Thank you all for a truly exceptional issue (TAS, December 2008/January 2009). All of the articles were outstanding. Michael Novak’s and Roger Scruton’s were exceptional. Ben Stein and I have some significant differences of opinion, but his comments about Henry Paulson are right on. I just wish he wouldn’t whine so much about hotels and airplanes. We all suffer as business travelers. Thanks again and keep up the fight.
Via the Internet
Neal Freeman’s “Goodbye to Most of That” (TAS, November 2008) was outstanding. He beautifully summarized and clearly articulated so many of my own thoughts regarding the two presidential candidates. I wish it had been published earlier so that I could have used it in discussions with some of my iron-headed friends, who see things only through the eyes of the elephant or the jackass.
Hopefully, my own vote will ultimately prove to be the right one. Using the write-in option, I inserted the words “God Help Us”!
“The Good War? Maybe Not” by Tom Bethell (TAS, December 2008/January 2009) was drivel. Silly emotional drivel, from a man who should know better. Victor Davis Hanson and many others have already laid Buchanan to rest in his grave on this question. Why did The American Spectator let Bethell ignore the arguments made by Hanson as if they were not in the minds of the reading public?
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I enjoyed Jonathan Aitken’s column on the biblical view of capitalism (“Godless Capitalism,” TAS, November 2008), but I thought he could have chosen a better parable to illustrate his point. In the 25th chapter of Matthew Jesus relates the parable of the eight talents. A man leaving on a journey entrusts a number of silver talents to each of his three servants. On his return two servants report investment returns of 100 percent. Each is told, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant,” and given a promotion. The third reports that he was afraid of losing the talent so he buried it and then presented it back to his master. The master gives that talent to the others and berates the third as “thou wicked and slothful servant” and orders to “cast ye the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness [where] there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Can’t get much clearer that that.
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For the birds
Wlady Pleszczynski shares his affection for his cats (“Shades of Blue,” TAS, November 2008), and reveals he allows them to run loose all day for “solitary hunting.” I have neighbors like that who permit their cats to camp out at my bird feeder. These cats are fair game for my live trap and then removed by Animal Control employees. I have more concern for birds than cats. Thank you for a great magazine.
Fayetteville, North Carolina
James Bowman’s aversion to “trash culture” (TAS, September 2008) brought to mind something that Hilaire Belloc (1870–1953), a French writer and naturalized British subject, wrote not long before his death: “We sit by and watch the barbarian. We tolerate him. In the long stretches of peace we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence; his comic inversions of our old certitudes and our fixed creeds refreshes us; we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond; and on these faces there is no smile.”
Richmond Hill, Ontario
An Amateur’s Hour
I enjoyed Alan B. Somers’s review of the 1960 Olympics book (TAS, October 2008). I was in Austria that summer and my only memory was of Rafer Johnson’s great decathlon. In part this was because my Austrian summer family and friends only cared about skiing and winter sports. I went back to see my Austrian friends the winter of 1964 and the first Innsbruck Olympics. I remember West and East Germany participated as one team, at least in hockey, whatever its political significance. In that pre-PETA time the Russians were swathed in luxurious sealskins. You could get close to the athletes and I helped unload bobsleds and was offered rides in several nations’ VW buses. I also remember the police had shiny silver badges with the names of the languages they spoke and one officious guy had a chestful, an harbinger for anyone who realized the powder keg of the Balkans had not ended with the 1919 Paris treaty, in spite of the coming 1976 Sarajevo festivities. I certainly didn’t. If you are still with me, there was one truly amateur feat and that was Terry McDermott’s 500 meter speed skating gold medal. He had competed at Squaw Valley, but was now a barber and recently married in Michigan. Officials begged him to join the team and he came over to Milwaukee on weekends to practice on the only Olympic-scale oval. He made the team, was in the last pairing to skate (a real disadvantage), and set a new Olympic record. I had my father’s 16mm camera and was close enough and at an angle to film his performance as he swept by the finish line and the excitement of the crowd looking back to the electric timing board and exploding into pre-fist-pumping cheers, especially one American in a bright red woolen cap. It was Olympian. It was innocent, amateur triumph in those Cold War times. I like swimming (I went to Bob Kiphuth’s Yale), but I do feel McDermott beats the ballyhooed multi-medaled performances of Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps.
St. Louis, Missouri
Ben Stein’s Traitors
Mr. Stein makes excellent points, per usual, in his Diary (“Heroes and Traitors,” TAS, November 2008). Looting is exactly what has taken place. I am in shock that the citizens of the United States of America haven’t taken up cudgels and axe handles and marched on Washington to imprint on the tiny, self-absorbed minds of the criminals in Congress responsible for this looting the true meaning of We, the People.