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Back to School With Ben

Ben Stein's diagnosis wins top honors. Plus: Why are we in Iraq? Dean's deliverance. Single Dads. And more.

8.29.03

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FIRST HONORS
Re: Ben Stein's Spiders With Tenure:

I'm been an admitted fan of Ben Stein for some time. However, he has topped himself once again!

His article, "Spiders With Tenure" is absolutely on target. Ben addresses an issue that I've been struggling with for a long while. That is, why do those in our society who are among the most privileged hate America, our political system, our constitution, and the free enterprise system? Ben answers this question in spades. Thank him and you for publishing his wisdom.
-- Ed Meell
Newtown, PA

Ben Stein's column today was typically brilliant and insightful, but there is a parallel question he may be able to answer: how did Hollywood become so hateful and anti-American? Even with its communist underground, anti-Americanism wasn't the dominant mood in Hollywood before Vietnam. The same forces also can't be at play as in academia -- people who make it in show business have definitely learned to thrive in an uncertain, dog-eat-dog world, and one thing they have in abundance is confidence (the opposite of fear). I've always thought Hollywood liberalism was a mixture of guilt (i.e. becoming rich and famous mostly by being good-looking) and a certain type of stupidity (actors are trained to feel and emote, not think analytically, so they are highly expressive but haven't developed practical, problem-solving skills -- a dangerous combination). But presumably this has always been true, so what's changed? If anyone is better-positioned to answer this question than Ben Stein, I don't know who it is.
-- Larry Kaufmann
Madison, WI

Great Article. If Ben wants to rid himself of those flies in an easy manner and without attracting spiders, tell him to get out the vacuum cleaner and just vacuum them into the vacuum bag that has been sprayed inside with Raid or some other insecticide and that'll take care of the problem quickly.

Been there, done that!!!
-- Mary

Ben Stein talks about "Out in the wide world, the students often shed the influence of their faculties and go on to become all kinds of things, even Republicans." When I was first working after college, I had a co-worker who also was a new grad and was very liberal. He hated Nixon and spouted the left line on most issues. However, after a few years of having to pay high taxes and having to deal with government regulators, he voted for Reagan. He will never be as conservative as I am, but "real" life had an impact on him.
-- Michael Bergsma

I agree that college students still have a long row to hoe, but at least they're starting. There is a Conservative presence on most campuses.

I come from academia and when I retired 15 years ago, there was no sign at all of crack in the left's control on our campus or any other.

Progress is being made.
-- Evelyn Palmeri

When you become detached from the real world, you become European.
-- Ryan Gigous

Ben's column can be summed up by the old saying, "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach."
-- R. Gammon

WINNING AT DOUBLES
Re: Dariel A. Colella's Losing at Singles:

I was shocked to read the gender bias contained in "Losing at Singles" by Dariel A. Colella. Although focusing on the elimination of unwed motherhood through the promotion of marriage is a noble goal, the article heads in the wrong direction by adopting gender stereotypes when discussing divorce and custody.

According to the author, it is okay for a woman to end a bad marriage to escape abuse. What about the man who seeks to leave a marriage made in Hades? Isn't he similarly entitled to escape? As the author of "The Man's Guide to the Art of Divorce," I contend that a man has every right to leave a bad marriage to protect his interests and those of his offspring.

Ms. Colella makes the false assumption that children will automatically live with their mother upon divorce and fails to connect the dots between such custody and the adverse consequences to children post-divorce. Judicial failure to truly take into account the best interest and welfare of children when making custody awards, choosing instead to give custody to the mother based on gender, is a primary factor in creating environments where children suffer.

Fortunately, many fathers are fighting this anti-male prejudice in order to gain custody of their children. Given that men are socioeconomically better off than women post-divorce, it should come as no surprise that the best interest and welfare of children is often best served by placing them in the custody of their father.

In addition to advocating two-parent households, it is also time to promote paternal custody rights as part of protecting children from the negative consequences of a divorce.
-- Michael E. Young, J.D., LL.M.
Author, The Man's Guide to the Art of Divorce
Dallas, TX

Dariel A. Colella replies:
Although I understand the male frustration with the court system, I do not believe that simply placing kids in the custody of their fathers is the answer. In my experience, many men cannot get past their anger and fail to realize that helping the mother also helps their children. I'm sure that goes both ways, and unfortunately the kids are always caught in the middle.

MAX CLAIM FINE GOLD
Re: The Washington Prowler's Bustamanting Davis's Chops:

Three hundred thousand dollars from the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation? Looks like California could use some campaign finance reform.

Since the state is run by Democrats and they nationally loved campaign finance reform, I'm surprised one group could give that much to a single candidate.

But nothing in this recall in California surprises me.
-- Greg Barnard
Franklin, TN

WHY ARE WE IN IRAQ
Re: David Hogberg's Waving the White Flag:

Just a few quick points on Mr. Hogberg's article.

1) The American people still do not have a clear understanding of why we are in Iraq. This is actually true, but only because of the administration seems to change its reasons every few weeks.

2) We went there to take out a brutal despot with a Weapons of Mass Destruction program who employed people like Chemical Ali who is reported to have once said about the Kurds "I will kill them all with chemical weapons! Who is going to say anything? The international community? F--- them!" We are there to take the fight to the Islamo-fascists, not wait for them to take it to us. We are also there to establish a democracy in Iraq that will threaten the tyrannies in the Muslim world which enable Islamo-fascists.

If everyone knows the reason as you assert, then why are the reasons given by you totally unrelated to the reasons Bush said we went in? No Nukes, no WOMDs found and no connection found between Saddam and Osama. Your logic just seems totally skewed. I guess we can start calling that "Bush Logic."

3) The American people, at least a majority of Americans, understand perfectly well what we are doing there. It appears to me that much like you, many people think they know why we are there because they believe the distortions of truth told by the Bush administration. If you actually believe the things told to you by the current administration, then it is very apparent you don't know. I know you might not believe me now, but wait a month or two, it will become apparent to even you.
-- Larry Parker
Princeton, TX

HOWIE DOING
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s A Dark Cloud Over Dr. Dean:

Mr. Tyrrell, as usual, has written a fine article here. I have been a devotee of Mr. Tyrrell for many years. I am, however, afraid in this one instance he has failed to fully appreciate the draw and pull of Dr. Dean among the folks that select a candidate in Democratic circles.

I, of course, fully respect Mr. Tyrrell's analysis of the various interest groups making up the Democratic Party and their individual candidate of choice. Ms. Moseley Braun will not last till the end of the year and when she folds her tent her supporters will find their way to the Dean and Kerry banners. Likewise, Mr. Sharpton's presence will be greatly discounted by the end of this year and this will bring another significant number of black folks to the Dean and Kerry camps, with some leakage to the Gephardt camp. We will start seeing the "civil rights leadership" negotiating to get the best deal for their support among the Dean, Kerry, and Gephardt camps. When this occurs, you will start seeing faces of color showing up at Dean rallies. Every time one shows up, it will give a significant number more the cover/permission to come on board.

The leadership of the women's groups will eventually endorse Dr. Dean precisely because he and his wife are doctors and many, many female feminists already support him. He is, after all, part of the healing and caring for the children community in America.

There are enough Dean devotees with the upper ranks of certain of the more powerful unions to deny Gephardt the endorsement of the AFL-CIO itself. I suspect that more than one significant national union will come out and endorse Dr. Dean before the end of the year.

The Gay lobby is and will remain split between Dr. Dean and Kerry. Dr. Dean will draw a very large percentage of them simply on the basis of his support and signing of the Civil Unions Act as Governor of Vermont. No other politician running for President has put his signature on the line for gays like Dr. Dean did.

Finally, it is absolutely fatal to underestimate the hatred and rage factor among Democrats for George Bush. No one is or has been hated more in my lifetime, not even Richard Nixon. Dr. Dean absolutely owns that issue. Kerry is trying to "me too" it, but it belongs to Dean. The ONLY thing holding back some of the Dems is the suggestion that Dean can not win. Every time his poll numbers ramp up, every time his donation totals reach new heights his electability quotient must be recalculated, and indeed is so. And forget foreign policy. To the extent that it matters at all, it is completely anti-war. The enviros, the animal rights folks, PETA, ELF, ALF, the anti-globalization crowd, all those folks that attend each other's protests and support each other's causes will be up front at the Dean rallies and they will be very vociferous.

After the South Carolina primary, there will be three serious candidates left, Dr. Dean, Sen. Kerry, and Rep. Gephardt, and Gephardt will likely be a weak third. It will go down to the convention between Dean and Kerry, and woe betides the candidate or pundit that underestimates Dr. Dean. Yes, I mean to include George Bush and Karl Rove. This is not my hope, but it is my honest and sincere assessment.
-- Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

OUR TWO-PARTY SYSTEM
This a version of a joke that is too good not to pass on:

A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was lost. She lowered altitude and spotted a man in a boat below. She shouted to him, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

The man consulted his portable GPS and replied, "You're in a hot air balloon approximately 30 feet above a ground elevation of 2346 feet above sea level. You are 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude."

She rolled her eyes and said, "You must be a "Republican."

"I am," replied the man. "How did you know?"

"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help to me." The man smiled and responded, "You must be a "Democrat."

"I am," replied the balloonist. "How did you know?"

"Well," said the man, "you don't know where you are or where you're going. You've risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise that you have no idea how to keep, and you expect ME to solve your problem. You're in EXACTLY the same position you were in before we met, but somehow now, it's... MY fault."
-- Diamon Sforza
Fayetteville, GA

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