Re: Ben Stein's Better People Than I Am:
I was enjoying the article "Better People than I am" until I came to the entirely inappropriate line, "Oprah Winfrey talks a lot about meaning. To her, it's apparently having her picture on the cover of her own magazine every single month in a different pose."
Why pick on Oprah? She's one of the most generous celebrities in this country. She's constantly advocating on behalf of the poor, downtrodden, war torn, mistreated, medically ill, overweight and abused. She gives away millions of dollars every year. If she wants her picture on the front of her magazine, what's the big deal? How does that gesture counteract all her goodness? Who is more worthy of the cover of her magazine? Should it be another picture of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt? Tom Cruise and Katy Holmes? Ben Stein?
What about all the Hollywood windbags who make bijillions of dollars and do nothing charitable? What has Ben got to say about them?
While so much of what Ben said had merit, in the end the article sounded as if Ben was making an excuse for himself to continue being the same way he is. Now that he has acknowledged the selflessness of others he can go back to being himself. In fact, it totally supports the attitude of his show Win Ben Stein's Money in which he generally gets to keep all the cash himself despite the efforts of the poor slobs who compete with him.
-- Phyllis Laubacher
Re: Lawrence Henry's Employee Theft:
Why the heck aren't we tough on Mexico for all kinds of stuff? The illegal folks from Mexico coming into this country are only one of the problems. There seems to be a fear of being dissed in the "world-press" for enforcing our own laws that ensure our survival as America. It also seems that many politicians have a thin skin, and since its O.K. to criticize America, they can be lax in law enforcement too? They may feel good about themselves, but the country will still be stricken.
Screw the historical precedents; it's all about the 15 minutes.
-- P. Aaron Jones
Huntington Woods, Michigan
Across the nation we have heard the cacophony of voices regarding illegal immigration. Please note that this plain speaking Texan calls it what it is...illegal. I am thoroughly tired of inane arguments about how much we need folks that won't even obey the simplest of laws, that being, stand in line and come to the states legally. Our communities are overrun with illegals, our schools are packed, our hospitals pressed beyond measure. And as this is income tax season and we are calculating how much more we have to pay, while we are thankful for the fact we have earned sufficient, there is considerable anger that folks who would flaunt the law and strip community resources saying they cannot pay, are now flying my flag upside down with the Mexican flag on top.
Congress may be listening to the wrong voices. I am certain that folks like our family would not show up for a rally opposing illegal immigration, we are the families that show up to fight for freedom. But Congress better listen to we who are truly the silent majority. Make no mistake. If you do not tackle this issue we will replace you. Congress are you listening? You are replaceable...without a doubt. The louder "voices" in this issue are those that are silent...hear us...we are legal Americans and we vote. We will elect those who tackle this issue. It is time, as my Dad would say, to fish or cut bait.
-- Beverly Gunn
East Texas Rancher, Military mom
I hear over and over again that it would be impractical to try to deport the 11 million (or is it 30 million?) illegals who are thought to be currently residing in this country. While Mr. Henry does not succumb to this argument and, in fact, argues that we wouldn't have to deport anywhere close to all of them, I think that he, along with most everybody else, is missing an even simpler solution: let the market take care of the illegal immigration issue. After all, isn't the market causing all of these people to enter our country illegally in the first place?
Here's my plan. First, set a bounty of say $100,000, payable by the employer, for each illegal caught in their fields or their factories or their kitchens or wherever. Give everybody a 90 or 180 day grace period in which only warnings will be issued. At the end of that grace period, let the fur start to fly. Set up an 800 number and e-mail address to which concerned citizens could place calls/send e-mails to report violations. In order to encourage participation, allow tipsters to collect half of the bounty themselves while the other half goes to fund the program itself. Better yet, allow the illegals themselves to collect half of the bounty if they were the ones who reported their employer. Of course, they'd be setting themselves up for quick repatriation to their country of origin but they'd be at least $50,000 richer (minus the government costs for getting them and their family back home) for their trouble. How long and hard would they have to work to earn this amount of money under the current system? I imagine that kind of money would go a very long way back home for most people.
The beauty of this system is that the employer bears the full cost but the employer can certainly make the decision to opt out of the system entirely by getting rid of all their illegals during the initial grace period then endeavoring to ensure that all future hires are thoroughly vetted for legal status along with the rest of their standard pre-employment screening (drugs, criminal background, educational, previous employment, etc.). And, dovetailing nicely with Mr. Henryâ€™s point in the article, you would only need a relative handful of high profile cases to convince almost everybody to get onboard with the law rather than continuing to flaunt it by hiring illegals who could very well end up costing them significantly more than they are paying today.
-- Mike Leland
The article caused a few facts to come together in my head.
1. Illegal immigrants use fake Social Security cards (and numbers) where they work. Their employers withhold taxes on the income. The funds flow to the state and national governments.
2. Legal residents file income taxes, either quarterly or annually in April. Our forms go to the IRS where our W-2 and 1099 data are compared with data that our employers have sent in for our SSN.
3. Google and others have massive data mining search engines that can find and associate records within huge data repositories. The FBI already has search engines that scour public records, e.g., Lexus/Nexus.
If an illegal alien was using my SSN as a cover, then the IRS would see the withholdings coming from the illegal alien's employer, along with my employer's withholdings. The illegal's name and my SSN would not match what was registered by the Social Security Administration in 1971. I live in Maryland. If my SSN was being used in Arizona, too, shouldn't the IRS wonder why? If I don't include the Arizona W-2 and 1099 data with the Maryland ones, shouldn't that trigger an audit?
If we were to data mine the IRS data for name, SSN, and location, we could quickly identify real SSN holders from the bogus sources of withholding. Perhaps the U.S. Government hasn't done that because they are happy to receive tax withholdings from sources who will never file a return. I suggest that Homeland Security officers should data mine at the IRS.
-- Newt Love
Mr. Henry writes cogently about the absolute need for business to attempt to enforce policies against employee theft. He notes the hypocrisy that would be evident if they did not attend to their bottom lines by catching and punishing employee thieves. As to those points, he is quite correct, and I would applaud his little essay.
Mr. Henry, however, fails to mention anything about the support from the business community for illegal alien amnesties and for lax (or no) enforcement of the immigration laws, including the laws against the hiring of illegals by American businesses. What about the hypocrisy involved here, sir?
These illegals are stealing the benefits of being an American citizen. They are costing every tax paying American dearly in costs to the medical sector for their care. They are costing every tax paying American for their educational care and feeding. They are costing the American taxpayer for their prison costs (15,000 illegals in prison in California alone).
Yet business moguls support illegal immigration because they can use it to keep labor cost artificially low. So, for labor cost relief on their bottom line, businessmen are willing to either look the other way or actively break the law regarding the employing of illegals.
Take the agricultural industry. The labor costs to harvest head of lettuce is reported to be about 15 cents. It is said that Americans will not take these jobs. What if you doubled the wages paid to the workers? Could you then get Americans to harvest the lettuce? It would only raise the price of a head of lettuce at the grocery store by 15 cents. The shoppers (American taxpayers) would be able, at least theoretically, to reclaim the additional cost in the reduction to tax monies needed to support the additional cost brought on by the illegal immigration. You object that we would never see the reduction in our taxes. Well, so what. The price of a head of lettuce goes up and down regularly by more than 15 cents now.
Of course this does not even begin to address the strange lack of an outcry from American union leaders in general, and the farm workers unions in particular. Since the point here is regarding businesses, I will simply say, "Follow the money." as to why union officialdom allows their workers wages to be held artificially low, while they say virtually nothing.
I would also love to know how many workers would have to replaced at the various Bush clan businesses and residences if all illegals could suddenly be caught and deported.
-- Ken Shreve
Re: Paul Kengor's Weinberger's Wisdom:
Paul Kengor's piece on Cap Weinbeger should be mandatory reading for all the left wing pundits and others who don't understand the necessity of a strong defense, and the critics of the war in Iraq. Mr. Weinbeger was national hero serving a heroic president.
-- Thomas Bullock
West Covina, California
Well, Weinberger left the world a better place for some of us. He had a personal vendetta against Jonathan Pollard. Pollard passed some sensitive info to Israel. Weinberger probably would have had him executed if he could have. Pollard is still in a federal pen while other more serious spies didn't get treated nearly as harshly. I don't remember Weinberger getting worked up about Aldrich Ames and the Walker family. Strange.
-- Gwen Itskowitz
Re: Laurie Mylroie and Ayad Rahim's State-Sponsored Terrorism, Anyone?:
I will not hold my breath to see this lead the MSM newscasts...
-- David Skinner
Only the American Left, the State Dept., the CIA, and oh yeah, the 9/11 Commission, in all their splendorous stupidity, could have insisted on the canard that their was no "operational cooperation" (who coined this idiotic
bureaucratic phrase anyway?) between Saddam and al Qaeda. Any rationale person with an I.Q. over 50 could easily have connected the dots and surmised that crazed Islamofascists, regardless of their religious dedication, or lack thereof, would put aside their semantic differences and team up to attack the greater common enemy, America.
Ms. Mylroie and Mr. Rahim do an excellent job of peeling away the layers to get to the essence of this evil cabal. Yet even with all the previous information that has been disseminated, i.e. Salman Pak, the Saddam/Zarqawi connection, and so much more, these canaries continue to sing their song of ignorance. Dr. Thomas Sowell was so right when he coined the phrase the "irrelevance of evidence."
These groups have staked their reputations and political goals on these falsehoods and must remain intransigent, no matter how absurd their positions in light of new information, because to admit error would relegate them to obsolescence. Instead of putting these groups' feet to the fire, the Bush Administration, in its "new tone" mentality, has remained meekly silent, ceding the high ground to them, until recently.
To buttress this contention, I might add that the latest missive from Osama, directed to the American secular left, issued a few weeks ago, spoke of their shared common goal against American Imperialism. I don't recall any dots being connected as to this proposed alliance of common interest. Funny how Osama can break bread with the American left but not with Saddam. Sadly, the Bush Administration failed to make the point when nobody else did.
-- A. DiPentima
Re: Carol Platt Liebau's Immigration Ground Zero:
Carol Liebau's piece on immigration was very good. I would only add that the apparent prop 187 backlash that supposedly occurred in California never happened. The losses suffered by California conservative Republicans were the result of two things: rampant illegal voter fraud committed by illegal immigrants and left wing extremist activists -- caught on tape and openly confessed on television -- and a downward turn in the California economy.
Of course the L.A. Times and the rest of the liberal press characterized the poor showing by Simon and other conservatives as a backlash against prop 187 -- this was a big lie. Prop 187 won more than 67 percent of the vote, despite the many Catholic priests literally telling their congregations that if they voted for it they would go to hell. Many people were outraged then as they are today with the Mexican flag waving on U.S. soil.
Another cause of the backlash against Davis, aside from the Mexican driver's license and the energy scandal, was the scuttling of prop 187. Davis should have allowed prop 187 to go to the Supreme Court but instead he implemented "mediation". This mediation was a legal trick in which only the opponents of prop 187 had any say and after a so called agreement between parties, prevented the case from reaching the Supreme Court. Davis knew the law was constitutional and would have stood up on appeal to the Supreme Court.
Davis openly promised then Mexican President Zedillo that he would stop prop 187. He then told Californians on KMEX: "In the near future, people will look upon California and Mexico and one magnificent region."
I think a lot of Californians didn't appreciate that, I know I didn't when I heard it while I was living there.
The biggest danger I see from illegal immigration, and I am only talking about illegal immigration, is the lack of any desire whatsoever most of these immigrants show in becoming Americans. They don't want to assimilate, they want to invade, and that is why they wave Mexican flags and not American flags.
-- Charles D. Sampson
Thank you for Carol Platt Liebau's thoughtful article addressing the Immigration issue. I have not followed it terribly closely, but did spot a few placards in that Fiesta de los Braceros in L.A. One that impressed me -- obviously printed at some cost by a local labor union, dealt with the accusation that Californians are living on "stolen land" (and presumably they aim to take it back).
Well, let me take you back. Specifically to 1846 when Democrat President James Polk, keeping a campaign promise, took us into the Mexican-American War to end ongoing border disputes. This war ended in 1848 when we won and Mexico ceded Texas, California and New Mexico to the United States. We paid Mexico $15 million, which was probably fair, taking into consideration the dollar/peso
ratio in 1848 for undeveloped real estate. Although I fail to see why, when you whup somebody, you gotta pay purely for the entertainment value of it. But we always do. If Mexico had won, immigrants today would be "sneakin' across the Mexican border" to Arkansas and Oregon, I guess. Because corrupt Mexican government would still offer the same opportunities to their poor.
As far as wars go, I liked the Spanish-American one. Recall the battle cry, "Remember the Maine!"? The Maine being our battleship mysteriously blown up in Havana Harbor in February 1898 -- the sort of thing that used to get us pretty riled before Bill Clinton and his policy to turn the other cheek after the USS Cole incident.
On April 24 Spain (Those Espanolas just can't leave us be) declared war on the U.S. We retaliated by sinking about every ship they had afloat. Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders charged San Juan Hill and inside 3 or 4 months Spain was "suing for peace." Defeated, Spain ceded Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam, ensuring that Florida, New York and San Francisco would have a steady flow of immigrants in perpetuity. The U.S. paid Spain $20 million to make them feel better about their humiliation and to replace all those ships we blew out of the water in a fit of pique.
While this gave the U. S. "world superiority" in strategic naval bases, it also gave us a 3-year (1899-1902) "reward" of guerrilla warfare in the Philippines persuading them to settle down and start immigrating to the Promised Land.
What does all this have to do with the Sombrero Stomp we have been witness to of late? Probably nothing. Oh, except we did not steal the land. We bought it. And apparently we are continuing to.
I'd like to thank Deane Fishe, who included me in the august company of Elaine Kyle and Beverly Gunn in Texas, regular contributors to your Readers' column. I think of TAS Readers' column as a wonderful club where I can go and have illuminating conversations with folks rather more informed than I. After a 10-hour day riding herd on the last of my grandsons -- a robust 4 year old, it is a wonderful wind-down, The next best thing to having my American Spectator magazine arrive in the mail! Thanks for your splendid columnists and the vast
array of talent in reader's letters, too.
I was born and lived in Dallas until I married at 18 and moved to California. Maybe it is the Texas' eye view we apparently share, that allowed my inclusion. I still pine for the fields of bluebonnets.
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California
Carol Platt Liebau's comments today describe a humane and sensible answer to the Mexican illegal immigration dilemma. But the immensity of the problem requires a larger and bolder solution.
A treaty between the United States and Mexico granting all citizens in the two nations dual citizenship in both the U.S. and Mexico would codify unstoppable historical forces that are now merging the two countries.
Such a treaty would open the American floodgates to a mass of poor Mexican immigrants seeking a better life. But there would be an equal migration south led by
U.S. industrialists, entrepreneurs and retirees who could legally own and develop real estate, build factories and businesses, and raise the standard of living along with liberalizing the political and human rights climate in Mexico. The cultures and governments of both countries would remain in place but eventually would grow into one.
-- Bradford Silliman
Today, March 30, I heard Gov. Tom Ridge, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, speak at Bluefield State College, in Bluefield, W.Va.
He emphasized securing our borders, which he called the intersection of our security and economy. Recommending the use of unmanned surveillance drones and sensors along those boundaries, he said, "We have to be tougher at our borders - -and we have to be smart."
On illegal aliens, he declared, "I want to be tough. They're breaking our laws."
Ridge noted that aliens, especially illegal ones, should not get preferential treatment. If they want to become citizens, let them get in line like anyone else who desires to become a naturalized citizen, he suggested.
But for those who've come only to work, let's establish a legitimate national process that requires them to have photos and identification cards. He also suggested that the federal government then apprise employers of aliens that if they, the employers, hire anyone outside of that process, "the penalties will be very, very painful."
The governor declared two other things I think all of us should take to heart. One, when someone goes into another country, it's a privilege, not a right. Two, we cannot secure the country from inside the Beltway.
-- C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia
SOAK THE RICH
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s The Rise of Boltenism:
You want to talk about the angry left and how well the economy is doing. Would you please note of several things why the left is angry.
1--We have an intellectual challenged president that has told five times more lies than Nixon.
2--We have a president that spent the 200 billion surplus that was left to him the first year and began the Republican way of financing of BORROWING, BORROWING, AND MORE BORROWING.
3--George Herbert Walker Bush had a name for that kind of economics, and may I remind you of HIS WORDS--VOODOO ECONOMICS
4--George W. Bush has increased the massive national debt by 2.5 TRILLION DOLLARS AND IS BORROWING 1.4 BILLION DOLLARS A DAY TO KEEP HIS FAILED "SO CALLED POLICES" AFLOAT.
5--Bush has increased the massive national debt more than twice as fast as Reagan and his father which held the record of BORROW SPEND until intellectually challenged George came along.
6--His lies, not only have increased the massive national debt, but has killed more than 2300 of our finest men and women, wounded more than 17,000, about half permanently, and has another 32,000 with diseases, mental problems and nervous breakdowns.
7--He has changed his story of going into Iraq ten times.
8--He has no policy of increasing the chances of getting a viable government installed there.
9--He has one speech he keeps giving about staying the course, I was taught when you are about to drown, get out of the water or at least get to the shallow end.
10--If this economy cannot do good by borrowing 1.4 billion dollars a day to supplement the normal making and selling of goods and services, then we are really in deep trouble.
11--He has increased the BIRTH TAX ON A BABY BORN TODAY BY MORE
THAN 7000 THOUSAND DOLLARS AND it is increasing by the minute
12--The present birth tax is 27,000 plus and that is before the first diaper is put on and it is more by the time the baby is dried and the diaper put on.
13--He has had to ask the do nothing, rubber stamp congress to raise the debt ceiling 4 times and will have to ask again before he leaves office unless he is impeached, which seems unlikely with the present leadership in this do nothing, know nothing congressional leadership; unless you want to give them credit for knowing how to raise the debt, spend money on fantasies, like bridges to nowhere and rain forests in Iowa and some 26 BILLION DOLLARS OF FANTASIES THAT WILL COST FUTURE GENERATIONS THE lowest standard of living in 60 years or more.
14--I had a newspaper route as boy and the hardest people to collect from were those who were the richest in town.
15--Bush gave the biggest tax cut in history to those who have proved to the themselves, the country, even the world they did not need any help to get or keep and grow their net worth
16--He says they needed it to invest in the economy, how much of the tax cut did Bill Gates need to create more jobs, or Warren Buffett, or how many jobs did the Bush's create with their massive tax cut?\
17-- Have you noticed the old tractor that is sometimes shown on TV when he gives the same stay the course speech from his ranch, or the little shack with the boards missing, how much did he invest or jobs did he create?
18--How many jobs did you create with the tax cut you got?
19-- I already know the same number that Bush did or Jeb, or George H. W.
20--A great newspaper man had on his front page until the day he died and it is still in the paper, but on the opinion page the following words--LET THE PEOPLE HAVE THE TRUTH AND THE FREEDOM TO
DISCUSS IT AND ALL WILL BE WELL.
You should try that and not avoid telling it like it is and not like you would like it to be or print the facts and not laced or slanted with opinion.
-- C. K. Justus
Re: D. Stewart's letter ("Proulx Love") in Reader Mail's Moving On Up:
D. Stewart apparently feels about Brokeback Mountain like I did about Saving Private Ryan.
Shakespeare in Love beat out Saving Private Ryan in 1998 for Best Picture, and that cemented my understanding that the Oscars weren't really about which pictures were "important" or the "best." When I read time and time again that large numbers of the voting members of the Academy haven't even seen all the movies they are voting on, it only reinforces my belief that the whole thing is ridiculous.
I guess I should be sorry that I've apparently missed the most important film of 2005 and possibly the decade.
-- Angela Seeley
AUSTIN CIVIC LIMITS
Re: Mike Showalter's letter ("Judging Slogans") in Reader Mail's Moving On Up:
I haven't seen this much press since my high-school English teacher posted one of my essays. I appreciate you thinking my gibberish was worth sharing with your readership. Umm, at least, I think I do. Maybe you were just hoping someone who knows me would read it, and arrange for an intervention from one of the psych's at the State Hospital in Austin. Nah, you guys are friends (right?). Still, this is AUSTIN -- Ronnie Earle (ain't no Delay gettin' things done around here) country -- so one must constantly consider the consequences of not only having an opinion, but expressing it. In any case, you've managed to boost my morale. Hopefully, I've done as much for you, and maybe a well-deserved guffaw or two.
Despite a growing angst within some Republican ranks over a few snafus by our current leadership, I still believe we're going forward and must continue to promote the political health of the country by whatever means available, and always with as much humor as possible (which is why I love TAS). After all, the American Revolution was won through such perseverance; it will only be preserved (such that it is) in the same way. I often think we hang by a thread, and we do, but then I remind myself of the alternative by asking, where else in the world can I have as much fun trying to save my fellow man from self-destruction? At least here, I get regular meals.
2006 is certainly a test. I fear the thread may snap if the Dems win the House. Do they really think they can avenge WJC and impeach GW? But, 2008 will be the true watershed. Defeating a certain HRC would make my retirement years "Rockwellian." Who says it can't be done? Besides, I still want my private Soc. Sec. account, #$&^!
Quin, you da man! Look forward to your next piece, and many more. And R. Emmett, who knows, maybe Elaine Kyle and I can start our own fan club. OK, OK, bad idea. Maybe, give Quin a raise?
Thanks for being there!
-- Mike Showalter
Each morning I sign on to my computer and read the Spectator. Everyday I am offered up a feast of well-written ideas and viewpoints. I am able to receive views and information quite literally not available in any other media. Sometimes a column makes me want to scream, some disappoint and others tug at what's left of my heartstrings. But never is the content vanilla or predictable. My local newspaper, the Palm Beach Post, editorializes on every page; analyzes every Republican utterance and tells us why it either stupid, criminal or both. Anything said by a Democrat is presented with absolutely no analysis or critical thought even on the editorial page. For example, yesterday the Post rejoiced in the Democrat promise that they will "get" Bin Laden. I'd just like to see the "how" of that promise but alas the Post doesn't. The Post delivers a steady diet of unedited liberal pablum. Locally we refer to it as "The Palm Beach Pravda."
This publication is a different from the pap the media like the "Pravda" spews as the night is from the day. This note is just to thank those who take the time and the thought to put this wonderful publication together. I believe that without the Spectator I would be as ignorant as a Democrat.
-- Jay W. Molyneaux
Re: Ben Stein's Missed Tributes:
Thank you for your thoughts and wonderful points for our military. I am a sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, and although I will probably never patrol the streets of any Iraqi city, I know some who do. Yes, they put their families on hold and their lives on the line to protect our wonderful country from the threat of death to our American citizens. Most will never be rich, in fact, most can only hope to eventually make a comfortable living, that is, if they survive.
I appreciate your honoring the troops by reiterating the point and criticizing Hollywood for ignoring it. As long as we have people, like you, who are intelligent enough to know that only remaining vigilant in protecting our country ensures our liberties, will we maintain the freedom for Americans to criticize the country that provides the great opportunities it does.
Thank you again,
-- B. Hamilton, TSgt, USAF
As a "twice-around retired reservist" (WWII & Korea), I thank you and salute you for this article, and have sent it to all of my E-Mail friends.
-- David O. Olson Jr., CAPT USNR Ret.
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