Reader Mail

Heard Loud and Clear

Ben Stein's Good Friday. Mitt Romney's insurance risk. Border controls. Nicklaus's army. Still more military reactions to Ben Stein's earlier missive. Plus much else.

4.17.06

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ENLIGHTENING THE SENSES
Re: Ben Stein's On This Good Friday:

Mr. Stein's Good Friday thoughts are precisely the sort of thing I love to see him shout from his bully pulpit! Wonderful!

I'm particularly pleased to see him call on our President to deal with the invasion from Mexico and to prioritize it as a threat greater than that posed by Iraq! His comments on the hypocritical absurdities regarding the politics of the Catholic Church and Hahvuhd are, for me, the icing on a delicious cake. I should have waited for Lent to end before I read his column.

I shall, perhaps, have joined with Mr. Stein in hoisting a glass to the salt of the earth this Sunday, in acknowledgement of their service, which he has once again called to our attention. Bless 'em all!
-- Mark Fallert
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Once again Mr. Stein has delivered an editorial that enlightens our senses. His brief but concise opinion piece gives us insight into the workings of the "left" and their duplicitous nature. Stein argues effectively, how on the one hand it is acceptable with liberals that the Catholic Church involves itself with matters of illegal immigration, but when conservatives decry abortion in the churches our liberal friends cry foul?? Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, the mainstream media does not venture to point out this contradiction from our friends on the left. Therefore, the traditional press should not be surprised why their significance and influence continues to tumble and magazines such as The American Spectator along with writers like Ben Stein flourish. Keep up the good work.
-- Peter J. Demetralis
Los Angeles, California

As a reality check to balance out the forthcoming round of applause for Ben Stein, I would like to comment on each of his points:

1.) Since when has the Catholic Church tried to stay out of politics? Ben seems to have forgotten that a large chunk of Western history concerns efforts to escape from the spiritual and political control of the Vatican. The majority of illegal Mexican immigrants are part of their flock, so what does he expect? Regarding the lack of Catholic interest in the pro-life movement, Ben ought to read a few polls: the majority of Americans, including Catholics, support abortion. Like it or not, this is a pro-abortion country, Ben.

2.) I agree that displaying the flags of other countries is problematic. Illegal immigration continues to be a serious problem. But keep in mind that nationalism is a two-way street, and our patriotism and nationalism are quite scary to others around the world.

3.) OK, Harvard may in fact be overrun with liberals. Let's keep things in perspective, though. If earlier generations of Zionists were alive today, they would renounce their allegiance to the cause when they saw how ugly it had become. Albert Einstein was a Zionist, but also a pacifist. He would be appalled by the current situation in Israel. Larry Summers seems to have good ideas, but he also has a tin ear, which is fatal to anyone in his position.

4.) Yes, we must praise the sacrifices made by our military forces. It is also our duty as citizens to heed the words of our retired generals.
-- Paul Dorell
Highland Park, Illinois

SHRUGS FOR ROMNEY
Re: David Hogberg's Romney's Responsibility Principles:

As a Michigander, I was optimistic about Mitt Romney's possible candidacy in 2008, until this came to pass. There is no way I would even consider him now. It's disheartening to see Republicans abandoning the issue of personal responsibility.
-- Rebecca Welton
Pinconning, Michigan

Mr. Hogberg has it right. I was considering Mr. Romney as a presidential prospect, but since he's gone squishy he looks like a socialist to me. Could he have been "brainwashed"? Good bye, Mr. Romney.
-- Paul Bunker
La Moille, Illinois

The reactions to Romney's initiative are all over the map. They vary from liberals trying to minimize Romney's role to little more than signing a veto-proof bill, to conservatives singing Romney's praises for pulling the wool of the liberal eyes. Conservatives (a) hate it, (b) dislike it, (c) are inclined to go-along, or (d) are positively giddy with it. There are op-eds in the WSJ pontificating that the plan "will fail" -- no ifs, ands, ors, or buts allowed. There are other opinions in the same publication praising it to the skies.

In the final analysis, what Romney and the Massachusetts legislature have wrought has to be called a great experiment. It might work. It might fail. If it works, it will quickly spread to other states, and Romney will be unstoppable in 2008. If it fails, it will put another nail into the coffin lid of mandated health coverage, and Romney can kiss his 2008 run good-bye.

You have to admire the guy for being willing to take such a risk against his presidential aspirations. He could have easily played it safe by playing to the base's aversion to big government. Instead, he demonstrates both his ability to build bipartisan consensus and his willingness to take bold steps to get something done.

Is he being reckless? Time will tell.
-- Mark Hammer
Bellevue, Washington

IN CONTROL
Re: James G. Poulos's The Immigration Twist:

I find your argument as to constructive process to get a bill passed instructive, but I think you polka'd away from a core issue. In order for an enforcement officer to have jurisdiction over anyone a crime must clearly have been committed. Otherwise detention and deportation cannot proceed.

The House bill attempted to address that issue with serious penalties. Fines do not work. For business will treat that as a component of doing business. The illegal entrant facing a lesser charge may in fact be able to bargain down to recognizance. Not so with a felony charge.

I agree we need a fence, or wall or whatever. The Border Patrol cannot secure the border without it. But even with that as a start, we will not be treated seriously till we criminalize the act, those that support it and push jail time to businesses that trade in it.
-- John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

Excellent article by James G. Poulos, titled "Immigration Twist." Although he timidly touched on points that others have judiciously written about, such as Phyllis Schlafly, I'm really glad somebody has brought the aspirations of the Marxist-Leninists Trans-Nationalists to the fore in the MSM. (Yes, once you get a large national audience visiting your website you become part of the MSM elite, albeit, the better part of the MSM.)

The fact that he only mentions people like Michael Lind, Andres Rozental, and Professor Raul Hinojosa as being at the inspirational forefront of the development of a "North American Union" super-state, to me, at least, leaves out many others with the same aspirations. In fact, it seems that he has literally two-stepped past some of the very people with the real naked power to make the Trans-Nationalists' dreams a reality.

Dare we say that we need look no further than Washington, D.C.? Because, upon closer inspection, the White House really stands out as one of the most visible recalcitrants in proffering a solution other than closet amnesty for millions of illegal aliens. Not one peep about stanching the flow of illegal aliens or securing the border of the American Southwest.

Just endless platitudes about how illegal aliens do jobs Americans won't do, and endless pandering to the same criminals that crossed America's borders to take the very jobs Americans were willing to do but were usurped by the illegal aliens willing to work for lower wages. But, of course one can't swing a dead cat in Washington, D.C. without hitting the endless parade of socialist comrades more than willing to sell out our national sovereignty, along with special interest groups willing to condone open-borders, and grant amnesty to millions of criminal aliens.

But, what the hell do I care? As I see it, if Washington is more than willing to give up its sovereignty over the United States of America, throw the Declaration of Independence out the window, along with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights into the ashbin of history, then why should I give two hoots and a holler?

If there are no borders and there is no national sovereignty then the federal government in Washington, D.C. as we know it ceases to exist. Only the Constitution grants authority for our current form of government and our national sovereignty. Turn the Constitution into an ancient relic only to be displayed in a museum, and the government "Of the People, By the People" will have perished from this Earth....
-- William Weaver
Mount Laurel, New Jersey

I live in Tucson, Arizona, and I know the illegal immigration problem first hand.

When I was in Venezuela 30 years ago there was an oil boom going on. People from Brazil, Ecuador, and Colombia were streaming across the border (illegally) to find work. There was work everywhere. The Venezuelan border guards couldn't stop the flow. What ultimately stopped the influx of out-of-country workers was when the work dried up. The boom became a bust and every one returned to their country. Venezuela does not pay any welfare benefits to its own people let alone illegal immigrants.

My solution to the immigrant problem is to do what we have done for the last 20 years...ignore it. There is no stopping the flow, as long as America's economy is growing.

I do suggest the following parameters. First, no illegal is eligible for any kind of welfare or workman's compensation. Second, any illegal who commits a felony will be deported back to their native country to serve their time in that country's prison (Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua know how to run a prison). This can be done by a reciprocal treaty (with the understanding that America will subsidize the costs and also monitor the compliance). Third, our borders need to be made more secure, by working closely with Mexican and Canadian intelligence to spot the bad guys. I must say Mexico has a very effective secret police. They know who is in their country better than we know who is in ours. A foreigner stands out. Any illegal who seeks emergency room help will get it and then be deported.

The system isn't broke; it's been this way forever. The Democrats are salivating over the potential new voters who can be convinced (deluded) into the idea that the Democrats are their party.

Amnesty is wrong.
-- Fred Edwards
Tucson, Arizona

It appears that James G. Poulos has temporarily suspended his reading of Blackstone's Commentaries, or St. Augustine's interpretation of the Filioque and, as a substitute, decided to describe our chaotic immigration quandary. For this he is well suited: his education and Hellenic roots provide ample background to comment authoritatively on what can only be described as an ongoing tragedy. Yet, despite the Chorus chanting the dirge of a national disaster, Mr. Poulos seems preternaturally attached to Terpsichore as the raison d'etre for our current malaise. We're out of step, he says. Where is Fred Astaire when you need him?

Mr. Poulos sees the current volume of illegal aliens already unlawfully present as a serious problem. But one to two million illegal aliens in our midst, or in our work force, really wouldn't be a bad situation, he intones. Before Mr. Poulos was born, President Eisenhower sent the U.S. Army to clean up the border with Mexico, which then had 1-2 million illegal aliens living there; with inflation, that would translate to 12 million today. Ah! but today is different: in addition to the illegal aliens (I will not deign to use "undocumented workers") already here, we also have to contend with the considered opinions of Vicente Fox, Andres Rozental, and Raul Hinojosa. Furthermore, those recent marchers sure were angry, because they don't want to be considered felons. Fancy that! The fact that there is no congressional mechanism in any of the Senate's bills to enforce such a penalty should assuage their disquietude. But be careful: one protester held a sign, despite coaching to the contrary: Abre la puerta o rompere la ventana. (Open the door or I'll break the window.) But what does James G. Poulos plan to do about the invasion? From the rest of his article, I gather not very much, except talk about strengthening the border. Maybe we can improve our legislative timing, especially in the House; apparently, the corrupted Senate is, you see, in tune with the rest of the country. These explanations, gentle reader, are the crosses we must bear.

Truth be told, James G. Poulos has not totally left the field, for his forceful commentary about the ne'er-do-wells who seek to destroy U.S. citizenship at least attempts to isolate the reason for the media's attitude in such matters: national borders, sovereignty, and citizenship don't matter. "For the pro-immigration element, legality is a side issue." Along with national security, what other major issue is there? And Poulos's studied indifference to violation of our legal code is more than a bit disturbing. He is, after all, an officer of the court.

Still, I believe I understand where Mr. Poulos, Esq. comes down on this matter of the invasion of our country by illegal aliens. To cite Jane Addams's nominating speech for Teddy Roosevelt: "He stands at Armageddon and battles for the Lord." But more than words are necessary, for there is no political will, save a handful of senators and representatives, to deal with the issue. It will take a lot more than learning the steps of a new dance to face squarely the consequences of our problem. Even Arthur Murray would have known that.

Before returning to Blackstone, or the Photian Schism, and before his next article about immigration issues, might I suggest that Mr. Poulos, Esq. look to the Bard for inspiration? Henry V at Agincourt is the setting:

And gentlemen in England now abed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here
And hold their their manhoods cheap...

And the ladies and gentlemen of the U.S. in the 21st century? What value do they put on their citizenship? Time and action will tell.

Pax tecum.
-- Vincent Chiarello
Reston, Virginia

BACKING JACK
Re: Lawrence Henry's Our Friend, Bobby Jones:

Lawrence Henry has a nice way with words and uses it well in praise of Bob Jones. He also has a slightly nasty streak. I'm pretty certain Bob Jones would balk at having his work bolstered by belittling the works and methods of others, especially in a rather petty way. I'm also fairly sure Tom Watson would not wish to have his relationship with Jack Nicklaus be summarized by his having given Jack the teasing nickname Karnack early in it's tenure. Rather, I suspect, he would prefer it be capsuled in their warm, exceedingly sportsmanlike stroll off the eighteenth green at Turnberry at the conclusion of the greatest weekend in Open history. We all become more human later in life, Mr. Henry. Could you hurry your effort a jot please?
-- Guy Green
St. Paul, Minnesota

In the late 1970s, my son and I watched Jack Nicklaus doing a practice round at Butler National prior to the Western Open. After the round, my son and a few other kids surrounded Nicklaus for an autograph. Jack asked the kids to stick around a few minutes while he went into the press tent. About 20 minutes later, Nicklaus reappeared, called over to the kids and signed autographs and chatted with them for a few minutes. He then noticed a camera in my hand, motioned me over, and asked my son if he would pose for a picture with him. Get it, Mr. Henry? The Golden Bear asked a ten-year-old kid to pose with him for a photo. Imperious? Not in my book.
-- Jack Hughes
Chicago, Illinois

NO HOT AIR
Re: Clinton W. Taylor's Talking Trailer Trash:

I too am glad this story has resurfaced and that Mr. Taylor has taken the time to add significant details to this mystery. I suppose, like many TAS readers, that when President Bush announced that the discovery of the mobile labs was proof positive of WMDs, that this was akin to finding a field house full of artillery shells filled with anthrax. Like many other aspects of this war, the administration went silent on this, despite other evidence, including the intriguing conversation highlighted by Mr. Taylor, in the face of conflicting reports. But one piece of minutia that has bothered me all these years was the report that military experts were unable to find traces of bio-toxins because these mobile labs had been methodically scrubbed down, leaving no traces of any substances of any kind. Now, if indeed these labs were hydrogen generators, why the subterfuge of the scrub down? Maybe some day we'll get the definitive answer.

P.S. A reminder that in the conversation between the two Iraqi military officers was the shell game they were playing on the U.N. and Mr. El Baradei. Kind of gives you a warm feeling that these guys are in charge of the Iran situation. Well at least Iran isn't playing coy about their WMD plans like Saddam did. But the U.N. will still prove to be inept in resolving this crisis. Once again, America will have to step in and resolve this situation and of course, President Bush will get all the blame.

Happy Easter and Passover to all.
-- A. DiPentima

Taylor raises an interesting point about the "variety of viral and bacterial veterinary vaccines, using basic glassware and techniques."

Is he aware that the method for producing vaccine against anthrax is to induce anthrax into horses and process their blood serum?
...
Thanks, blessings, and Semper Fi!
-- Kevin Coughlin

There have got to be a dozen better ways to fill up artillery meteorological balloons than the method posited with the trailers.

Why do you need a mobile facility to generate hydrogen -- on the battlefield -- for artillery meteorological balloons? Hydrogen is flammable and difficult to manage. You can produce hydrogen using sulfuric acid and zinc. But why mess around with sulfuric acid? Handling requires extensive precautions. You can also produce it by passing an electric current through water. Was there a big generator or battery on the trailer? In either case, the hydrogen needs to be put under pressure to inflate the balloons. Was there a compressor with the trailer? If you absolutely had to use hydrogen for the balloons, why not just bottle it industrially and ship it to the using units? Helium is used by most countries in their meteorology balloons. It's safer to use and a readily available industrial commodity. Applying Occam's Razor, I have to think that a mobile hydrogen generator is the wrong solution to launching meteorological balloons. It sounds more like a cover story.
-- John Manguso
San Antonio, Texas

Clinton W. Taylor replies:
Has Mr. Manguso ever been to a child's birthday party? He should know that they require many balloons, and occasionally they require refilling on the spot after a desert sandstorm blows them away and the little tykes are bawling. Iraqi officers have birthday parties for their kids as well, so obviously these trailers were intended to accompany the Glorious Presidential Birthday Catering Regiment based in the Al-Kindi missile facility where the trailer was found. Oh, sure, all that hydrogen in those balloons could turn a child's party into a Hindenberg-style disaster if one drifted too close to the candles on the cake, but the convenience and spectacle were worth it.

More seriously, the invaluable George Gooding at Seixon.com has another thorough posting/article here here debunking the hydrogen-balloon story. Basically, Iraq had plenty of portable hydrogen generators already; they didn't need to build new ones. Gooding and I teamed up last summer to harass George Galloway over his lies to the Senate, and he is utterly implacable on this sort of thing. I expect that if there is more publicly available information on this subject to be found then Gooding will find it; and I also expect the Washington Post will regret having brought it up again.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS
Re: William Tucker's The War Dance Around Moussaoui and Phil Howard's, T.M. Fitzgerald's, and other letters in Reader Mail's The People vs. Moussaoui and Tucker:

Is William Tucker suggesting that Moussaoui, who was in the country on an expired visa, and thus was in the country illegally, had rights under the Constitution? The Constitution guarantees the rights of U.S. citizens. Illegal alien terrorists, here to kill Americans have NO rights, or would not have in any sane society. As a matter of fact, illegal aliens, should have no rights, for reasons that should be quite easy to understand. "Illegal" means against the law, and thus committing an illegal act, constitutes breaking a law. Breaking the law is a crime, so by coming here, and staying here in our country illegally, said illegal aliens are breaking the law, and are committing a crime. People who commit crimes are criminals. Ergo, illegal aliens, all illegal aliens, are criminals. By what stretch of the imagination should alien criminals have "rights" under a Constitution written to guarantee the rights of American citizens?

Also, that Constitution guarantees our rights as American citizens, only whilst we are in this country. Go to Saudi Arabia and try to exercise your "right" of freedom of religion by conducting a Christian worship service and see how quickly you land in gaol! Or go to Cuba and exercise your "right" of free speech to criticize Castro, and you will get the same result. For that matter, go to England and try to exercise your "Second Amendment rights" and you will be behind bars post haste.

Moussaoui was a participant in the mass murder of three thousand Americans. His colleagues are all enjoying the rewards of their actions, and Moussaoui should be reunited with them as soon as possible.
-- W. B. Heffernan, Jr.

"Essentially, the prosecution wants to execute him for exercising his Fifth Amendment rights."

Mr. Tucker should take a refresher course on U.S. Constitutional law. If he really thinks the guy is on trial for "exercising his Fifth Amendment" Mr. Tucker might want to cut back on his Zolof and LSD.
-- Tom Enneking
St. Petersburg, Florida

Mr. Howard writes: "The U.S. Constitution is for the CITIZENS of this great country...."

And Mr. Fitzgerald writes that "Moussaoui doesn't have any rights under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments."

Huh? The U.S. Constitution does not confer rights; it is simply a formal recognition of rights conferred by God. God-given rights have nothing to do with your nationality, place of birth, citizenship, or what part of the earth you happen to be standing on now. We in the United States are lucky, in that our government recognizes these rights, while most others don't.

Many other letter writers (Chagnon, DiPentima, Mowry, Tobias, Campaigne and Varni) argued correctly why Moussaoui can, and should, face the death penalty.
-- Dan Martin
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

William Tucker replies:
I'm going to let Rush Limbaugh's response stand, since he pretty much said everything I wanted to say and better. My point is not that Moussaoui should be acquitted or released. My point is that making his trial a cathartic release for September 11th is a useless exercise. We should have stopped it in the first place. Moussaoui's arrest was the sort of chance opportunity that breaks cases. We just didn't take advantage because the FBI was hamstrung by limitations on their ability to investigate.

Much of this has now been corrected with the Patriot Act, but there are liberal Senators who want to censure President Bush for "warrantless spying on American citizens," when that is the same kind of self-handicapping that made us miss September 11th. The "American citizens" being spied upon are people on American soil (often foreign nationals) making phone calls to overseas terrorist organizations. If we're going to lose track of these people over niceties about whether there is "probable cause" for looking into what they are doing, we might as well resign ourselves to more domestic attacks.

And by the way, for those many readers who argued, "the Bill of Rights only applies to American citizens," where did you ever get that idea? The Bill of Rights applies to anyone who appears before the American justice system.

NO NEWS
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s A Cautionary Tale:

This is the type of "real" news that needs to be published! New news? No, it is not, but it is new to our second and third generations after WWII. We require the discipline that Roosevelt developed and we need it NOW!
-- Swede Nelson, former Capt., USAF

Thank you. Perfect.
-- Martin N. Tirrell
Lisbon, New Hampshire

THE TROOPS CALL BEN
Re: Ben Stein's Greetings From Rancho Mirage:

HOOAH! Pass my thanks to Mr. Stein for his "Greetings from Rancho Mirage" letter. It is obvious that he "gets it" with regards to our Armed Forces, hard working police, fire men, and EMTs.
-- Major Robert Romans, Jr.
United States Military Academy
Southeast Region Admissions

I'll be passing this on to my troops!
-- Michael J. Ouellette, 1LT, USAF

Thank you from my family, from my co-workers, from me and every other veteran that came before me.
-- Lt. Jeff Curry, 1Lt, USAF
Hanscom AFB, Massachusetts

Just wanted to say thanks for your kind words. I've never read any of your material, but reading your piece, "Be Proud," really made the day a little brighter.

Have a terrific day and God Bless you and your family.
-- Troy E. Canavan, Capt., USAF

Great article!! As a person with over 42 years of service to the Air Force, 25 military, four as a contractor and 13 as a civil service employee, it is heart warming to see the type of words that were expressed in your article of April 5 from Rancho Mirage. Whether defending our country in battle or accomplishing our routine day to day jobs, the great majority of the members of our armed forces and those supporting them do an outstanding job.

It is unfortunate more of the media does not have the appreciation that is shown in your article.
-- David R. Holland

Great article on Rancho Mirage, but why did you have to make clear examples out of Oprah Winfrey and Barry Bonds? Seems there are many other celebrities who probably deserved negative comments and negative implications/examples on their character. You might want to do some more research on Oprah and what she's doing "globally" for mankind and unless you really know the true story on Barry Bonds, you might want to reconsider mentioning his name as well.

As you can imagine, I'm African-American and retired from the Air Force after 26.5 years. I just think on this Easter weekend if you were truly exhibiting love, then you could have excluded any negative press and just stuck to the facts, focus, and essence of the article.

Again, good article and thank you for recognizing our sacrifices, but the article was tainted with opinionated and distasteful verbiage!
-- Charles Ratliff

Thank you Ben for the words in your recent commentary. We truly appreciate your support.
-- Lt. Col. Bill Derosier

Thank you for the kind words and the meaning behind them. We do it for the love of country, family, and it's our job.
-- Lt. Mueller

I greatly appreciate your kind words and appreciation to all of us who serve this country proudly. I'm a Technical Sergeant assigned to Malmstrom AFB, Great Falls, Montana. I'm now going into my 21st year of service in the United States Air Force and proudly serve as an "airman" providing that blanket of freedom that all Americans sleep under. I also serve my community as a volunteer firefighter since the age of 17; I'm now going on 40. Though we are going through troubling times, the support of our troops is even more important! How easily we forget the sacrifice that has been made by so many, we "Must not forget" their sacrifice or belittle it!

We as service members don't always agree with the decisions of those who have been voted or appointed above us, but we must support their decisions. Your comments make my sacrifice to my family and for my country easier, knowing there are people who support us (today's military service members). There are so many out there who bad mouth our country, who don't stand up, or give "meaning" to their pitiful lives either by supporting or serving our country. I thank you for your "standing up" for our military!
-- TSgt. Kenneth A. Hanks
341 Security Forces Squadron
Malmstrom AFB, Montana

I always enjoy -- and mostly agree with -- Ben Stein's writings. But, I do think he was unnecessarily hard on Oprah Winfrey. Yes -- she is on the cover of HER magazine and she does fixate on her weight/size (like most American women). BUT !!!!! she does wonderful things with her wealth and celebrity. There are many, many other celebrities who do nothing at all -- or nothing of Oprah's magnitude. So, leave Oprah alone and pick on someone more deserving.
-- Judith DuBose
Montgomery, Texas

Well in all honesty do I really think Ben Stein will ever read this? Probably not but hey someone might.

My 1st Sergeant sent the article Mr. Stein wrote to me from the states while I am over here in Iraq serving. The article is a nice pat on the back from far away that I think all troops need once in awhile. Whether it is the soldier doing convoys or the airmen running the flight line like myself, it really helped me feel how important every job is in the military no matter what it is. Ben talked about the day to day same routine most have, well surprise, surprise; I bet a majority of us feel the same way, all the way form the Afghanistan mountains to the dust filled air of Iraq. But that daily routine feeling is what gets to us, and reading a pick me up piece like the one written is what keeps our heads up, even if only for a little while or the split second. And that is what counts you all, that little thank you keeping us going, making us feel that all we do is worth the time and lives invested. So my message is please do not protest in anger, America, it will not bring anyone home faster but only push us to choose sides against each other. Maybe it is just me but eating lunch we watch the news and seeing people fight and protest over us being here only makes me feel farther away from home. So I say this: Gather in prayer to keep us going and to say good bye to the ones that paid the ultimate price. Because in the end we are all on the same side, breathing the same air. Thank you Mr. Ben Stein, I salute you.
-- Tony Young, SrA, USAF

I had the opportunity to read the article. Thank you sir.
Semper Fi,
-- Mike, Gunnery Sergeant, USMC (retired)

In short, you are the man!!

In this small world of ours I received a copy of your note to General Pace which is circulating throughout all of DoD (and beyond). As always, in very eloquent yet everyday terms, you managed to sum up the meaning and sacrifice of our U.S. troops. Thank you for taking the time to do it. Lots of us think about it, pray for them, know it, but don't express it.

Thanks again from a Navy brat.
-- Kim

Are you Ben Stein the actor? The one who was in The Mask and Ferris Bueller's Day Off and does the Visine commercials?
-- Ruben Diaz-Marquez, SrA, USAF

My husband is serving in Iraq right now, and he sent me this letter. I cannot express how thankful I am that people do realize what they are going through over there and what their families are going through with them. We have a three-year-old daughter that he does not get to see everyday, my brother is also over there missing out on his kids' lives and it feels good to know that people out there are praying for us, for this to end and have our soldiers back at home with us where they belong.

I just wanted to thank Ben Stein for having the courage and time to write this to our soldiers. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for bringing some sense to these heroes.
-- Vinnsja L. Granados

Thanks for you great letter! It made my day. I've been at the business of national defense first in a blue suit for 24 years, and now proudly still working alongside others in blue and camouflage outfits. It's the only thing I want to do, because I believe in the mission, and I love the others who are doing it with me. Blessings on you and all the others -- especially those who appreciate it!
-- Richard L. Plaskett, LtCol, USAF (Ret.)

I am about to go on my third deployment (with pride) because I believe in the cause. While some people might call me stupid or naïve, I have been in the Army for 19 years and care deeply about my country and the cause at hand. Ben said his life or rather his day to day ritual was unimportant. I would have to respectfully disagree. That is exactly what we are fighting for, the right to be "unimportant" whether it's in Hollywood or Baghdad. I believe that Ben is the epitome of what the American dream is. He has my support as an American fighting man and by the way, I love those eye drop commercials! ROCK ON BEN!!!
-- Paul

This is a great article for our servicemen around the world I hope all of them get to read it. Happy Easter to you sir and God bless.
-- Doug Owens

I just read "Greetings From Rancho Mirage," by Ben Stein and was hoping you could pass along my thanks back to him for praising the men and women of the U.S. armed forces. It never gets old to walk into the local supermarket and have one of my fellow Americans thank me for what I do. I always say, "No need, we're all in this together." Thank you Mr. Stein, it is my pleasure doing what I do.
-- Lt. Lori M. Haas

Thanks for the kind words in your "Greetings From Rancho Mirage." It's nice to hear the contrast in your words from the swill that guys like Richard Belzer are throwing out. By and large we are people doing this because we believe in what we're doing and because of that it's very rewarding. It's nice of you to recognize us, but just being a part of history in the making is enough.

I'm not sure, however, that I agree with your premise that most people live mundane lives. Most people don't have the time to sit back and reflect on why they're here or to just count their money. Most people are working to ensure the ends meet and focusing on family after that. Or, maybe I'm just naive.

At any rate, it's a win-win for me. I get to answer my calling and have a nice life at the same time. Thank you for taking the time to say a nice word.
-- Capt. Jerry Litzo

AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!
-- Ramon Acevedo-Cruz, Former Captain, USAF

PRAGMATIC LECTURES
Re: Michael Tomlinson's letter (under "Good Day for Pessimists") in Reader Mail's Feeling Better:

I'm so sick of the lectures we "conservatives" get from those like Michael Tomlinson. Usually because they are shrouded in a tone of elite invective. So let me offer a rebuttal to his three points:

"(1) some conservatives prefer losing to governing (it's easier being on the outside complaining than actually having to do something)..."

No Michael, we got tired of complaining and did something about it in 1994 by taking Congress. I guess we erroneously thought those we elected would actually govern as they promised. Sure, at the beginning, they changed many things to the point that Bill Clinton was trying to reassure us he was relevant. But the fundamentals of government operations, the bureaucracy and Congressional staffs, didn't budge and they surrendered in twelve short years.

"(2) recognizing leadership in D.C. requires compromise and incremental victories to change the governing culture in the U.S. ..."

Yada, yada, yada. We've heard that for decades and where has it gotten us? There is no one left to compromise with since most decent and actual thinking Democrats left or became Republicans. You can't compromise with likes of Ted Kennedy, Harry Reid and Nancy Facelift. Bush tried that by pushing Teddy's education bill and even before the ink of his signature could dry Ted was off the wagon (he's used to it) complaining about it being "underfunded" -- a euphemism for "I really can't spend enough on my pet do-nothing, feel good programs."

Incremental victories? Show me any evidence of the pairing back of the worthless government departments the "Gingrich Revolution" said they'd conquer like Education and Energy? I'd take even ONE incremental move in the direction of gutting them but they continue to grow even when a smaller than requested increase is called a cut.

"and (3) they can't handle the truth that Ronald Reagan was a pragmatist first and a conservative second..."

Ronald Reagan had a hefty majority of Congress being controlled by Democrats and many times used his powerful connection with the people and went directly to them to get things done. What's Bush's excuse?

While I agree with the overall "glass is have full" assessments its frankly not enough and I don't any more wheeling and dealing with my principles. But given your proximity to Washington, D.C., Michael, I'm a little suspicious of your advice.
-- Greg Barnard
Franklin, Tennessee

DARNED IF YOU DO
Re: P. Aaron Jones's letter ("The Unaccountability of Term Limits") in Reader Mail's That's the Spirit and Elaine Kyle's letter (under "Good Day for Pessimists") in Reader Mail's Feeling Better:

Well that is what I have been wanting, someone to tell me the other side of term limits, very good point.

I am really discouraged now, guess nothing will help. I have a friend that gripes all the time about what is going on in the country and I ask her "did you vote," but I know the answer before she says NO. So sad.
-- Elaine Kyle

VOTER BEWARE
Re: Ralph R. Reiland's Political Halos:

Hillary is the proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing. Luckily, she smiles after she announces what's for dinner, and potential victims get to see the drooling fangs IF we chose to. Pity too many lambs go willingly to this particular sacrifice.
-- Karl Auerbach
Eden, Utah

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