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Midnight Breakfasts

What's the best time of day? San Antonio's champions. Plus: More Supreme fallout. Smoking bans. Saving PBS's repute. And much else.

6.28.05

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KEEPING YOU UP?
Re: TAS Online:

Would you mind terribly not posting the Monday Prowler until, say, 5 a.m.?

Posting it shortly after midnight, as you do, makes it difficult to resist the urge to stay up and read it as soon as it goes up, and then there is the problem of Mr. Babbin's column, the required-reading "Loose Canons."

It is ruining my health. He is relentless, either shoving our faces in the poo we've tried so hard all weekend to put out of mind, or, revealing some new poo we hadn't even known about.

Either way, we're up all night, tossing and turning in trepidation or fury. Hell of a way to start a Monday morning, and it's downhill all week from there.

We need to keep our strength up for the awful struggle ahead.

Hillary? No, no, no -- is it drawn so near, so soon? The Decline and Fall, I mean.

Gibbon, meet Babbin.
-- Paul Kotik
Plantation, Florida

CRUSADING FOR HILL
Re: Jed Babbin's Slippary:

Add another "gullible" to the Hillary Camp -- Billy Graham. At his crusade in NYC Saturday, June 25, he actually said of the alleged rapist, Bill Clinton, that he would be a good "preacher" and that he should pass his gifts on to his morally challenged wife so that she can run the country!

Am I in the twilight zone or what?
-- Joellen M. Arrabito
Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey

HOMERS
Re: P. David Hornik's Basketball for Breakfast:

I am not much of a sports fan. I haven't watched a whole basketball game since the Bulls' last championship series. But I like the Spurs. I don't know if it's because they're well spoken. It may be that it's because they have one of the lowest payrolls in big-time professional sports. It may also be that it's because, on the court they are totally unselfish, winning's what counts, not who gets the kudos. And it may be because in the nine years I've lived in San Antonio, I have not heard of one episode of domestic abuse, drunk and disorderly conduct, assault, or DWI. Whatever the reasons, they are a class act.
-- John Jarrell
San Antonio, Texas

I can proudly say that I am first a Spurs fan and then a Pistons fan after spending my whole life hating pro basketball because of the show boating, unsportsmanlike conduct of the players and the individual nature of the game. This is the same reason I have quit watching pro football. Now come two teams with character, humility and true superstars who let their game speak for themselves. They do what they do best through team play and unit cohesion. No individual is greater than the team as a whole. I can hardly wait till tip off for next year's season!

It was former San Antonio Spur David Robinson's as well as Tim Duncan's character and humility that created a brand new NBA fan out of me at the ripe old age of 36!

Here's to the new NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs and their worthy opponent Detroit Pistons! One can only pray the rest of the NBA can learn from their examples!
-- A.C. Swiger
San Antonio, Texas

It has been nearly a decade since I last watched an NBA game. I don't need to explain why. Anybody who has watched the game for 30 years is quite aware of how it has evolved. From the constant traveling, fouling, and horrid shooting it is a wonder that anybody watches it anymore. The college and high school games are almost as bad.

I did watch part of the Olympic basketball tournament last year. What was amazing wasn't the fact that a tiny island nation to our South, or a European nation trounced our professionals so bad; what was amazing was how well the other teams mastered our own national sport. We've heard for a decade how other nations were catching up to us. Not only have they caught up, but they have surpassed us. If you want to recruit good players today, you do not travel to Indianapolis, L.A., or New York -- you fly to Kaliningrad, Belgrade, and Buenos Aires.
-- JP
Indiana

THEIRS FOR THE TAKING
Re: Geoffrey Norman's Professional Looters and Christopher Orlet's Kiss Your House Goodbye:

The Supreme Court's backing of seizure has me wondering what we are fighting for in Iraq against terrorists. We have two in the Air Force and my husband is retired Army. Then there is the Greatest Generation who fought and died. For what? So that the rich and famous could steal our land? Seems we bought and paid for it.
-- B. Gunn
Texas

Already, I've heard one misguided citizen in my area erroneously pegging the Supreme Court decision on eminent domain to a "Supreme Court... stacked with people who think like the president wants them to think." The majority opinion in an evenly divided court came entirely from the liberal justices, Souter, Ginsberg, Stevens, Kennedy and Breyer, who once again ignored the explicit language and protections of the Constitution to take away individual liberty and transfer it to government. The conservative, strict constitutional constructionists were the dissenters. I'll bet Ted Kennedy, Pelosi, Reid, Dean and Schumer don't say anything about this liberal Supreme Court decision, though it will negatively affect their liberal supporters. The President wants to appoint conservative judges not prone to such muddled thinking. Let's get the facts right.
-- R. Jones
Gulfport, Mississippi

The Court plunged over the abyss with the Kelo ruling. It seems an iron law of institutions that when they start doing things they shouldn't - in this case making up the law -- then they stop doing the things they should -- in this case defending the Constitution.

It seems clearer and clearer that liberal Supreme Court justices do not see themselves as "merely" interpreting the work of others - the Constitution. Apparently they think now it is their turn.

The Founders had the immense foresight to make the taking of private property a Constitutional issue. One wonders the provenance of that -- what were governments in the 18th century used to doing? But whatever it was, there it is in the Fifth Amendment. This was a very simple case. Get out the Fifth Amendment and see what it says, and then find out what everybody has thought those words meant for the last 218 years.

But no. The Court has decided that the 70% of the country that owns its own homes should be put at risk, and the 30% that wants to own them should also. I will make a prediction -- bad move.

It is clear that the Court does not believe in the American Experiment. One wonders what makes the Justices feel so secure about their own jobs if everything else in the Constitution is simply a matter of opinion. Maybe we needed a Supreme Court when the Constitution was written, but have now evolved beyond that. Make a heck of a restaurant. I wonder what the number of the zoning commissioner in Washington is?
-- Greg Richards

Even liberals own property: they better be looking over their shoulders.
-- Elaine Kyle
Cut & Shoot, Texas

Thomas Jefferson thought it a good idea that we be armed, so that we could take up arms against our government, should that government become oppressive.

If homeowners from New London burned a flag in protest of their government's federally-endorsed land grab, who could blame them? Our founding fathers would most likely laugh at such a timid protest.

Kelo v. City of New London ushers in the era of a "new" London.
-- Dan Martin
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The next time some liberal states they are for the little guy and despise "Greedy Corporate America" I am going to shove (rhetorically speaking of course) this decision down his or her throat.
-- Don Herion

Those who believed that the federal government would kill its own citizens were once branded as nutcases. Then came Ruby Ridge, Waco and Elian Gonzalez. Later, Walter Williams wrote a column pointing out that if one didn't think the feds would kill one to collect taxes it believed were owed, one was sadly mistaken. I believe with last week's ruling that the Supreme Court has assured future private property disputes between the owners and the government will be bloody.
-- Earl Wright

So...If someone wants a piece of property that an "owner" does not want to sell, can the potential buyer get the state to take the property if the buyer agrees to pay more taxes than the "owner"?
-- Bill Hall

BOX OFFICE BOYCOTT
Re: James Bowman's Bewitched:

You know, who cares? Since all the ill-educated, ultra radical, Che-loving actors promised to leave and didn't after President Bush won the election, I've just stopped going to the movies. From recent box office trends it seems I may not be alone. If they're not going to leave, then why should I put money in their pockets? Millions for plane tickets, not a penny for idiotic babble!
-- Jay W. Molyneaux
Wellington, Florida

BURNING THOUGHTS
Re: John Tabin's Property Destruction:

I rise to laud the letters from Mr. Dooley and Mr. Lundquist on the flag burning issue. I find not a single point in either letter with which to disagree, or a single argument to phrase in a better or more persuasive manner. Personally, I liked Mr. Dooley's letter the best, but the degree of difference in my mind is so miniscule as to be inconsequential.

This is an issue that has very considerably raised my passions, and thus my blood pressure, for many a year. In fact, I generally become so irate that rational discussion or argumentation escapes me. I congratulate both writers for the excellent articulation of the arguments that I would like to make, if I didn't get so damn mad whenever confronted with the practice and those that would defend it.
-- Ken Shreve
A devout red-neck in a deep blue New England

I agree completely with Mr. Tabin. One additional (cynical) thought: Is it possible that John Edwards and his fellow travelers are providing behind the scenes support for the amendment? Think how many BMWs, Vail vacations, and private school tuitions will be paid for if the amendment should come about.
-- W.L. Burton
Washington, Georgia

CLEAR EYES
Re: "Blowing Smoke" letters in Reader Mail's Property Destruction, "Hitchens for Senate" letters in Reader Mail's Chris Anthems and David Holman's Smoking Room.

I expected to ruffle a few feathers with my support of a smoking ban because bans really irk conservatives. I don't blame them because I probably would react the same way if I still smoked. However, I don't see it as a nanny state or even close. We regulate alcohol as to where you can drink, what hours you can buy, and what age you have to be. We also regulate how drunk you can get in public and especially if you try to drive. Why is cigarette smoking any different? You can't litter in a lot of places or play loud music because it disturbs people or soils the environment. Government does have a function to regulate obnoxious and unhealthy behavior. That is my point. Smokers foul the land with their discarded butts, foul the air with their smoke, and ruin other people's pursuit of pleasure with their "insistence" of having everyone within ten feet share in their habit. Therein lies the problem. That is why people, especially non-smokers, are happy to see a ban. Frankly, a blind insistence to certain habits is just as bad as the liberals' carte blanche to do as they please. The smoke is no longer in my eyes, Mr. Johnson. Yes, I have the pleasure of breathing again after many years fouled up in a nasty habit. It's a wonder what fresh air does for one.
-- Pete Chagnon

AFTERSHOCKS
Re: George Neumayr's Monopoly-Busting and PBS appearance letters in Reader Mail's Property Destruction, Chris Anthems (under "Sense and Sensibility"), Lessons in Tolerance, and Who Watches PBS?:

Once you have "balanced" the entire spectrum of the media, and we all embrace conservatism as the one true way. What then? Is the next step in the revolution a totalitarian oligarchic theocracy? Don't you ever wonder how long it will be before you too will be "balanced" into the darkness by the next more powerful version of conservative values. Look into your conscience if you still have one. You and Mr. Tomlinson are political advocates for conservatism. There is nothing wrong with that. Politics is the daily lifeblood of a democracy. Just stop pretending to be something else.
-- unsigned

Where do you people dig up these acid-tongued wastes of time? At least publish credible experts on issues that know how to debate with logic and intelligence. Oh wait, you're a right-wing publication. Sorry, business as usual, huh?
-- D. Hunter
Pennsylvania

A Republican friend of mine had asked me to check some information relating to the PBS issue and I happened to come across your site and realized that from all that extremely offensive e-mail you had received, you had to be the fellow I had seen on PBS just a few evenings ago. I recognize we are probably pretty far apart on most things political, but I had to admire your publishing all those letter excerpts under the heading "Who Watches PBS?" It was brilliant -- you didn't even add a comment of your own in that space. But anyone reading those "over the top" insults would have to say, if that represents the viewers of PBS, then something really does need to be done. It was embarrassing to me as a PBS viewer and I would like to apologize on behalf of a great many PBS viewers who would never behave that way. I don't know what those foul-mouthed letter writers thought they were accomplishing except letting off steam.

Still if we took the angry letters or e-mails that rage out from the extremes on either the left or the right, I don't think either sampling tells us very much at all excerpt there are a lot of nitwits out there who you don't really want to meet on a dark corner. But it says nothing about the validity of PBS anymore than it would about the Fox Network or The American Spectator.

I did have problems with your focusing so much of your attention on "Now" and Bill Moyers. Had I been on the show speaking from the other side, I would certainly have asked you what specific shows were you talking about. How many of Moyers's shows had you actually seen? Was the other side not given an equal opportunity to speak? Were conservatives not represented on many shows who had full opportunity to speak their minds about their viewpoints? Were they not given total consideration and attention from Moyers? From the many programs I viewed -- and I would say it was a good 90% of them -- I saw Moyers often taking positions against those of the President and his administration in certain areas. Almost always though this was done with solid documentation and interviews often from many sides. Did you ever really look at this series carefully?

It was one of the most important shows on television that I ever saw. I learned an enormous amount about issues that were taking place within our government and a lot of things that needed quite serious investigation. Was Moyers "spinning" the facts he presented? From my lifetime of work in television I really don't think so. And I did write some television speeches for both President Reagan and one for President Ford. The speeches weren't really on political subjects, but even a Democrat can write a good speech for a Republican without facing disgrace.

I think the attack by the right on public television (which seems to have been going on forever) with changes of a sort of left wing conspiracy are not supported by looking at the programming or the overall schedule of shows.

The statement by Tomlinson made to Pat Mitchell that "Now" does not contain anything approaching the balance the law requires for public broadcasting" shows someone who doesn't know what the law actually contains. Balance is all about what PBS's schedule reflects, not whether a single series may be inclined politically in one direction or another. If so some of the pet conservative shows would have to be thrown off the air. Speech in America is all about freedom. And that means people expressed ideas that other people may not agree with. If PBS oversteps the line and its Liberal-Liberal everywhere and the conservative viewpoint is not being properly represented then one has every right to say let's have more conservatives on the schedule putting forth their point-of-view. But one should never say let's take a series like "Now" off the air to cure the problem, if it exists. You really should have watched the show -- it provided some of the finest investigate journalism I've ever seen. And not done with spin. I just don't see much really good investigative journalism done from the right. It may well be there and I've just missed it. And if conservatives believe that the actions of the current administration shouldn't have to face critical inspection as any administration should, then you're really trying to play the game with a stacked deck.

I don't expect you to respond to all my jabber. But I really would like to have one question answered. Did you really see many of the "Now" programs and, if you did, what did they get so wrong? Were they just doing a hatchet job on Bush and the rest of the gang, or was there a legitimate foundation of criticism for what they reported?

All best wishes with your magazine. You have every right to represent the position you have. I just wish it could be a little more moderate.
-- Barry Downes
New York, New York

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