Literary Peanuts - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Literary Peanuts

Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.’s The Worst Book of the Year:

Winning a Coogler is not a trifle. Winning two Cooglers automatically catapults the lucky writer into a pantheon bordering on the mystical. Winning a third is genuine top of the mountain stuff. Surely something besides the publicity of the feat should be afforded the hapless former prez. How about The American Spectator buying up all the remaindered copies and selling them to interested magazine subscribers as a sort of subscription bonus. Surely the whole lot of them could be purchased for cents on the dollar. The Spectator would appear magnanimous — at least generous — the recipients would have fishwrap aplenty, and Mr. Carter would have access to the reading public to an extent he could have only dreamt about.
J.C. Eaton
Chetek, Wisconsin

Perhaps the members of the Gordon Coogler Prize Committee should come up with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” along the lines of the Motion Picture Academy’s Lifetime Oscar. “Jimmah” would be a shoo-in for the inaugural award.

James Earl Carter, Jr. is a small-minded, smug, sanctimonious, vituperative, nasty little twerp — and those are his good points!
Gretchen L. Chellson
Alexandria, Virginia

Jimmy Carter has written 21 books? Of former Presidents, only Bill Clinton has exhibited more energy!

Some where, some time, some graduate assistant is going to have to read every one of those books. I pity that student.
Dan Martin

Instead of just dismissing Jimmuh from future Coogler Awards, this third recognition deserves a Lifetime Lack of Achievement Award or Emeritless status or some such thing as the committee deems appropriate. Something to hang next to his Nobel Prize. He is only deserving of the best (or least as the case may be).
GM Strong
Media, Pennsylvania

Mr. Tyrrell uses the following sentence to describe Jimmy Carter’s literative essays:

“The books have all been insipid and occasionally remarkably bad.”

Mr. Tyrrell’s choice of words provides pure morphological and phonological delight to this reader.
David Shoup
Grovetown, Georgia

Re: Christopher Orlet’s None Is Less:

Felix and Susan Williams should be lauded not condemned. The Modernist style was the ultimate fad in architecture that was interesting for about a year. It is not a style to last the ages and is getting the fate it deserves.
Donald Parnell
London, United Kingdom

Welcome to America! Land of Freedom. You own it, you do what you want with it, unless the larger community finds an overriding reason to stop you, i.e., public purpose as in Amendment V. The fact that some crackpot pseudo-journalist thinks the house should be preserved because his favorite architect designed does not constitute a public purpose in the mind of anyone who is rational. Why you publish this drivel is quite beyond me.
C. R. Melton
Arlington, Virginia

I read Christopher Orlet’s recent piece on the loss of “great” architecture to soulless McMansions. While there is a part of me that can share his lament at the loss of these “significant” architectural examples (it is true that many of these homes are beautiful), as I read the piece I had to remind myself that I was reading the Spectator and not some leftist rag. While there is value in preserving these homes as living and functioning pieces of architectural art, I am afraid that Mr. Orlet has taken the preservationist mindset to its leftist extremes. It was as if I were reading National Geographic or some such where the only acceptable position on just about anything is “How much we are preserving?” “How much of the forest is protected?” “How many of old ways of doing things are we saving?” “How many of history’s artifacts are protected?”

Unfortunately we cannot freeze the world in a particular state or era. Societies develop and change. Old ways of doing things are replaced by new ways of doing things. Old artifacts are swept aside for new ones. Some things will be saved. Most will be eventually be lost. Sometimes some of the things that were lost should have been saved. Sometimes the old way of doing things was better. It is all part of the process of the growth and development of a society.

Although I have post-secondary training in the arts as well as post graduate degrees in the humanities, I take umbrage at those folks like Mr. Orlet who believe they have attained some level cultural sophistication and “taste” and now presume to tell the rest of us how we should live, the homes we should find beautiful, the art we should appreciate, the music we should listen to, the books we should read, the movies we should see and the television we shouldn’t be watching. At its most basic, this impulse is snooty, pretentious and elitist. Typical leftist characteristics. The arts are on the leading edge of breaking down every barrier and prohibition established in creation by God. The arts are on the forefront of the movement to tear down any and all remnants of a Christian mooring in our society.

In addition, much of that impulse among the cultural “elites” flows out of the reconstructions of an atheist left that replaced Christian faith with adoration for the arts. Art, music and yes architecture become the medium that generates feelings akin to genuine spirituality. Much of those feelings and impulses are virulently anti-Christian. So it should not be surprising when someone who has bought into “the arts” decries the loss of such “significant” works. Significant to whom? Christopher Orlet and his kind are losing their scriptures, their gods. But the person who has just bought this very valuable piece of land sees a run down house that is too small for his unrefined and bourgeois tastes. The choice is obvious when that tiny, outdated and run down house is not an object of worship.

The result is that our society and its artifacts evolve. The perspective that Christopher Orlet embraces and the cultural snootiness it evidences is nothing new. A while back there was a new style of furniture that was produced to satisfy the sensibilities of an emerging middle class with their bourgeois tastes. At the time neo-classical pieces were looked down upon by the elites. Today they are collected. Go figure.
Steve Baarda
London, Ontario

Re: Jennifer Rubin’s John Just Being John:

Whoooo-eee! What a whitewash.

John McCain’s insistence on amnesty is not bipartisan. Unless you count the Democrats in his home state and in the Senate who will benefit from cheap labor and cheap votes paid for by the good, hardworking citizens of the United States.

John McCain is not a conservative — he is a contrarian who has taken great joy sticking his finger in the eyes of real conservatives for the last twenty-five years. (Taxes, immigration, campaign finance.) It’s too bad he really needs us now.

I would never kick a man when he is down, but I can’t say I won’t watch and smile! Go, John! Keep up the good work; we conservatives are watching and smiling.
Judy Beumler
Louisville, Kentucky

McCain has a record devoid of accomplishment. During his military career he finished last in his class at the naval academy, crashed three jets, set an aircraft carrier on fire, and got captured by the enemy. During his legislative career he has been censured for his role in the Keating Five bribery scandal, attempted to take away free speech rights with the flawed McCain-Feingold bill, and is currently supporting global warming and open borders. The only thing of any size that McCain has run is his mouth.
Pat Callum

Doesn’t the word “Crackpot” finally come to mind? McCain so desperately craves the approval of the main-stream media that he will stake out positions that can only cause him harm. The state of Arizona has provided us with some genuine conservative heroes, especially Barry Goldwater and Sheriff Joe. Unfortunately John McCain will never be one of them. McCain’s preening and calculated bi-partisanship disqualify him from consideration by any true conservative. Romney and his “little varmint gun” will be blasting this goofball off his last presidential campaign trail. The sooner the better!
Ralph Alter
Carmel, Indiana

Re: Quin Hillyer’s Gonzales After Monica Goodling:

I agree with Quin Hillyer that AG Alberto Gonzalez must go. In addition to being “out of touch, incompetent, and …insensitive” he clearly lacks the requisite respect for the fundamental legal and judicial values that undergird our way of life. So does President Bush who has set the bar considerably lower for government officials than he promised in 2000 while campaigning for office. Monica Gooding, after pleading the Fifth and cutting a deal for immunity in exchange for her testimony, has proven as adept at CYA politics as Mr. McNulty.

I fail to understand why any true conservative would coach the President to play a thinly disguised game of “let’s make a deal” aimed at protecting GOP operatives instead of insisting that corruption be rooted out of DoJ so the American people can once again have confidence that we live in a nation governed by laws.
Mike Roush
North Carolina

Re: Larry Thornberry’s Happy Birthday, Duke:

I enjoyed Mr. Thornberry’s article and agreed with almost everything he had to say. There was one glaring exception, though. How could he be so hard on Val Kilmer when he gave us an unforgettable portrayal of Doc Holliday in 1993’s Tombstone? I’m still upset he didn’t get a supporting Oscar nod for that one.

Your Huckleberry,
Hunter Baker

A very fine article.

Have you ever seen the John Wayne statue at the Orange County Airport? When I first saw it (it’s about 12′ tall), my only thought was “Oh, it’s lifesize!”
Dan Hirsch
P.S. I fact checked myself — the airport’s website says it is only nine feet tall — Hell, I’m sticking with twelve!

I will start the 100th birthday by raising the American flag over my house. I believe Duke would have liked that. I will end it, as Sergeant Provo, by “taking a taste.” And I may wipe away a tear when PFC Conway tells the squad, “saddle up; let’s get back in the war.” (True fans will get the references.) And I’ll be grateful to live in a country that produces such men.
Mark Zunk


Hollywood during World War ll.
What an entirely different kind of brew
Of manly men and women with courage.
You couldn’t stop or even discourage
A Deitrich, with a Nazi price on her head,
From joining Bob Hope and others who led
The way overseas to entertain gals and guys
Who were the real stars in celebrities’ eyes.
Carole Landis, Frances Langford never seemed to mind
That they traveled in danger and left glamour behind.

Over enemy skies Jimmy Stewart flew.
Volunteers Tyrone Power and Clark Gable knew
Their fame and fortunes would soon go under
If the Axis forces were allowed to plunder
The country they loved, that had given them fame.

Bette Davis, Joan Crawford got in on the game
With the Hollywood Canteen where the lonely could take
A much needed respite, a well deserved break
From the fears that they faced or were just back from.
Lana Turner scrubbed dishes. Lorraine Day would come
To serve hot coffee. Hedy Lamarr passed around
Warm smiles and comfort. Tired hearts would rebound.

Producers and Directors rose to the occasion
To reassure us our homes were safe from invasion
When we had no idea what the end would be,
When we weren’t at all certain of victory.

And Hollywood now, when we should all be embarrassed
By squirrel brained celebrities who have badgered and harassed
The strong and the brave who give the best they can
To safeguard the freedoms of every pathetic unman
And unwoman who manufacture all the tears they can crank
As they mince and they smirk on their way to the bank.
Mimi Evans Winship

I am subject to correction, but I understand John Wayne was rejected for military service in World War II because he had an injured shoulder — not because he chose to avoid service.

Incidentally, two films Larry Thornberry might have mentioned in his excellent tribute to him are Donovan’s Reef and The Sea Chase. In the later, a rather strange but in its way very memorable film, he played a German merchant sea-captain in World War II — an unusual part for The Duke, but he brought his characteristic values to it, and it is one of my favourites.
Hal G. P. Colebatch

Larry Thornberry replies:
I’ve read several Duke biographies (for me, John Wayne, American, by Randy Roberts and James S. Olson, is the best) and the military service issue is covered in all of them. The football injury doesn’t come up. I don’t believe he ever went as far as having a draft physical. The football shoulder injury did lose the Duke his scholarship (jockship?) at USC and led to him going to work in the movies rather than to law school, for which we can be eternally thankful.

I too saw The Sea Chase and liked it. The difficulty in trying to list the Duke’s good movies is that the list could go on forever. For considerations of space, you just have to stop somewhere.

Re: Peter Hannaford’s The Loony Left’s 9/11:

I know you are writing of honest sincerity, when you express your lack of ability to fathom what’s going on in the minds of the 9/11 truth movement.

Would you consider the fact that in the old Soviet Union, whenever someone critical or suspicious of the Russian authorities, was captured by the government, the media was quick to portray these individuals as “poor delusional individual paranoid of our government.” Anyone in the press would immediately feel the need to ridicule such individuals, out of fear that someone otherwise might suspect them of being equally delusional themselves.

In the schoolyard, a little boy is being ridiculed. Immediately those themselves fearful of ridicule, start clapping in unison. The weak always stand ready to ridicule the mocked, in fear of ridicule themselves.

Are we using “conspiracy theorist” in the West, like they used “poor delusional person paranoid of our government” in the old Soviet Union?

Is a true patriot supposed to question the government, or deride anyone daring to do so themselves? Are journalists really afraid of loosing the respect, of “sounding paranoid” when they refuse to look at evidence?

Others tell me your all working for the “darkside.” I don’t think so myself. I think someone very, very clever, is using mans greatest fear (look it up) to rule the world. Fear. Fear of ridicule. Because they know that they only have to start the mocking, as other weak persons have always be standing ready in the wing to join in unison clapping, out of fear that they themselves might be next.

Right now there are some very brave and patriotic Americans, indeed people from all over the world, who are facing the ridicule from fearful journalists such as yourself. You might think nothing of it, but one thing suggests that you should: they are growing in numbers.

Ridicule will not stop the kind of men you are up against Mr. Hannaford. Sound arguments might, but none is on your side.

Good day to you.
Brian Zebeaune
Denmark, Europe

In the interest of accuracy please note that Professor Griffin’s loony book was published by the publishing arm of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and not by one of the other Presbyterian denominations. My denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America, does not publish such vile fantasies, which fit well with the ambiguous theology of the previously mentioned “Church.”

Many thanks,
Wade Malloy

Re: Hal G.P. Colebatch’s A Government of Idiots?, the “Aussie Hawkes” letters in Reader Mail’s Upside Down Under and the “Platypused Off” letters in Reader Mail’s Reader Requests:

In connection with the highly charged but nevertheless heartfelt article by Hal Colebatch — “A Government of Idiots?” — a number of the indignant responses from residents of this lucky country raise a smile on my face. Thank you, Mr. Colebatch, for brilliantly revealing the origins of one said reader blaming global warming (sorry the drought) on Mr. Howard. One thing is right about some of the others’ replies, it will be down to the Aussie people to vote who they want in. If they give John Howard the heave ho and if, as Mr. Colebatch believes, a return to the ideological dogmas of the left occurs, then I will be very interested to see whom people will blame? Mr. Howard? Mr. Bush?

Generally, in my view Hal Colebatch has been spot on in his analysis over the years of the Labour Party’s record in the UK — I would know, I’ve just left that basket case of a country with its illogical attraction to all things EU, “shared misery” political legacies and celebrity-seeking Parliamentary individuals. I now watch with interest and a little alarm the political scene developing here in Australia. I came to an amazing country that is truly lucky and hope it stays this way. However, I have to admit that judging from from my experience on what the once great British nation was sold way back in 1997, the signs here do not look good from my perspective. Keep up the good work, Mr, Colebatch. Wish us luck in the years to come.
G. Constable
Sydney, Australia (the lucky country)

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