Reader Mail

Superman Ben

He's everywhere -- not good new for the New Yorker. Plus: The pharmacist's conscience. Also: Killer doctors. Au revoir, M. Kerry. And much more.

6.10.05

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TRAITOR-MEDIA ALLIANCE
Re: Ben Stein's A New Yorker Kind of Guy:

I admire Ben Stein and his writing very much. Thank you for the frequent Stein articles included in the American Spectator, and thank you for ongoing excellence in your publication.
-- Mary Helen Owen

Wow, Ben Stein is all over American Spectator Online these days! Wonderful, glad to see him.

This is but another example of the American loathing of the criminal liberal press and their running dog puppets in the university system. They can't seem to understand that the forces they love so much would also destroy them if they ever took control of our nation. The libs bleached white bones would fill the re-education camps if their Leftist heroes were ever victorious.

I teach the SE Asian Holocaust in my 9th grade World Geography class, along with the real reasons for the fall of South Vietnam (a cross-border invasion by 5 NVA armored divisions) and photographs of Pol Pot's killing fields. Thus far, I haven't been fired for telling the truth.
-- Michael McClain
San Antonio, Texas

Besides the treason of Pham Xuan An and the unknown number of American and Vietnamese deaths he facilitated, didn't the article miss something than even the liberal press cares about? It is considered very bad form to disguise a spy as a journalist. This practice, real or suspected, has gotten many real journalists locked up and even killed. I thought it was an unwritten agreement that participants in the Cold War would not cover their spies as journalists.
If the CIA were to trot out a Cold War master spy who wrote for Pravda in the 1960s, the press would scream bloody murder and make it a scandal. Perhaps next time a western journalist is kidnapped, tortured, and/or killed in a place like Bolivia, we can blame Vietnam and the New Yorker instead of the CIA.
-- Chris Bramley

It is gratifying to finally see more of Ben Stein's articles on a more regular basis. I hope he continues to devote the time from his busy life to write such intelligent common sense pieces. I particularly enjoy his writings about his father, advisor to Nixon, and his beloved (by Ben and others) father-in-law who lived in Arkansas. It is touching to read how the "awful" Nixon was always so appreciative and polite to Ben's father. Ben's column on Felt again reminded me just how rare the virtue of loyalty is these days.
-- unsigned

Ben Stein's article on this Vietnamese falls under the category of "suspicions: confirmed!" In fact it was widely suspected that spies within the South Vietnamese government and army were legion; how else could one explain enemy forces suddenly moving just before an allied offensive, enemy monitoring of our radio transmissions on brand-new frequencies, ambushes of supposedly secret operations, etc?

Some of these people were treated as heroes by the new regime after the fall of Saigon in 1975, but most were considered suspect. They were literally playing on both sides in the war, hoping they would come out on top no matter which side won. It would be interesting to find out how many years of "re-education" An was subjected to. At least 300,000 South Vietnamese were imprisoned after the war for varying lengths of time, punishment -- pardon, education -- that lasted from three years to 13 years. So was he a mercenary, a double-agent or just what Lenin called a "useful idiot"?
-- Roger Soiset
Lilburn, Georgia

I come away from this almost out of breath. It is so well done. Ben Stein says so much, in a few words -- and with depth and sensitivity. Ben Stein: well done, my friend!

He lays a heavy moral question on our mainstream media -- a question infused with "responsibility" and "free speech" and "freedom of people" and "belief in country and God" and "am I my brother's keeper?" And, yes -- thousands of young American lives. Please share.
-- Allen O'Donnell
Wayne, Nebraska

Great Article!
-- Doug Santo
Pasadena, California

Thanks to Ben Stein for writing what most of Nam vets have come to realize, our enemies were not just NVA regulars, or VC. The good old liberal American press probably did just as much or more than they did to kill over 50,000 of my comrades in arms. It is no stretch for me then to read about a Ho Chi Minh spy being employed by Time, and certainly no stretch to see him honored by that press today.

I have to believe that somewhere, sometime, in this life or the next guys like Bass and An will be called to a sure and certain justice.
-- Jim Karr

I began composing this about the "The Cost of the War on Terrorism" article you wrote, and about the pieces you have written lately. But today... "A New Yorker Kind of Guy." You are getting better and better!

I am a West Pointer, class of 1988, after entering in 1984. When I was growing up in the 1970's, and began to become aware of things in 1976, this great country's Bicentennial, I never understand the sad sack Presidency of Jimmy Carter and the negative press (I was a paper carrier for the Detroit Free Press from age eight to about 16). When my father packed us all up in a station wagon to drive from Detroit to Boston to see the Great Ships and the glory that is American history from its Revolution, it planted the seed.

I continuously see more clearly, dots are being connected; when I read your articles I am reminded many good people work in "relative" obscurity doing important, moral things. You, sir, have risen above the obscurity, but continue to do important and moral things.
-- John Letarte
Eaton Rapids, Michigan

Saddens me to see that there is so many people who write the news can be so blind. Keep up the good work Ben by pointing out things like this. If you could only get this out to the people in U.S. like the mainstream media does it lies.
-- Dennis Beasley

Ben Stein's best traits are his unabashed patriotism straightforward appraisals. Both, with an emphasis on the latter, come through with sparkling clarity in his commentary on Pham Xuan An. It is incredible that he was able to get into this country without being shot on sight, maybe the same for his fawning journalist friends.
-- Dick Sheppard
Jersey City, New Jersey

My blood boiled when I read Mr. Stein's article about the Mainstream journalist that was also a spy and cost the lives of many Americans in Vietnam. His story points out one more time how vested the Media was in our so called "loss" in Vietnam. It is clear today with their relentless vitriolic attacks on our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan that they are continuing to try to create a loss out of this war on terror. Shame on them.

We the American public were fooled once but we will not be fooled again. We hold the liberal press in contempt and if any are found causing American deaths this war, I believe they will have more to contend with here at home. How shameful they are and how traitorous.
-- Beverly Gunn, military wife and military mother
Texas

Love your work. Thank you very much. Please help me and I'm sure countless others. If I hear one more person say, "Why doesn't the left get it?" I will be sick.

The left doesn't WANT to get it!

That would mean that they would have to admit they are WRONG, their positions, empires, money, and power would come crumbling down... Can we bury that thought forever?
-- unsigned

Ben Stein's article on "The Spy Who Loved Us" was excellent. I was prompted to write to both the New Yorker and University of Albany the following:

I was so disgusted reading about your article by Professor Bass on the North Vietnam spy. I'm a Grandmother so I am old enough to remember Vietnam. Memorial Day weekend I visited the traveling Wall and looked at the names of the tens of thousands of Americans who died, perhaps some because of what this man, Mr. An, did. You and the professor choose to make him a hero and I am sickened by it. The communists tortured and killed millions and are still slaughtering innocents. With all the incredible heroism of American soldiers in Vietnam, this is the man you found to promote -- shameful!

-- Yvonne Sargent
Crystal Lake, Illinois

Ben Stein writes of Prof. Bass, "He's a fine writer but a man whose piece lacks any moral compass at all."

In my humble O, one cannot lack a moral compass and still be a fine writer. Of a moral compass and political correctness are not one and the same.
-- Norman Land, Professor, Art History & Archaeology, University of Missouri
Columbia, Missouri

Tell Ben not to worry. There are only a handful of feeble minded people who still read the New Yorker and even the good professor's students are most likely on to him.

Ben's articles on Fast were fascinating and as always funny as hell. When is he going to start blogging?
-- ERP
Flagler Beach, Florida

DECLINING CHOICE
Re: Doug Bandow's Freedom to Choose to Refuse:

The advocates of abortion must suspend logic and consistency to keep pushing their agenda. No area of society can be left untouched, no matter what the cost. But their position can be more easily seen for what it is if instead of demanding that every pharmacist dispense abortion pills, we would change the venue entirely and frame the story in terms of the NRA filing suit to force Wal-Mart to resume selling handguns, a product they discontinued carrying several years ago.

In this story, we could find the NRA saying that since the right to keep and bear arms is a Constitutional right and that people might urgently need to buy a firearm to protect themselves from a neighborhood rapist or abusive spouse. The NRA complained that Wal-Mart's refusal amounted to "discrimination," and that they "have blood on their hands" when a woman finds herself without an effective defense available and is injured or killed.

Of course, the NRA would be laughingly rebuffed by the mainstream media and the likeminded foundations and policy organizations devoted to "safety" and "non-violence." It is easy to predict what would be said, and how they would lecture the NRA that merchants are free to sell any legal item or to not sell it. They would say they are for choice and they respect Wal-Mart's right to choose to say no.

Of course, this speculative story could never inform abortion advocates about the right of pharmacists to say no, would it?
-- Ewin Barnett
Boone County, Missouri

Doctors refusing to perform abortions I can understand. Pharmacists who refuse to put a box of birth control pills in a bag? Please, I don't need that kind of holier than thou garbage. I work for a Human Resources outsourcing firm. I suppose I could refuse to work on clients in which domestic partnerships were covered. In that case my employer could exercise their "freedom to choose to refuse" by refusing to continue paying and employing me.

Can the cashier at the supermarket refuse to ring up a box of condoms? Can a Jewish deli worker refuse to slice ham? Sure. I have no problem with your pharmacists taking their moral stance and would not be bothered by my theoretic supermarket employees either -- so long as the business is free to dismiss them and replace them with someone who will do the job.
-- Chris B.

The ultimate problem in this whole arena is rooted in the fact of "exclusivity" -- pharmacists and physicians having monopolistic powers (as a group) over materials deemed to be of benefit to private citizens (the "patient class"). Thanks to DEA, FDA and other alphabet-soup dictators, a private citizen cannot obtain many things without the consent and signoff of one of these "professionals"! Until and unless we remove these restrictions, the provision of contraception and/or abortifacients cannot be by the "choice" of those privileged exclusives.

The day that a private citizen can click on an Internet site, and order contraceptives (or for that matter, opiate pain medications and have them delivered to his or her door -- with no intermediaries, professional or otherwise -- is the day that a pharmacist working for a drugstore chain may properly exercise his/her "conscience" and refuse to provide them by that alternate channel!

Peace, Love & Liberty,
-- Steve Trinward
Contributing Editor, Rational Review

Mr. Bandow writes: "The belief that such products or procedures are legitimate is intrinsically no more valid than the belief that they are illegitimate. Surely the moral beliefs of medical professionals should be respected by people who emphasize the importance of 'choice' and 'controlling one's own body.'"

I wonder how far you are prepared to extend this right. Scientologists believe that psychiatry is fraud and people who take drugs prescribed for things like postpartum depression, schizophrenia etc. are ingesting poison. Should pharmacists who believe this to be true be exempt from prescribing these drugs?

Also, how will you organize and qualify these refusals. Will any objections be considered or only religious ones? If a feminist pharmacist believes Viagra is burden to women, should she be excused from prescribing? What if she believes that HIV does not cause AIDS and people following a currently accepted drug regime are being hurt by it? Can any pharmacist who disagrees with the use of any drug feel free to refuse to prescribe it?

Finally while options are thick on the ground in many places, in under populated states in the west of the country this policy could prove to be a hardship as opposed to an inconvenience. Is there any limit to the penalties that should accrue to a family in say Curtis, Nebraska who want to obtain medication lawfully prescribed by a doctor? Drive 300 miles, pay for a computer and monthly Internet fees so they can order on line?
-- Mont D. Law

Pharmacists are employees of a company hired to perform a service. If they have moral objections regarding dispensing legal and lawful products they should resign their position and find another line of work or open their own business where they can chose or refuse.
-- unsigned

What happens to a pharmacist who refuses to prescribe the morning-after pill?

A dear friend of mine, pharmacist of nearly 30 years and brother in Christ, did just that in a CVS pharmacy in Wake Forest, N.C. in the past year or so. He was the pharmacy manager. They fired him within a day or so later. He told me that he'd heard of other N.C. pharmacists -- perhaps, just ones in the greater Raleigh area? -- who'd lost their jobs for the same reason. Though out of work for a bit, he got another position nearby and may actually have received better pay.

By the way, what he did was not a cause celebre for my friend. He's a genuine gentle, unassuming and humble man. Funny, too. Loves his family and children. Loves being a pharmacist. Cares greatly for his clients. But he loves God and God's Word -- that's the Holy Bible, in his case -- above all. That's why he did why he did.

I applaud his courage and the courage of all the other men and women who refuse to sell these drugs on moral and spiritual grounds. They are today's civilian conscientious objectors in secular humanism's and moral relativism's war on life. We need more of them.
-- C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia

MEDICAL COURAGE
Re: Jay D. Homnick's Doc in the Dock:

Gosh, do you think maybe bad doctors should be...sued?

That maybe, since other doctors don't have the moral fortitude to stop the butchery, a lawyer could bring and end to the horror?

But wait, what ever am I thinking? Lawsuits are BAD. Lawyers are BAD. Doctors are good.

We all KNOW that, since the "malpractice crisis" is a given truth of almost every written publication in the literate world. Pity the poor maligned doctors, simple healers who only want to serve humanity, burdened by the unbearable cost of malpractice insurance (How much do doctors earn a year? Six figure salaries, isn't it usually? Then isn't malpractice insurance just a fraction of the doctor's pay? And don't their mistakes kill or main innocent people? No matter).

As a lawyer, I have to laugh at the shock on display in Mr. Homnick's article. The truth is that if the public knew just how many bad doctors are out there, and just how horrific their mistakes can be, there would be widespread outrage. My local bar association publishes a monthly synopsis of cases tried in my area, including malpractice. Reading the summaries of those cases and understanding the damage those doctors are responsible for, is enough to make a sensible person long for the secure hand and sure knowledge of the village witch doctor.

And those are just the cases that go to trial. Many suits are settled out of court, usually, I suspect, by suffering ex-patients or grieving families of dead patients who are too upset to go through the hassle of a trial to see the doctor properly punished.

In law school a professor once told said that if you are interested in justice, go enroll in the philosophy department. Being an attorney concerns the practice of law. If by chance you bring about justice while practicing law, it's a bonus. In my opinion, hauling a bad doctor into court and throwing the book at him is bonus time of the best kind.
-- Robert F. Casselberry, Esq.

Unfortunately "firing him upwards" is not limited to the medical profession. As a project manager for two of the largest US engineering companies the practice was not uncommon. Want to get someone off your project for poor performance, just recommend him for a promotion up and out. This was easier than having to go through the daunting procedure to remove him from the project much less get him terminated from the company.
-- Thomas Bullock
West Covina, California

Mr. Homnick's call for action sadly will go unheeded. In 1986 the Navy directly commissioned a cardiac surgeon into the medical corps as a captain (O-6). In their zeal to land this "highly recommended" prize surgeon they neglected to find out he was both legally blind and surgically inept.

He murdered at least six patients and crippled dozens before someone had the guts to take action. He was court-martialed on murder charges but the guilty verdict was thrown out on a technicality because NIS did not read him his rights properly. He avoided a retrial by promising to never practice medicine again. I am sure he is still out there somewhere under the radar slaughtering people.

This problem will never be rectified as long as we see malpractice only in terms of money to be shared by parasitic attorneys. Only when we start sending doctors (and the administrators who protect them) to prison for manslaughter and criminal negligence, will the medical community police themselves. Up until that point their blood money shields them from any significant consequence.
-- Bill Talbott, U.S.M.C., Ret.
Hampstead, Maryland

CHECK THE OATH
Re: Jay D. Homnick's Doc in the Dock and Doug Bandow's Freedom to Choose to Refuse:

Your observations are trumped by a moral oath that practitioners of the healing arts are to abide. In the case of the right of choice on moral grounds, having voluntarily taken the oath they are to set aside their own prerogatives to the benefit of the patient: "I will apply dietetic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice." That a physician or pharmacist should offer abortive drugs they have forsaken their oath: "…Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness, I will guard my life and my art." Or should I point out, having done so the practitioner is a hypocrite?

As to Jayant Patel and those who of his peers who remained silent, they too are worthy of being drubbed out: "I will not use the knife, not even on sufferers from stone, but will withdraw in favor of such men as are [skilled] in this work." and "…I will keep them from harm and injustice." Those that applied the Peter Principle in the halls of healing should stand before the bar as accomplices in the Patel case and given equal measures of his just desserts.

When a significant enough portion of the population figures out that the head long rush to throw out the hard won lessons of Western Civilization is an error our society will be better off. Sometimes, all that is new is not necessarily better.
-- John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

YOUNG AND HOPEFULLY WISER
Re: John Samples's Happy Days:

Tragic is sure the correct word, just give me more, MORE, I say. I'm on Social Security so I can't pay for it, but hey don't let the younger ones be able to have their own private accounts in Social Security, that just won't work. I just wish these accounts had been offered back when I was young and foolish.
-- Elaine Kyle
Cut & Shoot, Texas

WHAT FEDERALISM?
Re: Geoffrey Norman's You Are Not Allowed to Feel Better...Got It?:

The Supreme Court's ruling the Federal Government is within its "rights" to make illegal the use of medical marijuana, even thought it was approved by the voting majority in several states, is just another twist in opening a can of worms that is driving this country to massive civil disobedience, or worse.

Of course those in Washington are not aware of this coming storm because they are blind and deaf drunken fools -- skunked out of their minds with the whiskey of power.

It may come as a great surprise to the President, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, and to Republicans and Democrats, and to the Supreme Court, and to the massive federal bureaucracy, that most of the unwashed out here in the backwater of this great country can actually see, hear and understand. What we see, hear and understand is a federal government -- every branch of it -- completely out of control except on one issue -- that of control.

The intention of those in Washington is quite clear to all of us -- the Federal Government of today exists for two reasons:

1. To make everything we do against the law.
2. To take everything we have.

The two work hand in hand to control us. If everything is against the law, we all eventually become criminals and only intervention from a powerful government can protect the rest of us from the rest of us. If you think the prisons are full now, just wait.

I see it every day and this absurd unthinking mindless ruling on medical marijuana is just another action to support my beliefs. While some may consider these the rantings of some uneducated hillbilly hack, rest assured I am not alone in my feeling, nor in believing we are heading down the road to massive civil disobedience.

I have never before used the "R" word, since that certainly would earn one the unwanted title of crackpot, but I was licensed to do so this week when a retired college professor and, yes, a liberal, declared to our weekly coffee gathering at Starbucks that he honestly believed this country is headed for revolutionâ€"and he was not talking about civil disobedience. This man is a kind and gentle soul who had a wife who suffered through hell on earth as she took six months to die of cancer. There were no words to describe her pain, except the screams that came from her bedroom all times of the day and the night.

At the suggestion of a friend, who had gone through the same thing with his mother, he bought marijuana -- on the street and from a drug dealer, of course -- for his wife and it helped her enough that her agony was bearable until she took her last breath. But, wait a minute; this is not a health issue but an issue of interstate commerce. When you have nothing -- absolutely nothing -- to support your position, make it a matter of interstate commerce and eliminate a state's right to make these kinds of decisions.

John Walters, the so-called drug czar, is the fool of the moment, just another tool in the hands of those who take our money in every form of taxation imaginable and then use it to crush us. There is something wrong with this picture. Because of my admiration for my friend and the love he had for his wife I wish it was within my power to fill the Rose Bowl with 100,000 marijuana smokers tomorrow and invite the governmentâ€"every level of itâ€"to put all 100,000 of them in jail. If we could do this all over the country every week for an entire year, we would have 52,000,000 people in jail or awaiting trial on violation of marijuana laws. And while we're at it, let's get another 20,000,000 people to buy their medications from foreign countries throughout the world. This group of people, most of them senior citizens, is finding it hard to digest the government spin that cheaper medicine is bad for us and that it (the federal government) is working in our best interest to make sure we don't get it. We get it, all right, because we know the truth is the biggest lie of all.

We've now get 72,000,000 people in jail or awaiting trial and we've only touched on two issues. What can no longer be accomplished at the ballot box can be accomplished peacefully in the streets. Meet you in Pasadena and Dallas and Chicago and New York and Birmingham. You get the idea.
-- Kelso Sturgeon
Henderson, Nevada

JEAN-FRANCOIS POSEUR
Re: The Prowler's Reporting for Duty:

After reading the account of John Kerry's most recently revealed cover-up, one word comes to mind to describe the man. That word is "picayune" This mendacious poseur, who sneered his way through the campaign, insulting George Bush's intelligence.

George Bush's college grades were well known to anyone interested by 1999, well before the election. By contrast, John Kerry chose to conceal his and run a bluff on the electorate. Makes his "Unfit for Command" more and more plausible to any who may have had doubts. I didn't.
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

Here's one of the many things that struck me about Kerry's grade report: how does a guy who speaks French, spent summers with his French-speaking family, and attended a Swiss school get a "D" in French?

This is the equivalent of going to France and taking English as a foreign language. If you can't get a B at that either you're off chasing rich coeds when you should be in class or you're dumber than a fence post. That or you really can't speak French.

Didn't he try to get a deferment to go to grad school in France? Mon dieu, quel poseur!
-- W.L. Roughton
Fairfax Station, Virginia

CLOGGED THROAT
Re: George Neumayr's Felt Pen:

As the interest in the money-grubbing stunt initiated by Mark Felt's disreputable daughter dissipates (I hope), it is interesting to read the piece by Ann Coulter, "Woodward Does Washington," which provides convincing arguments that "Deep Throat," was not only not Mark Felt, but was not even a single person, but rather several.
-- W. B. Heffernan, Jr.

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