning of his Presidency.

Mr. Carter is our worst President (remember 13% inflation, 20% interest rates and 7% unemployment?) I am one American who thought he was dreadfully un-intelligent from the moment he got out of his warm car and walked down Pennsylvania Avenue in weather of less than 5 degrees right after his swearing-in. The man received way-way more credit than he ever deserved. Building houses was just his speed.
-- Judy Beumler
Louisville, Kentucky

I as a Jew fell instinctively that Jimmy Carter is an anti-Semite. Those friends of mine who are minorities say it is not what a man says, but what a man fails to say that defines his attitude towards humanity. When President Carter refuses to acknowledge the incredible suffering and segregation of Jews by Arabs, either through acts of terrorism or State diplomacy, and only points out or gives modest credence to it, he shows his lack of compassion to me and my children.
-- Moshe

Ken Stein spent years as a toady and "court Jew". Now he understands what a Jew-hater Carter (the worst president in history) is. Stein is an enabler. What a way to spend your adult career. He is beyond rehabilitation. Too little, too late, Ken.
-- Louise in Maryland

Why do you not address the simple truth at the core of President Carter's research which is that most Israelis actually want to integrate and break down the walls between themselves and the Palestinians, and in truth, it is the fixed interests of a few wealthy politicians, and businessmen playing monopoly games for territory, power, resource, and influence that really continues to drive all these problems forward.

You speak as if Mr. Carter is some kind of anti-Semite, because he has the courage to recognize the imbalance of the situation... As far as Palestinian on Palestinian violence goes, don't all impoverished urban classes everywhere have amplified instances of internal cultural violence? Look at the black ghettos in the U.S. or the City of God in South America. And if the rich practice violence at arms length by impoverishing others or enforcing their will with tanks, that is still violence, on their own people or any other.

Furthermore, and most importantly, I would guess from your name that you are in fact Jewish. That being the case, do you not recognize that the Palestinians are all your relatives? The children of Ishmael. You all share a common Grandfather Abraham.

Mr. Carter is looking for Peace, and he's taking a hard look at issues others would rather ignore or remain unbalanced and biased and racist about. And if you don't believe that Palestinians are your brothers and sisters, then aren't you really the racist, if a separatist, policy is what you support? I assure you, in the eyes of reality, God and the Universe, it is the peacemakers who are blessed. Be careful how you besmirch the names of honorable men. You tread on thin ice, sir.

Also, don't you find it ironic, considering what happened to the Jews in WWII that Palestine under Jewish authority has become not so dissimilar from the Warsaw ghettos and the like.

We are all One People, Mr. Himelfarb. If you are in a position to speak to all the masses of this world from your job as assistant editor there, isn't it your responsibility to make peace and not war? Doesn't the Torah require this of you?

Please be considerate of the reason of grace and not the blind Mob.

It is your duty to all people.
-- Brian Gager
Pittsburgh Pennsylvania

Have you ever for one minute considered what price the United States has paid for its lop-sided support of Israel?

Frankly, it is just more than a little bit difficult for American foreign policy proponents to attempt to convince the world--and especially the Islamic world--that their policies are in any sense even-handed. It seems highly improbable that the enormous problems that the Bush Administration now confronts will ever be even remotely solved until some semblance of balance is restored to the Israeli-Palestinian mess. The current 99 to 1 ratio is about 49 per cent "out of whack".

Frankly, former President Carter has studied the situation very carefully over many years and notes the terrible discrepancy in the current approach. Your article is another example of those written by propagandists that wouldn't recognize "fair and balanced" were it to hit them in the face.

America is in serious trouble and articles like yours, not only don't help, but worsen our plight.
-- Jean Langford

CLASS DISMISSED
Re: Lisa Fabrizio's More Ali Rap:

'Tis the Christmas season, so I'll take a moment respite from the political wars and the war on terrorism, to comment on something mundane, but for football fans, certainly not trivial. Lisa Fabrizio commented on LaDainian Tomlinson's lack of antics when scoring a touchdown. I noticed the same thing this past weekend as he romped through the Broncos defense. As an old school football fan, I immediately became a LaDainian Tomlinson fan upon watching his classy play. I have also noticed over the years that the great running backs and receivers all act with equal dignity when scoring. Do you recall antics from Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, and Emmitt Smith? Or how about Jerry Rice? Now compare them to the flavor of the day -- Ocho Cinco, or rather Chad Johnson, or that not to be out done Terrell Owens.

ESPN does no favors for true sports aficionados, as it encourages kids through its telecasts to celebrate every play, whether it be a routine tackle, a sack, or heaven forbid, a basketball layup. ESPN's commercial this fall in which a portion of the Sports Center team is helping Chad Johnson devise new celebration routines is only too telling of their attitude. To paraphrase Coach Lombardi -- celebrating isn't the only thing, it's everything.

Merry Christmas!
-- Tom Fries
Dublin, Ohio

TIME OFF
Re: Quin Hillyer's Celebrating the End of a Congress:

"Rep. Jack Kingston's (R-Ga.) complaints about how the five-day work-week will affect congressional families are misplaced. He is hired by his constituents to be a legislator. That's his job. If it takes him away from his family too much, he should move his family to Washington."

I am always of two minds about these self-serving little men and their complaints of over-work. On one hand, how dare they complain about their exertions on our behalf when they actually work only a couple of months a year for an ever-escalating salary! On the other hand, I celebrate when our legislators leave DC for extended periods. It lessens the damage they can do to me.

For a long time, I have thought legislators should receive compensation directly from the states they serve. I'll bet that would do a lot to deflate the egos of our prancing and preening servants. To learn how their constituents actually value them and their work could be a very sobering moment.
-- Judy Beumler
Louisville, Kentucky

FIREBOMBING
Re: Paul Johnson's Operation Overload:

I remember while reading Mr. Johnson's Modern Times he wrote something to the effect that the longer a war goes on the more each side resorts to brutality. This is what comes to mind when the subject of the bombing of Dresden comes up. I understand this was "total war" as we haven't had since and I am far an expert in military matters. But the question I have had is why did Dresden have to be firebombed? I don't question the need to bomb Dresden; but why in that particular fashion. Dead is dead it can be said; but firebombing seems to be aimed at killing civilians who manage to survive the blast.

I would wager that memories of the collateral damage involved in winning WW II in part are responsible for the development of precision weapons designed to only take out their target with minimal loss of civilian life. Perhaps we have advanced in the art of warfare since then; or maybe we are just fooling ourselves to what would really happen if we got into another desperate war. I would just like to understand those men as they understood themselves and their predicament.
-- Mike Dooley

SAVAGE NATION
Re: Christopher Orlet's Kindly Uncle Saddam:

I have enjoyed your magazine for many years and it was a sustaining force, along with Rush Limbaugh, during the dreary Clinton years. I think The American Spectator is too far into the Bush-bot camp, however, and fifty bucks a year begins to look onerous after being called a "mouth-breather" for listening to Dr. Michael Savage.

Besides being the most educated man on the radio, Dr. Savage is fast-witted, funny, and one of the few men left capable of outrage in our numbed and perilous age. Other major hosts are compromised by personal problems, corporate ownership, or just plain mediocrity. One bragged that nobody ever told him what to talk about on the radio, but he knows who signs his checks.

There is little doubt about what would happen if he devoted a three hour show to Murdoch and the sheik, and why Fox News is no longer cutting edge.

Your magazine is soft on Bush, but the major offenses this year emanate from your website. Are the authors paid so little that you must hire liberals to obtain content? The odious defense of Open Borders comes to mind in an article by Brandon Crocker. The rebuttals were extensive, including one from me. It is to your credit that you published them, but one would think that the experience might have jarred some people out of their complacency at your magazine. Is Ben Stein the only conservative left here with the integrity to criticize the glaring failures of the Bush Dynasty, or the criminal and demoralizing examples set by the corporate slime of our new Gilded Age?

Stein is a big plus in your increasingly shaky enterprise, but I doubt one man is enough to hold it all up. I think the real problem here is the shattering of our once common culture into numerous bubbles. If The American Spectator chooses to remain in its smug journalistic bubble, it is free to do so at its own peril. Michael Savage, abrasive as you find him to be, satiates a hunger for the truth that you do not. I suggest you start listening to him and learning, or risk becoming as relevant as the New York Times.
-- John
P.S. I do not support re-installing Saddam in Iraq, but Savage brings into focus a teaching point about the tendency of Muslim populations to be quiescent only when governed by ruthless force. Why is this? What does this suggest? Is our soft, muddled, PC approach any better? Could Bush have done better? Is it worth the added casualties, hardships, and legal torments inflicted on U.S. soldiers? I'll leave the answers to you, the mighty nose-breathers of The American Spectator.

I serve as interim CEO for high technology companies in the West. I have founded two technology companies: merged one, sold the other. I hold masters degrees from Georgetown (MS in Foreign Service) and Stanford (MBA).

I am also a frequent listener to Michael Savage's nationally syndicated "The Savage Nation." I find Mr. Savage's assessments of the domestic and international situations to be to the point, and definitively and refreshingly non-PC.

I note that the bio on Mr. Orlet states only that he is "a frequent contributor" to your site. Yet, he feels comfortable in describing those who choose to listen to Savage as "mouth breathers."

Hardly amusing.

Frankly, I believe that if Mr. Orlet would like to see a clear picture of the nearest lackwit, he need only look in a mirror.
-- Phil Gioia
San Francisco, California

How dare you bad-mouth Michael Savage and call me a mouth-feeder.

Shame on you.
-- Adi Zarhy

Christopher Orlet replies:
At least one person agrees with me about Dr. Michael Alan Weiner (a.k.a. Michael Savage). Bernard Goldberg in his book 100 People Who Are Screwing up America lists Dr. Savage #61, because "Savage's brand of over-the-top bile...puts him right in there with the angriest haters on the Left..." If you are Catholic, Savage calls your Church's hierarchy "pigs" and "molesters." For you Dittoheads, Dr. Savage slams Rush Limbaugh as "Hush Bimbo"; Sean Hannity is "Pawn Vanity." Perhaps the letter writers are correct. It is unprofessional to stoop to Dr. Savage's level.

YOU LOAD 1,850 TONS
Re: Russell Seitz's letter (under "Tonnage") in Reader Mail's Winning and Losing:

I always read with...interest Mr. Seitz's advocacy of global warming. A bit sanctimonious at times, he does get you thinking.

Mr. Seitz quotes a number (source?) of "200,000,000,000 tons" (200 billion) of human caused CO2 emission in a decade and used that to sleight Frost's contention that Mt. Erebus in Antarctica, at 1850 tons per day as cited, spits out more "crap" than man does in a decade. First off, I didn't realize that "crap" and CO2 is the same thing. But since Frost didn't specify what the "crap" is, and the subject of contention was generally CO2 levels, we'll let the "crap" go.

But I find it interesting that Mr. Seitz doesn't take his 1,850 tons per day to the logical conclusion. If we take that number and equate it to a decade's worth of Erubus emissions, we get a number of about 6.7 million tons. Still, less than the asserted decade's worth of human "crap." But then, Erebus has been belching "crap" for possibly centuries (I leave this up the geologist to verify), maybe even longer. If we take that to a century, we get 67 million tons. If Erebus has been at it even longer, let's say 1000 years, we're at 670 million tons. Looks like we're getting closer here to the human level, though at this point, were still a few orders of magnitude low. But the question remains: how long has Erubus been belching "crap" vs. how long have humans been at the same thing? If we're talking about CO2 accumulation over time, and I believe we are though I'm just a lowly engineer and not the wiz-bang expert Mr. Seitz is, my bet would be on the tortoise (Erebus, in this case) beating the hare (humans) in total emissions over any long-term time period of interest. The hare has too much of a head start in this race.

All this assumes that the cited observations of Erebus's emissions represent a long term maximum. This makes me nervous since observations probably don't go back more than a few decades, and Erubus has been around for a long time. Could it have been higher/lower in the past? No one knows. That's the problem with most data used to present the global warming arguments: our window of reliable observations isn't as long relative to the phenomenon we're trying to observe as we would like to believe. And what we do have is spotty, at best.

But don't despair! In a few decades, if Kyotos aren't enacted and we continue at the referenced 200 billion tons per decade, maybe we'll catch up. But there are those other pesky volcanoes, and other sources, that may make that a failing effort. Time will tell.

Having said all that, Mr. Seitz's statement as to the errors of Limbaugh and others regarding the single day Erubus belching vs. human belching must be accepted. Obviously, there's a huge difference between 200 billion and 1850. But on the other side, we have the infamous "hockey stick" curve that's just as egregious in its errors. It looks like the "crap" flows well from both sides on this issue.

But I did like the word eruction, though I believe the proper word is eructation. Oh well, I came up with "summates" as the act of summation at a meeting today and no one batted an eye.
-- Karl F. Auerbach
Eden, Utah

A reader, appropriately enough from Cambridge in Taxachusetts (the Pay State, where I once had the misfortune to live) took me to task on the subject of Mount Erebus in Antarctica yesterday.

My sources, a married team of semi-greenie types who have worked down there several summers (our winters), were those I briefly referred to out of brevity; had to look up their actual letter, which read: "The single volcano Mt. Erebus, just 6 miles upwind from the McMurdo measuring site has been producing 1,000 tons of chlorine daily since 1972... which is 50 times more-per-year than industry's annual production of CFCs!" Now, if my second hand information is mistaken, sorry, but I believe it was backed up in former Governor (D-WA) Dixy Lee Ray's Trashing the Planet or possibly Environmental Overkill maybe.

But I was there in Anchorage when Mt. St. Augustine (an island a bit south in Cook Inlet) blew in '76, standing in grayish-brownish snow. The press reported shortly thereafter that in just two days that eruption put more chlorine into the air than was produced by man the entire preceding year. Again, my friends were there in Antarctica three of the last four years, and I was in Alaska when Augustine blew.

And since we're on the subject, Dr. Margaret Maxey, a geophysicist at Texas Tech, estimates that only three volcanic eruptions (forget the aforementioned), Indonesia, 1883; Alaska, 1912; Iceland, 1947, spewed more CO2 and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere than ALL the activities of industrial man!

So far as Mr. Seitz's presumptuous assumption that Limbaugh was my source, balderdash! And fiddle-de-dum too. I will plead guilty to listening occasionally, and recall hearing good ol' Rush state that ozone is created by the sun. I disagree with much Mr. Limbaugh says, and this was the first time I quoted his stuff -- that okay?

Charges such as his somehow remind me of Stephen Schneider, the oft' quoted and very discredited Stanford University biologist, who predicted global famine in 1970; that DDT would kill all algae in sea water (plankton) and deprive the earth of 40% of its Oxygen? Said Dr. Schneider: "We've already had too much economic growth in the United States. Economic growth in rich countries like ours is the disease, not the cure.

Or that former congressman from New York (Mrzak?) who climbed off the plane in Juneau and pointed across the channel and raved about the pristine, virgin forest over on Mansfield Peninsula. I think it was Mayor Bill Overstreet who corrected the congressman by mentioning that, no, that area had been clearcut (logged) again just 15 years earlier.

Two more quicky quotes, if I may -- "A global climate treaty must be implemented, even if there is no scientific evidence to back the 'Greenhouse Effect,'" said the somewhat demented Richard Benedick of the very sad U.S. State Department & the Conservation Foundation.

And finally, from P. J. O'Rourke: "Some people will do anything to save the biosphere, except take a science course".
-- frost
(small "F" please)

NO PROBLEM
Re: JP's letter (under "The Catholic Nativity") in Reader Mail's Winning and Losing and James Bowman's review of The Nativity Story:

I don't know if you lose any sleep over letters to the Editor of The American Spectator, and this of course is a letter about a letter to the Editor of The American Spectator. But just in case you think about it before you close your eyes, I have read both your review and the letter several times, and cannot understand the writer's complaint. I see NOTHING in your review that would suggest that Mary the Mother of God was somehow demeaned by your review. NOTHING.

Merry Christmas.
-- Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey

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