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Jumping Jurists!

Senate Democrats stunned by Roberts's replies. Plus: Still more on Ben. Plus new letters on speed, school, levees. Babbin Biden, Kaine Russert. And much more.


Re: George Neumayr's Democratic Buffoons:

Hear, hear! One of your best! Sadly much of the Senate would need reading lessons to understand your eloquent wit.
-- D. Epstein


I particularly enjoyed Chuck Schumer's shock -- shock -- that anybody would dream of criticizing judges. And then in his next question accusing Roberts of wanting to dismantle civil rights. And some of us are old enough to remember Ted Kennedy's "In Robert Bork's America...."
-- Greg Richards

America has to take a step back from the issue of John Roberts before the Senate hearing in questioning Mr. Roberts on various types of law. It is painfully obvious that the United States Congress cannot handle a natural disaster let alone questioning a Supreme Court nominee. May I invoke a new political catch phrase that was spawned in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, "We were overwhelmed?" This catchphrase definitely applies to the Senators questioning Mr. Roberts, They definitely appear "overwhelmed" by his answers to their moronic questioning.
-- Melvin L. Leppla
Jacksonville, North Carolina

All the liberal politicos involved in the Senate's confirmation hearings yesterday pontificated on the importance of honoring precedent with respect to Supreme Court decisions. What a crock! What precedent in case law was cited to bolster the Supreme Court's blatant attempt at social engineering in Roe v. Wade? None, they had to rely upon penumbras instead. In 1962, in Engel v. Vitale, the Supremes threw prayer out of public schools based on what precedent? They cited none because there were none to cite. When the goal of jurists is to change things to be the way they want them to be, they do not allow tiny obstacles like the lack of precedent to stand in their way.

All this prattle about precedent is nothing more than a facade used by progressives to continue to cram their hideous agenda down the throats of the rest of us. They only care about it when it is benefits them to do so. That is why they championed it yesterday. They know it is the only prop holding their political house of cards together.
-- Rick Arand

Mr. Neumayr is spot on with his observations of Senatorial Constitutional ignorance. One wire service childishly cropped a picture of Judge Roberts with a deer-in-the-headlights effect. But as cheap as the unflattering shot was, there can be no doubt that Judge Roberts has a front row seat to this bewildering display of rank stupidity and egoism. Somewhere in Judge Roberts's mind must be the admission that the drafters of the Constitution made a disastrous error in omitting term limits. So, to segue this thought into Mr. Magilnick's "Penumbra" article, may I propose another landmark case, that being Clinton v. U.S. Since "42" has a hankering for the White House again, he can claim that the 22nd Amendment of the Constitution, (two-term presidential limit) is in direct violation of the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause, to wit, one elected branch of government having an unfair advantage over the other. Maybe Chief Justice Roberts will author the majority opinion.
-- A. DiPentima

Have you ever talked to a committed liberal about the many escapades of Senator Kennedy? The response is predictable. First they will attempt to defend him against offenses such as cheating on exams, cheating on one's wife, public drunkenness, etc. When the defense falls apart, as it inevitably does due to the fact that the Senator's behavior is indefensible, they will wax eloquent about his compassion for his fellow man. Next comes the Ms. Kopechne debacle. The defense for that is usually the old "what a tragedy it could happen to anyone he just panicked that was a long time ago," to which I usually reply that Ms. Kopechne is still dead. Finally, the conversation settles on the incoherently bumbling rambles that characterize the Senator's speeches on virtually any subject. By this time, the Kennedy defender is mumbling about the Senator's "martyred brothers". This gambit usually ends with the Kennedy defender launching an ad hominem attack on President Bush.

I suppose the attack on Senator Kennedy is an ad hominem attack, but it isn't one by accident. It is fair to attack the man when his public history is that of an alcoholic scoundrel. Besides, who could attack his ideas? I can't recall that he has ever had one.
-- Joseph Baum
Newton Falls, Ohio

Why don't the critics just be as honest as they expect the nominee to be and admit they want liberal judges because they want liberal opinions?
-- GP

"Who would parents want their daughters to go work for? Ted Kennedy or John Roberts?"

Maybe we should ask this question of Mary Jo's parents.
-- Elaine Kyle
Cut & Shoot, Texas

Re: Andrew Cline's John Roberts Behind the Plate:

"Some adhere strictly to the wording of the document as the Framers understood it; some allow for definitions and phrases to change meaning over time; and others simply ignore the language and declare that it means what they want it to mean."

And then there are those that go overseas for legal precedent and those judges should be impeached.
-- Elaine Kyle
Cut & Shoot, Texas

Re: Patrick O'Hannigan's Reading the Mind of John Roberts:

In my opinion, we have just seen the reincarnation of St. Thomas More. He finessed those blowhards in laymen's language. He didn't give an inch. He neither affirmed the permanent status of Roe v. Wade nor "tipped his mitt" as to where he stands. He not only "hit it out of the park," but made it easy for a pro-lifer to come in behind him. The only surprise for me was that Arlen Specter helped him do it. I wonder when Biden and Kennedy will realize what happened. It looked like Feinstein already does.
-- Annette Cwik
The Villages, Florida

Re: Eric Peters's Safe At Any Speed:

In spite of the research by Mr. Peters, I doubt that higher average speeds are in our future, at least in the more urban sections of the country. If the distance to work is fixed and the time to get to work increases over time, you are slowing down and most likely the reason is congestion. The number of people killed, maimed, and economically injured is still quite high. I think the auto manufacturers have done a lot for safety but cannot be counted on to do much more.

Our ability to impact this by building better roads is limited by what the eco-freaks will allow. The Clean Air Act is killing people because it delays road improvements in congested areas. At the same time, projects out in the country seem to be easier to build because the environmental impact is not as profound. Some states figure that it is better to spend something somewhere than to spend what is needed where it is needed. The road contractors don't care either way.

Blaming the driver for old infractions, cell phone use, seat belt infractions, impaired driving, including fatigue, can help but better highway geometry needs to be in the mix somewhere. Some future increase in average velocity is likely to be due to tolls of roads that are parallel to the existing highways. I guess we are never too distracted to stop and throw money or have our pocket picked electronically. In the post-Hurricane Ivan environment in Florida, however, I found that that traffic moved much faster without the toll booths.
-- Danny L. Newton
Cookeville, Tennessee

Now that the truth is out about highway speed, how about speaking truth to power about those "road pimples" that are springing up all over Madison, Wisconsin, and other places?

Lately, everything they do in Portland, Oregon has become the "in" thing, so we have "traffic calming devices." It seems everyone drives too fast on the city streets, and I guess if you want a high quality of life you have to be driving your kids to school, to dance lessons, to hockey practice, and Madisonians had long taken speed limit signs as advisory. The solution is to place various types of obstructions in the roads -- islands, a broader kind of speed bump, and these things called "traffic circles" (not true rotaries, just round obstructions in intersections).

Our neighborhood now has two traffic circles, but instead of slowing traffic down, drivers are focused on finding their line through them in the fashion of Formula One drivers, and pedestrians have to watch for cars swerving at high speed out of their lanes into the crosswalks. Some drivers have decided on a direct, frontal assault, judging by the tire tracks seen down the middle of these things. In the communitarian spirit, neighbors to the traffic circles are assigned to do the "landscaping," which is taking on the form of anti-car bombing barriers. It will be interesting to see how providers of home-owner's insurance will look upon settling auto collision cases.
-- Paul Milenkovic
Madison, Wisconsin

Back in 1995, in my book Things You Know That Are Not So, I explained that raising the speed limit would actually lower traffic deaths. I explained that this would divert traffic from dangerous roads to safer interstate freeways. It would also result in less speed differential between the drivers who drove at the speed limit and those who drove at the design speed of the road. As can be seen from this article, my prediction was correct.
-- David Moshinsky

Re: Reuven Brenner's The Three Year Plan:

Interestingly, the current situation is actually worse for one of the particular examples given by Mr. Brenner: Many business schools have moved or are moving to five-year standard Accountancy programs, and not the usual stretched-out-because-I'm-also-working five-year plan, but because licensing standards in many states are increasing the number of required credit-hours to the extent that one basically needs a Masters in Accountancy, an MBA with an accounting concentration -- or a five-year undergrad program -- to become a CPA nowadays.

I'm also aware that the MD specialization is often two to four more years after med school. Have legal, engineering, or other professions similarly expanded education requirements in the last few decades?

While not mentioned in his article, perhaps his book goes into more depth on the "creating barriers of entry" aspect of the increasing education requirements for many professions. Or is that theory just promoted by cynics failing to acknowledge the increasing complexities and specialization, and thus education, required to prepare adequately for a professional career?

I'd be interested in another article on that from Mr. Brenner and/or feedback from other readers!
-- Kevin Amaro, CPA
Hayward, California

It may be ok for a liberal arts or business major to finish in three years rather than four. However, I was a geophysics major and it was brutal enough. I do not think I could have survived cramming the material we studied into three years.
-- Michael Bergsma

Re: Ralph R. Reiland's Why the Levees Are Not Dry:

I would expect an associate professor of economics to have some understanding of budgets and the economy, but I guess that's too much to ask. The economy was going into a recession when Bush came into office. The attack on New York City could have made the recession even worse. By cutting taxes the economy was stimulated. Because the economy was stimulated the amount of money collected by the government INCREASED. The problem isn't that the American people haven't been paying enough taxes. The problem is that the Democrats and RINOs in Congress have been spending money like drunken sailors. Show me one budget that received less money than the year before. When they start stripping pork out of transportation bills I'll believe in fairy tales about cuts and too much money going to Iraq. Using federal tax cuts as an excuse for lack of money is a specious argument.

And speaking of pork why is there no mention of the amount of money wasted for decades in Louisiana already. Katrina shined the light of day on the corrupt governments of Louisiana and New Orleans, and showed what happens when liberal democrats are in charge.

If anyone is interested in a solution that will prevent this from happening again take the following steps. Number 1: Do audits to find out where the levee money was spent. I don't believe $250 million would have been enough to complete the levee projects because I don't believe the money would have been spent wisely this time anymore than it was last time. Number 2: Vote against the incumbents. We don't need people in Congress who squander our money to bring home the bacon; we need people who will put our money to good use. Congressmen who face a tough re-election begin responding to the electorate. Number 3: You make problems worse by throwing money at them; just look at schools. Get results for money spent.
-- Jeffrey Ring
Lorton, Virginia

The thrust of Ralph Reiland's article suggest that four years of budget cuts to FEMA and other projects in the area are materially the blame for the levee breech. I must disagree. By the article's own admission, the levee system, actually levees and sea walls, has been in place in some form or the other for 100 years. By the same degree, they have been under repair for the same amount of time because as the article points out, they sink. Not only do the levees sink but all of New Orleans proper is sinking. Add the height of the seawalls above the levees in some places to the depth below sea level that most of New Orleans has sunk and you get an every worsening situation over time. The current levee situation was the genius of Jimmy Carter and spent a fortune getting it up to its current Category 3 level. Nothing, and I repeat nothing, could have been done in the short term to prevent what happened. There are a lot of levees to maintain and there is the central problem. The state and local Governments of Louisiana are the primarily responsible parties for the conditions that exist in New Orleans, not the federal government. That is why we have state and local Governments and their taxes. If the residents of New Orleans can't afford to pay the taxes needed to maintain and improve the levee system, maybe that explains why New Orleans peaked in population in 1960 at 630,000 and was 445,000 during the last census. Maybe that says something about the economic viability of where New Orleans is currently located. As for a 2001 FEMA report about the doom and gloom of a hurricane hit on New Orleans, computer models showing this have been out there since the 1960s. Nothing new. How long have computer models been around, about 45 years? The least important problem with New Orleans and the levee system is that it has been sinking into the Mississippi Delta for a very long time. The most important problem with New Orleans and the levee situation rest with the people who live there and their unwillingness to step up to the plate and take charge of their situation. New Orleans and a boat have a lot in common, a hole in the water you keeping sinking money into. That's all.
-- Thom Bateman
Newport News, Virginia

According to the Wall Street Journal, "Vital repairs for which a whopping $600 million had been appropriated by the federal government were stopped after residents of the Ninth Ward complained about the noise created by the repair project and sued to halt it." Funding the Iraq war and tax cuts had nothing to do with what happened. If they build Hoover Dams all around New Orleans that would not fix the fact that the entire city resides below sea level.
-- Brian Brumfield
Jackson, Mississippi

I only had to read half of your article to know what a biased bigot you are. The Army Corps of Engineer said in their 1998 report that the levees were antiques and needed to be replaced. A $600 million repair project had been appropriated when the residents complained about the noise and sued the Corp to halt construction. If anyone is to blame for this disaster, then blame the citizens for halting the repairs. Also, blame the state and local officials for taking bribes out of the appropriated funds. And blame the citizens of New Orleans for living 15 feet below sea level. Mostly, blame the mayor and governor for playing a who-is-in-charge game....

But don't blame the Bush administration because they refuse to fight nature. I have been through four hurricanes, Andrew and Floyd among them. In 1992, I had to wait six weeks before I could go back and salvage property. It was December before I heard from FEMA. In 1999, I was without power and water for three weeks. These morons can't even last five days without power and water. It was two months later before I heard from FEMA. Seven days passed before Clinton even bothered to come to Tarboro and that was at Hunt's insistence. When Florida was hit with a tornado, Clinton flew over and waved from the window. Yet, the press praised how he felt our pain. The hell he did!
-- unsigned

The thing Mr. Reiland seems oblivious to is the fact that, according to the Washington Post, Louisiana was given more money for flood protection under the Bush Administration than ever before, and that Louisiana got more money than any other state in the union. Did you happen to notice, Mr. Reiland, that not all of the money sent to the state was spent on the levees and flood protection, but was spent "elsewhere?" Do you think that the reason the amount of money dropped might not have been "the spending pressure of the war in Iraq..." and federal tax cuts, but that the money already sent was not going where it was supposed to go? As a lifelong resident of southeast Louisiana, I have to tell you that taking any local politician or political appointee's word at this time is putting your journalistic integrity at risk, as most seem to be saying anything they think will cover their own backsides....
-- unsigned

Re: George Neumayr's A Civilizational Vacuum:

My name is Norm Umholtz. I am the heliport manager at the Superdome and have been here throughout the ordeal.

I agree with George's article and would like to add some comments.

During Hurricane George the same thing happened to the Superdome. No lessons learned. The Dome was torn apart by these criminals.

During Katrina it is my belief that the criminals, thugs, low life, and scum of the earth knew the evacuation was coming and their plan was to lay back and, when the storm passed, to take the opportunity to riot, steal rape and whatever met their fancy. But this time the storm did not turn away as all prior hurricanes have. The drowned rat syndrome set in, and these animals went to higher ground: the Superdome and Convention center. There they conducted their criminal acts on the unprotected. What a shame.
-- Norm

Re: Ben Stein's More on Katrina and Get Off His Back and Reader Mail's Staying Alive and Ben Quells Media Riot:

What a wonderful article, full of truth and, of course, opinion but nonetheless true opinion (ha). Playing the blame game never wears well on anyone and the people who have this aversion do not know enough to be ashamed.

Thanks, Ben, for your words of wisdom...
-- Gerry

Thank you very much for your provocative and highly entertaining articles, Mr. Stein. As most of your readers, I only know the disaster from the news and have not witnessed the horrible scenes myself. So I can only form my opinion about hurricane Katrina and its aftermath on third-party reports. It is difficult to filter out the facts from these reports. But I think that a few things cannot be argued:

1. We saw pictures of people sitting on the roofs of wooden huts, crying for help, days after the disaster had started. 2. We saw pictures of dirty people that had to line up for hours, in order to get food and water. 3. We saw pictures of people in major distress while at the same time public officials were praising themselves for their resolute and fast intervention.

I do not want to accuse anybody, although I think there are several sites that need to be accused. All I want to say is that Hurricane Katrina draws a picture of America that reminds of third-world countries: Incompetent authorities (local, federal), people begging for food and shelter, criminals controlling the streets, people stealing food but also TV sets. Is this the true America? I doubt it. Nevertheless I fear that your nation has some major problems that lie deep below the surface. While focusing on the rest of the world, it appears that Americans somehow forgot about themselves. And let's be honest: Simply praising the Great Leader and swearing at the liberal media do not really help to solve the problems. More useful and practical advice is required.
-- Michael Biemann
Duesseldorf, Germany

Brilliant. Please submit it to newspapers throughout the country. Book him on Letterman and the Tonight Show, Dr. Phil, Oprah (fat chance). The leftist media including all the major networks would not consider this column.

It is so refreshing to find a writer, economist, etc. that Mr. Stein does who can cut through the political garbage and state the truth. It is refreshing to find a publication independent and courageous enough to print it.

Thank you. You have given me hope again that truth will prevail (eventually) and set you free.
-- Lynn Dalbey
Yuma, Arizona

I feel that Mr. Stein or the editors of the Spectator should update the article to state, at the top of the article that these are merely the opinions of an actor and speechwriter and do not reflect any insight beyond the reach of a person within these roles.
-- unsigned

For cutting through all the liberal-biased BS surrounding Hurricane Katrina, I agree with him 100%. At a time when Americans should be pulling together, the liberals and our mainstream media continue their reprehensible behavior of trying to politicize everything and further polarize this country. The liberal "lamestream" media has completely outlived its usefulness, as evidenced by continued declining audience.
-- Scott Murphy
Pensacola, Florida

Just about everything Ben writes is good... but this one, if not the best summary of Katrina, is certainly one of the best. I have forwarded it to lots of people. It is superb. To use his usual term: WOW! You are in contact with him -- thank him for this one on behalf of the conservatives in America.
-- Jerry Beavan
San Diego, California

Those who accuse Ben Stein of looking down on them -- come up to the level of common decency and he would not be able to.
-- Walter E. Wallis

That stuff is brilliant satire! Keep it up!
-- unsigned

Re: George Neumayr's Masques of Death:

Thank you, George Neumayr, for telling it like it is! Everything you spelled out in your piece is the unbiased truth. New Orleans has been ripe for collapse IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE, for a long time.
-- Ruth Ohren

While in Colorado Springs, Colorado earlier this month a conservative friend gave me a copy of the article cited above. I was unable to read it until my recent return to Texas. So I had sometime to consider its thesis before responding to you this day.

An Old World concept that evil is visited upon those who commit evil has been circulating in the New World more so since 11 September 2001. Some religious leaders stated that New York City was attacked because of the Godlessness in our country and were quickly denounced by the President of the United States and a host of others. Don't we have freedom of speech?

This concept is simplistic and often recited by some who would say, "I warned you" or "I told you so." The fact remains that we live in an evil world where evil happens to both the innocent and righteous alike. Ever since a certain couple introduced evil into our world centuries ago, it persists. When the religious leaders of Jesus Christ's day asked why a certain man was born blind because either he or his parents sinned, Christ merely answered that his blindness was to glorify God. Yes, Christ healed the man so that he could see.

How many fathers have a daughter with an incurable disease or an illness or a handicap? Did the daughter sin or the father? Such simple judgments really insult our intelligence, wisdom, and judgment.

Similarly, those who contend that evil visited New Orleans because of its evil and document it display their own simple minds. Consider evil cities north of the Mason-Dixon line such as Detroit, Michigan, Newark, New Jersey, East St. Louis, Illinois, or Cleveland, Ohio. Since they have not suffered a similar fate as New Orleans, do we then conclude that they are more righteous? I hardly think so.

Sir, the world created by the one, true God and visited by Jesus Christ is far more complex than mankind in his pomp and arrogance would like to admit. Indeed, the Lord God states in the Old Testament, "For My ways are not your ways, nor my thoughts your thoughts. For as the heavens are higher than the Earth so are my ways than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Every man and woman needs to repent of their own evil as Christ taught instead of condemning others.

Recall that Christ forgave the sinner brought to judgment by the religious leaders and told her to "sin no more." He told the leader with no sin to cast the first stone (in judgment) against her. Eventually, they all left her to Christ alone.
-- Joe Faulkner
Spring, Texas

Re: David Holman's Double Kaine:

When will Republicans realize that Tim Russert is nothing but a Democratic operative acting as if he was a nonbiased journalist? It was dumb for Virginia's Kilgore to accept a debate with Russert as a moderator. Russert may pretend to be tough on both sides, and there was a time when I thought the same. But in the past few years I've noticed a big change. He'll occasionally ask a tough question to a Democrat, but more times than not there is no follow-up. His tone and demeanor are different as well. He'll often be on the attack with a Republican. That same attack is not there for a Democrat. If you get the chance, watch a replay of his interview with Howard Dean earlier this year or watch how he interviewed Michael Chertoff and how he interviewed New Orleans Mayor Nagin.

And then there are Russert's appearances as an analyst on the Today Show. The liberal slant, spin and talking points memo is quite evident when he "analyzes" on Today show.

Republicans must begin challenging Tim Russert and stop acting like he is fair and unbalanced. The former Democratic operative is anything but.
-- John Dyslin
Streamwood, Illinois

Re: Jed Babbin's Amateur Hour Is Over:

Recently you were sitting in for Hugh Hewitt, and I must say I was impressed. You mentioned the idea of Senator Joe Biden (D) running for President in 2008. I would like to make this prediction; Senator Biden's presidential bid will soar to new heights and maybe even eclipse the 2004 Presidential bid by Rep. Richard Gephardt. By the way, just how many delegates did Mr. Gephardt win in 2004?
-- Alan Spofford
Gilroy, California

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