Reader Mail

‘Twas the Night Before

Nothing was stirring, not even the House. Also: Intelligently designed discussion. Attending Churchill. Commies. And more.

12.22.05

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DON'T BOTHER
Re: Mark Goldblatt's Race, Reason, and Reaching Out:

I watched, very briefly, the hearings in which some victims of Hurricane Katrina spoke about their "experiences" after the storm. It was embarrassing. Where did they find these misfits? Are they representative of the evacuees who left for Houston and other parts of the country? Most of us in Louisiana are struggling to save whatever reputation we have left and then we see these clowns spew their nonsense in front of a congressional hearing. We see their faces plastered all over the media. My neighbors have family members from the 9th Ward living with them. They are fine, hard-working people, who have lost everything. They struggle to put their lives back to what is used to be. What used to be will never happen for them. They have to start all over. I have no sympathy for the dreadlocked crybabies who whined and lied in front of the hearings....
-- Clasina J. Segura
New Iberia, Louisiana

BACKING ISRAEL
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s The Camera Lies:

Thank you for your insightful review of Munich. You have confirmed my suspicions about yet another revision of history by a liberal from Hollywood. I find myself confused, however, in examining the dichotomy between Jewish liberals in the U.S. and the perpetual condemnation of their Israeli homeland and its people. It seems only conservatives here back Israel and her right to defend herself, while the liberal population here (including its Jewish subset) regularly wave their pro-Palestinian flag. Not only does that stance place politics above blood, but it also translates into election after election here at home where the liberal candidate can bank on the Jewish vote almost as much as they can assume the black vote.

What would explain and possibly correct this?

Thank you and Merry Christmas.
-- Todd Gelhaar
Denver, Colorado

Can someone tell me the last time a leftist Hollywood film maker told a TRUE story? They are always tilted left.
-- Elaine Kyle

AN IRVING CHRISTMAS
Re: Mark Gauvreau Judge's Not So Fast, Mr. Meyerson:

Thanks to Mark G. Judge for setting the record straight re Irving Berlin -- I wish I could have met Berlin. Shoot, I wish we had offered to take all the Jews in Russia, lock, stock and barrel. People like Harold Meyerson just can't stand to acknowledge that there just possibly might be another dimension to life than one pictured by Meyerson.
-- Dave Taylor

FLIMSY THEORY
Re: Dan Peterson's What's the Big Deal About Intelligent Design?:

Numerous species that once walked the earth, intelligently designed to hear folks like Dan Peterson (who reaches out with the vast biological knowledge his law degree surely gave him) tell it, are now extinct. This, among many other inconvenient facts (such as notable imperfect design, homologous anatomy, the geographical distribution of species and varieties, etc) is a hard thing for intelligent design supporters to explain, but then again they don't explain anything. Instead their 'theory' is content to point to anything that 'Darwinian evolution' cannot 'fully' prove at the moment (ignore for the fact that Darwinian explanations for such things are at least plausible even in the few areas it has not achieved slam dunk status).

What ID supporters fail to tell folks is that their theory, called the "Theory of Creation" was once the dominant theory at every university and in every journal. However, it became increasingly hard to square with fact after fact after fact, and even though it had every institutional support imaginable, it was surpassed by a theory that made more sense to those who worked in the fields of geology, biology and paleontology. For decades now that theory, called erroneously "Darwinian evolution" at times (since evolution supporters hardly worship Darwin but consistently accept him where correct and challenge him where wrong), has been ascendant. So with such shortsighted hindsight IDers pretend it is they fighting the establishment!

Conservatives have always known that some things cannot be decided by a vote. And science is one of those things. If, as Peterson claims, there is a "flood" of scientific evidence for ID then why must ID proponents seek elected school boards, politicians, and newspaper support to get their theory a hearing? Why not, like proponents of the Big Band (which many thought had religious overtones), don't they convince the scientific community? I submit because they would find, as is the case now, few qualified folks convinced by the flimsy theory. Perhaps until then Peterson and folks like the Discovery Institute can stop wasting precious conservative political capital on such a faulty investment as ID and turn to more pressing subjects such as protection of property rights, judicial activism, immigration reform, and support for intermediate institutions.
-- Prof. Kenneth Wagner
Radford University

What's the big deal about intelligent design? Because at a foundational level it is all about the relationship between the individual and the state. If your order of business is to radically remake society, you instinctively know that it can only be accomplished with the overwhelming power of the state. Once at the controls, you can attempt to reconstruct society to your own notion of justice and right.

But the suggestion that there is a higher power to which the state is accountable means that that there is a competing "agent" to assign meaning to behaviors, actions and things. No self-appointed social engineer wants that because what he pronounces "good" could be over-ruled by the judge of all things as "evil."

This is why progressives will first argue that what God said isn't what God said. They soon give that game up and argue that in the name of equality theism is to be demoted to just one opinion among many. Then they finally assert that the founders were really a bunch of atheists or agnostics at heart and so by its very nature the constitution commands us to publicly ignore any notion that there is a transcendent order to which we are to measure all things.

When progressives refer to religion as a private affair, this is what they mean: you are free to believe whatever you wish -- you just aren't free to act out those beliefs. "We" will decide your ultimate obligations.
-- Michael Dooley
Indianapolis, Indiana

According to Dawkins, "If just a mention of ID were to be allowed into the classroom, that would be the end of science education in America."

Sounds familiar. I've heard people also claim that even the mention of conservatism, the right of self-defense, even the mentioning of God in classroom would mean the end of everything as we know it. It seems to me that these folks are advocating a "faith" that will accept no naysayers, no matter what; a fundamentalism of sorts that tolerates no dissent. Torquemada would be proud...
-- Karl Auerbach
Eden, Utah

TRADING PRINCIPLES FOR PROTECTION
Re: "Libertarianism's Risks" letters in Reader Mail's Spokesman Stein, Ben Berry's letter (under "Persons Familiar With U.S.") in Reader Mail's All the Spectator's Readers, and the "Libertarianism's Risks" letters in Reader Mail's Spokesman Stein:

When did the GOP completely lose track of their principles (lower taxes, limited government, individual rights) and begin taking up emotional issues that are politically popular? The GOP and its members are no longer concerned with values and principles, only ideology and power in the name of "protecting" Americans. Who will protect us from them? My statement may have been "silly" to JBL, but the way of life of every American is more important than a single day in American history regardless of how horrific a day it was. Perhaps you can answer this question: How much executive branch power is enough? How much surveillance of American citizens is enough? The GWOT will go on for a century so now is the time to think about civil liberties. If we completely change our way of life the terrorists have already won.
-- Ben Berry
Silver Spring, Maryland

WAITING FOR EVOLUTION'S EVIDENCE
Re: "Darwinism's Last Gasp" letters in Reader Mail's Spokesman Stein and Jay D. Homnick's Accidents Happen:

I write this letter with some mild bemusement and a moderate amount of apathy since I am of the opinion that this is all a colossal waste of time and money, but did I miss the experiment that proved evolution? Did I miss even the proposed experiment that would test evolution? If evolution were to take place over millions of years, wouldn't any experiment designed to directly test evolution be inherently undoable and therefore moot? How is not being able to test a theory science? I don't see any science being accomplished on behalf of evolution: I see a bunch of taxonomy which is a tool of science, not actual science. Science requires the testing of hypotheses before they can rise to the level of theory. And before someone tries to flame me with some argument about how the study of evolution is the foundation of what we know about the world, let me throw the BS flag. There is absolutely no paper that I have read in a little bit of bench research and a lot of medicine that required evolution to be true. And these are the life sciences: evolution's raison d'etre. At best, evolution is good for about a half of a paragraph in the discussion session -- a throwaway line that means nothing to the next experiment or the next hypothesis. Schools don't need to teach evolution (or ID for that matter) for science to advance. Francesco Redi (the father of the scientific method), Leonardo da Vinci, William Harvey, and Hooke, among others, all made great contributions to the life sciences well before Darwin was even born. So, ID doesn't do science? Neither does evolution. To paraphrase the great philosopher Crocodile Dundee: It's like two fleas arguing over who owns the dog. But as a scientist, I am open to new evidence, so hopefully some erudite TAS reader can answer the above questions.
-- Andrew J. Macfadyen, M.D.
Omaha, Nebraska

To Mr. Davey's reply to Homnick: "If your vision of God does not mesh with evolution, maybe your vision of God is wrong."

Either we bow to an awesome God who designed us, or we make evolution our God. Mr. Davey implies, correctly I think, that this is a false dichotomy, but it seems to be thrust upon us by the evolutionists, not the IDers.

I'm not smart enough to choose, so I'll make my way on faith.

Mr. Davey is absolutely correct that my vision of God is wrong. But which one of us can know the mind of God?
-- Dan Martin
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

GOV. BEN
Re: Ben Stein's A Patriot Acts:

Ben Stein for governor of California in '06. RUN, BEN, RUN!!
-- Michael Skaggs

President Bush, to his credit, has been relentless on the war on terrorism. But the job is unfinished. He took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States from all sworn enemies both foreign and domestic. Well Mr. President, it is time to go after the domestic enemies. The NSA leakers and the New York Times et al. From my vantage point, the next terror attack will come as a result of the enabling leakers and the NYT.
-- Jim L
East Sandwich, Massachusetts

I am sure the military men and women are sleeping so much better knowing that if their body is ripped apart to-morrow that the one who planted the road side bomb won't be tortured if he is caught. It must really build up their pride to be put in the same class as Nazi by Durbin and terrorists by Kerry. With all this backing how can they come up short of their goals.

Let's cut and run, turn Iraq over to the terrorists, with Iran and Syria's help, make a killing field out of Iraq until they are back in control. Now the oil fields and their profits can be used to buy weapons of mass murder, there is no shortage of countries that would be more than willing to sell them anything they need to carry out their plans. Once they are ready, how long would Israel last before they are a waste land? And then it would be America's turn, we can't drill in Alaska so our supply of oil would not last long with the terrorists in control of the oil supply.

The fighting would then move to the U.S., we would at this point have no help from the Dems, they would have moved to Canada by now crying Bush didn't protect them!

And now the Dems are over the top about the eavesdropping, are they afraid that just maybe some of their calls may be picked up and we might find out who some of them may be talking to and maybe who the N.Y. Times is paying for the secret info they are getting? We might even find out who the spies really are?
-- Cliff Gerald
Satellite Beach, Florida

AT WAR
Re: R.S. Hale's letter (under "Ben's New Job") in Reader Mail's Spokesman Stein and Ben Stein's A Patriot Acts:

Wow -- talk about condescending! Mr./Miss/Ms. Hale's letter to Ben Stein was a diatribe of left-wing BS.

So much to say about this. First of all, the Patriot Act and the NSA program that followed up on phone calls between terror suspects in the U.S. and overseas saved at least one major bridge in the U.S.: the Brooklyn Bridge.

Second of all, the president has a duty, an obligation -- he takes an oath, for God's sake -- to protect this country. And thank God that we have a president who actually takes that oath seriously. I shudder to think where we would be right now with a President Gore or Kerry -- two wimps who think only of themselves and have no sense of duty to their country, unless you define duty as bad-mouthing a president and the troops. Oh, but that's what letter-writer Hale defines as duty. A constant barrage of hate-filled speech directed at the president is not "asking questions, challenging the President," it borders on treason during a time of war. And that's the crux of the problem -- we have an opposition party who doesn't believe we're at war. Note to Democrats -- WE ARE AT WAR -- the president must take it seriously, especially since the opposition party does not.

I suggest the writer read the excellent article in the Weekly Standard by Mackubin Owens, a professor of national security at the Naval War College. You can find it here.

M. Hale should read the entire article, because whether he/she believes it or not, we are in a battle for the survival of this country, and Democrats better start taking it seriously. The rest of the country does.
-- Deborah Durkee
Marietta, Georgia

Regarding R.S. Hale's letter: He whines repeatedly about the poor little ACLU being equated with communism, and then asks if Ben would be offended were any right wing organization to be compared to Nazis. The temptation, of course, is to point out that conservatives and conservative organizations are routinely described as Nazis, not just equated with them.

However, I would tell Mr. Hale that he is welcome to condemn any conservative organization he might find that was founded by a Nazi or Nazi sympathizer. I myself would harbor a great deal of suspicion for such an organization. Which is precisely why so many harbor so much suspicion about the ACLU; because it was founded by a group of fellow traveling radicals and actual communists and its policies are not clearly different now than then.

When someone can defend his position he uses reasonable language and level headed argument. When someone is defending the indefensible every sentence ends in an exclamation point, wild haymakers are thrown at straw men and at the end the defender of the faith wraps himself in the flag and takes a martyr's bullet in the neck for his true, as opposed to Ben's counterfeit, patriotism.

The left is by and large a race of pygmies.
-- Brian Bonneau

CALLING ALL CHURCHILLS
Re: Paul Johnson's A Six-Course Feast:

I acquired Churchill's remarkable six volume history of WWII in 1998. I have since read it twice and it has caused me to read everything by Churchill I can put my hands on. I have also been inspired to read three of his biographies by those six volumes. These volumes still have relevance in today's world. It is impossible to read The Gathering Storm without simultaneously becoming enraged and seeing the similarities with today's battle against terrorism. The Gathering Storm should be required reading for every third year high school student and for every practicing journalist. The mainstream media and Democratic Party's relentless battle against our attempts to defend ourselves are similar in nature to the British Elites position in the 1930s and just as dangerous.
-- Brian Levy
Woodridge, Illinois

Churchill was a fascinating man, and your article bears that out. My favorite story about Churchill (and I hope it's true!) dealt with his time as a Minister of Parliament (not Prime Minister). At the time, smoking in Parliament wasn't verboten, and Churchill was known to light up his stogie while members of the opposition part were speaking. Churchill would make a big production of lighting the cigar, smoking it, and carefully placing it in the ash tray taking care not to drop the ash. The attention of all members of Parliament, including the opposition speaker, would slowly focus on Churchill, everyone wondering when the ash would fall. People would be so focused on the performance they forgot the point the speaker was trying to make. I believe it was after his death it was found out Winston had a trick up the old cigar: he inserted a long hat pin in the cigar which helped keep the ash intact. There was always something more to Churchill than met the eye.
-- Karl Auerbach
Eden, Utah

LISTENING TO MITT ON RELIGION
Re: David Holman's Romney's "Mormon Problem", the "Small-D Mormonism" letters in Reader Mail's Mormonism Spelled Out, and the letter from "unsigned" (under "Mormon Queries") in Reader Mail's Spokesman Stein :

David Holman asked if Mitt Romney as a Mormon could become President. A half century ago, the question was asked if Bay-Stater John Kennedy as a Catholic could become President, who answered, not by entering into a discourse in apologetics or by branding anyone who dared ask the question as an anti-Catholic bigot, but by endorsing the separation of Church and civic affairs and by declaring that he would serve as President of all Americans. When Mitt Romney challenged Senator Kennedy for the Senate seat, Saturday Night Live had some barbed humor mainly directed at the incumbent, with a pretend Kennedy attack ad asserting that "unlike Mitt Romney, Senator Kennedy believes in only having one wife at a time." We certainly know that the LDS Church has disavowed polygamy, but it makes for good satire of the Senator's creative approach to a Catholic life.

Can a Baptist become President? Harry Truman played down his religious affiliation while President Carter seemed to wear it on his sleeve. Can a Methodist who has had a religious conversion, given up drinking, and proclaims Christ as his role model for political life become President? PBS's Frontline made a point that Steve Forbes was more modest in naming John Locke while Christian preacher Alan Keyes selected the Founding Fathers.

Can a Catholic yet become President? That John Kerry seemed to pick and chose what aspects of Catholicism to follow, supporting a legal right to abortion in the face of intense criticism from Catholic clerics and others, was certainly an aspect of the campaign. Can a Jew become President? I guess if you are a Democrat and draw parallels between the liberation of Iraq and Israel's existential struggle and are at cross purposes with the anti-war faction that has ascendancy in your party, maybe not. Can a Friend (Quaker) become President? Yes, but if he prosecutes an unpopular war to protect American interests, he will be branded a devious hypocrite.

I believe that religion is in part an attempt as humans to deal with what is unknowable and unsolvable by our direct personal experience -- how to face the death of a family member, how to face the imminence of one's own death, how to be account for one's own deeds and misdeeds, how to seek fulfillment in the short life we all have. I seek answers to these questions in the traditions, teachings, sacred writings, and rites of the Catholic Church; Governor Romney seeks similar answers from the LDS Church.

But Catholicism in America is part of a culture of education, values, and networks of associates. Mormons are also part of a culture. Just as that question was posed to John Kennedy, there are questions to pose to a Mormon on how one sees oneself as part of society outside that church. I could vote for Governor Romney, but I would like to learn more about how his faith shapes his politics and how he regards the public/private divide with respect to his religion. I think that talking about Governor Romney's religion is a fair question.
Paul Milenkovic
Madison, Wisconsin

It would be understandable if you felt that the recent discussion of comparative religion had played itself out on your pages. However, I noted that "unsigned" has courageously provided a link to a page with a great many questions, so perhaps some of your readers would be interested in sites with the answers: mormon.org, and Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies. The Church's official website is found at www.lds.org. That site includes a PR section ("Newsroom") which offers (among many other things) a style guide, a handy tool for editors!
-- Leighton M. Anderson
Whittier, California

CHRISTMAS DELIGHT
Re: Lisa Fabrizio's A Visit from Old St. Hillary:

PLEASE! More Ms. Fabrizio! She's erudite and funny and she can rhyme! Nice job, Ms. Fabrizio, and a very Merry Christmas to all.
-- unsigned

You have out done yourself this time.
Yes, Lisa there is a Santa and you are his chief helper.
The troops loved the piece and even the old COL did laugh.
But wait the best part is yet to come,
for even as the forwarding section of the old hard drive hums,
the tale is forwarded thought the land,
liberals are screeching as madden owls.
Howie Dean is screaming not fair, foul,
but with a click of your pen and a twinkle in you eye,
you laugh as you spring into the sky.
The top down Hummer with rocket assist,
piled high with right wing gifts,
lifts into the night and Elf Lisa is heard to exclaim:
"Beat Hill in '06 and '08 again,"
Merry Christmas to all, Rush is right!
-- J.R.
P.S. Ring Lardner would also approved of your poem.

This is great, but I am afraid you have been eating to much spicy foods right before bed and are having NIGHTMARES.
-- Elaine Kyle

This should be required reading in Civics 101!

Now I have to change shirts as I spilled my coffee laughing so hard at this poem. Keep charging!

-- Mike (with the wet, coffee stained shirt)
St. Louis, Missouri

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