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Beautiful Ben

Ben Stein overwhelmed by love mail. Also: Vision things. Babbin's secret tactics. Diesel upheavals. Miers must recuse herself? Plus much more.

10.7.05

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SING AMERICA
Re: Ben Stein's American Miracle:

Ben, you are an American. That you are a Jew is incidental. If America is to survive in anything resembling the form envisioned by our Founding Fathers, it will need many more people just like you.
-- David Govett
Davis, California

Ben Stein so loves America and thinks America is so wonderful. One of the reasons America is great is because Ben Stein is a great American. (Compare him to Cindy Sheehan!) "American Miracle" just makes me happy.
-- Joy Adams
Fort Worth, Texas

Hello there. I have just finished reading Ben Stein's truly lovely article. Please convey to him that it warmed my heart. Lucianne.com often links to Mr. Stein's writings, so I read what he has to say every chance I get.
-- Peg DeLong
West Union, Ohio

I'm not sure why, but Ben's latest tribute to America the Great reminds me for some reason of the late Harry Golden, a journalist who pursued his trade in the American South of the fifties and earlier. While Mr. Golden often noted that the South of that time still retained some of the less-than-admirable qualities of its history as related to race and religion, he also often wrote of the innate goodness of the people and how he was regarded as a special person, as "Our Jew," and a link to the ancient peoples of the Holy Bible. Perhaps in looking at this with the luxury of fifty years later the attitudes might be viewed by some as either condescending or patronizing but I prefer to believe that they were just a step in the progress of our great Nation to what Mr. Stein describes today. Again, as I have noted before Mr. Stein's memories of both his remarkable father and father-in-law are always inspiring.
-- Jack Wheatley
Royal Oak, Michigan

Would you please pass on to Mr. Ben Stein my gratitude and appreciation of his article today about the miracle of the United States. I have always been grateful to my grandfather for the gift he gave me of being an American. "Just to live in America is a gift beyond telling". Please thank Mr Stein for reminding us of that.
-- Theresa Howe

Thank you, Ben Stein, for "American Miracle." It is a beautiful praise of America. God bless you and your family.
-- Mary Helen Owen

I am a Christian whose twice great Grandmother was Jewish. I am very proud of that fact because of the amazing Israeli Jews! What do I admire so much about them?

1) Their fine examples of God-like love and tolerance towards the truly satanic Muslim extremists and Jew-haters.
2) Their fairness and kindness!
3) Their classy patience in suffering extreme and unjust persecution.
4) Their perseverance and God-given talents to make any place or land they reside in better for their presence!
5) Their work ethics.
6) Their courage and skill in battle. (I strongly feel that all of Israel's battles have been just!)

I could go on and on! I just want you to know that there are many Christian Americans who feel as I do! As usual, as long as Satan and his followers roam the earth, there will always be the haters of good. (Hey, that's their job!) Unfortunately, they are also LOUD, obnoxious, and in the face of anyone trying to do right. It hurts me to know someone would say such untrue and hateful things to you. It also makes me really mad!!!

My gut feelings are that things are going to get worse for the Jews before they get better. However, your warrior "Shiloh" and his peace are on the way! In the meantime, remember who your ancestors were and who you are -- a hard-working, talented, fair and just, enduring, courageous journalist who stands up to evil wherever he finds it! May God comfort, strengthen, and guide you! I really admire and appreciate the work you do! You also make me proud of my Jewish heritage! Way to go, Brother!
-- (Vainly Proud to Be Even a Smidgen Jewish) Louise Mills
Salt Lake City, Utah

Thank you, Mr. Stein, for this wonderful tribute to our country. It sickens me to think that anyone could hate purely because of another's ancestry and religious beliefs. Our country has benefitted from the remarkable Jewish immigrants who have woven themselves into the fabric of this nation, making it stronger, kinder, more intelligent and broader in spirit.

Thank you for reminding me how lucky I am to have never experienced the hatred you have had to endure simply because you have the audacity to walk this Earth. God bless you, sir. May this country always be the beacon of light this dark and dangerous world needs.
-- Deborah Durkee
Tampa, Florida

Thank you, Ben Stein, for "American Miracle." Where does this unreasoning hatred of the Jewish people come from? I, as a Christian, believe it comes from God's enemy, Satan. The Bible clearly states that the Jews are the people of God's heart, and what better way to hurt someone than to hurt those they love?

In my opinion, those who would blame the Jews for everything do so at their eternal peril. America has been a special place of safety for many people for two centuries. I pray that this doesn't end.
-- Ellen Kennedy
Cary, North Carolina

I always enjoy Mr. Stein's writing and today's is no exception. However, I would like to point out that Charles Dickens was not the rabid anti-semite that Mr. Stein fears. He certainly wrote a very negative Jewish character in Oliver Twist, but he was criticized by the British Jewish community and in a subsequent novel, "Our Mutual Friend," created a noble jewish character as a form of penance.

Thank-you for your attention and give my regards to Mr. Stein.
-- Brian Kottlowski

Thanks, Mr. Stein, for your article "American Miracle" in the American Spectator. You make a good point, and I suddenly realize that my political reading has been fairly empty of praise for the U.S. lately. At least the kind of praise that I agree with.
-- Steve Mims
Cupertino, California

What is even more of a miracle is the fact that most Americans believe that we can still do better.
-- Leonard Sjoberg

I am sorry Ben Stein has to put up with the hate mail he gets. I love his articles, especially his touching thoughts when his parents died a few years ago. I reflected on those thoughts when my own father died two years ago today. The affectionate and loving way he writes about those close to him sometimes chokes me up to the point of tears. Keep up your good work and do not let the evil in people's hearts discourage you from God's love and mercy. There are many of us who love your work and admire your character.
-- Rick LaTurner
Galena, Kansas

What a beautiful article about gratitude to God for America! I have so enjoyed you through the years. Your recent comments on the real estate market were great, by the way. I thank God for clear-thinking people like you.
-- Victor

Dickens's world may be your nightmare, but I watch mine on the news every night and, like you, I daily thank God for the miracle that I live in America.

Why? Because I'm a 47-year-old single woman (never married, no children). I've never been very pretty and I'm considered way too opinionated (read: Conservative Republican) to be considered "wife material." Because of the wonderful country where I live, I have been able to live a decent, quiet, happy, respectable life.

I have procured a good education (13 years of it state-provided), I have obtained a job whose wages belong only to me. I own a home in my own name. I can come and go as I see fit; I can spend as my budget allows and my budget is decided by me. I can obtain medical assistance from anyone I choose, who must then report their results to me. I am assured that any crime perpetrated against me or my property will be prosecuted with zeal by law enforcement. I am able to speak in public, dress as I choose, cast my ballot in secrecy, and pray within the walls of my chosen church.

In their zeal to criticize the President, the left seems to have forgotten the everyday struggles and indignities of women in the Middle East. Watching those women, I often imagine what my life would have been like had I been born to the same family in their culture and their land. My eyesight started going bad in 4th grade; would my father have purchased glasses for me or decided to pull me from school instead? I have two older brothers; would the chances for opportunity and success have been lavished on them at the expense of starving me? To this day, my father is disappointed that I'm not married; since I'm not pretty, would he have sold me off to a man looking for a third or fourth wife to use as a household drudge? Would I have been sent to work in a factory for 10 or 12 hours a day, to have my wages collected and kept by my father or my brothers? And if I contracted something like curable breast cancer at a time when I was considered a burden to my family, would the doctor report the results to my male relative, who would then decide it would be to his advantage to let me die?

I have "adopted" four soldiers since the war began and I tell them all how much I appreciate their protecting me from the IslamoFascists who want to turn me from a person into a thing. I know you get a chance to talk to servicemen and women, so I hope you will also pass on my deepest gratitude. I know why we are fighting this war and why we must win it. I will never turn my back on our soldiers, because I know they will never turn their back on me or give up on our "miracle" country.
-- Janet M. Stroble
Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Your "American Miracle" essay is (yet another) gem. So well-written, and expressing an obvious truth that we too often forget; freedom IS precious and in this, Americans are exceptionally blessed. Keep it up, as always.

But you know, thinking about how you must have felt opening the hate mail, I am moved to do something that I do not normally do, which is to pass along to you a poem [written for my wife of 32 years, not for you, sir!! :)] that has nothing whatsoever to do with you or your essay or with politics or commentary, but is merely the most calming, cleansing image I know, and which I thus share with you as a balm to try to compensate, if only for an instant, for the ugliness created by the hate mail. Let all that, too, "blink and disappear":

SONG

My love, come with me
Far, far away to the sea of a secret, distant time.
We shall slip through the folds of hidden years --
Centuries blink and disappear. . . .

And there, in the calm of a wind-sheltered cove
We shall rest our over-weary hands,
Bathe our thoughts in tides beyond torment
And walk in peace on unshifting sands.
******END****

Or sample a simple image trying to capture an instant of beauty:

l'aube
la musique
le matin harmonieux
l'accord se repand fort et pur
la rosee gelee resonne aux pres
sous le ciel bleu-joie
au levant des voix

There! A random act of beauty committed right there in cyberspace. Bam! So Mr. Stein, never, never, NEVER let the turkeys get you down, sir. As Sir Winston said, "Never, never, never, never, never give up!"
-- Philip McCampbell Marston
Alexandria, Virginia

(Poems from unpublished collection "Kindling"; by M. C. Campbell, forthcoming in the next century or so)

Thank God for Ben Stein! His simple thoughts really hit home. What a great piece.
-- Michael Heekin

SOMETHING ABOUT HINDSIGHT
Re: George Neumayr's The Vision Thing:

Suppose everything George Neumayr says is correct: that George W. Bush is a closet liberal; that he is just like his father; that he is an out-of-touch elitist; and so on, and so forth. I strongly disagree with Mr. Neumayr, and can cite thousands of facts to bolster my case, but let me bring forth one fact -- person, actually -- that brings into focus the case against Mr. Neumayr and so-called "traditional" conservatives who don't like the Bushes.

Patrick Joseph Buchanan.

Yes, the same Patrick Joseph Buchanan who praised Adolph Hitler. The same Patrick Joseph Buchanan who denied the Holocaust. The same Patrick Joseph Buchanan who claimed that Israel controlled Congress, Wall Street, and every U.S. administration since World War II. Buchanan has almost singlehandedly destroyed the modern conservative movement, in my opinion. For what reason, I do not know, though I have some theories.

The result? GOP presidents such as GHWB, GWB and yes, Ronald Reagan, shy away from what I might call "confrontational conservatism" and move towards the center and away from Buchanan who, admittedly, was a terrible presidential candiate in 1992, 1996 and especially 2000. Were it not for Buchanan, I honestly believe that GWB would not have used the phrase "compassionate conservatism" in the late 1990's in his run-up to the 2000 campaign.

It would not surprise me one bit if Mr. Buchanan called Mr. Neumayr one day (or invited him over to his swank mansion in McLean, VA -- which I've driven past a couple times when I lived in D.C. from 1994 to 2002) and gave Mr. Neumayr some "talking points" for this article. Fine. By the same token, however, Mr. Neumayr should, in the interest of fairness (I know, Mr. Neumayr doesn't like that word), power-lunch with a Bush Administration honcho and get that side of the story too, and write about it.
-- Daniel K. Weir
Atlanta, Georgia

Like many of the respondents to his insightful dissection of our incumbent president, George Neumayr resembles nothing so much as someone whose mental processes have been overwhelmed by fatigue, caused by repeated disappointment. He is not alone, for conservative Republican ranks have held back their appropriate criticism of President Bush's endless appeals for comity, his unfettered federal spending, and his failure to protect our borders, for fear that such censure would provide an opening to the other party. In the meantime, we wait and wait, only to be repeatedly informed -- by his staunch defenders, especially in talk radio -- that the promised land is just beyond the horizon. Obviously, Mr. Neumayr did not see fit to follow his colleague's advice, hold his breath -- and pen --and hope (emphasis mine) that the appointment of Harriet Miers as the new Supreme would be the best thing to happen to the conservative movement since the arrival of Antonin Scalia. Ah! If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

Hidden in the cobwebs of my memory, I recall that John Kennedy once responded to a question by saying, "I am not an optimist; I am not a pessimist; I am a realist." Neumayr's analysis of Bush's behavior repeats that assertion by describing the current -- and past -- mindset of our president. No one will argue -- at least I shan't -- that this president is not a morally and ethically superior chief executive than his predecessor. But what was once considered by so many, including those, like me, who worked for his election in 2000, a bold new administration striving to move this nation out of the torpor of liberal dominance, has proven to be, for all intents and purposes, a chimera. President Bush could have chosen the man whose jurisprudence he claimed to admire to replace the Chief Justice; he did not. He could have selected a conservative whose track record was that -- on the record -- for Associate Justice and let the chips fall where they might; he did not. I, too, grow weary of the excuses that are made for this president: he -- and only he -- is responsible for what transpires during the years of his watch. Harriet Miers may -- or may not -- be what the president says she is. I, for one, would be interested in knowing what role -- if any -- she played in advising the then-Governor Bush to skirt the 5th Circuit's ruling in Hopwood, but that is a tale for another time. One might ask President Bush (41) if he believed that David Souter would come to Washington to carry on the work of Justice Brennan. Or President Reagan about the soon-to-depart Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Temptations surround all justices and the possibility that the Washington Post and New York Times are eager to run your story, in deferential terms, of course, in the next magazine issue, can be weighty indeed.

Are my comments unfair? Unwise? Un-Christian? Like Signor Neumayr, I had high hopes that the election of George W. Bush in the new millennium would prove providential. I no longer feel that way. I had hoped, along with so many other conservatives, that with the departure of the Clintonoids, the new broom would sweep clean, and a better beginning would slowly -- but surely -- become a fact of life. I see no such signs. I am reminded of the final scene of "Fiddler on the Roof," when the small Jewish community is required to move on. "We'll have to look for our Messiah somewhere else," the rabbi intones, words that provide ample evidence that we conservatives, too, are still wandering in the desert.

Pax tecum,
-- Vincent Chiarello
Reston, Virginia

COMBUSTIBLE ENGINES
Re: Eric Peters's Diesel Deliverance:

I love my little diesel Beetle, it still costs about only $20.00 to fill. Will never go back to gasoline, and if VW is the only diesel producer with good mileage, so be it. I was looking at some of the Detroit Diesels -- Guess what? 20 mpg really sucks when you are used to 40+.

Now if they could clean up the diesel we have here, would be great.
-- SFC Kenneth E. Miller USA (RET)
Tonica, Illinois

As a frequent renter of German diesel cars, it might be noted that diesel fuel is also subsidized by governments at taxpayer expense to be cheaper than gas in Germany.
-- William Groom

Your article is interesting but I don't think it dug deep enough. I looked into buying a diesel VW, but when I checked the price of diesel fuel here in Maryland, I found out it averages about the same cost as premium gas. Sure you save money on the greater miles per gallon you get, but not enough to justify the premium charged for the diesel auto in the sticker price. I presume that diesel fuel refined to the high performance specifications you are calling for would cost even more.

I also found that diesel costs substantially less once one crosses over the Appalachians into the Midwest -- what's up with that? Diesel is also hard to find at a lot of gas stations, and you can never be sure you'll find a station that has it when you need it. So for all these reasons, I shied away from the VW and bought a Chevy Cobalt to commute with. Nice little car.
-- Paul Doolittle

Thank you for your good article and your injection of common sense into the issue. I drive an SUV that does NOT have the best of MPG ratings. If I could get the same vehicle, trimmed the same, and get it in a diesel that would have the same life and quality and maintenance levels and standards, I would be willing to pay up to $5000 more for it. Those diesels proceeding down the autobahn in Germany at 150 MPH and more are sure a lot faster, safer, and better than my American luxury SUV.

Perhaps Mr. Peters or someone can explain how it is that George Bush has not found time to issue orders to his appropriate appointee to make this happen. But wait, Bush wouldn't want to upset the professional bureaucracy or the government unions by telling them what to do. It is better to tick off his conservative voter base.
-- Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

Mr. Peters you are dead-on with your article in every aspect but one. If you can buy diesel for a $1.30 a gallon you may want to consider drop the writing career and start a distributorship. We pay $3 plus at the pump and $2.60 for off-road (used for farming, mining, etc.).
-- Kirk Wigen
Lacrosse, Washington

Mr. Peters is wrong on his facts about diesel engines and fuel in the U.S. He should consult the world's greatest manufacturer of such engines, Caterpillar Inc.
-- D. J. Skaggs
Pekin, Illinois

Eric Peters Replies:
Caterpillar makes heavy equipment diesels -- not passenger vehicle vehicles -- and there are VERY different emissions and other regulations for heavy trucks/equipment and passenger vehicles.

TRAPPED!
Re: John C. Wohlstetter's The Recusal Trap:

I am dumbfounded by the screeching coming from the Right intellectoids these days. For all their praise of flyover country, somehow it isn't good enough to spawn a Supreme Court Justice. What do they think we do all day? Just because we don't publish things and sally forth into the think tank maelstrom doesn't mean that we don't think about the constitutionality of A, B, or C. Geez. We do more than wonder what lure is going to land that next bass and make sure we don't miss the next election so we can vote in more Republicans.

I trust W. to make the right choice. He has known Ms. Miers for a long time and I do not doubt his judge of character. I have to disagree with Ms. Fabrizio in that she probably wasn't chosen because she was an evangelical Christian but was rather someone who had the same ethical leanings as the President. Of all the arguments against her, Mr. Wohlstetter's argument of a recusal trap is by far the most cogent and actually does give me pause.

The Right should have learned their lessons from the Clinton years and not get greedy. John Q. Public, you know, the other 12% that we need to win elections, will not put up with gloating or needless confrontation. The Right may have been salivating for a fight, but they're the only ones. As of now, however, the Left doesn't have to lift a finger with the Right slapping at each other.
-- Andrew J. Macfadyen, M.D.
Omaha, Nebraska

THE BABBIN CONSPIRACY
Re: Jed Babbin's appearance on "The O'Reilly Factor":

Well if there was any uncertainty as to how you and the right-wing media work before the October 4 edition of Fox News's "The O'Reilly Factor," once again the typical tactics have been made as plain as day for all to see: 1) saturate the outlets with distortions and lies, 2) complain, whine, smear, mischaracterize, and attack when someone calls you out on your lies.

Media Matters didn't "disagree with something you said on television," as you told O'Reilly's audience the other night. They corrected your mischaracterization of the Duelfer Report. You went on to say: "It's kind of a -- it's a little boys' Lord of the Flies kind of atmosphere, some of these things. They don't want to be civilized, so they aren't. But they're really -- they're really not very efficient or effective. I mean, they're more of a nuisance than anything else."

Hilarious. In your reality, the tantrums O'Reilly is currently throwing about Media Matters are "civilized," while a simple correction of the factual record is childish and uncivilized. Frankly Mr. Babbin, Media Matters is extremely civilized, efficient, and effective. And you essentially admit it: it is a "nuisance." It's the same nuisance our President has when confronted with the facts: they show your own words to be lies, your reality to be an utter fabrication.
-- Tom Orange
Washington, D.C.

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