Reader Mail

Life in the Slow Lane

Resisting the liberal nomenklatura. Hollywood's Crash course. Any witch way. Grown-up stem cells. Plus: Lots more Ben Stein on parade. And much else.

3.7.06

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HOV NEGATIVE
Re: Judd Magilnick's Bobos in Priuses:

I quite agree with Mr. Magilnick that our wonderful elites have this cute habit of exempting themselves from their own social engineering.

On such exemption I have personally experienced for years is quotas -- oops, affirmative action. It is white male shlubs without influence or connections, who get shafted in college admissions, jobs, and promotions. The rich white men, of both parties, are of course not affected at all. I have lost count of the number of times I have seen some smirking, self-satisfied rich white man sound off about the glory of quotas, and how racist you are if you don't like them. You want to stop quotas -- find a way to make the elite experience them.

Crime? The next time a judge lets some psycho loose on society, pass a law that the psycho gets to live on probation at home with the judge and his family. Rich liberals denounce the rich? Have them give half of their money to the poor. Perhaps John Kerry would like to convert four of his five mansions into homeless shelters.
-- John Lockwood
Washington, D.C.

Everyone knows that folks in Europe are just plain smarter than us Americans.

Europe's answer to the hybrid has long been the diesel car. At an engineering conference in Austria, our host explained that diesel drivers pay less at the pump but that they have to pay a higher yearly registration tax. As a result, the diesel cars are put in the hands of people who have to drive lots of miles, and this was so sensibly European.

As to the higher mileage claim, the rental diesel I drove to that conference got lower fuel mileage than a gas Renault I drove on another occasion. But diesel fuel is a lot cheaper at the pump over there. Some time later I was watching TV in Bavaria when there was a news item of some trouble Gerhard Schroeder was having with the truckers. It turns out that diesel fuel is less-heavily taxed at the pump on account of the trucking lobby and the added registration tax on diesel cars was an effort at plugging a loophole. Mr. Schroeder wanted to raise taxes on diesel fuel to balance the budget, and well, so long to the well-knit European social contract. I guess those Europeans muddle through unintended consequences just like the rest of us.

As to Prius drivers getting their comeuppance, the State of Washington is making noises that Prius drivers aren't paying enough gas tax and that they would boost taxes on hybrid cars. With HOV lane envy, that tax could get some traction.
-- Paul Milenkovic
Madison, Wisconsin

"Statism cannot exist without targeted, adjunct programs that opiate the elite from feeling the generalized pain of government meddling. Perks for the noisy, pushy, and sometimes influential elite are an essential component of preserving enveloping control of everyone else."

The remedy to statism, short of revolution with a replacement whatever, is that we the people stop providing the opiates for the elite. A start would be responsible action at the ballot boxes. But not even that's sufficient unless we begin acting like responsible adults and without 24/7 vigilance by us over those we elect.
-- C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia

DANCES WITH SHEEP
Re: James Bowman's Hollywood Crashes and Yearns:

The problem with films like Brokeback Mountain and Crash (so-called films that "make you think") are that they're really films making a political statement. Brokeback Mountain (which I haven't seen but, heard plenty about) as a story isn't that controversial (now-a-days) but rather its intent, which is to further greater awareness and acceptance of gays bothers me because I don't wish to "accept" gay behavior as "normal." (I will however accept a gay person as a person and afford them the same respect I would give anyone else.)

The movie Crash, although it cleverly links all the characters together, I found really annoying because of the over-used racial stereotypes, particularly the white cop raping the black woman. An affluent black woman I might add who is portrayed as having no recourse because white racism is so predominant and pervasive that the black couple must grin and bare it. PLEASE! I found that offensive as a white person who has respect for police officers (I know a few and they would bend over backwards to prevent any appearances of racism). Understandably, creativity on the level of brilliance cannot be churned out at the rate that Hollywood needs to sustain itself, so sophomoric teen sex or mega death and destruction will continue to be its staple but liberal political statements like these will not attract broad interest no matter how much the media tries to force-feed the public.
-- John Nelson
Hebron, Connecticut

Didn't see it, but would be extremely uncomfortable...also uncomfortable with nudity in film or in the theater. Call me a prude...doesn't bother me in visual art, sculpture, etc. There is something extremely uncomfortable and voyeuristic about watching people nude or having sex. As Bush 41 would say, "Not prudent."
-- Bette S.

Crash was the only nominated movie my wife and I saw (DVD). I thought it was a marvelous black comedy. Obviously not what the directors were looking for, but entertaining nonetheless. We laughed at most of it.
-- Steve Thill
Madison, Wisconsin

Why is this guy even a movie critic, when current movies obviously disgust him? I mean there is no shame in watching 60-year-old movies in a hermit shack somewhere if that suits him better.
-- Scott Nyffeler

Too bad Brokeback didn't get Best Picture. But look forward to a follow up on Kevin Costner's Dances With Wolves. It'll be called Dances With Sheep.
-- J. McDonald
Reno, Nevada

CONGENITALLY FALSE
Re: Michael Fumento's CBS's Stem Cell Shenanigans:

The CBS inability to tell the factual truth stems (no pun intended) from the fact that radical leftist Democrats live in a made up world. It is a world where birds always sing, sun always shines and love fills the air. There is no absolute need to actually accomplish anything. Saying the words equals doing the deed. It is a world designed by an apparently insane man, Howard Dean. So always the MSM, being Democrats, will have a made up view of everything.

You must always remember that America is always responsible for all the killing, famine, repression and disease in the whole world. There exists no misery too small to be overlooked by America. Well, except that bit caused by Christianity and Judaism. That's why the stem cell story was presented the way it was.
-- Jay W. Molyneaux
Wellington, Florida

Michael Fumento's piece on ADULT Stem Cell research was "spot-on." I have seen in the lives of friends and family the results of these ground breaking developments and at the time, I experience the same total loss of WHY? Why are the breakthroughs not Headline News. Except that the dispersion the news means it WILL NOT further the Left's CULTURE OF DEATH agenda to go public on main stream media with the news -- adult stem cell research works! Embryonic stem cells DO NOT!

But can't do that, that means that all the hype and the misinformation campaign to legitimize abortion has failed. (Just like it is doing already.)
-- Sandra Dent

GOOD, DARK FUN
Re: Brandon Crocker's There's No Nicer Witch Collection:

Brandon Crocker made fun of the Pyramid Catalog "witch-themed" gifts, and there is certainly a lot of fun to be had in the catalog. I confess, I confess -- I love that catalog. Oh, to be sure there are pentagram-shaped rugs, T-shirts, and some DVDs that I flip by rather quickly without examining too closely (oh my!), but I bought many pretty gifts for Christmas for my very Christian family. An umbrella with blue sky and angels on the underside for my sister in rainy Seattle. A Celtic plaque that declares "Because Nice Matters" for my friend who is always helping others. A set of handsome dragon bookends for my brother-in-law who is a dragon slayer; he works for a biochemical firm and battles bacterial diseases.

Brandon Crocker has the right idea about enjoying this sort of catalog without taking offense. Some things are just for fun and taking them seriously will only make you seriously dull.

Now where is that gypsy outfit I ordered last month??
-- Bonnie Ramthun
Erie, Colorado

A NEW BEN DAY
Re: Ben Stein's Missed Tributes:

As usual, Ben Stein says what MOST Americans are thinking...
-- Patty Seymour

Put another attaboy in your service jacket, Ben Stein. Right on, as usual.

In "Julius Caesar" Cassisus says, "The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves." Of course, he was wrong. And if he tunes in the Academy Awards ceremonies next year, or watches any of the preposterous movies this wretched crowd is whooping up, he will see his error at once.
-- Larry Thornberry
Tampa, Florida

As usual, Mr. Stein is so immersed in the right-wing cult that not only can't he see the forest for the trees, he has no clue even where the forest is. Granted, the right-wing whackos currently abrogating the Constitution and flushing this once-great country down the toilet need an apologist, but this kind of hypocritical, moronic, lie-ridden, and specious brand of apologetics can only make sane people howl with laughter! Unfortunately, we are stuck with dangerous cultists of Mr. Stein's ilk running this country, at least for another two years, until we can elect another right-thinking Democrat to turn this country around again, like Bill Clinton did after the fiasco of the Bush-Reagan years.

What a bald-faced hypocrite Stein is! He makes a rich living off the Hollywood he so short-sightedly vilifies! If you don't like it, Stein, then get out and get a job at the grocery store.
-- Steve Latin

You have said this as well as it could be said. This self-congratulatory evening signified nothing.

The Hollywood idiots have deluded themselves into believing we care about them. Thank you for saying it for all of us.
-- Cara Lyons Lege

This page is too small to express our admiration of Mr. Stein. Please tell him how he is appreciated and loved.
-- Bob Hamlett (67 year old married white male veteran)
Shawnee, Kansas

Not a mention of our soldiers out there protecting the likes of the La La Land Hollywood crowd! It's not their fault. It's our fault because we support this self-serving, self-loving bunch of phony halfwits. America needs to tune them out and turn them off. Make the pampered crowd get real jobs. Want to blame someone? Blame the moviegoers and the TV watchers. We let them get away with all the crap they spew out every day. We pay for and support their garbage which is nothing more than pretend art!
-- Jim L.
East Sandwich, Massachusetts

My wife and I recently watched Band of Brothers. Very, very well done. In light of being reminded what Freedom has cost, I could not find any reason to watch the Oscars. I agree with "Missed Tributes" wholeheartedly. It is really sad.
-- Martin N. Tirrell
Lisbon, New Hampshire

I have written to you one before when your article was about "The Other Stein" and my friend that sent me that article just sent to me your recent one "Missed Tributes". He keeps me well informed of good articles and he works at the Pentagon. Sorry, Ben, he does not supply any inside info. Don't know what he does, but whatever it is I don't ask. Like to keep breathing on my own!

Ben, I didn't watch the Oscars. If I want to watch fantasy I'll turn on the Sci-Fi Channel. Sometimes Hollywood and the Vatican in Rome are alike. Ready to condemn the U.S. getting rid of an evil person and regime. Showing a criminal for what they are. And come running to the aid of the criminal saying that we should not have invaded Iraq. We couldn't produce the WMD. As they both overlook the horror stories and the mass graves. It's almost as to say that what was done is okay. So far I have not seen or heard of any one of them from both tinsel towns having their members give up the security behind these imaginary walls, pick up a rifle and head out into the real world where people are dying just to have the right to breath! Not slam dunking either place and by tinsel town is when you visit both places they shine and sparkle with gold and silver and the finest things that money can buy but have the audacity to condemn the U. S. that we are not doing enough to help the poor nations!

You are so right in stating that Hollywood is in a world of its own "is above all about self: self-congratulation, self-promotion, and above all, self-protection" And the Vatican fits the same description.

But in the end people like you and people like me know who is out there saving the real world and making an honest difference. It the U.S. and the COALITION FORCES. The Iraqi people that are dying daily to give freedom a chance and of late an Iraqi commander that was killed today trying to make this a better world.

I know this is kind of long but I am glad for people of your caliber to tell it like it is. It's hard to face the real world of reality especially once you are outside the glitter.
-- Tom O'Connell
Deer Park, New York

It is very hard for me to get emotional (teary) about anything, but this article did. I'm so thankful to be an American. It means a lot to be an American. I'm so relieved that, regardless of the constant, insidiously bad press, there are more out there that recognize that what Americans in uniform are doing is priceless and worth praise.

In the past, I've found it difficult to elevate a prayer to my Maker without feeling the connection, but tonight, I know that I will... there are so many that I need to pray to God for. Thank you, Ben.
-- unsigned

"Missed Tributes" by Ben Stein is EXCELLENT. Ex Animo,
-- Lisa

Mr. Stein's intellectual insight and brilliant observation that "Hollywood does not think itself as part of America" is painfully true. This simple statement speaks volumes of Hollywood's inexorable liberals. The glitterati could not afford one word of praise for the brave (not George Clooney's definition) soldiers keeping us free from Islamic terrorists. And by the way, where's the outrage from feminists towards the esteemed "Academy" members who voted for the misogynistic and asinine "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" to be best song? The Oscars ceremony is sickening, gauche parade of delusional, narcissistic elitists. Who keeps America free? Not the Hollywood effete.
-- Joe Weldon
Juno Beach, Florida

Bravo, Ben. And, with all that 'tude, where was the tribute to by far the most courageous filmmaker of our time, Theo Van Gogh?

A REALLY courageous movie about McCarthy would show that for all his faults and excesses, and there were many, he was raising the clarion about a very great danger -- the infiltration of communists into policy-making positions of government.
-- Greg Richards

Like many, I sometimes think that the little I can do will make no difference. Such a small voice in the din of America will be lost. But you, sir, have had the fortune to become a slightly larger voice and I thank you for using it.

Your articles say what I believe mainstream America believes and wants to say. When you speak, you restore a bit of my sanity and help me to hold on to the truths that have always held this nation together. Because, when you speak, I know I am not alone.

Perhaps I say these things because you hold to the same beliefs that are so important to me. But, like you, I am sometimes angered, sometimes bewildered, and often afraid that the values that were once so important have been overwhelmed by self-importance, self-dependence, and apathy.

Please do not stop writing. Your voice is important. I know you surely receive a great deal of criticism for the stand you take, but without it, another stake is loosened and the tent flaps a bit more in the wind. A simple thanks.
-- Bill Lawrence, Colonel, USMC (Retired)
Aledo, Texas

As always an excellent commentary by Ben Stein; however, the American Spectator saying it, or Rush L., or Sean H., or Mark L., Ann C, Laura I., or Monica C. et al. is all well and good, except we listeners and others have to act. Words from the Spectator or WSJ pointed at Hollywood and the assorted MSM seem to roll like water off the hoods of their waxed Jags.

They all have to be hit where it hurts most, in the pocketbook. As Rush and others often say, "Follow the buck." Stop buying the paper? Avoid the advertisers (like Tiffany? fat chance)? Stay home from movies? Don't buy or rent CDs, DVDs, iTunes? Don't contribute to the DNC (I wouldn't anyway)? Doing all that is living in a vacuum, so what else would be more effective?

Please offer meaningful suggestions that we and others in our own small way can follow and perhaps those who continue to discredit our country, President and troops might get a serious wake-up call and figure out that they're not all as loved and respected as they might like to believe.

Thanks again to Ben and all Spectator writers and contributors,
-- William Smith

Hooray for Ben Stein!

He has put into words the growing sentiment of millions of Americans. Hollywood is totally oblivious of American patriotism or the honor and gratefulness that millions of us hold toward our military.

There was a time when actors supported this country by joining the military, when actresses gave of their time to serve in the USO to bring smiles to soldiers far from home, a time when movies were made that exhibited the valor being played out on foreign soil by the very sons and daughters of those who bought those movie tickets....but that was also a time when Hollywood and it's employees still had character and dignity. Today, if the right amount of money is involved, they know how to "act" like soldiers, how to portray bravery and loss....but it's all an act. How weary and tiresome they have become.

I only hope that America shows Hollywood how it really feels...let the theaters across the land remain empty...perhaps a loss to them, even if it's monetary, will jog their memories as to who helped them get where they are...and remind them that movies were meant to entertain, not present a platform for their personal political agendas.
-- N. Tyra
Houston, Texas

For years I have lived with an internal conflict. On one hand, I actively manage a rock band (fizzgig) and have worked in numerous other parts of the radio, music and entertainment business since the late 1980s. I love music, theater, painting, the arts, movies etc., etc., etc. I have been constantly surround by people that view the U.S. with contempt, as the reason things are screwed up in the world and the military as the nothing more than "idiot baby killers."

On the other hand, I have numerous friends and relatives, past and present, that have contributed personally to the freedoms of this country by their service in the U.S. military, from my grandfather on the U.S.S. Texas during WWI to Uncle Bobby dying in Guam during WWII to my Uncles Herb and Hank's long 20-year-plus careers in the U.S. Navy including being directly involved in the Cuban Missile Crisis to my brother in law Jim's front line Marine service in Vietnam to my brother in law Paul's service in the Air Force from serving in Vietnam to serving in the first Persian Gulf War. Many friends along the way as well, too many to even begin naming.

I always thought that generally the work of policemen, firemen and most military people I have ever known, was work that could only be done by people who for the most part, put higher ideas and the benefit of others, ahead of themselves and their safety. They generally had very giving personalities, in pressure pack situations of life and death, they thought of themselves very often, "last."

Unfortunately, it has always seemed to me that this willingness to be unselfish giving of oneself, under very trying circumstances, is the "hero" part that seems to be so lost on Hollywood and sadly most of the entertainment industry of today. Many in the industry that I have met personally are so caught up in either being stuck in a Vietnam war time worldly view of things...or caught up in themselves and their careers they seem very strangely detached from the reality of who and what actually keeps free countries actually "free."

It makes me wince to know that I have chosen to actively work within this industry in that respect. I generally just keep to myself, unless directly confronted about any of these thoughts. After all, I am just working to further the career of the band, not make a political statement. (I hope that doesn't make me a coward.)

I wanted to say, Thank you! for taking the time to put into words exactly the way I see it with respect to Hollywood's disconnect from true heroism and seemingly utter oblivious to what true greatness is.

I love being around the band, working hard to help them move along, love great concerts, love a great movie, theater etc., but after all...it is "pretend." I am thankful I have people like those in the military who have help create and defend the freedoms we all share so that I can chase a dream, even if it is only "rock and roll." That's my two cents worth.

Again, thank you. Now I don't feel so isolated in my thoughts and views on this within the entertainment world.
-- Tony Albanese

Ben's literary brilliance did not come from affluence or fame. At the risk of sounding like a broken record... Ben Stein is a decent, heartfelt and gracious man who has built his popularity on the solid ground most of us are familiar with in our daily lives of productive work and family.

Whatever paths he has walked in his life I am quite sure that the important lessons were not lost along the way. He sees the same images, hears the same words that the rest of us do... he just seems to acknowledge humble heroes, common sense and our basic "goodness" much more often.

Trinkets, like Oscars and most who covet them, catch our eyes only briefly. There have been very few actors whose fame was inspirational for "life-size" reasons. The current crop of films and celebrities struggle to reach mediocrity with generous applications of hype and hypocrisy... no solid ground in Hollywood's fake scenery and venomous affluence.

Brave American men and women serve us well in very lonely, distant, mortal places. Shame on Oscar Hollywood for omitting these humble, magnificent people.
-- John Curtis

Ben Stein's article on Hollywood and the Academy awards -- was that on already? I'm sorry I didn't notice. You see I was busy dealing with the real world and constructively using my free time giving thanks to my Lord for this country and those brave men and women who defend it so that I could if I wanted to waste my time watching those boobs on TV.
-- Joellen M. Arrabito

Thank you for your commentary on the "Oscars." Right on!
-- Bob Cope, Col., USAF (Ret)

It is always so nice to read Ben's take on issues, and this time as usual he does not disappoint. However, one cannot be surprised at the lack of mention of the U.S. troops in harms way, at the Oscars. The myopic view of America, prevents the likes of Clooney, and other Hollywood ingrates, from realizing the armed forces are fighting for their right to continue to make bad movies.

If I may be allowed, a small mention for our Canadian troops that have begun a new mission in Afghanistan. I salute you and pray that they stay safe.
-- Angelo Zenga
Toronto, Canada

Those who should read this will, unfortunately, remain blissfully in the dark.
-- Michael Gehri, SMSgt, USAF, Retired

I am a medically retired Marine. I truly believe in what we are doing in Iraq. I get really tired of hearing people complain about how bad they have it here. They should try living like our military members have to. It gets over 120 degrees in the shade on a "cool" day. Also, how about having to wear around 40 pounds of body armor all day? I read your article and all I could think was "How can these people not praise or mention our military)? These brave men and women put it on the line 24/7, 365 days a year to bring a better life to the Iraqi people and protect they sorry asses from terrorists. Our people are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to accomplish our mission for the Iraqi people and on the home front. I have served in this part of the world so I know what I am talking about. We don't get paid like celebrities, but we should sure be praised/recognized like one. I was once told that people in the military are treated like second class citizens. I sometimes believe it when stuff like this happens. However, when I see an article like yours it brings me great joy to know that someone out there still cares about us. Thank you very much sir. The American people (and yes, our allies) should be damned proud to know that there are people like us who are willing to give all so that they can live or express their opinions. This would have gotten them killed in some countries. This happened a lot in Iraq when Saddam was still in power. Thank you again for hearing me out.
-- John S. Sellers, MSGT, USMC (Ret.)

My wife and I had the same visceral reaction to Clooney's self-congratulatory speech.

Once again, American citizens will wake up in a few years and recognize the tremendous sacrifice our soldiers are making.

Thanks for your great article.
-- Eli Lapp
New York, New York

Bless you Ben, you seem to always get it.
-- Father James Flowers+, St. Timothy's E.C.
Alexandria, Louisiana

From a 26-year Air Force enlisted veteran... Thank you, Ben!
-- Roger Smith, SMSgt, USAF (Ret.)
Las Vegas, Nevada

As a retired Army veteran I just wanted to say thank you for saying what had to be said. Rebuttal: anyone? ...anyone? ...anyone?
-- Randall Stevens

BIBLICAL EVOLUTION
Re: GB's letter (under "Proof in the Text") in Reader Mail's Salutes to Ben Stein:

Yes the Bible text has been edited occasionally during translations, usually by those who wanted to remove miracles, such as Thomas Jefferson (or Arius, who was known to have written or directed thewriting of multiple versions of the biblical text to promote his heretical views by causing confusion as to which version was correct), or those who wanted to "honor" King James by changing the disciples named Jacob (Yacob) to James, Miriam to Mary, and John the Baptist's mother's name to Elizabeth (I do not know the original name in this case). Likewise, Moses edited the original and/or copied written toledoths ("these are the generations of Seth, etc.) that were handed down from Abraham into the Book of Genesis during the 40-year wandering in the wilderness after leaving Egypt, copied sets of them probably
being kept in the crypt with Joseph's bones. Ezra and his scribes had to translate most of the records from the original alphabets to what is now called the Hebrew alphabet (there being inscriptions engraved in metal from Davidic times of scriptures in the Phoenician alphabet). Ezra also used the secular historical records of the kings and prophets in addition to the books now known as the books of Samuel and Kings to create the Chronicles.

Fortunately for accuracy sake, there have been copies of ancient Biblical texts discovered that are essentially identical to the modern Hebrew copies or translations (Example the Great Isaiah Scroll, dated to between approximately 300 and 100 BC). Also, the New Testament is well documented with over 25000 manuscripts with 5600 in the Greek. In a book by Phillip Moore, which I sadly no longer have (my late pastor borrowed the 900 page volume, and no one knows where it is now), he noted that there are a series of letters between two of the early church fathers (around 100 AD) discussing the translation of portions of either Matthew or Mark from Hebrew to Greek, passage by passage.

I have never heard of any references to reincarnation, only the resurrection of the living and the dead to face final judgment (Ezekiel and the valley of dry bones as an example off the top of my head). Perhaps GB is referring to some of the various splinter heretical groups, Gnostics, Arians, etc., which tried to insert various beliefs from other religious systems into the Bible.
-- Ken Way
Cortland, Ohio

Well actually, no I'm correct the Bible has not been rewritten. To rewrite something is to change its content and meaning. Copying and reproducing are just that, not rewriting. Translating to a different language is what it is also, so long as the translations stay faithful to the original text; which review and comparing of ancient biblical texts to modern copies of the bible have verified. When the New Testament Canon was selected, the content of the books was not altered. The Canon was chosen based on authenticity, e.g. eye witness accounts to Jesus' ministry. Books that could not be verified or were obvious fakes were dropped. If you are ever interested in stepping off the side lines of observation and are serious about learning more about the apologetics of the Bible, I refer you to my earlier recommendations to Mr. Beck.
-- M.L. Gilbert
Bristow, Virginia

NOT WITH A BANG
Re: Jed Babbin's On Her Majesty's SGO:

Recent reports are that an EU directive requires the British Royal Artillery to fire quieter cannons at ceremonial salutes. I am sure Blair will comply.
-- Hal GP Colebatch
Western Australia

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