Re: Enemy Central’s Enemy of the Year:
Bravo. At least we can end up the year with a satirical chuckle.
— Pete Chagnon
I got lost in your reverie, but I think I got it in the end.
A certain Gene Nichols is your EOY and I presume for good reason although I never heard of him. I have heard of Jimmy Carter, though, and I think he is the most despicable creature this country has ever produced. Thank you for your attention.
— Gene Hauber
President Gene Nichols of the College of William & Mary deserves only to be the Intolerant Cowardly Mindless Administrative Liberal of the Year. His compromise on removing the cross of Christ from Wren Chapel? With a plaque, acknowledge the chapel’s Christian roots. Except Sundays, store the cross.
William & Mary now should extend this logic elsewhere. Acknowledge its academic roots. Six days weekly, remove the books and other reference materials from its libraries, eliminate professors from its classrooms and mothball the equipment and other instructional materials in its laboratories. Everywhere, use commemorative plaques for missing people and things.
Such actions might pacify those University enrollees and/or staff offended or made uncomfortable by certain courses, professors, requirements, fellow students or staff, other languages, etc.
— C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia
The Enemy of the Year award belongs to those Republicans (including George W. Bush) who are bent on turning Ronald Reagans’s “Shining city on a hill” into a barrio.
— Jack Hughes
THAT TIME OF NEW YEAR
Re: Jed Babbin’s Oh, My Goodness: It’s Almost 2007:
Good morning, and a Happy New Year to you all! I just finished reading Jed Babbin’s column, and he has given me hope for 2008! I couldn’t think of anyone to even vote for (for president) in ’08 and was thinking about just not voting for the first time in my voting history of 41 years. Please forward this note to him along with my gratitude for thinking outside the box. (Rumsfeld-Bolton in 2008!)
— Janet Turner
Thanks for the Call to Arms.
Make no mistake, everyone. What is at stake in the next two years is the welfare of the country as we know it. Amnesty for illegal aliens, coddling of Muslims, etc., is all the liberals dream of. Somehow, we have to throw a monkey wrench into their well-oiled MSM-Political machinery.
I plan to write even more letters to newspaper editors, pointing out the absurdity of liberal politicos and their apologists, in 2007 and 2008.
— R. Goodson
Vero Beach, Florida
Happy New Year!
May this be a year in which we become less morally fatigued, complacent and confused — and you’re compelled to write things like the following that still appear to be unknown to or misunderstood by the about-to-be-official majority in Congress, liberals and far too many other Americans, the mainstream media in all forms and the president: “Many young Americans gave their lives for us, and among the debts we owe them is to neither forgive the enemy nor forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice. . . Peace is not about processes. It’s about winners and losers, and until each belligerent is in one category or the other, the war ain’t over.”
— C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia
Re: W. James Antle III’s Reversing Romney:
If conservatives continue their crack-up (sorry it was never a “crack down”) Taxachusetts’ fate will foreshadow the nation’s future under a resurgent Democrat party. If you are one of those “meltdown” conservatives who thought it great politics to throw away an election in 2006 wait till the Democrats sweep 2008 — you’re going to love it.
— Michael Tomlinson
Jacksonville, North Carolina
Yeah. All very well and good shedding tears for Massachusetts. But save some for us poor schnooks in New Jersey. Our bearded satyr should make Patrick blush with envy. Corzine is just getting started (The Rag, er Record‘s hosanna earlier this week) and the very well enlightened electorate applauds our awaited journey down the yellow brick road.
— Steve Charlop
ON A ROLL
Re: R. Andrew Newman’s I Resolve…:
When I was married, my husband and I would make New Year’s Resolutions in December each year. He, being in the Army, resolved to make peace with Red China and Cuba; I being more pragmatic resolved to put fresh roll toilet paper on the roll PRIOR to leaving the bathroom. Maybe that is why that marriage ultimately failed.
— Judy Beumler
Re: Jay D. Homnick’s Year of the Baby:
Thanks to Mr. Homnick for his uplifting message.
It is the mark of a true rube to claim that human beings are liabilities, economic or otherwise. In a free economy (non-state-controlled and absent a welfare system) human beings are net economic assets, not liabilities. Consider: in a free economy humans have to create wealth as the alternative is to starve to death. And despite that supposedly cold-hearted reality somehow migration patterns always seem to indicate that, given the opportunity, people prefer to move from enslaved countries to free countries.
In P. J. O’Rourke’s excellent book, Eat the Rich, he quotes a Vanderbilt University economics professor who states that “wealth is created when an asset is moved from a lower end use to a higher end use.” There is another name for that sophisticated process: work. This should not surprise us as we are told of its requirement in another excellent book, the Bible. Specifically, per Genesis 3:19, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your foodâ€¦”
All statist government-controlled “economic” systems are based upon the flawed premise that there is a fixed amount of wealth that requires “redistribution”, the terms of which those in control are somehow entitled to dictate. The understanding that wealth is not fixed, but, rather, creatable, is one of the keys to understanding economics and to transforming the concept of human freedom from a theory into reality.
And where do babies fit into this system? Well, it is they who are moving the assets from lower end uses to higher end uses. Grown up versions of them, that is. After all, who discovered the vaccine against polio, and, for that matter, all other medical and scientific advancements? Grown up baby humans. Who farms food? Who builds bridges, airports, automobiles, airplanes or even those liberal icons, the Volvo and the bicycle? Again, grown up baby humans.
As Thomas Sowell put it (quoting from memory), “name one country whose GDP increased while its population decreased.” And, as Ms. Liberty put it, more or less,
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door…
“…just don’t expect any handouts.”
And, with that minimum criteria, give us the most valuable asset in the Universe: baby humans. Get to work making them, folks.
— R. Trotter
Re: Philip Klein’s Two Americas, Take Two
It’s a funny thing, this “Two Americas” paradigm of John Edwards. As a one term bust of a senator, who couldn’t even think of running for a second term and who, as a vice presidential candidate, couldn’t come close to putting a Southern state in the blue column for Jean-Francois, Edwards clearly finds himself in the wrong America. Fortunately for him, the MSM and the Washington pundits are still gaga over this blow-dried lightweight and this situation could yet change. But, when it comes to being in the right America, you know, the moneyed and privileged one, well, ole John is doing just fine. So, the other day in New Orleans, Edwards, the tort phenom of a magician that he is, attempted to bridge the “Two Americas” for himself, once and for all. With one hand he staged his Katrina- themed announcement, with rolled up denim sleeves and shovel and, oh yes, the media in tow, while with the other, he sold his toney Washington, D.C. digs for a cool $5.3 M. The good folks of New Orleans can easily be forgiven for having missed this sleight of hand. Add this to his 100 acre Carolina spread and his recent cushy university appointment and things in the other America look pretty good. So when Edwards told his enthralled audience that it’s “great to see a problem and to take action to do something about it,” truly he is a man who knows of what he speaks.
— A. DiPentima
Living in North Carolina, I have seen John Edwards first hand and after he was elected Senator, North Carolinians tended to not see John at all. Now his political plank as a candidate for President is a country of two Americas.
Hillary Clinton’s and Barack Obama’s messages are the same thing but packaged in different cans of spam. How does John Edwards plan to unite these two Americas to, “One nation under God?” More intrusive government programs of course, because as Hillary Clinton’s mentality is, “The masses are incapable of making decisions about health care on their own.”
Is the situation going to change? No, because much of America does not want it to change because America is comfortable of delegating to government the difficult decisions of life, because America is way too busy and wrapped up with it’s self-absorbed lives to take command of raising their children, choosing their health care, and always looking out for that free government handout.
The problem is that nothing is ever free; someone has to foot the bill. America has become a nation of financial burdens to those who want independence and less intrusive government in their lives. John Edwards and Hillary Clinton have found a fertile ground of Americans looking to suckle off the government teat, because these politicians know that these freeloaders to American independence and self reliance don’t want the milk and honey to dry up.
Is this a harsh analysis of America today? No it is not, it is only the plain spoken truth that America must wake up and respond to, because we cannot continue to do business as usual and leave a country to a younger generation that is a fiscal and moral wreck of malcontents who are unwilling to take charge of their lives.
The only victim is this case is America herself because we allowed the John Edwards and Hillary Clinton’s to degenerate us into spineless quivering masses of self-doubt, and pathetic shells of our former selves who have lost our self-reliance and independence. But I don’t know about you, but my New Year’s resolution is that I’m going to fight back,
I’m going fight back just as hard as the founders of this country did. I’m going to fight for less government in our lives, private property rights, and put more of what I earn back into my wallet and not the governments. I’m going to tell anyone who will listen to me to spread the message of, “If government wants to truly help us then don’t give us another government program, just let us keep more of what we earn.”
We are not a nation of hyphenated victims standing on the street corner with our tin cups waiting for alms. We are proud, we are strong, we are independent, we are Americans . Happy New Year America.
— Melvin Leppla
Jacksonville, North Carolina
Regarding “Two Americas, Take Two”: John Edwards has no chance at a presidential nomination, but he’s desperate to get Hillary or Obama to look at him as vice president material. Edwards provided entertainment in November when he had a staff member call Wal-Mart to get a PlayStation 3 for his son. Edwards revealed his own liberal hypocrisy and that of Big Media, which completely ignored the double political incorrectness of his action — shopping at Wal-Mart and using a political underling like a hired servant to conduct personal business.
— Caroline Miranda
North Hollywood, California
THE ILYUSHIN SOLUTION
Re: George H. Wittman’s Happy New Year, Vladimir Vladimirovich:
Please inform George Wittman that if he’s looking for a hands-on example of corruption in the U.S. government affecting U.S.-Russia relations he need look no further than the U.S. Forest Service which for many years has kept superior Russian firefighting away from the American victim community.
For details, consult the links page at our website.
Only Rep. Dana Rohrabacher fights the Forest Service on this issue.
Clearing the way for the Il-76 waterbomber would do much to solve the perception and trust problems plaguing Russia-US relations as well as solving a few problems during wildfire season.
I might add that due to the fact of U.S. Forest Circus corruption on this matter, it is at least arguable that the EU, Australia, and Canada have been negatively influenced. Despite the brave face and “tradition” of groundbound bushfire management, Australia cannot stand much more bushfire pounding. Like Associated Press in the U.S., however, Australian media largely prefers to keep the waterbomber under wraps.
— John Anderson
Global Emergency Response
Re: Ben Stein’s I Smell a Borat:
Usually, Ben Stein and I are in agreement; his view of the world, and how things ought to be, are similar to mine. As I read his review of the movie Borat, however, I was dismayed to see how such a fine, intelligent man could so completely miss the point. Mr. Cohen’s purpose –throughout all of Borat’s bits in the film and on TV– is to expose anti-Semitism, expose how lightly you need to scratch beneath the surface to reveal the barely hidden truth: people still hate the Jews, still hang on to prejudice of all kinds, and still believe that nearly everyone feels the same. To belabor the point, the film is not anti-Semitic, it is in part about anti-Semitism. Borat’s views (not Mr. Cohen’s) and naivete are a vehicle that gives permission for others to voice their ugly prejudices. Likewise, I did not see a mockery of Christ, I saw exposure of certain religious practices that are — to those who do not practice them — disturbing. How interesting that people who engage in such practices might criticize others for being “different”! And far from mocking the black woman “escort” in the film, she becomes an entirely sympathetic, humane character. While perhaps our educational system’s emphasis on “multiculturalism” and celebration of “diversity” has created the veneer of tolerance, and while perhaps that veneer is a much needed beginning of true tolerance, the purpose of Borat, Mr. Stein, is to remind us that it is in fact only a veneer. The ugly truth still lies beneath. Indeed, the film does this in such a way to make us laugh, and you are supposed to feel like you “want to take a shower after you’ve seen it.”
— Perri L. Shmikler
Re: Stuart Koehl’s letter (under “Minimum Gains”) in Reader Mail’s Meet and Greet:
Mr. Koehl makes many (common) points and space constraints prevent me from doing them justice. I’ll begin by pointing out that it’s not just students mowing grass that get minimum wage but also many working class people who are trying to support themselves. Even if most workers in Falls Church are paid above the minimum wage as he observes, it would have an impact as many economists note by the “rising boat” as the increase in bottom wages push higher ones up. So which is it? Are wages in higher cost-of-live metro areas unimpacted by increases in the minimum wage or are small business owners EVERYWHERE hurt as all wages rise from the bottom? And it’s common knowledge to readers of this magazine that low-wage employers are driving the push for amnesty for illegal aliens. So pay up one way or pay up another.
Next I’ll address where he says: “Most of those who make minimum wage do so because they have the fewest job skills, and thus have low worker productivity.” From my own previous experience as well as those I talk to who still work in such jobs, the opposite is the case: Penny pincher bosses generally demand the most from their employees as they can squeeze out of them both mentally and physically and it often shows in the poor service and high turnover that undermines their end goal: to cut costs and increase profits and sales. But then again, so many Americans have gotten used to poor service that they don’t even know the difference anymore and just conclude as you do that it’s due to the low quality of the worker rather than the working conditions and demands. “Smart” workers know to never accept a job that pays a minimum wage: It’s too much work!
Finally, about the small businesses that his santimonious heart sympathizes with that needs to pay bottom wages or even illegals to keep afloat: ***** ’em. Sorry, but if their business model is that fragile, they shouldn’t be in business anyway. Your rational sounds a lot like a leftist subsidy or corporate welfare. If a large corporation can step in and pay higher wages and provide better service, I have no problem with that. Hey, shouldn’t I be the liberal here and oppose big business?
— Mark Sobolewski
Falls Church, Virginia
WOMEN IN COMBAT ZONES
Re: Michael Fumento’s Farewell to Maj. Megan McClung, USMC:
Michael Fumento’s article on the death of Major McClung seemed to me a respectful and decent tribute to an individual whom he held in high regard. Nothing in the article took a position on the merits of women in combat, and thus it did not contradict or repudiate Mr. Fumento’s previously and very clearly reasoned opposition to women in combat. If Mr. Fumento has indeed changed his mind on this subject, disregarding the extensively documented differences in physical capacities between the sexes and the ways in which military standards and training have been lowered or changed to accommodate women, then I’m sure he will say so.
However, even if Mr. Fumento has not changed his mind on the subject of women in combat, these sort of “She’s a Soldier!” articles (which have been virtually the only public and media expression on women in the military these days), creates the impression that he has. If nothing else, clarification would be appreciated because there has been a lot of dishonesty on this subject, mostly from those in favor of women in combat. In particular, there has been a very explicit tendency to equate women dying in combat (or merely their presence in the war zone and consequent exposure to risk) with their ability to perform fully all of the tasks required of a combat soldier (or sailor). Simply put, a person can be brave, dedicated, prepared to face danger, and ultimately die for his/her country, and still be wholly unfit for service in the combat arms. The only thing that a woman’s death in action “proves” is that the enemy’s weapons do not discriminate and are lethal to both sexes.
That said, I think it is important that a far more objective evaluation be made of the performance of women in the war on terror than has so far been the case. For example, even though women are not seeing combat in anything like the same degree as the men, they are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at 2-4 times the rate of the men. This isn’t because women are “frail” or “weak”. It is because women have a different neurochemical response to this type of stress than men and there brains do not produce the same type of chemicals in response. No discussion has been made of the effects of pregnancy on combat operations, logistics or general readiness. The late Colonel David Hackworth’s website estimated that the total number of women evacuated for pregnancy is comparable to the total number of wounded. Whether that is true or not, the actual number is tightly guarded. You’d think at least one journalist might want to find out. (Certainly any other evasion by the military isn’t treated with such kid gloves). The degree to which consensual sexual activity between the guards played a role in the breakdown of discipline at Abu Ghraib has largely been ignored, even though Lyndie England’s pregnancy was impossible not to notice. And even when women have performed bravely, the implications of their physical limitations are largely ignored. For example, when Sergeant Lee-Anne Hester won her Silver Star, a male soldier had to throw a hand grenade for her because she lacked the upper body strength to do so. This doesn’t diminish her bravery, it merely leaves one wondering what would have happened if she’d been on her own. Many instances have been reported of women medics shielding wounded soldiers with their own bodies. Undeniably brave, but in how many of those instances has this been the only option because the female medic could not drag or carry the soldier to cover? These sort of things will come back to bite us the next time we face a more motivated and tactically competent enemy (North Korea, China, Iran?).
So, by all means let’s honor Major McClung’s service and sacrifice, but let’s also not make her death (or that of any other woman in the military) into something that it is not.
— Anthony Mirvish
Michael Fumento replies:
As it happens, as a triathlete Maj. McClung was assuredly among those women who are in better physical shape in many ways than the average soldier or Marine. Even Ollie North gave her credit for her strength, though he ignored that she died helping him and his crew. I would also point out that both her male companions in that Humvee died just as quickly as she did. But I wrote to honor a brave Marine who died defending her country, her ideals, and the people of Iraq. At this time I will leave it at that.
THE NEW CENSORSHIP
Re: Mike Showalter’s letter (under “Icy Glare”) in Reader Mail’s Meet and Greet:
Further to Mr. Mike Showalter’s letter published on 12/29, I, as an avid reader, earnestly request a favor. Would it be possible to ban the pompous Mr. Seitz’s brilliant epistles from appearing in your letters to the editor “column” for at least two or three days? While I for the most part enjoy your publication, it has struck me that you seem to have the same stable of a half-dozen or so letter-writers appearing over and over and over. Are these sock puppets, or do only 12 people actually read what you’re writing, or are these commentators so much more brilliant than everyone else that you feel compelled to keep publishing their screeds day after day, week after week, month after month…? Mr. Seitz’s letters (along with the reliable repetition of the same few other names) almost convince me that you are indeed taking the “onion” approach to letters to the editor — writing them all yourselves under a handful of pseudonyms and employing a fictional Mr. Seitz as your foil.
Be that as it may, the first few hundred times I was forced to endure Mr. Seitz’s pontifications I was able to make a game of it. Start reading the letters to the editor (often the most interesting portion of the Spectator — no offense intended) without looking at the “signatures” and see how many sentences it took before you knew which one purportedly originated in Cambridge (yeah we get it Russell — you live close to Harvard — hey, I lived in Cambridge for several years myself and got out with high honors, but somehow I long since managed to get over myself). Unfortunately the game quickly became all too easy — it wasn’t long before “how many sentences” became “how many words.” Pompous liberal tripe composed by a real or fictitious man literally in love with his own towering intellect, yet who somehow manages to write like a caricature of a pompous ass perpetually confusing regurgitation of liberal tripe unencumbered with citations to facts and unimpeded by resort to logic with making an intelligent point in an articulate way.
If the editorial board of your fine publication cannot see its way clear to granting me this one favor — i.e., banning Mr. Seitz for a few days — I will be forced to go over your heads and appeal directly to the esteemed Mr. Seitz himself (assuming he actually exists). Look Russ — here’s a proposal. We’ll all acknowledge that you are much smarter than the rest of us unwashed hoi polloi (after all, you live in Cambridge, right?). In return, you promise to take at least a week off from letter writing, so that we Philistines at least have a chance to pause and ABSORB some of you brilliant points. What could be more fair???? Am I (and Mr. Showalter) voices crying in the wilderness here?
— David Lawson
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