Re: Paul Beston's Felon Ball:
A group of friends and I were leaving a bar recently, when a young woman who said she worked for the local NBA franchise walked up and offered us free tickets to an upcoming game. To a man, we laughed and walked away.
Not one of us even considered her offer. Talking about it later, every single one of us indicated that our reaction would have been the same had we been offered NFL tickets, brand new $500M stadium or not. In fact, none of the group has ever been inside that new stadium, nor are we likely to be any time soon.
Why? The poor quality of play, and the hoodlum atmosphere surrounding the leagues, which choose to deny any responsibility. Personally, I'd like very much to see a few dozen lifetime expulsions from both leagues. I guarantee the gangster crap would stop.
-- Steve Junor
I strongly agree with what Paul Beston's view about the element of criminality in two of the so-called "Big 3" sports in America. I have always found professional basketball nearly unwatchable, although more for "purity of the game"' reasons (when was the last time you saw anyone called for traveling, palming or charging in the pros?), and while I still enjoy football (go Bears!) the increasing "thuggishness" is demeaning to the history of the game and a turn-off to fans.
May I suggest the NHL as a model of exemplary player behavior? True, there have been a few on-the-rink assaults (why Todd Bertuzzi wasn't kicked out of the league is an unanswered question). But for the most part the players have a strong sense of right vs. wrong, and it is enforced largely by the veterans. In terms of major sports in America (and Canada) I put forth professional hockey players as inspiring role models and upright citizens.
More than one can say for basketball or football.
-- Paul Roth
Two sports Mr. Beston does not mention as having a problem with thugs are...NASCAR and ATP tennis. Break a rule, immediate fine, lose of points and in the case of some younger drivers using substances that might impair their driving skills, you don't drive for a year or two. Maybe the NASCAR model needs to be looked at as a model of how to deal with pro athletes. Look at ATP tennis. The guy beating Roger Federer lately is just back from a 15 month suspension for steroid use. If he gets caught again, he's gone. Their sanctioning bodies do not tolerate drugs or thugs. They should be the model to follow. Otherwise, the tattooed dudes of the NBA and NFL might just go by the wayside. Like the author, I have quit watching NBA thugs and I don't buy NFL tickets for the Chargers anymore. But I watch tennis and I watch NASCAR. And I attend as many of those events as I can. Thanks for reading this.
-- Bill Coulter
Thanks for a great column. I couldn't agree more. I'm a former NFL fan, never watched 1 game this past season. I can't stomach the show-boating and gang culture associated with the game. I have always been a hockey fan and will continue to follow that until the day comes (hopefully not) when the NHL gets sucked into our cultural sewer. If and when that day comes, maybe hockey will start getting some coverage on the sports networks, for now it's almost entirely ignored, especially at the college level. It's a great game and I'd argue that its players have a far wider range of talent than the NBA or NFL players. To answer the question at the end of your column, I truly believe the mainstream will start to reject the NFL and NBA.
-- Jeff Bruns
West Salem, Wisconsin
I enjoyed your article, at least as much as anyone can enjoy reading about the thugs in pro sports. You are not alone in your revulsion for, and uninterest in, pro sports. As a kid I grew up watching sports on TV with my dad. If the sound was off, it meant Howard Cosell had finally become too annoying for my dad.
I think the turning point was the NFL players' strike, and it was cemented by Dennis Rodman. This year when people started talking about the Super Bowl, I had to ask who was playing. I don't watch anything, and I just don't care. I can't in good conscience have any of my money go toward supporting the NFL or the NBA, which to me are little more than criminal enterprises.
-- Darrin Cook
Nampa, Idaho (Mountain Time)
"Felon Ball" by Paul Beston answers the question as to why I have long boycotted all professional sports, have no such bumper stickers, T-shirts, logos, etc....
-- Col. D. Moroco, USMCR (Ret.)
Baseball generally requires parents nowadays, which generally implies the support and enthusiasm of fathers, which results in little opportunity for gangster cultures.
-- James Wilson
A quick word substitution in Paul Beston's tag line for anything in this country related with criminal behavior:
Sooner or later, the criminal element in politics will drive voters away -- won't it?
-- Diamon Sforza
As for me, it's already happened. Professional sports lost me a while ago.
-- Steve Hubbard
San Diego, California
AMERICA'S HOMEGROWN TERRORISM
Re: Ben Stein's Terror in Our Midst:
Ben Stein is so right, once again. I know, because I live in one of those areas in Long Beach, California. It's not getting any better, it's an entrenched lifestyle. It's being fought by pitifully few with small resources and even less belief that they can make a difference.
Why isn't there a national debate? Because not enough people care to get involved and understand what is happening and how out of control it is. And there are clearly no leaders at all who will tackle this problem. We need more than annual pride celebrations and school dress codes to crack the back of the gang terrorists. Keep it up Ben, get this issue out into the national consciousness. Let's stop having the idiots like Donald Trump parading Snoop Dogg as a role model and get some common sense moving on this travesty.
-- Colleen McDonald
Here in Maryland, we have lost several of our young men and women in uniform, NOT to hostile actions overseas, but to the criminal activities of illegal aliens. Near where we live, there was a horrific car crash over Thanksgiving, a young solider home on leave from Iraq, taking his girl-friend/fiancee (we'll never know if he asked) home after a family Thanksgiving dinner. Hit by an illegal, driving drunk and without a license, and it was NOT THE FIRST TIME this person had had an accident while driving drunk.
We had another G.I. from I think it was in Baltimore, but this young man was back "in-da-hood" trying to talk some sense to some of his younger relatives, he was shot in a drive-by shooting. He survived multiple tours to actual "hostile fire zones" only to be killed, on leave, a block from where he grew-up.
Mr. Stein is correct. There was a website that has been informally tracking crimes committed by illegal aliens -- I think it was more than 10,000 dead or dead from injuries. In the same amount of time since September 11th, 2001. And our borders are still open, and many communities are going broke over the drain by illegals.
-- Sandra Dent
Dr. Stein, by mentioning the perps, and/or the victims are non-white, you almost could get labeled a "racist" and then everything you said can be discounted. I live in the suburbs of Chicago, and every day when I pick up my Sun-Times, there are stories of murders, car-jackings, drive-by shootings...etc., and judging by the locations, it is in the black areas of town. Am I a racist? No, I'm just an "observationist" (this is a term I've never seen used anywhere but it's exactly what you were when you wrote your piece). Maybe more people could come forward with their "observations" and expose this problem if they weren't called racists all the time. Right now, it's just Dr. Cosby and yourself pointing this out. Great work as always.
-- John P.
While I normally enjoy Ben Stein's columns and have the outmost respect for him, "Terror in Our Midst" leaves me with the uneasy feeling that he has made a misstep by including common crime in the definition of terrorism. While criminals do instill fear in the population, they do not commit crime to purposefully instill that fear on behalf of nationalist, ideological, or religious political goals. The criminal thugs described by Mr. Stein act on behalf of base self-interest. While one might be justified to be fearful in certain situations or areas, I would not say that the criminals that inspire fear are terrorists.
If we begin labeling most crime as terrorism since it is "terrifying" and therefore labeling most criminals as terrorists, we as a nation are going to loose the ability to define what exactly we are punishing and who or what we are fighting. If a purse snatcher operates in a certain neighborhood and local women are terrified, is he really a terrorist? And if so, what punishment does the purse snatching terrorist deserve? Shall we send him to Guantanamo? And who do you fight home-grown, purse snatching terrorists with? The FBI, the military, or just local law enforcement? If a neighborhood is plagued with terrorists, why not send in the military to do house to house searches removing weapons, gathering intelligence, and detaining terrorist suspects?
You see defining crime as terrorism is a dangerous first step towards a police state. Redefining crime as terrorism is eerily reminiscent of the push for "hate crimes." If the further pushing for punishing "hate speech" is any example of what the future may hold once we begin regularly trying common criminals as terrorists, then we should be concerned about a future America that's people are fearful to speak out against any number of issues or causes lest those statements be misconstrued as a "terroristic threat."
America already has laws prohibiting criminal acts, if the punishments need modifying or local police need a stronger presence, then so be it. But let us not abuse the language to such a point that a purse snatcher is synonymous with a car bomber.
-- Devin Foley
Mr. Stein writes of one of the sure results of taking a subject matter off the discussion table. In order to continue to advance their agenda radical democrats must ignore their failures, which are legion. In order to make the claims as they do, they must forbid discussion. It is not permissible today in our society to say what every single man, woman, and child knows: African-American society is largely in shambles.
African-American families were destroyed by Lyndon Johnson's welfare programs. They don't speak English; they don't take advantage of education, and they don't work. Clearly this is a generality but like all generalities it is true generally. The question is why?
The answer is found in the foolishness of the Frank Churches; Jimmy Carters; Kennedys to numerous to mention and of course the Clinton's and the Kerrys. Their continuously stated view is that there is nothing wrong with the African-American community except poverty and poverty is caused by white prejudice. That's very simple; it resonates in the racist Black community (votes) ; and it effectively prohibits any discussion of the real problem.
The real problem is that Democrats have put African-Americans back on the plantation. An economic one, but a plantation just the same. By excusing the abject failure of this community to use the advantages given them, educationally, societally and in every other way, the Democrats have picked about 10 million sure voters each election. Democrats by binding these poor people to poverty programs, providing them a subsistence living, and telling them that without us you would starve, give clear evidence to me that Democrats either believe this segment of our society is less capable than others, or they are extremely evil.
We can see the beginnings of this "capture" happening now in Hispanic communities: come in illegally, don't learn English; collect money from us you haven't earned and don't worry about anything. ( and PS: vote democrat after we grant amnesty and give you citizenship even though you care nothing about this country).
Conservatives have nothing to say because as soon as one foments a discussion one is branded a "racist who cares nothing for the problems of the poor and disadvantaged."
Bill Cosby knows and says this is true.
-- Jay W. Molyneaux
Denver, North Carolina
Ben, the events you describe have been going on in the inner city urban areas for decades. Most of the factors that enable this situation to exist and prosper are the results of government action not inaction. Numerous well meaning efforts have been made at enormous cost to taxpayers and most have failed because they don't address the root problems. Taxpayer funded lifestyles don't solve real problems. Blaming inanimate objects for criminal behavior doesn't take the criminal out of the equation. Most of the people living in these areas are on the wrong end of the personal responsibility scale and herding like minded people together tends to reinforce the mindset that drives this situation. The lack of personal responsibility leads to all sorts of social behavior problems not the least of which is gang violence. Most of the people living in these areas are disarmed either by government decree, bureaucracy or fear of prosecution for defending themselves. When L.A. rioted over a decade ago the local Korean business owners stood their ground and defended their property and homes. The Police were few and far between inside the riot areas. When the National Guard took over the rioters came back and burned down the Korean businesses. What lesson do you think the Korean businessmen learned from all this? Washington DC is the poster child for a Police State mind set where only the "rich" or self appointed important people have any means for self protection. Government is not the solution to the problem and is very much part of the problem.
The terror that plagues the inner cities pre and post 9/11 is the result of neglect on the part of the citizens living there first and foremost. It is their fatherless male children that make up the Gangs. It is their single mother female children that become the "HOs." It is these citizens that embrace millions of illegal aliens that hide among them and breed the most violent gangs. The Police want nothing to do with these areas because the same people they would try to help are the first to bring a law suit against them and the individual patrolmen. Law Enforcement used to enlist the help of civilians in fighting criminal violence but those days are gone. Dialing 911 is not the same as being one of the posse members taking on the Gangs. LE is more likely to be seen as more of the problem in the communities you mentioned than as help. It is not difficult to figure out why this is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
This is not to say there isn't a solution but simply that the political climate at the state and local levels where this occurs the most needs this violence to maintain their grip on power. Solving real problems does not create the need for bigger and bigger government. The people living in these neighborhoods could solve their own problems with minimal government help if the government got out of the way and enabled them to take matters into their own hands. Discounted ammo would help in this regard. That is not likely to happen in California or any Democrat run state any time soon. The problem isn't being ignored Ben but neither party wants to deal with the root problems because to do so would either diminish one's hold on power or bring on charges of racism for the other. Legalistic roadblocks at the citizen level are going to have to be removed before any meaningful progress can be made and it might not be pretty to watch on the nightly Free Democrat news.
-- Thom Bateman
Newport News, Virginia
Ben Stein continues to wallow in his now, all too sappy and predictable, daily lamentations over his collective guilt and angst. It's starting to get old, real quick. In fact, it's becoming TAS's own new media version of the "View" on line. So, Ben, I have a conservative solution that will help assuage your guilt. You know how we conservatives talk about local community solutions to solve local problems, rather than government? Try this, instead of wringing your hands about being one of those gated "rich people," immune from urban terrorism, resign from your exclusive golf club and start a block watch in South Central Los Angeles. You'll get far more exercise than "walking" the golf course in your golf cart and you'll be part of a local solution. In addition to all the new non-rich friends you'll be making, just think of all the stories you'll be able to regale your Beverly Hills friends with upon your return from the urban war zone. In fact, don't resign from the club, instead, sponsor a yearly golf outing in honor of your fellow block watchers. I'm certain you're fellow club members will embrace this gesture of good will.
-- A. DiPentima
...May I direct Ben to the New York City Police Department website? Here he can click on "Crime Statistics," then "City Wide Statistics Weekly," and a ".pdf" file will pop up with the latest crime stats from the Big Apple.
Enjoy, Ben! Chin up! Homicides are down 28 percent so far this year over last year!
Oh, Ben, check out the crime stats from the LAPD ... murders are down 27 percent....
I realize that crime is a serious problem in the U.S. I'm not denying that. But grossly exaggerating and inflating the issue for G-d knows what reason (Bush Derangement Syndrome, perhaps?) is, well, a "crime" in itself -- a "crime" against truth.
I'm so glad I'm no longer a conservative! At least I still have some of my marbles. Most conservatives...have lost theirs.
-- Daniel K. Weir
Right on the money. Just because a falling tree and the noise it makes is not reported or pictured does not mean the tree isn't doing some damage.
-- Bill Coulter
I would like to personally thank Ben Stein for something he wrote in his "Terror in Our Midst" column. He correctly wrote "...every day..." instead
Thank you, Ben.
-- Bryan Frymire
Re: John Tabin's A Loser's Politics:
Sad to say, I believe this president lost a long time ago. He is the invisible man; when and how often have we heard him and seen him act to mobilize the people over a war, which supposedly was the most momentous event of our time, and keep up their morale. (As a retired military officer and student of history, I believe that it is.) How many times have we seen and heard him stand up and face down the cowardly and craven Democrats and their baseless attacks on his administration? It seems that every time he is faced with a modicum of resistance on the part of the Dems, he rolls over like a spanked chihuahua. This lack of courage and conviction is disgusting. He is certainly not the man I thought I supported in two elections.
As Tabin says, Bush places high value on loyalty, but it runs both up and down the line. Loyalty to competent subordinates, including those who may screw up once or twice (and learn from their mistakes), is a virtue; loyalty to incompetents is absolutely not. Thirty years in the Marine Corps have hammered into me that accomplishment of the mission comes first, your troops are a close second. In all of this, I think our commander-in-chief has lost sight of his mission (if he ever really had one), has no convictions, no spine, and as a result, is losing control of his administration (Washington Prowler, "Team Schumer-McNulty"). He and the Republican Party have lost me. I would like to support the party in 2008, but unless they get a mean, nasty fire-breathing street fighter, who gives three times better than he gets from the Dems with NO apologies, I will be hard pressed to support the Republicans. I have had enough of milquetoasts. Current day politics -- domestic or international -- is no place for puppy dogs, naive idiots or human invertebrates, as we are finding out once again with this Iranian kidnapping of the 15 Royal marines and sailors.
-- Col. D. Moroco, USMCR (Ret)
I heartily disagree with Mr. Tabin's contention that President Bush should throw Gonzales under the bus. He (Tabin) contends that supporting the AG will detract from the battle to come over funding the War on Terror in Iraq.
I think it is time we saw at least one Republican leader with a pair in DC. Bush could start a trend by taking this Gonzales thing to the wall with the Democrats. Only the most naive of people could believe that the sacrifice of Gonzales will appease the liberal attack machine. It disgusts me to see the RINOs and the quitters we have in leadership positions. Then on top of that our so-called conservative pundits even advocate surrender to the enemy-and I am not speaking of OBL.
For crying out loud is there no one our side who will fight the good fight left!? I truly wonder about that, I really do.
-- Jim Karr
Blue Springs, MO
With all due respect, your position makes no sense at all. In the first place, no laws were broken. This is just another in a line of dirty, filthy, trash conservatives trick with the end game of destroying this president. The more raw meat you throw into the water, the more sharks join in on the feeding frenzy. Pretty soon, you need to get more raw meat to keep them all happy and on and on.
No, what is really needed is for this president to show the same courage in dealing with this band of slime throwers as our troops show in Iraq. To date, the president has done little or nothing defending his administration and indeed the troops. The best defense is a good offense. We have a passive, almost gutless president at the wheel in a time of political all out war. I am sick and tired of seeing him on the defensive all the time. Time to visit the Wizard of Oz and ask for some courage Mr. President!
-- Jim L
East Sandwich, Massachusetts
"But as long as the feeding frenzy over the U.S. Attorney firings continues, the Democrats will remain on the attack, emboldened by their political advantage to inch closer to the more aggressively antiwar political ground that has so far looked too treacherous."
Please. The Democrats will remain on the attack, regardless. The media-and-Democrat/liberal-manufactured Gonzales flap and the Bush administration's usual inability to deal with crisis simply provided fresher political carrion than the war does. On that they can always stuff themselves.
As for them inching closer to the more aggressively anti-war political ground? The inching started even before the war began years ago. And the events of the past week or so didn't just cement their stance on that ground -- it broadcast their anti-war stripe.
We kid ourselves if we think their seeming insatiable, destructive political and cultural actions will stop before George W. Bush leaves office. But whether their candidate wins or not, it'll continue, I think. They appear disconnected from our country and its values, crazed by their rage against and hatred of the president and anyone else who differs with them. They now seem almost, if not totally, sightless to what matters or who the true enemies are. That's distressing and hazardous.
-- C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia
Much as I love and admire the President, I fear he is paralyzed with loyalty. He won't demand the resignation of Gonzales, The Inept, who has been his friend for many years.
And, at the same time, his good manners will not allow him to call out the despicable Democrats who sold their votes.
Inertia, they name is Bush.
-- Judy Beumler
Why are Republicans so bent on shooting themselves in the foot every time the Democrats come around the corner carrying clubs and pitchforks? Do you really think all this will go away once Gonzales is kicked out the door? Just think of the circus that will come with the nomination of a new Attorney General. Just think of the legal prosecution of Gonzales because he said "white car" in one testimony and "beige car" in another -- Democrats braying that this is just one more sign of the corruption of the Bush administration.
Of course, none of this explains why Bush and his administration played nice when the Democrats cried "scandal." All this could have stopped if Bush shot back "Sure, I fired them. All these U.S. Attorney's serve at my pleasure as they always have for my predecessors. This is all we're going to say about it." And he should have meant it. No testimonies before congress. No files sent to investigators. And no answering hostile guest ions during press conferences.
This is war. The Democrats are looking for another beheaded skull to hang from their belt. Look at the lay of the land as it is and not how you want it to be.
-- Michael Dooley
I disagree regarding the AG.
Since Republicans took over Congress several years ago, the Dems have attacked and felled one Republican leader after another. Their strategy seems to be to line Republican leaders up, pick the weakest and attack. Opportunity also plays a role in case something, anything, happens that can be used against one of the weaker players. Once the that guy (or gal) is fired or resigns, go after the next one. It seems to be a strategy designed to destabilize any Republican led branch of government. The sad part is that our Republican leaders allow them to get away with it.
There is no way to avoid these confrontations with the Dems and their friends in the press. No resignation will "put an end to it." One resignation will lead to the next which will lead to the next... The Dems have a strategy that is working for them and they will continue to use that strategy until republicans grow some back bone.
-- Ken Johnson
Somebody must be sleeping. Wakeup. If it's not Gonzales it will be someone else. That's their game. PAYBACK TIME.
Re: The Washington Prowler's Team Schumer-McNulty:
No one should be surprised that an Assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department of a Republican Administration might be in cahoots with Democrats. After all he is an attorney. And he may just be following the lead of many Senators and Congressman who do the same thing rolling along with their perceived interests, party ties not withstanding. But there is another reason. Attorneys tend toward sophism, which is why like in the Mainstream Media, so many are liberal and so few conservative. Sophism in modern times has a negative connotation meaning to subtly devise an argument that leads to a desired end point using faulty logic. In ancient Greece Sophists were teachers who taught their students to make arguments orally so that they could better participate in public discourse that was the hallmark of the Greek Democracy. As Sophism spread and Greek society became more litigious, the Sophists began charging higher and higher fees for their services and eventually fell into disfavor much like what is happening to modern day lawyers. Hence the negative connotation of Sophism today. While Sophists as lawyers have a duty of fealty to their clients, they should not as a rule be expected to believe in their clients. Never the less ethical lawyers can and do represent clients, whether liberal or conservative, guilty or innocent, to the best of their ability. It appears Mr. McNulty has not met ethical standards expected of him.
-- Howard Lohmuller
The only thing I want is from Senator Schumer is a list of his and his staff's phone and email logs. I want an investigation to see exactly what information has been passed to him over the last 6 years!
-- Kimberly Smith
Re: Fred Edwards's letter (under "Blood Money") in Reader Mail's Under Leahy's Boot:
In his letter of 30 March 2007, Fred Edwards points out the threat to our troops posed by the Steyr-Mannlicher .50-cal sniper rifles that somehow managed to make it into the hands of Iraqi insurgents via the Iranian government. The situation is actually somewhat worse than Mr. Edwards says. Yes, the big sniper rifles can (and do) fire armor piercing ammunition (including super-high-velocity Saboted Light Armor Piercing, or SLAP) ammunition, but there is really no need for these bullets to penetrate body armor in order to kill. The kinetic energy of the big rounds is so great that, even if the bullet is defeated by the body armor, the soldier wearing the armor will be killed by blunt trauma, organ rupture and internal bleeding. Of course, such a powerful round can also blow an arm or a leg (not to mention a head) clean off. This is why our military snipers use similar weapons, like the Barrett Light Fifty sniper rifle. Did I mention that these guns can also take out light armored vehicles at more than 1500 meters?
As the old prayer says, "Dear Lord, protect me from my friends -- I can take care of my enemies."
-- Stuart Koehl
Falls Church, Virginia
Re: Michael Tomlinson's letter (under "That Culture of Corruption") in Reader Mail's Under Leahy's Boot:
Re: Mr. Michael Tomlinson's lament that conservative Republicans in 2006 empowered these despicable Democrats (I was not among them, and most of my conservative friends held their noses and voted Republican), I would insist that the feckless Republicans did it to themselves. Not only did they supply the liberals with lessons on how to squander the taxpayers' money, they failed to support the President in many ways, most importantly by failing to make his tax cuts permanent. Generally, they behaved like liberal Democrats who had been too long in power. Of course, that does not mean that the rest of us should have had the Pelosi-Reid Congress inflicted on us, but also generally the Republicans got the beating that they richly deserved.
-- John G. Hubbell