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Thin Sheepskin

Wyoming's Annie gets her guns. They shoot blanks. Plus: Ratting on malls. Morals Republicans. Transitioning print. And much more, including more on Ben Stein's Oscars -- lefties fight back.

3.19.06

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BROKEBACK HEARTED
Re: Shawn Macomber's The Passion of Brokeback Mountain:

Even though a lot of Shawn Macomber's facts are diluted by half, his statement that Proulx's reasoning for "why Brokeback Mountain deserved an Oscar is nearly identical to the demands evangelical Christians made on behalf of The Passion" is completely disingenuous. I don't recall The Passion getting over twenty-five Best Film Awards before the Oscar ceremony. I don't recall the nearest competition having "two." I don't recall actual Academy members spouting in the press that they refused to see The Passion because of its content as voters said about Brokeback Mountain in the press. I don't recall seeing every indicator of what has gone on to win Best Picture the past 78 years, ignored by AMPAS. Every single one.

If he truly wanted to look beneath what Annie Proulx is writing and many people are still talking about concerning this years Oscars, then that would be good commentary. To accuse an author of "entitlement" is easy for him, doing his homework would be hard. That's entitlement. His last line, methinks, was written about himself: The convergence of self-importance and hyperbolic press releases is clouding your judgment.
-- Marty P.

As some wag pointed out, both Crash and Brokeback Mountain had a sort of "eat your vegetables" vibe about them. You didn't want to see the movie but if you did it was probably because mommy said it would be good for you. Well it's no surprise that nanny Proulx has taken out to the collective woodshed. Good form that it's in the Guardian -- maximum points for cocktail party intellectuals like Miss Proulx. Just remember, Academy voters, you will take your castor oil and you will like it. It was all so much simpler when all we had to contend with was the dreariness of a Merchant/Ivory film.
-- Ron Pettengill
London, United Kingdom

Those of us who have lived in the state of Wyoming all our lives or who live here because of an appreciation of the lifestyle here would be most grateful if Annie Proulx would take herself and her depraved worldview back to wherever it is that she came from.

She doesn't like us -- which makes one wonder why on earth she decided to live here -- and we don't like her.
-- Kathryn Matlack
Dubois, Wyoming

The 3/17 article written by Shawn Macomber is a nasty and transparent piece of poor journalism. His agenda is very obvious.

Why is it that so few have paid attention to the reality that many "members" of the Academy openly admitted they refused to even view BBM -- yet voted anyway? The Academy's "rules" apparently don't even require that voters see the films they vote on...Why is it that Tony Curtis and his kind are able to say openly in interviews they won't even watch a "gay"-themed movie and then there is barely a ripple in the press? Imagine any of the Academy members having the balls to announce publicly that they refused to watch Crash because it had "black people" in it... The s*** would hit the fan big time! But it's still OK to make jokes about gays, right? Did you even watch the first 15 minutes of the 78th awards on TV? It was insulting to gay people yet just done "in fun." How very quaint. If you think Crash won without some impact of homophobia, you should think again. As for Annie P? She was right on. I suggest you write and publish a more balanced article and let Mr. Macomber turn his attention to V for Vendetta. That should twist a knot in his tail.
-- David Muskera

Anybody but me seem to catch the fact that every time one of the liberals' oxen is gored they tend to go into "Beaker Mode"?

Beaker was the carrot-topped assistant to the notorious Dr. Bunsen Honeydew in the original "Muppet Show." Every time Honeydew would come up with a new product and want a guinea pig, Beaker was volunteered, to which she would start whining in an indecipherable chatter.

Saw the original article. Sounds like Beaker to me.
-- Cookie Sewell
Aberdeen, Maryland

BLIGHTED 'BURBS
Re: Lawrence Henry's A Walk in the Mall:

Troy, Michigan, and its cousin to the East, Sterling Heights are designated as "cities" by their respective charters. But as "towns," they are geographically platted square miles with subdivisions divided by cruel three- and four-lane roads with posted speeds in excess of 50 MPH. They are modern suburbs where if you need a gallon of milk, you're in the car. The "corner store" is a convenience-gas station. The grocer always seems to be a "mile up the road."

Both of these 'burbs, located far from the cruel realities of urban Detroit, offer no downtown, just the collection of city offices. Thus the collective commerce of their shopping malls is by default the manufactured downtown. The retailers basically bring otherwise strangers together. Kids of all ages congregate there, seniors walk there, and folks enjoy klatches in the food court.

Perhaps suburban designers developed this plan that retailers would in effect supply the necessary infrastructure for the modern downtown via the "shopping mall." The retailers' rent affords the maintenance and for the most part, their own security force. These ostensible "cities" can splurge on other items free of having to maintain a downtown. We can only hope this saves the taxpayers some money.
-- P. Aaron Jones
Huntington Woods, Michigan

The sad part of the upward trend in gasoline prices, is I had to stop my mall walking. The closest one to me is a little over 35 miles away. The Woodlands Mall opened at 7 a.m. for walkers and I miss it. Tough to be old, out of shape and on limited budget.
-- Elaine Kyle

LEAVE CAESAR HIS POLITICS
Re: Patrick Hynes's The Missing 30 Million:

Thank you for "The Missing 30 Million." In your article you mention the 86 leaders working on human induced climate change. Well, I am a Christian, and there is nothing I can do to influence the climate. God gave Christians a job to do. Trying to control the weather ain't part of it. When Christians are of a like mind and are pulling all in the same direction, maybe we can make some headway in Washington. The invasion of the churches of America by the environmentalists is a sign of the times. God owns and controls the weather. According to the Bible, He has the hairs on my head numbered. Why would he inventory my hair and not take direct control over the weather?

Much of what is labeled Christianity today, I really don't think God is going to inventory. God, Guts, and Guns made this Country free. Environmentalists, feminists and abortionists are going to destroy it. Yes, I am angry.

Thank you for helping beat out Kerry.
-- Martin N. Tirrell
Lisbon, New Hampshire

Here's one of the missing 30 million who believes the Republicans, including the president, have taken us for granted. The cost of that will show up nationwide in the next round of ballot boxes and, then, the 2008 campaign.

BTW: There are more than just the "evangelical" Christians who comprise the Body of Christ. Given that Christ Jesus charged all His followers, through His Great Commission, to evangelize, all who call themselves Christians -- Catholic and Protestant -- are meant to be evangelical.
-- C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia

Patrick Hynes points out in his article "The Missing 30 Million" that Republicans (and others) have decided to write off evangelical Christians as a myth, or maybe an embarrassment, and notes that liberal groups seem to be the only ones reaching out to the religious right.

I have noticed on Christian blogs that social liberals have become quite active, using the terminology ("brother") but sharing very few of the opinions that evangelicals generally hold. Wonder where they came from all of a sudden? I've also noticed that U.S. News and World Report editor Mortimer Zuckerman, who in the past could be considered friendly to conservative Christians, has recently decided that voting and governing based on moral or religious values is possibly "dangerous."

I guess Republicans believe they can now win elections without us. Yeah, right.
-- Gary Wardle

If the moral voter issue is not important, then why do we have these 55 Democrats putting out this "I'm-pretending-to-be-a-Catholic" letter? I know this -- no true follower of Jesus Christ would support abortion -- ever. I guess these politicians still don't realize that their words and deeds should coincide for us to believe them. Is abortion any different from the Old Testament times when the Israelites sinned against God by sacrificing their sons and daughters to Baal? These "honorable" politicians who claim to be Christians might want to take a look at what the Bible actually says. I would refer them to Jeremiah 7:30-34, for those who continue to support the evil of abortion.
-- G. Sorrentino
Enterprise, Alabama

Thank you. One question though, isn't "conservative Christian" an oxymoron?
-- unsigned

I enjoyed the article "The Missing 30 Million." I am Catholic and a Republican, I support President Bush -- I am one of the silent majority.
-- Joy Venosa

The numbers grow: to the list of "doubting Thomases" who question the seriousness of the current party in control to utilize the moral dimension as a foundation for their policies, add the name of a doubting Patrick Hynes. But what is laughable, however, is his steadfast refusal to connect the dots: the Republican Party is abandoning its base he utters, but its titular head bears no responsibility for such inattention to detail or negligence. What flapdoodle!

Hynes and the great majority of the readers of this webzine have to confront the facts: the man I worked for in 2000, and voted for (holding my nose) four years later may be a conservative at heart, but not in action. The columnist George Will may intone, "this president is the most conservative since Calvin Coolidge," which would be news to "Silent Cal," but, George, actions speak louder than words.

Last week, these pages included a review of Bruce Bartlett's recent book about Bush which was properly titled: Impostor. No one can legitimately claim to be a conservative and a profligate government spender for matters not related to the national defense simultaneously; no true conservative would be willing to use U.S. troops to seal the border with Iraq in the name of our national security, and leave our own southern border open for anyone -- terrorists included -- to literally walk across. No true conservative would choose which law to enforce and which to flout, such as not carrying out the laws of the land that currently exist regarding the presence of illegal aliens. Yes, he appointed two Supreme Court justices who may be conservatives, but the editor of the Catholic magazine, New Oxford Review, and many others doubt that they will vote to overturn Roe. That objective is, however, remote: in remarks to a group of law students and professors in Switzerland recently, Justice Scalia said quite clearly that, given the current court make-up, there is little likelihood that Roe will be overturned. In the meantime, the White House does precious little to move on the appointment of known conservative appeals court nominees, some of whom have waited years for their hearings. But if all of this does not disturb Hynes, et al., then allow me to finish with one final bit of unattended business by this administration: partial birth abortion.

In April, 2005, the Ney Professor of Jurisprudence at Amherst College, Hadley Arkes, wrote a must read article in the neo-con monthly, First Things called, "Bush's Second Chance." Arkes, who had been helpful in writing a partial birth abortion bill that might pass constitutional muster, admitted this in reference to Bush's apparent refusal to confront the issue publicly: "...by his (Bush's) example, he is establishing what must surely stand as the most corrosive lesson that could be taught in this country right now -- that in the judgment of an accomplished political man, it is either impolitic or unrespectable to make the pro-life argument in public." Has anything changed since then? I hope those 30 million voters know this the next time they cast their ballots.

Pax tecum.
-- Vincent Chiarello
Reston, Virginia

Moral issues are the only reason that I get out and vote in the first place!
-- Patty Seymour
Farmington Hills, Michigan

DELIVERY PUZZLE
Re: Paul Chesser's Jettisoning Print:

Good column in Friday's TAS. I think your points have merit and I appreciate you voicing them.

After some 20 years in daily newspapers, in 2001 I resigned my front-page editor position to start a community weekly serving Santa Barbara's families. We were in business for three years, winning the California Newspaper Publishers Association's General Excellence Award in our first year of eligibility, an unprecedented achievement for a startup. We earned a fiercely loyal readership but were never able to convince advertisers of the necessity to run with us. Long story but you know how it ends. We closed last year when my family tired of the philanthropy.

Along the way, we discovered a hunger among our readers for an expanded online presence and were working on some models when we pulled the plug. In our case, the savings wouldn't have just been in newsprint; we were spending more than $3,000 a week in postage for our direct-mailed product.

What truly amazes me, however, is the obtuse reaction of most old-media entities and I've thought quite a lot about that in the eight months since we closed. In a word, most of them are lazy -- especially those in Santa Barbara. As a result, I've been trying to figure out just what you cannot get anywhere else but in a daily and then burning brain cells trying to determine how to deliver precisely that to readers in an electronic format ... as well as how to price it. I'm not there yet but I have some ideas.

Along with that, both The American Spectator and National Review have begun to aggressively push their electronic versions and I'm on the verge of canceling my print subscriptions in favor of the new format. My Wall Street Journal carrier has become seriously erratic and that may be the first old-media casualty in my life.

There is one thing that gives me pause, and I would be most grateful to hear your thoughts on it. I already spend a prodigious amount of time online, but I never go anywhere without something to read -- at the gas station, at the bank, waiting for an appointment, at lunch, whatever. I do read the Journal cover-to-cover each day but not in one sitting; it often takes me most of the day in snippets. Were I to move completely to the new world you advocate, could I justify spending that much more time online? PDAs are impractical solutions in their current forms and laptops are worse. Short of an epiphany here, I can't seem to complete the transition.

Any suggestions?

Thank you again for the column. I do believe you're not only in the ballpark, but you're running around the bases and scoring.
-- Bill Macfadyen
Editor and publisher, South Coast Beacon
Santa Barbara, California

THE BRASS TOUCH
Re: Robert M. Goldberg's Snowe Jobs:

Now the government's going to negotiate my drug prices? Is this the same government -- state and federal -- that was in charge of the post-hurricane recovery in the Gulf Coast Region? Is this the same government that gutted the world's finest military and now whines that there aren't enough troops? Is this same government that spent trillions on welfare to end poverty? Is this the same government that advocates for children and murders several hundred thousand each year? Going further back, is this the same government that agreed Joe Stalin should run Eastern Europe? Is this the same government of truth that "did not have sex with that woman..."?

Migod, if it is -- don't ever get sick!
-- Jay W. Molyneaux
Wellington, Florida

SOUTHERN ENCOUNTER
Re: James Bowman's review of Duck Season:

Duck Season sounds like my wife and I would enjoy it. I don't know if this is significant to the movie plot, but Los Ninos Heros is the name of a monument in Mexico City to the young cadets of the military academy who defended a position on a precipice against the U.S. forces during the Mexican War. They fought until overrun and the survivors leaped from the cliff rather than be captured. One of the things about our common history that no American remembers and no Mexican ever forgets.
-- Stephen W. Browne
Norman, Oklahoma

WHERE ROCK IS KOOL
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Dead Rock:

Mark down the date July 15, 1961, and celebrate the 45th anniversary of our starting the "oldies" format.

"KOOL Gold" happened before the consultants and focus groups, and has been copied in one form or another by 730+ commercial radio stations in our US of A, and, probably will be about the only place you'll be able to hear real rock music for a goodly time to come...

Earl Burnham hired me to program KOOL when he took over as manager, lo, those many years ago. There were four "Top-40" or rock stations competing for the Phoenix listeners -- so, we agreed, "let's do oldies" -- and the rest is history.

It took only about 15-20 seconds to make that decision too, a question of "find a need and then fill it." And, thanks to guys like Tony Evans, Ron Chrisco, Ron Edwards and a few others, yeah, our ratings jumped from 14th in the market to a strong #4 in less than 90-days, without promotion too! I believe that they're still doing it, on FM...

And, let me tell you -- it was a lotta FUN doing it too!
-- Jonathan B. "Jack" Frost

Oh, grow up, readers. Those who lament the "death" of rock are those who believe it never should have been born in the first place. I'll take the new-, old- or mid-period stuff played on "Little Steven's Underground Garage" (every Sunday night from 10 p.m.â€"midnight; check your local listings) over the Muzak playing over some Promise Keepers rally sound system.

Bob Tyrrell is a charming and witty fellow, really. It's most unfortunate that when the subject turns to R-O-C-K, he becomes as unhinged and blinkered as the late Allan Bloom. We all have our faults. As someone who sees no contradiction whatsoever between being on the right and being an uncompromising rock n' roll fan, I'll look past this one.
-- Carl F. Horowitz
Ashburn, Virginia

WILLING ROAD KILL
Re: Eric Peters's The Real Gas Price Gouger:

Why can government tax the living daylights out of a commodity that Americans need almost as the very air that we breathe, its, "Because they can." Who is going to tell the federal, states and local governments that they cannot? By Mr. and Mrs. America complaining will that cause fuel taxes to be reduced, if we assume that then there is a better chance of it snowing in "hell".

Because it is a hell that consumers are going through when they drive home at night and see the cost of gasoline going up 2-3 times in a week and even on occasion going up twice in one day. What have we done to invoke such animosity from our government? It is like Mr. Jay Bennish the high school teacher teaching geography and indoctrinating his students that President Bush is like Hitler. His students were a captive audience that did not have a choice to either leave his diatribe or choose another class to go to. The students were stuck in there seats.

The same governmental rational is behind repressive gasoline taxes as is the students of Mr. Jay Bennish, the consumer has no power or decision in their sphere of daily life to go to an alternative source to ease the authoritarian burden that is being place upon them. This burden of having to pay contemptible gasoline taxes is authoritarian. We Americans have absolutely no choice whatsoever in rolling back, eliminating, changing and reducing these taxes. We are dictated that we will pay these taxes or lose the ability to not go to work and provide for our families and ourselves.

That only choice that Americans have to seek relief from these taxes is to stay home and become wards of the government and become financial burdens to those who are still able to afford the high cost of gasoline to go to work. It is a sad, sad day in this country that proud Americans will be reduced to ox carts and wagons in order to provide for themselves.

Hillary Clinton once told Dennis Hastert concerning health care, "We just can't trust the American people to make those types of decisions.... Government has to make those choices for people." It is too bad that many Americans also agree with her statement. They will trade freedom of choice for security, and this exactly why the government will tax us to the grave. It is, "Because the can and because America lets them."
-- Melvin L. Leppla
Jacksonville, North Carolina

TO BEN OR NOT TO BEN
Re: Ben Stein's Missed Tributes:

I wholeheartedly agree with his comments. I am a teacher in Oklahoma who teaches poverty level children. I am cursed at daily by children and parents alike. I am a college graduate who continues her education throughout my career, yet I have, and never will have, glamorous dresses, or ride in a limo, or make as much in a year as these "stars" spend in one day. I am ashamed of what Hollywood has become and supports. I remember how many old Hollywood movie stars served their country proudly. I remember watching decent movies, ones my parents didn't have to worry if they were appropriate or not. I wish we would glamorize family values, and decent people, and happy endings, and movies without nudity and profanity. If Hollywood really wants to rock the Screen Actors Guild on its edge, let's have someone make a movie with all these qualities, and a happy ending. I am appalled at movies like Brokeback Mountain and others that have to do with changing genders and violence. I blame Hollywood for not taking the blame for the violence seen on the streets. Only four of my fifth graders have seen Cinderella, but 20 of them have seen Scream and Chuckie and all the other improper movies a ten-year-old could see. Yes, parents are to blame, but let's call a spade a spade -- If the cookie jar wasn't open, no one would reach in. Keep up the honesty Ben. Thanks for not sweeping the garbage under the rug, and exposing it for what it is!
-- unsigned

The only thing worse then READING commentary by Ben Stein, is HEARING commentary by Ben Stein.

I find it very illuminating that Mr. Stein supposes that the folks in Hollywood are SO important that they merit this kind of invective. Obviously the "dreamland" to which he assigns these folks is the very same one in which he works, lives and cashes his checks.

It is indeed sad that no tribute was offered for the troops, but it is ridiculous to take that one legitimate complaint and extrapolate it into a disquisition that includes statements such as: "Oil companies do their best in a very hostile world to bring us energy cheaply and efficiently and with a minimum of corruption." No doubts now where Stein is placing his investment dollars: In just one year the following companies profits have changed as follows: BP, up 165 percent; Chevron-Texaco, up 294 percent; ConocoPhillips, up 44 percent; ExxonMobil, up 125 percent.

Or "...this is a fabulously great country where we treat gays, blacks, and everyone else as equal." So Mr. Stein, if one of our next presidential contenders is a black gay woman...it follows that her merit as a contender would be solely based on her skills and abilities in performing the job.

And lastly, comparing what goes on in the Kodak theater to what goes on in Kirkuk is like comparing an ethereal breeze that barely ripples the waters of a remote forest pond to the angry wind of a CAT5 hurricane that drives the whole of the ocean inland, flattening entire cities... no equivalency exists and it insults the reader to assume they will believe otherwise.
-- Brian Cusick
Washington, D.C.

If Ben Stein were capable of the truth his only complaint about the Oscars would be that they didn't pay homage to King George the 43rd, not in ignoring the Troops. By the way, I bet Ben Stein knows who Jessica Simpson is now!
-- Jimmie Johnson

Great article!!! Thanks Ben, and thank you American Spectator, for the mooring you provided in this upside-down world of terrorist-praising, military-bashing media.
-- unsigned

Please pass my heartfelt thanks and support to Mr. Ben Stein for his principled stand on the Oscar snub of U.S. troops and other important issues that illustrate the aid and comfort liberals give to our enemies.
-- Alan Glover
Montreal, Quebec

Hollywood made you. You pontificating windbag. When on your game show did you ever pay tribute to our troops? You are such a hypocrite. You criticize the very system that made your fame as if you aren't part of it. You whine and whine and don't give any constructive suggestions. I suggest you put your intentions into action and try to get booked on the next awards show so you can make the tribute that you seek so fervently... at least in theory if not practice.
-- Jonathan A. Jones, MA
Regulatory Affairs Coordinator, Schulman Associates IRB, Inc.
Cincinnati, Ohio

Your words regarding the narcissism of Hollywood were much needed and appreciated. Thanks for getting the Truth out! Keep the observations coming; I forward much of it just to keep the spirits up of those of us who are fighting for a return to decent, moral values in this blessed country.
-- unsigned

Your piece about the Oscars is so true!! Thank you very much for letting your very factual opinion be known. I received the piece as a forward from my Uncle Ben. I'm definitely going to have to check out American Spectator.

Thanks,
-- Brent Schneider

Thank you for your "Missed Tributes."
-- John Bailey

Stein has really caught the drift of these self-absorbed, pin-head Hollywood types. I suggest they hold their next self-congratulatory event in Tehran.
-- Ralph Garrett

SLICK SOURCE
Re: Ralph R. Reiland's Billions for Barrels:

Regarding Ralph Reiland's article, Mr. Reiland fails to mention that The UAE ruling family, after receiving a barrage of threats from al Qaeda leadership, attempted from later 1999 to the summer of 2000 to get the Taliban to hand over Osama bin Laden to them for "house arrest" and possible later handover to the U.S. Reiland also fails to mention that, among other preventive measures, Dubai was the first Middle East government to accept the U.S. Container Security Initiative and signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy to prevent nuclear material from passing through its ports. Interesting that this information comes from former CIA Director James Woolsey's very good friend and terrorism expert, Mansoor Ijaz, and Reiland conveniently missed it. Beyond that, the UAE captured and handed over a USS Cole bomber to the U.S. and an al Qaeda leader to Pakistan. Add to that the fact that the UAE hosts the U.S. Airbase at Dhafra from which we fly U-2 spy planes and unmanned spy drones and the UAE services our U.S. Navy aircraft carriers and support ships and Dubai serves as our U.S. Navy's largest foreign port. In fact, the UAE is as much, if not a more important strategic ally and friend right now, in the war on terrorism, than is Israel, considering that Israel is involved in another spy case against the United States (Franklin\AIPAC\Israel). Also, Reiland conveniently forgets to tell his readers that DP World's David Sanborn is an American and a graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Acadamy. Does Reiland dare question Sanborn's expertise or patriotism to The United States? In fact, Reiland seems to be one of these "over the top" neo-con agendists, who carry Anti-Arab baggage, which interferes with United States national interests.
-- unsigned

We have more oil in the shale of Colorado than all the oil in the Middle East.

Your whole article is bogus.
-- unsigned

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