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Wall Eyed

No diversity in reactions. Also: A wronged Yale professor. Bogeys galore. At home with Prairie Home. Plus much more.

6.20.06

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WALL OR NOTHING
Re: Paul Chesser's Wall Power:

I'm getting a little tired of people not mentioning the many benefits of a wall/fence. One is that at the very, very least it will slow illegals down, giving border guards more time to intercept. This leads to far fewer desperate chases, where the guard(s) is concerned he(she) may be in danger, or has to tackle, wrestle, fight, or even shoot someone as he runs in the dark after desperate refugees, crooks, pregnant women, whatever. I guarantee a reduction in injuries, deaths resulting from chases.
-- M. Scott Horn
Akron, Ohio

The object of the wall is not to be impenetrable, just as the object of law enforcement is not to stop a crime from happening. The fence would simply channel the illegals into a smaller and easier area for pick-up, nothing will stop everybody, and all we need is to make it more expensive to cross.
-- Ike

Joe Klein of Time declares a wall "impossible." Senator Hagel says it is "impractical." I say, tell it to the ancient Chinese, to the guys who built the Panama Canal and the Hoover Dam, the subway systems of New York and London. A wall is not only eminently doable, it's a piece of cake, assuming one knows even a little about modern concrete construction techniques and has an understanding of basic math. And the projected cost of $4 billion to $8 billion that you cite? I assume that projection assumes the job being done by the Army Corps of Engineers or farmed out to large government contractors like Halliburton or Bechtel. But sub-contract the job out to a hundred smaller contractors, each a specialist in concrete construction, each with a defined portion of the wall to build, and each incentivized with performance bonuses, and just watch how quickly and inexpensively that wall will go up.

Those who argue against the wall -- because it is too hard, too impractical, too expensive, or would send the wrong signal -- are selling America short every bit as much as those who argue that we should cut and run from Iraq. What's infuriating is that, as you and others have pretty convincingly shown, their arguments are specious, hollow, non-credible, even laughable; problem is, they have a platform, and so many people buy the slop they are selling.

Thanks for your good piece. When the full history of this sorry episode in our history is written, I'm sure it will be included in the large body of evidence demonstrating that the arguments of the anti-illegal forces were fact-based, forthright, and focused on the interests of the majority; while the arguments of the other side (as few as those arguments have been) were based on nothing but silly sentimentality, arrogance, and empty-headed assertion, and were focused on the interests of the few to the detriment of the many.
-- Chuck Vail

The problem is nothing has been done to really stop ILLEGAL immigration. The laws already on the books would go a long way, but the enforcement is only a wink, wink, yeah we are really working on it and it is IMPORTANT to us. Right.

I laughed when Bush said it was urgent to control the border. This came six years after he came into office. URGENT is doing something the first year. Where is the INS? Why aren't more business owners being charged with illegal hiring? Why are my tax dollars being used to help people that have broken the law to come into America? Why do lawbreakers have ANY rights at all? If I go and rob a bank to feed myself, will I get a break?

The word ILLEGAL is not a hard word to understand to most Americans, just to Bush and the rest of the Democrats and RINO's. This group of politicians would like nothing better than to have a American Union made up of Mexico, America and Canada. Be afraid, be very afraid.
-- Elaine Kyle
Texas

Inquiring minds want to know from Senators McCain and Kennedy. One hundred thousand MS-13 gang members roam our streets, most of them here illegally, according to National Geographic.

They commit murder, extortion and armed robbery with regularity. Should they along with the estimated 200 thousand child molesters be granted citizenship? Or should we kick them out of the country? Let's hear it!
-- "Diogenes"

Thank you for your American Spectator column respecting the erection of a competent wall on our southern border. I agree with your analysis and hope you will answer this (for me) troubling question: Why is the will of the average American (at least on this issue) so much more robust and constant than that of our ruling elites? Why do people like the former SecState and the majority of incumbent senators seem so weary of dealing with this issue of border security, and we the people are so zesty in our demand for some?
-- James C. Eaton

RIGHTING THE WRONGED
Re: Clinton W. Taylor's A Yale Murder:

Clinton Taylor is a good and honorable man to take the time from what must be a busy period in his life, to assist in restoring the reputation of James Van de Velde.

I recall in the dim past of TV exposes, this tragic incident being treated as a lurid campus romance, shrouded in mystery but with Van de Velde clearly portrayed as the murderer in casting aside (in the most final way) this young woman. Sleazy productions such as this are never revisited to clear up misimpressions left by their initial airing. So, thanks to Mr. Taylor for doing so.
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

I thank Mr. Taylor for reminding me of this untoward story about former Yale dean Richard Brodhead, a past winner of Yale's "Profile in Courage" Award and the treatment of Mr. Van de Velde at the hands of the same Brodhead and the Connecticut media.

I followed this story with some personal interest, living in Connecticut and having had a close friend, who just a few years before this incident, was attacked in broad daylight outside the School of Public Health. She was punched to the ground and her necklace ripped from her throat. Unfortunately for the assailant, there was no convenient faculty member to blame this crime on and he was subsequently arrested. As a young lawyer, I appeared in the New Haven criminal court to argue for his incarceration, the exact opposite of my then legal career. It was, to say the least, a very surreal moment, facing this young man in court, all the while trying mightily to control my swelling anger.

So it was not surprising that Brodhead, a classic example of a spineless, politically correct, university administrator and a scandal hungry media, that found a story too good for the facts, or lack thereof, would afford no due process to Mr. Van de Velde. Ah, if only the "Taliban Man" was afforded the same treatment. The media hounded this man and ambushed him several times, cameras in tow, while walking on campus, to and from class. Front page articles in the New Haven Register and the Hartford Courant were no better. The idea that a beautiful young co-ed, on a dangerous campus, in a city with a very high crime rate, could be attacked by someone other than a conservative faculty member was a concept neither Brodhead nor the media was much interested in. Weak kneaded administrators don't buck the trends of political correctness, not if they have higher ambitions in academia.

Fast forward to North Carolina and an entire lacrosse team, albeit with an Animal House tinge, is condemned and sentenced sans any due process by now President Brodhead's racial calculus. Young men in their 20s find themselves fighting for their very liberty in a case that has more flaws than Ward Churchill's scholarship. It's bad enough that a hack prosecutor seeking political longevity would hijack the criminal justice system for his personal glory, but you'd think that Brodhead, after the Van de Velde incident, would have learned something by now. Perhaps he has: adherence to political correctness will enhance one's career in the world of academia every time, no matter who or what
-- A. DiPentima

TRAGIC FINISH
Re: Lawrence Henry's Dumb Golf:

I was sitting in the 18th hole grandstands on Sunday and saw Mickelson's position quite clearly. After the tournament I walked over to the position of his drive to see what it looked like. He had no view of the green or even the crossover point at 80 yards. His only option was to pitch out to the fairway where he would have had a chance to get up and down for the win or at least guaranteed a playoff. That he chose not to do this is more a function of his personality then the way he played the other 71 holes. People will forget that Colin Montgomery, who was tied for the lead, was in the fairway with an easy shot to the center of the green yet he also let his demons destroy his hopes for winning a major championship. Major championships are lost in critical situation where the player's inner demons overwhelm him. Phil lost because he has always been a gambler and Monty lost because he let his self doubts destroy his confidence. That both players were in a position to win and failed to do so is a function of their personal flaws and not because of their club selection on the tee on 18.
-- Jerrold Goldblatt

Great piece on Phil Mickelson at the U.S. Open. However, I have one minor quibble. Lawrence keeps crowing about why Phil and other players don't use a driving iron. The reason why is that 1 and 2 irons are going the way of the dodo bird. If you go into any golf shop you will find that hybrid clubs are everywhere. They are much easier to hit from the fairway and rough than the old butter knife. Three and 4 irons may soon become extinct as well. I replaced my 3 iron with a hybrid and it is much easier to hit from fairway and rough. Some iron sets these days are sold as 4-PW or have hybrids replacing the 3 and 4 in the set. What may surprise ol' Lawrence is that the pros are agreeing with average amateurs and are carrying hybrids in their bags as well. Lawrence, it's time for you to join the rest of us in the 21st century and hit a hybrid.
-- Michael Palmer

As Phil Mickelson strode toward the 18th tee box at Winged Foot on Sunday afternoon through a throng of frenzied adoration, a much coveted U.S. Open trophy but a single par away, one can imagine the melodious whispering of his bad angel. "It's not only about winning, Lefty," went the treacherous advice, "it's about doing it with panache; so go ahead and take out the Big Stick!!"

Of all of the factors that figure into the crucible that is major championship golf, the ego quotient can never be underestimated. Phil's self-assessment notwithstanding, dumb play isn't what cost him on Sunday; hubris was.
-- Francis M. Hannon, Jr.
Melrose, Massachusetts

Phil Mickelson's demise commentary is right on! Even Tiger used to hit a stinger with a 2-iron to stay in the fairway. Alas, the saddest result is that Monty lost again.

Lawrence Henry should replace Johnny Miller...I vote for that.
-- Bill McKeon

As a long-time Las Vegan, the stories of Phil Mickelson's sports betting are legendary (50K on the Super Bowl, etc.) I wouldn't be shocked if, one day, we heard of "Lefty taking a dive." It sure looked that way Sunday!
-- Jon Lindquist
Las Vegas, Nevada

FORCE AGAINST FORCE?
Re: Jed Babbin's Mahmoud, Hu, and the Best of the Worst:

Wouldn't it be interesting, were the EU kaffeeklatsch to attempt to interfere with a unilateral strike to divest Iran of her nukes? I mean, really, what would or could they do about that? Such a scenario would undercut their credibility in a way they might never recover from, assuming we went ahead anyway. Thanks for forcing me to consider a scenario that I had not previously considered; I hope I am not dwelling on the silver lining of this cloud overmuch, but then, who could blame me?
-- Mark Stoffel
Arlington, Virginia

Jed Babbin replies:
It would be simply astonishing. They have neither the will nor the means. They're sunk in dhimmitude and nothing is going to save them. Only the Brits and the French have the capability, and then only with nuclear missiles. I'm not in favor of that, even against Iran. Yet.

POOR CLOD
Re: Steve Chapman's The Prototypical Unelectable Liberal:

The day after Bryan's apoplectic stroke, Mencken in his Monday article, summed Bryan up this way, "It was hard to believe, watching him at Dayton, that he had traveled, that he had been received in civilized societies, that he had been a high officer of state.... He seemed only a poor clod...full of an almost pathological hatred of all learning, all human dignity, all beauty, all fine and noble things. The job before democracy is to get rid of such figures. If it fails, they will devour it."
-- unsigned

POLITICAL AND FORGETTABLE
Re: Lawrence Henry's Garrison Keillor Regrets:

Although not having Mr. Henry's depth of knowledge concerning Mr. Keillor I would have to agree that perhaps it's best for Keillor to retire and start up a biscuit business.

Back in the eighties I used to listen to "A Prairie Home Companion." It was funny, lighthearted, good natured and rather unique. It steered me to some of Keillor's writing. Not bad.

I drifted away from the Prairie for about ten years. Upon coming back I found it just put me to sleep. Regrettable and now quite forgettable.

Perhaps all entertainers should just do what they do best and strive to entertain. Thanks, Mr. Henry.
-- Jim Woodward
Fruitland, Maryland

What is with people who get a little publicity? Do they surround themselves with "yes" men and women to the point that they begin to believe themselves smarter, more charming, more politically correct? I gave up on Keillor one day driving across SC when I could not find anything on the radio. I was so glad to find his show until I heard the little titters from the audience as he made snide remarks about President Bush. I turned off the radio and spent the next two hours making up letters I would send to him about how angry I was. Then I realized he was on the socialist radio show sponsored by our government, for crying out loud. I tried one time to send money to our local PBS station and decided I don't like it much better than the radio station. So I do not use either much anymore. What a shame.
-- unsigned

I too am an ex-rabid fan disillusioned with his politics. However I will say this in his defense: he pokes liberals regularly. He naturally understands them deeply and once in a while really sticks it to them. My favorite example was in a skit satirizing public radio fund raising drives. The announcer said something like, "Pledge now and we'll throw in the 'Abortion Now' tote bag." Admittedly that was a long time ago, but you can still hear the occasional jibe at the left. It's not worth sifting through the fusillades against the right to find them, but it does suggest more self-awareness and intellectual integrity than you usually find in the media (TAS excepted, of course!).
-- Rob Steele

NO RELIGION HERE
Re: R. Andrew Newman's The Other Is Never Wrong:

First of all, the Episcopal Church is the home of no religion. The Episcopal Church is a world-wide government bureaucracy, operated by the British Crown with self-appointed elite snobs, maintained without a tax burden, but with charitable donations. It manifests only, that the monarchy is head of the Episcopal Church.
-- Raymond Barton
Fort Worth, Texas

THE ANTI-BUSH DIAGNOSIS
Re: Philip Klein's Berg's Post-Traumatic Bush Disorder:

What Michael Berg has is called BDS -- Bush Derangement Syndrome. I do not know who it was that originally came up with the term. One could be afflicted with "Cheneymentia" as well. Cindy Sheehan is the poster child for the BDS Institute. Other BDS sufferers include the Dixie Chicks, the 9/11 Commission widows, a few retired generals, some CIA people, lots of lefty media types and lots of lefty "bloggers." Is it any wonder that there was a large, highly dysfunctional immature segment of the population who were ripe for getting BDS? After 40 years and many billions spent at subverting American society by communists this is just one example of the fruits of that labor. Islamo-fascism is another communist subversion so the irony is apparent. The old USSR helped spread Islamic extremism for many decades -- it bit them back hard but that was just one legacy they left us to deal with. Their whole state of being was to infiltrate, indoctrinate, subvert and exploit it all to no end.

Any politician who seems like they have BDS is just being politically expedient. And quite sleazy I might add.
-- Brian
Jackson, Michigan

BOXED IN
Re: Thomas E. Stuart's letter ("Webb vs. Lehman") in Reader Mail's Prairie Tales to You and David Holman's Spinning Webb:

Mr. Stuart, thank you for a great letter about James Webb. Whatever molecular realignment has taken place in Mr. Webb's DNA is indeed unfortunate. I pray the Senate is not his destiny.

I must also take this opportunity to let you know that I relish your contributions to TAS Reader Mail. I search for your byline everyday, hoping you may have found another topic on which to comment in the manner of your "ode to baby boomers" of some weeks back ("Three Rings" - April 21, 2006). A work of art if ever there was one. At the time, I was motivated to check my closet and make sure I didn't still have something around that might identify me with those of my generation who fit your description, as I thought I might still have a pair of sandals I wore in college. Fortunately, my wife must've anticipated your piece, and threw them away during one of our moves sometime ago. Whew, that was a close one!

Carry on!
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

For those who may be interested, Jim Webb was one of the five USNA graduates profiled by Robert Timburg in The Nightingale's Song. The five, all profiled because of their being influenced by Ronald Reagan, included Bud McFarland, John Poindexter, John McCain, and Ollie North. IHTFP, mentioned by your letter writer Thomas Stuart, figures here as well as told by Timburg, himself an Academy grad, combat-wounded as a Marine, and later a newspaper reporter.

By the way, the intramural boxing match at the Academy between Webb and North, long since removed from the Athletic Department's film library, was reportedly as good as any professional championship match.
-- Bill Pries

AUTOMATIC RETURN
Re: Eric Peters's Can GM Come Back?:

When I responded to this article recently, I forgot to mention that somewhere in the late '70s or early '80s GM had a Cadillac with an 8-6-4 transmission. This was a transmission that would start out using 8 cylinders. As the car speed increased, two cylinders would shut down and the car would run on 6 cylinders. As the car reached cruising speed, the car would run on 4 cylinders, something like an overdrive.

I had a friend who purchased one of these. Apparently HE was the quality control department for this car. After a few days, he took the car back to the dealer and the salesman said, "You want another car, don't you?" My friend told me that the dealer exchanged the 8-6-4 car for another Cadillac.

This goes along with what respondents have been saying about the quality of GM cars. There are more American cars being recalled each year for defects than there are foreign cars.
-- B. Reynolds

SPOT ON CIRCLE TIME
Re: Mike Showalter's letter ("Word Play") in Reader Mail's Prairie Tales to You:

I haven't seen a bigger mountain made of a molehill (not by Mike!) since my innocent inquiry into the use of "spot on." But Mr. Foulard's prickliness proves my point once again. Levity is no laughing matter. It will be interesting to see if Mike's gracious truce offer, however humorously couched, is accepted.

A few years back I engaged in a little online one-upping with Dave Hackworth (R.I.P.), on a subject unrelated to, but veering off into who got here first, and therefore had a better right to say whatever it was that we were jousting about. This went on to the point of exhaustion, finally culminating (I thought) in my strutting my Mayflower ancestry stuff -- only to have Hack write back that he counted as his ancestors some Indian tribe that were there to greet the Pilgrims. I didn't know American Indians were keen on genealogy but I had nowhere to go from John Alden, so I dropped it. I am always struck with wonder, however, when I hear the "My parents came here as immigrants" line. I am tempted to say, "How else?"

I think I owe Mike Showalter that fruit cake.
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

To avert collision at sea, or similar disaster in, say, a legislative body, it pays to steer, like the blameless helmsman of the Stockholm, only to starboard. And though a plausible defense is available -- "I swear, Your Honor, I was only channel-surfing" -- I would still decline to throw myself on the mercy of Mr. Showalter's admiralty court.

So many entertainers are Democrats that to say the one is to make the other redundant, and many conservatives, Mr. Showalter and myself included, respond simply by withdrawing our patronage. I'll take this opportunity now, though, to commend Robin Williams for his work entertaining the troops. It is a safe assumption that he has recycled on those occasions the one about the Virginians. The inclusion by name of several of the Founders would make any reference to West Virginia, though perhaps more palatable to certain other Virginians, inaccurate and unwieldy, and would have caused the joke, like the Andrea Doria, to founder.

As to the other subject, I have no representation in Congress. Though I live in Jackson-Lee's district, she has not communicated with me in any way since that time I buttonholed her at a fundraiser for New York City firemen in the days just after 9/11, and, with an answer I would have expected rather from the often heroic Mr. DeLay, she lied to my face about what she would be doing to enhance border security. My practice of issuing instructions, as opposed to suggesting courses of action or cadging for favors, has even gotten me removed from the mailing list for those newsletters that officeholders send out whenever they want something or mean for you to remember them.

Preferring instead the printed text and the who-applauded/who-scowled analysis afterward, I usually eschew broadcasts of the State of the Union address. I nonetheless watch the introit for the sole purpose of seeing whether Sheila manages to get any screen time. Most recently, I recall seeing only a proffered hand in a red sleeve, which is as much of her as I ever care to see again. And if one's Congressunit is a buffoon, it is always gratifying to hear Mr. Hume call her on it.

Finally, as the patient editors of TAS may attest, these were not my first ventures into Reader Mail, although previous efforts did not attract response from other readers. Instead, I have been treated to having my words hurled back at me by other members of our local theater community, whose commitment to diversity extends only as far as one might think, and whose search engines brought their quest for further evidence here. I withdrew after that from discussing politics with most of them, and the guns have been silent for long enough almost to call it an armistice.

Helmet still on all the same,
-- Stephen Foulard
Houston, Texas

TOSS THE SPELL CHECK
Re: A.A. Reynolds's letter (under "Fat Chance") in Reader Mail's Prairie Tales to You:

Mr. Reynolds, those who have toiled under the tutelage of the benignly-tyrannical Jesuits, including myself (and, I suspect, the sesquipedaliously-inclined Mr. Tyrrell), *do*. In the rare instances when such people encounter a word with which they are unfamiliar, they consult their W2s or their OEDs.

Then, there are those whose automatic reaction is to click on the little "spell-check" icon, which is designed to assist those whose reading comprehension was duly-arrested at the NEA-mandated sixth-grade level.

My sainted mother used to remind me that we are known by the company we choose to keep.
-- David Gonzalez
Wheeling, Illinois

Sempiternal may not be recognized by "spell-check" but you will find it in Merriam Webster online.
-- Sue Gray

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