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Bad Guy Dubai

What was won. What was lost. Also: Battling over Bush and New Orleans. Still more reactions to Ben Stein. Plus much else.

3.12.06

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NO PORTS IN THIS STORM
Re: John Tabin's Who Lost Dubai?:

John Tabin gets it mostly right, but he overlooks the current state of commerce. What is really important about containers is not how they are handled when they get here but what is put in them when they are shipped. For that, we already depend a great deal on security procedures at Dubai Ports in Dubai and other ports in other countries. If it is thought that Dubai Ports as an enterprise is uniquely susceptible to terrorist infiltration, then we should stop all commerce from Dubai. Having Dubai Ports manage the unloading, storage and transshipment of containers is the least risky part of the transaction from a security standpoint.

Security at U.S. Ports is done by Customs and the Coast Guard. Most people think that two guys in an outboard motor runabout are not very effective in terms of security. But security is much more than that. It is having teams of people with badges and authority who decide which containers will be examined and how they will be examined. The port operator, whether Dubai Ports or anyone else, has no say in those procedures.

Lastly, nobody has mentioned the very firm letter from Zim, the leading Israeli shipping company. They strongly defended the business practices of Dubai Ports World and their relationship with them.

Have seamy things happened in Dubai? Very likely. Seamy things have happened in Washington. That has basically nothing to do with this commercial arrangement. People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. If we establish that no foreigners should be involved in important businesses in the U.S., what does that say about the international operations of Bechtel, ExxonMobil, Boeing, the dreaded Halliburton and thousands of American businesses which perform essential services and build infrastructure all over the world, and particularly in the Middle East?

We are engaged in a huge experiment in Iraq. We are trying to lay down a model of development for Islamic/Arab societies to move into the modern world without becoming terrorist or totalitarian. Dubai is a country that is concentrating on commerce, with all the beneficial social effects of that model. And with all the sacrifices we have made in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have just publicly established the principal that an Arab country by virtue of its Arabness is not worthy to do business with the United States.

I don't understand it. And more to the point, few in Congress do either.
-- Greg Richards

I find your article ironic when you are blaming Bush for not knowing about the deal until after it was announced on February 11. Since when does Bush have to know what is going on in a city or state?

And Congress, the press and opinion polls blaming the President for not letting them know what is going on in the CIFUS. I assume Congress can read the news or go online. What happened is Congress was caught with their pants down and were unaware of the deal. You would think your district House reps and state Senators would know what is going on in their states. Mine didn't even know that one of the "ports" is managed by the National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia.

What has really upset me is how this was done. To put this amendment on a funding bill for the troops is as low as you can get. I was in the service for 21 years. I was there when 53 FSO were kidnapped and held hostage for over 400 days, the Beirut massacre, the tree chopping incident in the DMZ, and others. I can remember when women were forbidden to serve in Saudi Arabia. Thanks to the Republicans in the house and senate, we are now at the same point we were in the early 80s. Thanks to the Republicans in the house, over 500,000 sailors and marines lives will be in danger when on shore leave. Thanks to the Republicans in the house, all bases overseas will be on full alert. Thanks to the Republicans in the house, the U.S. has just insulted one of its greatest allies, Great Britain.
-- Joe Limbaugh

Your headline asks "Who lost Dubai?" as if there were a clear "loss" to America.

My answer to the soothsayers who lament the "loss" as something quite obvious is... glance at the constant, violent/chaotic reactions of the Islamic "streets." This port deal might have been giving "those streets" a short-cut to "main street" America. That risk outweighs any debt/reward/payback owed to the UAE or anyone.

Real allies, in this war with Islamic terrorists, would, hopefully, be allies out of a sense of civilized cooperation and common human values -- not due to diplomatically engineered "payback" that never seems to engender long term dependability.

Many Muslim governments tacitly pander to the radical elements of Islam by covert support or overt "blind eyes" and thunderous silence. It is entirely reasonable for American's to believe today's Muslim allies will only be "with us" as long as they are able to control the huge numbers of angry jihadis, millions of poor and millions of the next discontented/anti-American generation, with-in their own borders... or until American dollars and technology no longer offset national/religious priorities.

If this is, mostly, a war on Islamic terrorists and not just a series of "media events/partisan politics" we would have been foolish, for ANY reasons, to have allowed such deep access of any port functions, i.e. access to our homeland, to any Muslim entity that, itself, was on potentially tenuous grounds. Islamic governments, past and present, have clearly been unpredictable in their longevity as well as their degree of day-to-day hatred toward America and our interests.

In this war, America, Britain or whoever, would have inevitably said or done something (real or imagined) that would set off the next round of cartoon riots, insulted some Islamic tenet, proposed peace talks, supported tribal co-operation or... just be clearly pro-American... instead of lopsidedly "Neville Chamberlain" naive. This is not phobia or racism... look at the TV and marvel at the repetition of chaos and violence, recall the history of violent religious upheaval that has defined the Middle East for generations.

Who knows how any future unrest... or successful terrorist act, will affect the viability or loyalties of the UAE or DP World. My Ouija Board is not working... my lick-a-sense is.
-- John Curtis

What an incredibly disgusting episode. Pacifist Democrats and protectionist Republicans teamed up to stop the deal in order to appear tough on national defense while not accomplishing anything.

The most surreal moment for me occurred while channel surfing between news stations the other night. CNN had Howard Dean spouting uninformed nonsense about port security, MSNBC had some other Dem windbag bashing Bush, and Fox News had a longshoreman from the Baltimore dock. The longshoreman was laughing at the whole thing -- the only difference it would make to him and the work at the dock is the name on the checks. That's when I truly realized that this was pure politics and irrelevant to security.

I wouldn't blame the UAE for retaliating. I'd like to retaliate.
-- Chris Bramley

Let's see if I read this right. The article by John Tabin is saying that the UAE is an economic powerhouse that can do serious damage to the U.S. economy if they chose to do so. If correct, that means the U.S. is merely a third-rate power that is subservient to the powers that be in the Middle East. If the UAE is that powerful financially, then we have lost the war. Might as well bring the troops home. We'll need them for humping cargo at the ports we used to own. I and others are getting more than a little fed up with the doomsday scenarios put forth by people because this deal soured. Maybe it's the best thing that happened. It's a wake-up call to all of us of how dependent this nation has become to foreign interests. As for the President, I was an ardent Bush supporter but enough is enough. My loyalties do not extend to anyone who acts worse than Clinton on issues of national importance. We have lost too many lives in that war in Iraq which, yes, is turning into another Vietnam type war (political BS) and the other mistakes by this President on the home front. The saddest part of this whole thing is that Bush (along with the Republican Congress) has destroyed the best chance we ever had to turn this country around.
-- Pete Chagnon

It is June 1941. The German Army has just invaded Russia even though the two countries had signed a non-aggression pact in 1939. President Roosevelt decides quickly to extend Lend-lease to Russia but understands that the American public considers the USSR to be an enemy and there is fear that America could be drawn into the war as well. Roosevelt knows their will be a public repudiation to the assistance, so he starts slowly and lends innocuous items at first rather than overt military equipment. On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor causes The U.S. to formally enter the war.

But what if the U.S. Congress had prevented aid to Russia and their role in the Allied cause? The war would certainly have been prolonged and Hitler might have succeeded in creating a United States of Europe. And our future could have been much poorer than it is today. The USSR took the most casualties, 20 million or more, and they participated in the spoils at Yalta taking control of East Europe at the end of the war, the bad part of the bargain, but still worth it.

The same sort of decision was made by the highest levels of government to let the Port deal with the U.A.E. go through because they have demonstrated that they are a good and reliable ally in the War on Terror. Only this time the U.S. Congress has killed the deal and turned away an important ally, yielding to public opinion ignorant of the real stakes in this effort to defeat terrorists and unite the world in peaceful trade. We all lose because of this cowardly display of opportunistic politicians.
-- Howard Lohmuller
Seabrook, Texas

We can sleep peacefully now knowing that the same red-blooded Americans who always have decided who unloads cargo at the ports of New York, New Jersey, and Miami still do -- the Mafia.
-- unsigned

WHEN THE SAINTS...
Re: Quin Hillyer's The Battle of New Orleans:

When did pundits and analysts have the patience of a fast food line?

"One of the world's great cities is dying before our eyes..."

This is more hyperbolic, reactionary, "blame the President for everything" nonsense. A city built over how many years? And you want it fixed in a few days? I am really getting tired of pundits, reporters, analysts who have never started a fire, much less managed a Company, tell us the sky is falling (and it is all President Bush's fault).

Golly gee, is the insanity of the MSM contagious? Sorry if my response is lacking in polite encouragement.

What can a sitting President do, with a state run by inept Democrat partisans, who killed nearly every bit of incentive in the area for the last 40 years?

New Orleans is not going to die. Take a deep breath, and get to work. The alarmist demeanor is not helping.
-- William Holl
New York, New York

What an outstanding article by Quin Hillyer. Many of us conservatives have since September been wondering why this administration has opted for the big government solution to this problem including their lack of a waiver on labor regulations that would have allowed free markets to work their magic. Why would anyone want to give money to incompetents like Nagin and Blanco? Is there anything more discouraging than watching a Republican President and the Congress we worked so hard to elect act like Democrats when we finally get into office? I ceased all contributions to Republican National Committees (Senate, House, and party) a long time ago and now carefully select conservative candidates to contribute to. God bless Rep. Baker and his heroic fight. Some of them have the absolute stupidity to wonder why they're poised to lose in November. Gee, I wonder. I think they forgot what 1994 was all about. Keep up the great writing.
-- J.E. Hildreth
Erie, Pennsylvania

The DEMOCRATS cause the mess in New Orleans and you blame Bush, how sad it is that we are eating our own. I have lost all respect for your publication and I don't get the point of your op-ed.
-- Bruce Mueller

After seeing the extent of the damage in New Orleans and surrounding areas my thoughts were that New Orleans is dead. At least in the devastated areas. Dead homes. Dead mom-and-pop businesses. Dead chain restaurants and gas stations. I can't foresee these places ever being lived in or open for business again. Unless you see it you can not appreciate the devastation of lives and business. It's too bad the Bush administration will not consider Rep. Richard Baker's proposals. The pinheads in FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers, all bureaucrats, can't think beyond their stingy agendas. My lesson in all of this: never, ever trust FEMA for assistance. And for that matter, never, ever trust state and federal government for aid and comfort.
-- Clasina Segura
New Iberia, Louisiana

I am from Illinois. When we had that trouble with the Mississippi a few years back we bailed out the people but told them this was the end of an era. Whole towns moved to higher ground. No one would again be subsidized by the government if they wanted to risk living on land that could be flooded again. (Remember this was the 100- and 500-year flood plains.)

Many of us watched the destruction of New Orleans on TV. We saw goofy Blanco and slick Nagin. I did not see a mention of their names in your article. Only Bush's. Since when do ALL the taxpayers owe it to Louisiana to subsidize jazz and the French Quarter's goings on?...
-- Annette Cwik

While Mr. Hillyer's article has some merit in his criticism of President Bush and the response of FEMA in the aftermath of Katrina, his near hysterical rants deserve additional review.

That New Orleans, the State of Louisiana, Congress, the President and the whole world had not been warned of the threat and inevitably of a major storm destroying the city Of New Orleans and much of the Louisiana Gulf Coast cannot credibly be denied After Hurricane Georges barely missed New Orleans in 1998, many articles and documentaries began to appear that foretold precisely what would and did happen in 2005.

The October 2001 issue of Scientific American contained an article entitled "Drowning New Orleans" warning that "a major hurricane could swamp N.O. under 20 feet of water. It warned that the Louisiana delta marsh was losing one acre of land every 24 MINUTES, an area the size of Manhattan a year."

The October 2004 National Geographic began an article titled "Gone with the Water" with a hypothetical account of an approaching hurricane that could have been lifted nearly verbatim from the pages of The Times Picayune before, during and after Katrina. It foretold that the water would creep over the berm of Lake Pontchartrain, flood the city with 25 feet of water as people climbed on their rooftops to escape. It even predicted that 200,000 carless people would remain after 1,000,000 had evacuated.

If those publications are a bit obscure or not widely read by the people of New Orleans, I offer a series published by the aforementioned, Times Picayune, New Orleans own daily paper. This five-part series appeared June 23-27, 2002. The series was entitled "Washing Away, Special Report," It's only a matter of time before South Louisiana takes a direct hit from a major hurricane. Billions have been spent, but we grow more vulnerable every day."

Unlike Mr. Hillyer's claim the residents had been assured that they lived in one of the safest flood plains in the country because top civil engineering minds had repeatedly said, " the levee-and-floodwall system could withstand any storm " of Katrina's strength and that the Army Corps of Engineers "said the walls would hold," the Times Picayune sub-headline in the series read "Army Corps of Engineers officials say hurricane levees in N.O. area will protect residents from a Category 3 hurricane. But that computer models indicate even weaker storms could find chinks in that armor."

Mr. Hillyer further states that in many cases N.O. flood victims had no flood insurance, "because they were advised that they needed none." The Times Picayune in their series, "some homeowners have decided against buying flood insurance because their home isn't located in a mandatory flood insurance area. That's not a good idea said Ron Castleman, regional director of FEMA. In the event of a catastrophic hurricane, which could put 20 feet of water even in areas protected by levees, homes without flood insurance WILL NOT be covered for water-related damage."

To attempt to assign responsibility in hindsight is both futile and harmful. The City of New Orleans evolved out of the swamps and bayous of Southern Louisiana over a 200 year plus time frame. During that time their already low lying terrain sunk further. The inevitable occurred. People were warned. Agencies were warned. There was no reasonable expectation that a catastrophe could have been averted. The question is, will we be foolish enough to create another disaster by letting our emotions overrule common sense? An area 8 feet below sea level and sinking is hardly a sensible place to try to re-create an ideal that never was.
-- Joseph Haverty
Clearwater, Florida

"One of the world's great cities"? Well, arguably one of the world's better known. As far as "great" is concerned, beauty may be in the eye of the bead-holder.
-- Nick Hauser

Thank you for Quin Hillyer's excellent article.
-- James Van Alstyne

TOTALITARIANS AND TOTALITARIANISM
Re: Christopher Orlet's Is the Neocon Dream Dead?:

Mr. Orlet says, "Do not write off the Iraqi people. The alternative is a return to Taliban or Baathist rule. And nobody, save the Taliban and the Baathists, wants that." When did the Taliban rule Iraq? Maybe the editor needs to edit better or the author write better!!!!
-- Dr. Howard A. Hickman
Austin, Texas

Christopher Orlet replies:
I meant "Talibanesque."

AN OSCAR SALUTE?
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Better Than Oscar Night:

I just read your commentary on the Oscars and agree 100%.

I don't know why the Hollywood types don't recognize the great sacrifices many in our Armed Forces make.

However, I have a suggestion on a way to do that.

Perhaps at next year's Oscar presentations, they could invite real-life members of the military to be presenters of the award. I think it'd be great and would go a long way in helping heal a perceived rift between Hollywood and the military. Young members of each branch of service could read the nominations and then present the Oscar.

I don't know what you think of that idea, but if you think it's good, maybe you could facilitate that.
-- David K. Cannon, Colonel, USAF
Hawaii

I hate to think this, but a lot of Americans don't have the attention span of a gnat. They want instant gratification and wars in 30 second sound bites. It is going to take another 9-11 to wake this country up. I pray that I am wrong.
-- Elaine Kyle

DRIVE REFORM
Re: Eric Peters's Senior Driving:

I agree whole-heartedly with the testing. Our church (and the insurance company requires us) bans seniors 70 and over driving our church vehicles while transporting others.

I would add that some of the same reasons you gave for testing seniors, should be done for teens (they are more prone to drinking, drugs, loud distracting music, the use of iPods, cell phones, and loving to speed). Any at-fault accident should require immediate testing for drugs.

In addition, I think our laws should be more severe when at fault in accidents due to drinking and drugs. And when will we ever wake up and get stiff penalties for speeding thru red lights? I have gone under a yellow light, and yet three vehicles behind me managed to get thru the red light that followed.
-- George Dixon

ENCORE PLUS
Re: Ben Stein's Missed Tributes:

Thank you for your "Missed Tributes" article!

Is it too much to expect of CBS that you will be allowed to present your Oscars observations during the upcoming CBS News Sunday morning?
-- John DePasquale
Alexandria, Virginia

God bless Ben Stein for having the insight and the intestinal fortitude to see Hollywood for what it is.

He is always on target with his comments -- no matter what the subject is. He's just wonderful!
-- Carrie Anna Roberts
Tyler, Texas

Only one comment -- fantastic and dead on the mark.
-- James R. Lightfoot
Member of Congress (ret.)
Largo, Florida

I received via email your article on the "snub" of the Oscar crowd not honoring our military. Thank you so very much for the thought, your consideration and disgust is greatly appreciated.

I am the Mother of a U.S. Marine -- and want you to know that my precious Marine, was promoted to Corporal last week...on March 1, 2006 -- and I took the day off and traveled from L.A. to Camp Pendleton to witness this great moment in his life.

I want you to know, he does not give a hooter's damn what Hollywood or any spoiled, self-absorbed celebrity thinks of him or his service to preserve what America is or stands for.

After his promotion, he was so amazed with his accomplishment and said, "Mother, this is the best day ever... you are here." What more can I expect? He doesn't care what "Hollywood" thinks -- he only wanted to see the pride, love and support of his Mom and those who love him. He is also aware of those he is serving and would never diminish their contribution to all of our existence.

He knows I have his back and that I worry about him -- not Hollywood and its artificial glory seekers -- he's got it straight.

He is quick to let me know -- he does not care for the government, but he loves America and her people...no politics...just truth, freedom and the right to be who we are...Hollywood and all. And he wants others to know and feel the freedoms he experienced as a child growing up -- riding bicycles, getting an education and growing into an individual -- all without fear of punishment for being who they are.

So, please don't feel bad, our kids get it. They know reality from fiction and fantasy...Hollywood and its self-absorbed folks swim in it -- they are the losers, but our kids get it...that is why they have CHOSEN to do whatever they can to give it to others.

Thank you for thinking of our children and what so many American families are sacrificing...Hollywood and the shallow will never, ever understand -- until their own babies are willing to give it all to preserve it.

Very proud mom of a U.S. Marine.
-- Dian Forsythe
Los Angeles, California

Well done, Ben.
-- Jack K. Jaynes
San Diego, California

Well done, Ben Stein, well done
-- Mike Durcan
Denver, Colorado

God bless you and yours!!!
Best regards,
-- Randall Champion
Palm Harbor, Florida

As a combat veteran I applauded Ben Stein for his comments. These people with a few exceptions have no clue about the hardships of our combat vets and their sacrifices of themselves and families whether they agree or disagree with the politics. Maybe the reminders have never hit their backyards even though it has knocked on the front door of their homes. The USA.
-- Robert

I disagree with Ben Stein's comment regarding the Academy Award ceremony in which he states that "They [Hollywood] live in dreamland and cannot be gracious enough to thank the men and women who pay with their lives for the stars' ability to live in dreamland." I cannot speak for everyone who attended or watched the Academy Award ceremony. But one reason I'm glad that there was no such mention throughout the ceremony is because the Academy Awards ceremony is intended for the purpose of awarding Oscars for notable achievements in the film arts--not to serve as an open venue in which the winners should freely express their personal opinions regarding current political issues or to thank those who serve in the military. Much like the Olympic Games, it just seems to me that the there is no place in the Academy Awards ceremony for political or military messages. When that happens, the world will truly have gone to hell in a hand basket, and it probably wouldn't be much time before few people will even bother to attend or to watch.

I recall a moment in a previous Academy Award ceremony when Michael Moore was giving his speech for winning an Oscar, and he included a statement "Shame on you, George Bush, shame on you," or something to that effect. The audience, including many who happened to share Moore's opinions, did not appreciate Moore using that venue to express his personal political messages. If memory serves me correctly, I believe the audience began booing Moore. It's not that the people did not support Moore's right to condemn President Bush, but rather his poor choice in selecting a non-political event in which to express a political opinion. People do not attend nor watch the Academy Award ceremony for its potential political enrichment, and frankly it should remain that way. There are just too many venues in which Americans are already over-exposed to political messages, so why suggest the last few bastions of non-politically based entertainment venues should be spoiled with political undertones? Not no, but hell no!

Lots of Americans in all walks of life enjoy basic freedoms today because of the efforts of countless brave soldiers who died on the battlefield. But Stein makes no mention of the average American who enjoys the freedom to walk freely into his/her chosen house of worship yet probably lacks the graciousness to regularly thank past and current brave soldiers for fighting for the right of all Americans to enjoy the freedom of worship. And when was the last time you recall that a reporter from any medium, after winning a major journalism award, bothered to thank a veteran or offered a prayer for his/her willingness to fight for the freedom of the press? Yet Stein condemns only Hollywood stars for being lacking the graciousness to thank the soldiers for the freedoms they enjoy. Yet clearly many Americans go about their daily lives while neglecting to thank the brave men and women who have served or are serving in the military for the freedoms we all enjoy each and every day.
-- Vickie Parks

I am a vet and since I have lived in the LA area for over 40 years, I have a clue about those who live here as well. While I most certainly agree with nearly all of Stein's article and was very disappointed by the lack of any mention of support for both the war and our military, I am a fair person.

So I must also point out Hollywood was in the forefront of the fight for black civil rights, women's rights, the rights of gays and equal pay for women.

In their movies, they have blacks, gays and women in position of responsibility, interracial kissing, etc. and probably other issues I do not at this moment remember. So to not give them credit when it is due, is just as wrong as is their lack of support for our war and our military.
-- Neil C. Reinhardt

Thank you, Ben Stein, for your post Oscar ceremony commentary. This is one proud American that salutes you for telling the truth about that moral cesspool called Hollywood.
-- Jay Goldman

Yes! This is what is wrong with Hollywood!
-- unsigned

Just had to write to say that I loved getting Ben's thoughts on the Hollywood scene. Many "normal" people agree that they are all foolish (and many of them fools, as well!)
-- unsigned

Thank you so much for noticing the lack of respect shown to our troops by the Hollywood crowd at the Oscars. We veterans also noticed and were wondering what they were thinking. I am the author of a new book titled River Rats, which has been selling well. I recently visited the Screen Writers Guild to honor eight of the top screenwriters of today. One of the top writers said in his presentation that we should not be bombing other countries. Later I was able to speak to five of them and half said to write the screen play and half said they did not think that Hollywood would be interested in doing a picture about Vietnam, what with the war in Iraq going on. I was stunned at the lack of support for this war or in doing an honorable story about young men stopping the Communist flow of men and arms into South Vietnam. Don't they realize that women are voting in Iraq, or that young girls are attending school along side of the boys? Is New York so far away that they forgot it or the USS Cole and other heartless acts? This has nothing to do with Bush, this fight has been coming for a long time and someday future generation will have to go and save Africa before this world can live in peace and all people can be free and have the same opportunities. Are we Veterans the only ones that see this? The World has come a long way and I am very proud of the many Vets from all nations and back grounds that have stood up and met the many threats that have faced us in the past. I hope Hollywood will wake up and start giving these men the respect and honor that they have earned. Where are the John Waynes and Jimmy Stewarts of today? Are we left only with Jane Fondas and Sean Penns? Oh by the way, I informed that one gentleman that we were not bombing the whole country, just the part where the bad guys were hiding. He excused himself and went to the bathroom.
-- Ralph Christopher, U.S.N.

I have never replied to an article such as yours, but will do so tonight. I agree with most of what you say, however, Hollywood types so to speak, are actors who fulfill an entertainment need the public needs and are looking for attention in what ever form it presents it self. I do not think the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are as offended as you may think. I have spent two deployments there and the moral was not bad. Of course, most if not all would rather be back home but they understand there is a mission to accomplish, a job to finish, a duty to honor. We are not there doing bad things other than trying to improve the life, or lessen the pain of people that we do not know. It is not about oil, it is about a way of life. Good and bad, we are the most magnanimous and generous nation in the world!

Actors who care still go there (South West Asia)!
-- Bob Shirley

Couldn't agree with you any more. You have to wonder where have the values once so ingrained in the youth of America gone, and where is the sense of belonging? How many of them have ever stared death in the face, lived in conditions I wouldn't subject my dog to, worked hours that a clock can't keep track of, been away from their family for a year or more at a time, and doing all this for a salary that still puts many in uniform below the poverty level ? That's OK though, I will continue to do what I do now with a happy heart and a smile on my face, be a UNITED STATES MARINE who is a professional in every way and everything I do. Need I remind each and every person in Hollywood that freedom is and never has been free, you cannot buy it and for those of us who have and to continue to fight for it, it has a different flavor. Sleep tight Hollywood and sweet dreams.
-- Master Sergeant Robert Justice

I'd just like to say "Thank You" to Ben Stein for his editorial pieces that come across my e-mail every now and then. I agree wholeheartedly with his sentiments that I have read on several different topics, i.e. G.W. Bush, Hurricane Katrina, Christmas observance, and Hollywood in general.

Thank you, Mr. Stein, and keep up the good work!
-- George R. Johnson, Captain, FDNY

Thank Mr. Stein for his comments. I wholeheartedly agree!
-- Karmen Johnson
Apple Valley, Minnesota

Thank you for writing what many of us share as our core beliefs. You placed our thoughts and anger into words which would, or may not, be expressed so coherently and precise as you have done.

Thank you again.
-- The father of two veterans

Your article was sent to me from a dear friend, whose whole life evolves around supporting those brave men and women who make it home, OUR Vets. Whenever he sees that someone has "noticed," or mentions the Hollywood "unmentionables," he passes it along to those of us that actual give a hoot. So to you, Mr. Stein, I say, thank you!
-- Holly J. Perry, a little Utah nobody, who also noticed

I'm very pleased that you are using your media access to promote the interests and the welfare of our U.S. armed forces. Those folks ask for very little, which is usually all they do get. Ironically, their meager pittance is provided to them only grudgingly by a stingy Congress, the very institution who, along with the Commander in Chief, that's responsible for sending them off to war. Looking deeply into such matters, one usually finds that even this is provided as a result of self-serving political motivations. Our citizens, in general, don't even come close to appreciating what our soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen do for us each and every day. The folks in Hollywood missed a great opportunity to address this situation, but they passed it up -- shame on them.

Thank you for being brave enough to speak out for the silent majority.
-- David

Thanks so much for Mr. Stein's editorial. Well observed and well said. I believe in the good of the common man and woman in this country. I hope that increasingly they will realize how little they have in common with the rich and famous, and that we will cease providing such excesses in income for people who do so little good and so much harm to our country.
-- Jimmy Griffith
Austin, Texas

...My only comment is; "their lack of patriotic fervor surprises you?" This is Hollywood! Home of the self-indulgent and narcissistic. Like those with inherited money they have intrinsic guilt for being wealthy and knowing, intuitively, they don't deserve it. So, like those with Daddy's money they comfort themselves with banal, poorly thought through liberal attitudes. Sorry, that was redundant. I already said liberal and didn't need to add banal and poorly thought through. I will work on my syntax.

I do confess to seeing a bit of the Oscars as I channel surfed. They were starting to play an Oscar nominated song so I watched for a few seconds in hopeful anticipation. It was the "song" defined by that oxymoronic phrase "rap music." I literally couldn't believe it. Then I could believe it; then I got disgusted and quickly switched to a more valuable use of my time. I think it was called Looney Tunes. Pretty good stuff.
-- Jerry

I agree with Ben Stein that Hollywoodites tend toward the superficial. Having lived among them, I know they can be as cardboard as their on-screen characters. Still...they are American citizens and are entitled to their opinions. Ronald Reagan had opinions. Arnold Schwarzenegger has them, and so does Ben Stein. I imagine the mega-salaries of actors, directors and producers contribute nicely to the IRS coffers each year, but is the IRS whining about what might have ticked them off at the 2006 Academy Awards? I don't think so.

So, nobody paid tribute to our fighting men during the Oscar broadcast. Wasn't that more honest than applauding them for fighting a war that, generally speaking, Hollywood does not support? That would have been a bit hypocritical.

Ben Stein's columns are generally compelling and well-written. I question his credibility, however, when he throws stones at a community in which he makes a handsome living. The man lives in Beverly Hills and Malibu, for God's sake, and earns dollars as an actor, writer and, last but not least, an attorney. He didn't build his home or his life's work in a little town somewhere in Nebraska or some other Red State; he placed himself and his family smack in the thick of the community he most loves to criticize. That's a bit hypocritical.

Before Mr. Stein takes another poke at Hollywood and the people who sign his checks, he ought to take a good look in the mirror. If he has such a low opinion of the movie industry, then maybe he would be happier if he moved to a little town somewhere in Nebraska or some other Red State.
-- Cappy Hall Rearick
St. Simons Island, Georgia

A grateful thank you to Mr. Stein for his insightful article on the Oscars. He hit the nail on the head. I, too, was saddened by the lack of respect shown our men and women who serve in the hostile environments of Iraq and Afghanistan. The absence of even a cursory mention for their bravery by the "Stars" is offensive, if not unpatriotic, particularly to those of us who served our country in uniform in the past. I would gladly serve again if called and I pray for the safety of our men and women who proudly serve today.
-- Brigadier General (Retired) Rhoss C. Lomax

I guess this also dispels the "support the troops but against the war" drivel that liberals constantly spout.
-- Thomas O. Deneen
Oak Brook, Illinois

Thank you for saying what needs to be said about Hollywood and their lopsided value system. God Bless the USA and the brave young people who shoulder the brunt of this fight for our national survival.
-- Richard Pierce, Brigadier General (Ret.)

OK, you gotta admit, the montage of the Western movie clips which suggested homo scenes was pretty darned side splitting... The rest I tuned out.
-- RW

Thank you for allowing this tribute to the real heroes of society. Greatness only comes from doing great things. It's the interpretation of great things that is misguided information by people today. The "red carpet" is a false security. The Ben Steins of the world do need to speak up and be heard.
God Bless,
-- Beth E.

DID WE SEE THE SAME MOVIE?
Re: Jeff Stanzler's letter ("Director's Cuts") in Reader Mail's It's a Mad, Mad World and James Bowman's review of Sorry, Haters:

Interesting response by Mr. Stanzler. He really didn't understand James Bowman's review at all, did he?
-- Paul

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