Reader Mail

Peter Brimelow on the Sierra War

A reply to RiShawn Biddle. Plus: Holy Hollywood, 60 Minutes' finest hour, Kerry thumping, Scottish deficit reduction, Anti-terrorism, and more.

3.30.04

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HIGH SIERRA
Re: RiShawn Biddle's Malthus's Quarreling Children:

I read with nostalgia my fellow Forbes magazine alumnus RiShawn Biddle's attack on both sides in the Sierra Club civil war -- the Old Guard, who want to keep the club as a handmaiden of the Democratic party, and the Insurgents, who think it should actually do something about the environment, specifically that it should work to cut immigration, which is now the dominant factor in U.S. population growth.

The immigration reform website I edit, www.VDARE.com, figures in this war because we have posted several articles on the Insurgents. The Old Guard is accordingly smearing them with our general lack of political correctness.

My nostalgia was triggered by RiShawn's attempt to cram this argument into the old, 1980s-style markets-solve-everything Forbes template.

Doesn't work, RiShawn. The point is not just that ecological catastrophe could possibly result if immigration drives the U.S. population up to 500 million by 2050. (That's the Census Bureau's High Series projection, the 394 million you comfortingly cite is merely its Middle Series projection.)

Of course, population growth can cause ecological catastrophe, as it did in Haiti. But the broader point is that this population growth will certainly result in a loss of amenity. There will be more sprawl, fewer trees. California will cease to be the Golden State and become the Golden Suburb.

It's a value judgment, RiShawn. You can't get around it by saying the market will make it workable. Environmentalists don't want it whether it's workable or not. In fact, a better word for them would be conservationists -- a word that was once Republican territory, under Teddy Roosevelt.

Like RiShawn, I used to assume that environmentalists were just refugee socialists, looking for another excuse to push people around. And I still think that's true of the Sierra Club's Old Guard. But I was fascinated to discover, while traveling to promote my 1995 book Alien Nation: Common Sense About America's Immigration Disaster, that there really are genuine environmentalists (conservationists) out there. They just plain prefer trees, open space, to sprawl. Many of them are just not political people at all -- which I think is true of many Sierra Insurgents.

An epochal issue like the need to do something about America's immigration disaster comes along every two or three generations. It cuts across all traditional political lines. It creates new alliances. Environmentalists (conservationists) are just one component of the immigration reform coalition. I'm glad they're there.
-- Peter Brimelow

POWER DISPLAY
Re: Elihu Yale's The God Squad:

The author of "God Squad" is on target.

Mr. Yale's article is one of the most insightful works I have read. He also seems to have clear insight of how things really work in Hollywood.
-- Steve Gage
Dallas, Texas

Congratulations to Mr. Yale and the Spectator!

Often I do not completely agree with the Spectator, but this is one case where you're right on the money. There is a higher power in Hollywood, and it's not a head of production at a studio.
-- Louise Steinberg
Los Angeles, California

CAPE FEAR
Re: Christopher Orlet's Kerry's Good Works:

One common denominator for mankind, even Unitarians, has been fear. Worshippers of many stripes have feared the wrath to come. Priests know this very well, that's why I seldom missed my Easter duty as a head full of mush! Concerning hell and Unitarians, Mr. Mencken recalled once that a wit said of Unitarianism that "it was movement typical of the modern effort to get rid of hell, it is not a kind of Christianity at all, but a mattress for skeptical ex-Christians to fall on." And as a bonus, Mencken characterized Luther as a "theologian par excellence -- cocksure, dictatorial, grasping, self-indulgent, vulgar and ignorant."
-- Edward Del Colle

John Kerry's use of a Bible quotation to attack the Bush administration brings to mind the line found in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice: "The devil can cite scripture for his purpose."
-- E. Patrick Mosman
Pleasantville, New York

TOUGH ROOM
Re: Brian S. Wesbury's Deficits Don't Matter:

Eat all the food in your cupboard. Empty your bank account to buy stuff you don't need and will never use. Max out your credit card buying more stuff you don't need, then take it to the market to buy groceries.

The checkout lady will tell you very quickly that deficits do matter.
-- Martin Kelly
Glasgow, Scotland

Brian Wesbury slid a curious remark into his deficits-not-a-problem piece on Tuesday: "Running a deficit to fight a war against terrorism is an investment in protecting the freedom that creates growth."

Maybe that would be true, but that's not our deficit.

We are running a deficit to fund the welfare state. What welfare reform? Yes, the cards were shuffled and now we're being dealt a bad hand from a double deck. Home renovation subsidies. Child care subsidies. Local police subsidies to run seat belt harassment patrols. And on and on it goes. This is not what I voted for in 2000. And has it really bought the Republicans any votes, any goodwill, any friendly media coverage? Ha!

Bush may cruise to a big win this year but I dread 2008. And a Democrat administration in 2009 will be positioned to reap the benefits of Bush's backloaded tax cut and spend every penny of the supply-side windfall on yet more federal programs. If they run a bigger deficit, articles like Wesbury's will just provide them with cover.
-- David Slauenwhite

HELL OF A MISS
Re: Ken Shreve's letter in Reader Mail's King and Her Court:

Ken Shreve must surely know that Florence King insists on being addressed as "Miss King," not "Ms. King." "Miss," she explains, is an honorific; it means "spinster," and she was proud of being such. She agrees with Archie Bunker, she says, about "Ms." "It sounds like a bug."
-- Lawrence Henry

SET IN CONGREVE
Re: Jed Babbin's Mr. Clarke and Mullah Brezhnev:

The usually 100 percent thorough Jed Babbin appears to have omitted from his otherwise excellent column what is perhaps Richard Clarke's most significant (arguably the pinnacle) accomplishment as Clinton's anti-terrorism Ubersturmbannfuhrer, the feckless bombing of the aspirin factory in the Sudan. No WMDs there, no precursor chemicals, just ASA tablets blowing around in the overpressure. The only thing we achieved there, if I remember correctly, was a claim for damages.

Oh, well, c'est la vie, as M. Chirac would say. Hell hath no fury like a bureaucrat scorned, to borrow from Congreve.
-- Frank Stevenson
Williamsburg, Virginia

Bravo. Let's debate which strategy is more effective in the war on terror. The Bush strategy of attacking Iraq, or the Clarke strategy of pretending that Abu Abbas and the rest of the original gangsters were simply enjoying retirement, sipping juice by the pool at the Baghdad Hilton reminiscing on the glory days of terrorism, while complaining that the current group of Islamic Jihadists would be a lot less angry if they would only try to understand Americans.
-- Dennis Genetski

It appears to be Mr. Babbin's hope, as it is that of the current administration, that republican virtue and Islam can exist in the same realm. I humbly suggest that it may take much more than hope, and that we may need to heed the hyperbole of Ann Coulter: invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert the survivors to Christianity.

After all, nothing reconquers like reconquista.
-- Stephen Foulard
Houston, Texas

TICK, TICK, TICK
Re: Paul Beston's A 60 Minutes Miracle:

Thank you, Mr. Beston, for writing your piece on the vile character assassination of Judge Pickering. The man has taken enough slings and arrows for a lifetime from the likes of Charles Schumer. America knows what the DNC has done to block good people from the bench. Too bad there are some here that still have trouble with the Constitution.
-- unsigned

Paul Beston was not kidding here. The biased reporting on 60 Minutes is so famous I sat down and watched the Rice interview with some worry that they would try to destroy her credibility. In fact, this concern was given greater impetuous by the lack of promotion. The lead up to the Clarke interview was broadcast every five minutes during the NCAA Tournament games, but despite watching many of these games, I never caught a single mention of Rice and her rebuttal. The ads were all about the new 14-year-old soccer phemon! (It was a fun story.) Nevertheless, she did very well. Explained her facts calmly and with clarity. Very impressive. She did so well I stayed for the next segment and was in for the biggest sock of the night!

Charles Pickering indeed was treated with a balanced report, straight up and down the line. When CBS allowed the two African Americans to argue over his "racist" tendencies (making the NAACP operative look like an uninformed political hack), you knew this was a different report from 60 Minutes.

Thanks for bringing it to light.
-- George Hersh
Shawnee, Kansas

UNSAFE AT ANY SPEED
Re: Eric Peters' Progressive Ticketing:

There isn't too much that is either entertaining or edifying in the New Yorker magazine these days, but they had his one cartoon showing a limousine speeding down a highway past a patrol car hiding behind a billboard, emblazoned with the emblem "IRS."

A cartoon depiction of an old-style speed trap is funny enough (Do the police still hide behind billboards? I thought they used unmarked cars), and the joke that rich people fear being tripped up by the IRS the way little guys fear that just 5 MPH over the limit is going to land a ticket in a small town makes it funnier yet. But should we adopt progressive traffic fines from Finland, maybe that cartoon is right on the mark.
-- Paul Milenkovic
Madison, Wisconsin

THIS EMPEROR WEARS CLOTHES
Re: Michael Faulkenberg's letter ("Great While It Lasted") in Reader Mail's King and Her Court:

If the Left doesn't have anyone of RET's caliber to go after whoever Mr. Faulkenberg means by "Boy Emperor," then the book Mr. Faulkenberg wants neither needs nor deserves to be written.
-- Kevin McGehee
Coweta County, Georgia

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