Re: Ben Stein’s How Was Your Weekend?:
I would like to personally thank Mr. Stein for the hospitality he showed my brother (Griff) and the other soldiers over the July 4th weekend. I just spoke with my brother and he said that the time with Mr. Stein was a real treat. I was happy to hear of someone who has been so successful using that success for a purpose other than grabbing headlines. I wish that I could hear more stories like this.
By the way, he told me about the “Bueller” bit. Very funny!
— Michael Trenbeath
Re: Clinton W. Taylor’s India’s 7/11:
7/11 ought to wake up even the most dope infested ’60s peacenik to the reality that Islamofascist terrorists are at war with the world. Sing “Give Peace a Chance” all you want, but peace will have no chance unless we destroy the terrorists who are causing all the trouble. So, you can either join the battle or get out of the way! Until then, as the President said “you’re either with us, or you’re with the terrorists.”
— Matt Marchetti
North St. Paul, Minnesota
Re: Manon McKinnon’s Unembarrassable Helen Thomas:
Hmm…does anyone else find the comment “Now I wake up and ask myself who do I hate today?” as self-revelatory as I do? It seems the grand dame of liberalism has come up with liberalism’s motto.
— Greg Richards
One of the unintended consequences created by nakedly partisan “reporters”Â such as Helen Thomas, is the undermining of trust in our media to be fair and balanced — that is to say –Â to be honest.Â Ergo, a widespread distrust of the legacy media is inevitable as long as her ilk waddle about and spout their twaddle.
Respectfully to Ms. Thomas: Retire, woman, and count the blessings that those whom you despise have afforded you.Â Rejoice that you never fell into the hands of those whom you excuse.Â
Ahhh, let her stay. The crazy aunt in the attic helps our side a lot but she’s so dotty she doesn’t realize it.
— Annette Cwik
Re: Eric Peters’s Cell Phones and Driving Don’t Mix:
Eric Peters asks “how come cell phone yakkers get a free pass?”
The reason is probably the same for mommies cranking their heads to attend to crying or misbehaving children.
Exactly what are the stats regarding distractions? Peters compares alcohol and cell conversations, but clearly they hardly constitute the entire list. They may not even be at the top of the accident and fatalities list, just on top of the politically incorrect list. Who knows? Who will tell?
There was significant evidence that blood alcohol between 0.08 and 0.10 had nothing to do with impairment, but the latter day prohibitionists won that battle. She who sound bites best, bites last.
But aren’t we missing the point? Impairment, be it by alcohol, or by cell conversation, or by screaming children, or by make-up in the rear view mirror, is not the crime. It’s the personal and property damage caused for whatever at fault reason that is the crime. Are there any conservatives left standing who will argue to not legislate every last detail to protect us from ourselves, and instead hold us accountable for damage when it does
— Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey
I don’t want government interference in yet another facet of my life, but Lord, what can I say? They’re a damned menace!
Here in California I’ve lost count of the close ones and near misses I’ve had on freeways and streets, in parking lots and even parking garages, all because some jackass can’t wait five minutes or pull over to call (or just as likely, text message). Half of them drive like it’s a video game anyway (or maybe they lose their place in paradise if they don’t cut you off). But when I look up from almost eating my dashboard, there they are, weaving in and out of traffic, one hand on the wheel, one on the cell phone and their mind God only knows where. Playing rap music so loud it rattles MY windows, three car lengths away
at 60 mph.
One day there’ll be a particularly bloody road catastrophe, or some busybody in the legislature will see a chance to make their mark in the culture wars. Either way,
Big Brother will move in yet again. California’s “drivers” will have no one to thank but
— Martin Owens
Re: Mark G. Michaelsen’s Old School Bribery in the Old School South:
I don’t know whether I am directing this letter to you, the editor, or to Mr. Michaelsen the author of today’s piece. As a long time resident of Ohio, I have been living in Alabama only since April ’05.
Having attended Air Force pilot training in Selma, Alabama and Bainbridge, Georgia, I acquired an affinity for the people, the red earth , the religiosity and the just plain class of the area. I wasn’t in Selma for the famous bridge crossing, but while there did not run into one of their pointy hooded types. Some reading this will say: AHA — he missed the evil.
I write this because of the insulting title given to it. OLD SCHOOL-OLD SOUTH. Though the piece doesn’t quite live up to the headline, it does a job that is unfair to the reality. The political reality down here is turned on its head. Going back to the cracks that began in the “Solid South” a few decades ago, the reality of a Republican South is pretty much total. Democrats have gone the way of the Dodo. There just ain’t many! Siegelman WAS, in fact, a Democrat. He conducted himself like one (notwithstanding current national D coining of that catchy Repubs are crooks phraseology). And his conduct had no basis in OLD SOUTH conduct but was just plain ole political corruption, and by a Democrat at that. Nowhere in the 50 states does anyone or any party have a corner on corruption. I give you, for example, New Jersey. Now THERE’S corruption. And once again by the Democrats.
To be fair, I should also point out some recent problems in the state of my birth-Ohio. If you want stigmatize an area (OLD SOUTH) or State (ALABAMA), you could start your tsk-tsking with Ohio. Having two of the worst U.S. Senators — DeWine-the-dweeb and Voinovich-the crier — which upon coupling with Taft the tax lover, the case is made. No room is left for the country club types there, to be pointing southward. And especially not Alabama with Jeff Sessions as one of their Senators — now there’s a Senator to be proud of! And while the northern elitist points south for his bigotry targets, he might again, look to the buckeye state to sort of level things. I served two four-year terms in a medium sized county as Prosecuting Attorney, having grown up there after my parents moved from Cincinnati. We had the quaint ongoing novelty of having a higher up in the Ku Klux Klan who caused considerable heartburn to the sheriff with his rallies and cross burnings. You can still see the remnants on his farm on the south side of I-71 as you cruise from Cincinnati to Columbus.
I cannot end this piece without relating an ongoing illustration of a political race that currently rages here in Alabama. George Wallace Jr. is running for Lt. Gov. on the Republican ticket, he is in a runoff and the underdog in the race, after being buried under a torrent of money by a former lobbyist that caught the eye of the Republican establishment. They are attacking Wallace for being a former democrat and too liberal. Kind of like the Republican establishment in Ohio that trashed the current nominee for Gov., Ken Blackwell, a black conservative, who can clean up the mess the country club crowd made. I, proudly support both Wallace AND Blackwell.
— Morris J. Turkelson
As to Mark Michaelsen’s article on Alabama’s corruption; go check out North Carolina. Wake County’s School System had over 3 million dollars embezzled before they got caught. Of course the Superintendent knew nothing about it — even though his next door neighbor (also his deputy) was convicted. Or how about the Speaker of the State House? Jim Black’s campaign took in checks that were blank, had staffers that also lobbied for the gambling interests who pushed through a lottery on a two-vote margin. (Two state legislators were out of town that day.)
We’ve become the Louisiana of the upper South without the entertainment value of the Longs.
— Paul Winborne
Raleigh, North Carolina
Re: Reid Collins’s Soccer, Anyone? and Reader Mail’s Penalty Kicks:
Some people say football is a matter of life and death. World Cup football is far more important than that.
I am an American living in Canada and have just participated, along with virtually everyone in the city of Toronto and most of my international friends, in a month of wonderful fun called the World Cup. In a city that’s a lot like New York — where you don’t speak to people until you’re introduced to them, and you can go for a lifetime with no friends other than other Expats, suddenly everyone had something in common — and I do mean everyone. In our corner of the office we had the flags of Italy (that was mine), Portugal, England (the St. George’s Cross flag) and Spain. Everyone had the FIFA website live timing and scoring racked up on his or her computer and groans or cheers could be heard from every corner during each and every match. It was not unusual to hear “We’re in Extra Time!” or “We’re going to penalties!” shouted from a corner office, or to have a lawyer swing by to ask a secretary, “You going downstairs for the match this afternoon?” instead of “Type this right now.” People were talking to each other when they didn’t have to. Yes, there were the usual whiny heinies who demanded that we all take down our flags and that a law be passed requiring us to only wave Canadian flags even though Canada had no team in the Finals. They were ignored.
Sunday afternoon I was committed to cover the champ car race in town, which some American had scheduled in blithe pooh-pooh of the fact that it kicked off at the same time as the World Cup Final, and that 500,000 of the 3 million of us were supporters of the Azzurri who were in the final. (The local man in charge of the race admitted in the Toronto Sun that, had the game been between Italy and Portugal, no one at all would have come to the race). Every driver I interviewed during the weekend wanted to talk about football. Everyone had an opinion about the game, even if it was that they did not want the French to win (a majority opinion).
Although I had to do my race reporting regardless of the future of Italy hanging by a thread, fortunately the men who were supervising the television feed were watching the game, so we could keep up, and then rush into their space to see the deciding kicks! I came to the race in the colors of the Italian flag, and on the way home joined in the huge, delirious parade of flags, signs, even sheep painted in red white and green that were marching through my neighborhood (known as Little Italy or the Corsa Italia). The party went on until 4:00 a.m. and the talking went on for the next three days. Football is a beautiful game because every four years it makes people who are not Americans stop spitting at each other and enjoy the excitement.
I grew up watching American sports, and in my opinion American football has a lot in common with NA$CAR: large, armor-plated monsters repeatedly smash into each other until somebody is hurt, a significant number of the “players” are under indictment for something, and after every “score” someone does the chicken dance or jumps up and down on the hood of someone else’s car; everyone drinks a lot of beer in the parking lot; and nobody knows who won. Sometimes the people who stagger out of the stadium after a one-hour event has consumed five hours of actual performance time don’t even remember who was playing.
If you want to call that “sport,” have another Budweiser on me and enjoy your tailgate party. There are enough of us out here beyond your borders so we won’t even miss you.
— Kate Shaw
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
In response to the recent article by Mr. Collins and the respondents who agree with him on the merits of soccer, I am writing respectfully disagree and defend the beautiful game.
The reasons why soccer, a.k.a. football, is the most popular sport have to do with more than just the ability to score or not. First, in terms of economics, it is the cheapest sport anyone can get involved in. Of course, as one takes it more seriously and should he play on a team, the cost of a pair of tugs (boots or cleats) may increase, as well as the cost for the uniform; however, it is still manageable compared to most sports and any child from a working class neighborhood can begin to participate in it. Because of this fact, one can say it is the most democratic sport there is.
Another reason, despite the fact that many games end as they do, is the rhythm of the game itself. Watching a match between two very exciting teams like Brazil and Argentina, or Argentina and Holland, or Portugal, in which there is constant offense, can be very suspenseful. Seeing a player feint an opponent and doing a cross-over with his feet and succeeding in passing him displays a specific flair and talent. Also, having to control the ball with one’s feet while not being allowed to pick it up and run takes a great deal of skill. Look at the grace of Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Cristiano Ronaldo, Arjen Robben or others. It is the constant motion and grace in this motion that is attractive.
Another reason for the success of soccer is that it is very reflective, maybe the most reflective of everyday life. In it we see the frustrations of trying to maneuver through opposing forces (players) to actually score, i.e. attain one’s ambition or goal. It is not everyday that one is able to do so, hence the recognition of frustration, and fans in soccer, like those in many other sports, use it as a form of escapism. When one scores, it is a great celebration because it is rare; and then it is back to the drudgery and the tactics, and grace, as in life. Thus like life, it is unpredictable, and one has to think and act quickly. Even when one does not score, the skill that a player used to make an attempt is admirable. To feint a defender and get past him and make a cross takes quick thinking and acting. And to score from twenty to thirty yards out when one cannot stop to plan one’s next move, because there may not be others and an opportunity opens up, takes great talent. And for the many who think that taking a penalty is easy, it is not. On the field, it is not as close as it looks on television; and with the World Cup, the weight that both the kicker and goalkeeper are under is immense.
— Nigel Assam
Re: Jim Camden’s letter (under “Soccer to Me”) in Reader Mail’s Penalty Kicks:
Breathtaking…How else to describe Jim Cadden’s lack of good humor in responding to Reid Collins’ droll takes on the games so beloved by Euros and residents of central New York. The Soccer Hall of Fame is, of course, in Oneonta, New York.
In one brief piece, Mr. Cadden manages to insult the good Mr. Reid repeatedly as well as calling the rest of us American sports fans ill-informed Philistines when it comes to soccer. While claiming NOT to be a “…defend soccer at all costs…” kind of guy, Mr. Cadden does just that with the same kind of prickly, worldly self-righteousness worthy of the New York Times editorial board and most of the U.N. This reader has witnessed scores of high school varsity matches (as they are called) and even one pro game featuring the legendary Pele. I can’t recall ever being more bored. I far prefer a good dance recital or choral presentation to soccer at any level.
In an unintentionally funny effort to establish American soccer fans as a passionate and even violent lot, Mr. Cadden has cited (presumably) published examples of spirited sideline assaults IN DEFENSE of soccer’s appeal. However, tales of mayhem from both Florida and New Jersey could be found abundantly in news stories about garden clubs, bingo outings and bake sales in either of those states. I don’t know about North Dakota …it could be boredom.
Jim, take the Kerry/Edwards bumper sticker off your Subaru and start enjoying life a little. Dodgeball, anyone?
— Deane Fish
Re: David Holman’s The Rest of Murtha’s FBI Tape:
Shouldn’t Fox News (or SOMEBODY!) be filing a “Freedom of Information Act” request for any and all information on any media that the FBI or any other Federal agency has regarding the ABSCAM investigation, specifically to include the Murtha video (plus anything else that prior investigations indicate exist)?
— Kevin Amaro
Re: James Bowman’s review of Who Killed the Electric Car?:
Tom Hanks should put his money were his mouth is. If so many Americans want electric cars he should buy a bunch of old clunkers then convert them to electric. I’d like to see how many he would sell at a profit.
— Cecil Brackett
THE DORELL DEBATES
Re: Paul Dorell’s letter (under “Draft Away”) in Reader Mail’s Penalty Kicks:
Gentlemen, and ladies — arguing with the likes of correspondent Paul Dorell is like grinding water.
When I was but a wee lad, Dad had a way of admonishing Mom when he found her in contention with me and my siblings: “One doesn’t”, he would remind her sternly, “Argue with children.”
Poor Mr. Dorell is plainly stricken with the now-pandemic phantatic disbushia. There may be a cure in the pipeline, but the FDA long ago eighty-sixed therapeutic approaches based on reason. They just don’t work. Until our friends a Big Pharma get a wonder drug past the Food and Druggies, palliative measures are all we can offer to Mr. Dorell and the many other sufferers. A cure is simply beyond our reach just now.
Dorell seems to have found some measure of relief – he is, after all, reading TAS online.
— Paul Kotik
The fog producing Paul Dorell has declared himself the victor. Several Proverbs about fools and arguing with them come to mind but I can’t resist taking one last poke. After all we wouldn’t want to leave them unanswered in their folly. “Saddam Hussein has more in common with Joseph Stalin than with Osama bin Laden.” There is something that all these blood thirsty leaders have in common. They have been supported by American and European leftists like Paul. Stalin was lucky enough to get outright support of leftists until the evidence of his vicious regime became too obvious (just obvious was not good enough). At that point the left did a very curious thing. Instead of becoming anti-communists they held course and became anti-anti-communists. A new rationale with the same behavior. This continued with several other communists (Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot, Fidel Castro and Daniel Ortega). Around a hundred million souls died while leftists looked the other way. There was always a hero worship stage followed by an acknowledgement of their horrific crimes but in the end they still supported them in deed anyway. Not surprisingly when communism waned, leftists found this strange kind of common cause with extreme Islam and the Stalin-like Saddam Hussein (maybe the rationale is anti-Americanism or a hatred of the American middle class). This time there was no hero-worship stage and they jumped right to the anti-anti-terror position (I know that there are some exceptions like Senator Patty Murray referring to Osama bin Laden as a day care center builder or others saying that terrorists are just freedom fighters. This is just the left’s reflexive imprinting of there self image on other anti-Americans). Paul apparently supports what happened in Afghanistan even though it looks very similar in outcome to Iraq (a stubborn insurgency, vicious attacks on civilians, even larger parts of the country which are not controlled, no end in sight). Many leftists never supported Afghanistan or have abandoned it already. I predict the rest will want to abandon it as soon as it doesn’t provide cover. Maybe Al Gore would have invaded Afghanistan but I don’t think so. He was part of an administration which tolerated a lot of aggression with only minor reprisals. I think it is more likely that maybe two abandoned al Qaeda training camps and maybe a half dozen pharmaceutical plants would have been taken out with cruise missiles. Like Paul they would have declared victory. By the way Paul might want to consider why a non religious Iraqi citizen (Ramsi Yousef) who masterminded the first Trade Center bombing connected himself with a bunch of Islamist religious nuts in New York. The criminal approach to terrorism used by the Clinton administration wasn’t curious about this at all. Paul should be warned that if the obvious connection occurs to him he may have to actually support something.
— Clifton Briner
Mr. Dorell, please add my name to your august list of people in the “minority.”
Your dislike of a Texas twang discloses the arrogance of your views.
On the other hand, I do agree that a national draft of ALL would be an improvement over an all volunteer armed services. I was a volunteer during a time when the draft was in effect and found it amusing to watch most draftees change from egocentric selfish people to people who enjoyed, and contributed to, group activities. A wee bit of discipline and a controlled environment did a lot to change their attitudes. However, had you been
drafted, I suspect that you would have been in the minority.
— Nelson Ward
Ribera, New Mexico
Re: Greg Barnard’s letter (under “Draft Away”) in Reader Mail’s Penalty Kicks:
If Greg Barnard is genuinely interested in “facts” and thinks I’m a moron, please inform him that I have a B.A. from DePauw University, an M.B.A. from Indiana University, and, since he seems to think that IQ matters, I was formerly a member of Mensa.
— Paul Dorell
Highland Park, Illinois