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Hanging Juries

Jimmy Carter never had a chance. Introducing Henry Volvo and other Saab stories. Ben Stein on the bubble. Plus more.

2.24.02

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JIMINY CARTER
EX-cellent choice of the very EX-President Carter. All week I was suffering from EOW agent block, couldn't come up with anything even though I had seen it and read it. I am all too willing to simply dismiss the man without giving him the consideration he is surely due. Great job, So-o glad to have EOW and everything else back.
-- Roger Ross
Tomahawk, WI

I read this week's Enemy Central column hoping and praying that you would pick former President and Dolt-in-Chief Jimmy Carter as Enemy of the Week for his idiotic comments regarding the "axis of evil." Thank you so much for answering that hope and prayer! I just wish space had permitted you to quote more extensively from the AP dispatch, on which you apparently based your fine selection.

This jackanapes called the turn of phrase not only "overly simplistic" but also "counterproductive." I actually believe that Mr. Bush (who graces his high office nearly as much as Mr. Carter disgraced his) intentionally employed his words to great effect. At a stroke, he cleverly pushed these pariah regimes onto the defensive; they're scared and they've not stopped squawking since the State of the Union.

At the same moment, he exposed the domestic and foreign critics of his war against the terrorists and the states which harbor and succor them. Left-liberals dare not declare their true opposition to the war, indeed they publicly exclaim their full and faithful support for the President's efforts. But they search ceaselessly for any opportunity to quibble, carp and cavil. And now one after another has stumbled into Mr. Bush's well-laid rhetorical trap: Foreign Minister Vedrine, Foreign Secretary Straw, former Secretary of State Albright, Majority Leader Daschle, all manner of clucking commentators, now Mr. Carter.

According to the AP dispatch, Mr. Carter also blubbered that Mr. Bush's three words had seriously jeopardized progress made with North Korea, Iran and Iraq in recent years, that it would take years to undo the damage. In his speech at Emory, did he describe the progress or damage, or did he just consider his conclusions self-evident? The AP unfortunately does not say.

Then Mr. Carter drops a non-sequitur: the growing gap between the rich and poor continues as the world's greatest challenge (there he gives us the peek behind the curtain: fighting terrorism isn't important and urgent, fighting world poverty is!). Yet those dastardly terrorists falsely claim membership among the destitute. "We are very concerned now about terrorism. Osama bin Laden is not poor, he's very rich -- and the people who committed those horrible acts on Sept. 11 were not poor." I gather terrorists are evil not because they murder thousands of innocent Americans but lie about their income and assets. Wait, maybe terrorists kill because they are rich. Who knows?

For all this unforgivable nonsense, Mr. Carter more than earned his
designation as Enemy of the Week. Keep up the great work!
-- Chip Halstead
Long Beach, CA

CRACKING THE HATE MAIL CASE
You are my favorite dot com, love everything you do. George Drewyor has been a friend of mine for 30 years and I forwarded one of your articles to him. See what happens when a bleeding heart liberal reads the truth. Pleeeze keep up the great work. I pass on your material to many friends.
-- Bill Simons

LOVE IS ALL WE NEED
Just wanted to say I love this website! The articles and sarcasm are
great and I am addicted. I log on and read the articles every night.
Keep up the good work! Sincerely,
-- Sandra Gentry

What a great surprise to find the American Prowler and the old gang from the Spectator back in action....
-- Evan Millard
Dickson, Tennessee

My mornings have gotten brighter since the arrival of "Prowler."
-- Lee Rodgers
Talkshow Host
KSFO, San Francisco

HOW SWEDISH IT IS
Thank goodness the website is back!!! Re: last sentence in Jackie Mason and Raoul Felder's column -- I think Volvo is now owned by Ford. Best wishes and good luck to "The American Prowler"!
-- John Berrodin

Volvo's owned by FORD!!
-- John Rosengren

Not sure if last sentence about Volvo was facetious or not. Volvo is at least partially owned by Ford and is sold as a Ford brand. (Click here.) Love the columns.
-- Robert Paci
Cambridge, MA

Are you familiar with the fact that Volvo is now owned by Ford, as Saab is by GM. After their recent consolidation, the largest independent manufacture left is BMW.
-- Joseph R. L. Simkins
Richardson, TX

GOVERNMENT CHEESE
Good article by Ryan H. Sager. What if somebody took a portion of his welfare money and put it in the collection plate of his church? Isn't that an even closer analogy? Surely the government couldn't object to that.
-- Martin Andrucki
Bates College

WASHINGTON PROWLERS
Is Zogby being fair? Remember, Zogby's been showing up on talking head shows griping about profiling of Middle Easterners. He's been recounting some of his own experiences. Looks like the aftermath of 9/11 has struck a nerve and he can't resist an opportunity to stick a thumb in the administration's eye.
-- J. Lawrence

Your story about NPR and CPB was terrific! Please follow up, keep an eye on 'em!

As a (finally retired) radio DJ/PD/advertising consultant/Manager/talk-show host who did-it-all (except engineering) quite successfully -- and having witnessed the stupidity of their operation, wow! Your exposé may have been a bit overdue, but we need more exposure on the cantankerous, sanctimonious policymakers there. A sad joke.

Good work. More, please.
-- Geoff Brandt
P.S. Wouldn't it be terrific if they did try to go "independent" (go "public" with an IPO) at NPR? It'd be fun. And I'd almost pay to watch them flop.

TO BE ABSOLUTELY FRANK
Regarding Francis X. Rocca's "Love Is All You See": If you want some great commentary on a DVD, rent "This Is Spinal Tap." There is commentary by the "band" itself, and their dissection of this film is hilarious. In a nutshell, they hate the film.
-- Paul Strasser
Lafayette, CO

ADMIRAL SIR JOHN FISHER
Regarding R. Emmett Tyrrell's "Stomping the Barbarians": Isn't that what Hitler did in the Balkans during WWII? Unfortunately for the local populace, it worked effectively, and unfortunately, it worked.
-- Duncan MacLachlan

HELLFIRE, NO BRIMSTONE
An excellent piece of work by Jed Babbin.

We do not train our honorable warriors to do the dirty "wet work" that our intelligence services should be doing. The ethics of being a professional Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine preclude the nastiness of assassinations and political intrigue, and rightly so.

There is a revisionist trend to blame Jimmy Carter for the decline of the CIA, but it was the abuses of the Nixon administration, and the enthusiasm of the bureaucracies involved to please the boss that caused the fang pulling. These excesses, if left unchecked, would have been the end of our democracy, and the secret police could easily be in charge. The CIA does need more field hands, and a .22LR from a silencer is much cheaper than a cruise missile. I think the current administration understands this, and is acting accordingly.

Responsible leadership is the key. I can only hope that the threat to America is taken seriously by the people of the USA to make sure that responsible leadership becomes the norm.
-- Lamar Johnson
Beaverton, OR

Jed Babbin replies: Responsible leadership is the key now, as it almost always is. It really doesn't matter whether you blame Nixon or Carter: I blame Frank Church, whose Senate Committee took the CIA apart. But you're right that the current administration seems to understand what needs to be done. Ain't it great to have grownups in charge again?

FOR THE LOVE OF MONEY
The problem Ben Stein doesn't address is the tendency of the plaintiffs' bar to bring these cases even where there has been no wrongdoing. Defendants (typically, their insurers) almost invariably settle the cases rather than risk having an inflamed, utterly confused jury award huge damages. Everyone involved knows it's a racket, and the law was quite properly amended to raise the bar a little -- but not nearly enough; strike suits continue to abound, and are of no benefit to society.
-- unsigned

Note to my hero, Ben Stein: In your reasoned response to Patrick R. Sullivan, who only tended to prove the old adage that "Figures don't lie, but liars sure figure," I'd suggest that you might have added a comment to the effect that the changes in litigation since the passage of the PSLRA show how adept trial lawyers are at adapting to changing ground rules in their relentless pursuit of the buck.

Perhaps they could "Win [some of] Ben Stein's Money"?
-- Robert E. Johnson
Attorney at law, retired (and tired)

I'd like to ask Mr. Stein about where the mutual fund managers have been during this debacle. One would think that managing trillion$ of the other people's money and getting very well compensated for it would motivate them to keep guard over questionable business practices. After all, a collapsing pyramid will likely bury the mutual fund industry along with the likes of Kenny Boy Lay and Gary Winnick.

Then again, maybe this Fed-inspired bubble is the pinnacle of man's madness, the sort Humphrey Bogart portrayed in the "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre."

Extraordinary delusions for us all.
-- Dan Leo
Miami Beach, FL

Ben Stein replies: The performance of mutual fund managers in Enron and Global Crossing has been about as good as their ability to spot the end of the tech bubble....

Mr. Stein makes the observation that "accountants are well-paid for their efforts [in auditing] clients." Actually, audits have become commodities, and break-even may or may not be achieved on audit assignments. Accounting firms, whether "Big 5" or otherwise, now have to rely on finding additional work -- "consulting" to make profits.

It will be far more interesting to watch the dogfight over banning "consulting" assignments (if the consultant has the same tradename as the auditor) than almost any other show in Washington.

It is also interesting to note that the AICPA, which was running a big-time ad campaign and attempting to establish a "Global Credential" to be self-awarded to CPA's as some sort of swami/guru know-it-all license, has NOT stepped up to the plate in any sort of big forum and denounced the activity of Arthur Anderson.

Finally, methods recently invented by Arthur (and vaguely copied by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, et al., to enhance "earnings" have to be seriously examined by real-world credit analysts. "EVA" and "EBITDA" are very hot -- but what do they have with the ability to pay off the debt??? Hmmm???

Great to see Ben back, in a forum fitting him to a "T," and all the
others, too!
-- L.A. Stich

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