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Contract With Ben

Re: Ben Stein’s Let’s Stand for Something:

First, Kudos. A nice set of objectives. I would only observe that maybe these should be the objectives of all Americans and not just the Republicans. “Let’s Stand for Something” even makes a great bumper sticker. And I close with a couple of questions:

* You have stated the goals. When do you intend to announce your run for the Presidency?

* Will you consider Rice for VP?

* Where do I send the campaign check?
John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

Ben, as usual, is right on. Shortly after losing the 2004 elections and recognizing that they failed to connect with the “values” voters, Democrat leaders vowed to reach out to them. Unfortunately, their strategy consisted of merely using rhetoric with a veneer of evangelical terminology with no intent of altering their liberal policies. I noted at the time that this sham would probably not fool anyone. Now they once again have shown their contempt for conservatives, especially evangelical conservatives, by their smug and arrogant assumption that this important minority can be swayed by their less than clever attempts to manipulate words and pretending to get along with them. It is what I have come to expect from this cabal of leftists.

My concern is that the Republicans are once again taking these voters for granted. Perhaps the prevailing wisdom is that these folks so detest the things the Democrat leadership champions that they would never support them. This is a serious miscalculation by the Republican Party, in part because, while most of evangelicals will not vote against their consciences, they may choose to stay home instead. A good case can be made that the GOP has abandoned their conservative principles regarding fiscal responsibility and their prosecution of the war in Iraq continues to be unpopular. Unless the Republican leadership returns to the core ideas that brought them the majority they now enjoy and articulates a sound plan to implement them the defections will continue to mount. Leaders of the GOP seem to hell-bent on squandering all their political capital in an attempt to pander to every constituency. Not offending anyone appears to be their top priority. When will the GOP learn that what differentiates them in the minds of those who elected them is their promise to adhere to the conservative social and economic policies they campaigned on? Equivocation and compromise only rattle their base, causing them to look elsewhere for leadership.

I too bristle at the prospect of Nancy Pelosi being Speaker of the House. That woman appears to be bereft of any qualifications for the job except seniority but if the Dems win control after the mid-term elections she will likely secure the position. That alone should be enough to light a fire under the GOP leadership.
Rick Arand
Lee’s Summit, Missouri

Ben, call the meeting. You alone have the viewpoints, the timing, the connections, the resources, and the intellectual skills to bring such a GOP summit to fruition. We in the “blogosphere” can type and read and do grassroots things until we are blind and our fingers and toes are bloody stumps. But they are not listening. They would, however, listen to you, as would the mainstream media. You can, in such a dramatic way, help energize and reorient the GOP to what it once was. You could reverse the current GOP backslide. It is a crucial time. Call the meeting and it will be successful.
Francis Dillon
Indianapolis, Indiana

Ben Stein’s wish list for Republicans to create a second contract with America makes me wonder whatever happened to their first contract with America. Republican legislators must be laughing at Stein’s quaint suggestions; Support for our fighting men and women? That’s left to their families and the legions of average Americans who attend Memorial Day services and post flags on their houses — the kind of people Republican elites find distasteful as they race off to the next rubber-chicken dinner event to pull in more campaign contributions and earmark yet more tax money they’ve stolen. Surrounded by ignorant policy advisers, they ignore the practical, real-world solutions military experts could offer because of the administration’s reliance on a handful of elites.

“Anti-abortion advocacy?” The matter is in the Supreme Court’s hands, and even if it weren’t, this issue simply does not ignite the Republican Party base, any more than gay marriage or other issues where the Republican Party proved itself impotent to oppose but rather use as a distraction so we won’t think about its overspending and failure to deal with our borders.

“A clear statement against overpaid CEO’s and a national priority to teach Americans the importance of saving?” Is Stein kidding? When will Congress adhere to such principles, let alone lecture the American people on them?

“A serious effort to protect our ports and borders?” Mr. Stein, are you a racist and nativist? That is how Mr. Bush and Republican elites describe us. I perused Mr. Stein’s list, and nowhere does he mention the illegal alien invasion and the resulting bankruptcy of local governments and destruction of government and social infrastructure. The Republican Party does not care about the average American struggling to pay bills and pay taxes to support millions of illegal aliens and Congress’s wild overspending and jet-setting.

Republican rulers have so lost touch with their base that they see it as the enemy. As proof, I offer the invective by Mr. Bush and liberal Republicans who call us names and attack us for questioning the Dubai port deal and for opposing amnesty for illegal aliens and public benefits for them. Mr. Bush and Congress simply do not care about the disintegration of this country, and another useless, tired statement about abortion or school busing will not change the sorry situation. Not only do Republican elites ignore us, they hold us in contempt.
Caroline Miranda
North Hollywood, California

I believe many Democrats would happily subscribe to most, it not all, of your program. There may be an issue or two where more discussion would lead to a compromise that would really cement the deal.

I must chide you about the off-putting rhetoric at the end of your article. It detracts from the seriousness of the ideas you present. There are far too few conservative commentators who merit the respect of moderates in both parties and, even, thoughtful liberals. You are one of them, so please leave the name-calling to the Ann Coulters and Rush Limbaughs of the world. They have that base covered more than adequately.
Mike Roush

The idea that Lucy is going to let Charlie Brown kick another Contract with America football could be quite amusing provided that one does not see themselves as Charlie Brown and Lucy as McCain, Specter, or Frist.

When Charlie Brown tries to kick the football and Lucy pulls it away at the last moment, please notice that Charlie lands in an undignified position that makes it very hard to reach for his billfold.
Danny L. Newton
Cookeville, Tennessee

The good news from California should be a clarion call to the GOP that we can not only maintain control of Congress (both houses), but that we can actually win seats. Ben Stein is right the time is now for the GOP to unite behind a second contract with America outlining everything from strong support for the war against Islamic extremism to protecting marriage, tax payers and the unborn from cowardly, avaricious, and lethal Democrats.

Might I suggest the Defense of Military Pay Act (DOMPA) be the first thing in the new contract? DOMPA should exempt all active duty, reserve, guard and retiree military pay from federal income tax. The time has come to stop merely paying lip service to those who serve our country, but reward them for their service.
Michael Tomlinson
Crownsville, Maryland

Stein makes a good point. Our elected officials are so corrupt that they lie even to themselves and believe it.
C. W. Clore

I think for Americans the number one point should have been CONTROL THE BORDER and enforce the laws already on the books against illegals and the employers that hire them. I am very happy the election in California turned out as it did, since it was won being against amnesty.
Elaine Kyle
Cut & Shoot, Texas

As Ben Stein observes, right now the Republicans are having a very difficult time articulating exactly what it is they stand for. They shouldn’t. It’s really very simple: it’s all about the kind of role of they want for the government in society. The Democrats want the government’s role to be that of “provider.” The Republicans want (or should want) the government to act in the role of “facilitator.” There is a huge difference between the provider model of government and the facilitator model of government. The provider model assumes that people are basically incompetent and/or immoral, and need the government to act as a sort of surrogate parent, while the facilitator model assumes people are capable and trustworthy, and that the government needs only to help citizens to help themselves.

Want practical examples? Social Security is a classic government-as-provider-style program, while the 401(k) is a classic government-as-facilitator counterpoint. Strict gun control is a classic provider-style law. Regulated concealed carry laws are their facilitator alternative.

The facilitator model isn’t about not having a government — it’s about having a government that encourages and assists citizens without treating them with contempt.

I agree that Republicans should stand for something. A second “Contract with America” won’t work well since today’s Republicans have completely given up on the first one. Who would take a second one seriously? I certainly won’t unless the first point is a constitutional amendment for term limits for all members of Congress. Instead of a mix of random issues, maybe the Republicans should stand for the Constitution. Abortion, pain treatment, retirement, and school busing — I don’t see them mentioned in the Constitution, therefore they are not federal issues. If we were governed by true conservatives, they would be working to push these issues back to the states, not trying to fix them at the federal level (where the solution is always worse than the problem). The Constitution should be the lens through which every issue is examined.
Chris B.

First, it was William F. Buckley kow-towing to the New York Times on Iraq and now Ben Stein calling for an agonizing reappraisal of whether we should be in Iraq at all? Two turncoats in a row? Ben Stein, a weenie? Who woulda thunk it?

If the mainstream media had spotlighted the yearly U.S. murder totals and their destructive affects on U.S. society during the past three years with the same intensity they’ve used on the bad news from Iraq, the American people would have by now totally lost faith in our representative democracy. The same can be said for a similar contemporaneous scrutiny of the U.S. role in defeating Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. FDR could have never seen it through.

In fact, Ben, why don’t you do an article on the U.S. murder rate and totals for the past three years? It will prove instructive for all of us. Iowa Congressman Steve King has shown (See — May 29, 2006) that the annualized Iraqi civilian violent death rate, 27.51 per 100,000, is about half that of pre-Katrina New Orleans at 53.1 per 100,000, and also much less than Washington, D.C.’s rate of 45 per 100,000. But since there has been no national spotlight on any of this at all, it is not — as is Iraq — part of our nation’s consciousness — nor of yours. Try doing the U.S. murder numbers for the full three years. I think you will find that Iraqi violent deaths pale in comparison to those in the U.S. during the same period. But I haven’t read any Ben Stein call for an agonizing reappraisal of U.S. democracy, though no doubt we need one.
Darrel Hansen
Alamo, Nevada.

Nobody does it better. Ben Stein, you take first prize.
You know how to throw some sunshine into too murky skies.
Parting lethargic clouds with a rainbow of common sense, You’ve shown us a hopeful solution where our thinking’s grown dull gray and dense.

A new contract of, by and for the people is an idea that should be sold.
Isn’t it fitting that in desperate times we once again make so bold
as to stand together and hold back the tides of encroaching elite grabology?
Let’s shout love of family and country aloud, remain strong and make no apology.
Mimi Evans Winship

Ben Stein speaks for me and my family and we are 14 in number and we vote. Keep up the good work, Ben.
Gene Hauber
Meshoppen, Pennsylvania

Re: Quin Hillyer’s Pence Again:

While the Pence bill is the best legislation so far presented, it is unnecessary. Please listen closely, the existing immigration and border security laws are more than adequate to secure the border and force the emigration of illegal immigrants now living within this country. The only thing that is needed is funding to provide adequate staffing of the enforcement agencies charged with enforcing these laws and the will to actively enforce same. The solution to the problem of rampant illegal immigration is elegantly simple, enforce the law.
Michael Tobias
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Having read Pence’s speech at the Heritage Foundation, I like the thrust of the approach. I’m a little curious how those who’s first act here was to violate the law are going to be held to all the past law breaking (tax evasion, etc) but maybe that Devil is in the details not mentioned in his speech. Someone has to pay the freight for past wrong doing.

I think where Brendan Crocker “stepped” in it was in characterizing H.R. 4437 and its supporter(s) as being on an extreme end of this debate and not viable. As Pence’s speech makes the point, H.R. 4437 is the starting point and foundation of his plan not separate from it. In effect, Pence’s plan as I understand what I read is more comprehensive in nature but along the same lines. If I got this right?

The more fundamental question however is that the compromise does not have to happen between H.R. 4437 as written and Pence’s version but what ever the House accepts and the Senate Amnesty Bill. The Senate bill isn’t worth the paper it is written on with perhaps the exception of the payment of back taxes, fines etc. The House could probably “conference” their original H.R. 4437 and Pence’s version in about a day whereas the Senate version is worthless along with those that “actually” support it.
Thom Bateman
Newport News, Virginia

OK, I’m one of those “serious” conservatives, most of the time, unless I’m in the doghouse for being too satirical. I give! “Uncle!” “Uncle!”

Gosh, Quin, you mean we might could actually leverage the corrupt Mexican government, retire the “Minutemen,” nullify the economic consequences of low per capita wages, revive the “working on the house and yard” American weekend, and provide incentive to millions of conservatives to put their autographed pictures of “Dubya” back on the wall, all at the same time? WOW! Be still my heart! I can just see it, now: you, Brandon, and the Reader Mail detractors in a Coke ad with Mike Pence, Tom Tancredo, Chris Simcox, Newt Gingrich, Larry Kudlow, Vicente Fox, Jimmy Carter, Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, John McCain, Bill Frist, Karl Rove, and the President, all standing together on the border in Laredo beside a picture of Arthur Goldberg, holding hands, swaying, and singing, “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing.” The Azetlan folks aren’t going to like it, but they’re kinda cranky, anyway.

Now, if Pence could get the Congress to pass the Fair Tax, we “serious” conservatives could all sleep at night!

Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

Crocker redux.

What chutzpah! Hillyer implies that real, serious conservatives are starting to pay attention to Pence’s amnesty bill (yes, amnesty — they are breaking many laws) and finding merit in it. This serious conservative, who cast his first vote for the great Barry Goldwater, has never voted for a democrat, and has never failed to vote, will stay home in November only if the house capitulates on this. No bill would be far preferable to this.

Anyhow, since when has it become a conservative thing to enforce our existing laws and secure our borders? True, the left, which never misses an opportunity to bring this country to its knees, is all over this. Likewise the Larry Kudlow Republicans and the Wall Street Journal editorial staff are ecstatic at the proposition of amnesty and try their best to demonize a patriot like Tom Tancredo.

But to us plain Americans, the answer is not complicated. Yes, we need more border security, but how did this get tied into making illegals guest workers and citizens? They are not guests — they were not invited, and they are certainly not entitled to citizenship. But I digress. The simple solution to the problem (as well as ensuring that I and everyone I talk to show up this November) is:

1. Seal the border (if it takes a wall, so be it)

2. Enforce and increase fines for employing illegals. Jail ’em if we have to.

3. Forced repatriation (yeah, yeah I heard it can’t be done, but we won’t know until we try).
James Sherlock
Waldwick, New Jersey

My observation is that the Pence plan is the best of the worst. But even this has holes. For example:

1. We actually have a guest worker program, its called H-1B and L-1 Visas. Now one can quibble about the effectiveness and efficiency of the program. But what you may not be aware of is that for all intents and purposes it is the Pence Plan. An employer must first demonstrate that there is no willing native employee, then they may search for a qualified applicant and make the necessary filing. But other than the stamp of approval by the feds for the visa it is all handled by private enterprise. (Issues rampant fraud, pay scales, and the fact that no public notice as required by law, are beside the point.) Business alone seems to quibble about the cap. They can get the workers here no problem. But the point is I don’t see how what Pence is proposing is different from the current system.

2. Even in Pence’s proposal, this shifts the tax burden from business to individuals. Aaaah how you say? Simply this for comparative purposes: I am married to a foreigner. One of the conditions for her to arrive here was that I had to agree via a contract with the federal government to provide any support for whatever reason and prove that I was capable of providing that support with evidence. Anyone filing a K-1/2/3 or V-1/2/3 visa must file form I-134, Affidavit of Support. This prevents the petitioner from shirking their responsibility and assures that the spouse and dependent children do not become public charges. Now, to date, I have not seen any plan that requires any employer to sign any form that prevents a guest worker from being a public charge. Nor have any placed requirements for pre-deposits or bonds to assure that the worker returns to country of origin. So as a consequence, when the worker is laid off, fired or discharged who picks up the tab for public assistance? The government does, and, by extension, the individual taxpayer.

3. For any decent plan to work, a requirement should be made, that is the employer truly can’t find a willing native worker, then at least when the guest worker is brought over that that business sign and file a I-134 for every one that is hired. It is not only equitable on its face, but fully puts the risk and burden at the feet of the requestor. This requirement just might temper the zeal to go for the cheap. Should the employer discharge the worker it induces the employer to make sure the worker exits the country. To do otherwise places them with the burden of providing for the public assistance of that worker.

4. Even the Pence plan represents a drain on social services. We already know that the Social Security system is in trouble. How does having a guest worker help that issue? Again by example: I have been paying into the Social Security system since I was 14. By the time I would be able to collect a dime, I will have paid my share for some 55 years minimum. Juan is brought over under the plan and pays into the Social Security system too. He’s 40 now, and let’s say he’s a hard worker so his employer files an extension. He pays into the system for 15 years. By God’s grace Juan gains permanent resident status. But here’s the rub, let’s say Juan and I both retire at 67 and both start drawing Social Security checks. Assuming that we were both making the same salary, what do you think the outcome is? Does Juan get a smaller check than me? Nope. We would both get the same as the determinant is the pay scale of the last 20 quarters of income. Do you see the disparity? I, the native, have been paying into the system 3 times as long plus the net present value of that payment stream for 30 of those years. Juan, I hate to say it, is a net accelerator to the demise of the Social Security system compared to the native born.

The solution of course is that the guest worker should have deductions paid at the rate of the social assurance system of their native country and not be eligible for Social Security services. This should also hold for other programs, FHA, student loans, etc.

As a last observation I would like to point out that all the proposals floating in Congress have placed the identification process on the wrong horse. Making proper identification a requirement of the guest worker won’t stop the fraud. If a guest worker requires forms W, X, Y and Z for employment, but natives only need X, Y, and Z which are still easily forgeable, then anyone with any sense will note that one can bounce down to an illegal in a flash and declare one’s self a “native” and show fake X,Y, and Z documents. Want better enforcement? Open the current online Social Security verification system as a requirement not an option. Put some additional teeth in the 1986 law, a la Sarbanes-Oxley type of penalties. Then investigate, arrest and prosecute the top 100 worst offenders. Trust me, if the “guy with the tender chicken” is occupying the Martha Stuart suite in the federal pen, the attitude about irregular hiring will change very rapidly in this country. With no opportunity for employment, the vast majority of border jumpers who are here will eventually leave.

Build the wall, enforce the law and this problem slowly reverses itself.
John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

I say NO to any new immigration bills until we enforce the EXISTING laws that are adequate.
CW Clore
A conservative looking for a political party that stands for basic principals of fiscal responsibility, God fearing morals and honest responsibility for the individual.

Regarding “Pence Again,” I can’t help but notice that the article ignores anything about a fence. The Senate amnesty bill promises only a fence of about 300 miles, assuming they even keep their promise, and even the House bill only promises 700 miles of fence.

Hmm — I seem to remember the border down south is about 1700 miles. Of course, we can expect more articles like the one from the Post on its front page June 6, about a 3 year old child who died in the desert — and guess who was to blame? Why, fence builders, of course. You can always rely on politicos to exploit children for their agendas. Yes, if you want a fence that means you want kids to die of thirst.

Almost as sick are comparisons to the Berlin Wall. A fence along the border is not going to have minefields, and fragmentation bombs, but our sneering elites will make the comparison anyway. Liberals have done it, and conservatives too.

That fact that there are plenty of rich liberals and rich conservatives, from Ted Kennedy to William Kristol, who love illegal immigration and spit abuse at their opponents, shows that really there isn’t that much difference between them. Whether its illegals, or quotas, or gerrymandering, there’s really no difference.
John Lockwood
Washington, D.C.

Thanks to Quin Hillyer for his concise and illuminating article on Rep. Mike Pence’s answer for our illegal immigration problem. I had read his speech to the Heritage Foundation last week and have e-mailed his ideas around to my e-mail buddies. His is a common sense, pro-American bill that will put enforcement first. As long as we can guarantee that enforcement is working and that those hiring illegals are cracked down on, our country can finally get a handle on who is here and stop those crooks who hire illegals and make a mockery of our nation’s laws.

If we don’t secure our border, then we have no country — that’s what has dismayed me the most about those who cow tow to illegals in hopes of getting their votes. “Law makers” cow towing to “law breakers,” now that’s an irony we don’t need in this country. Pence has my vote — a law maker who actually believes in upholding our nation’s laws rather than undermining them. Those who voted for the Senate bill have a death wish for our country. We must stop them.
Deborah Durkee
Marietta, Georgia

I have always said, the illegal “guest” workers must go home and apply to come back, this sounds like a good thing — have not seen anything in this bill not to like.
Elaine Kyle
Cut & Shoot, Texas

Re: Reid Collins’s The Times That Try…:

I agree with Mr. Collins on all of his suggestions regarding Congress, except for his proposal that we might have to amend the Constitution and extend representatives’ terms from two to four years in order to keep them from spending too much of their terms fundraising.

What if, instead of extending the terms, we simply urged Congress to expand the number of seats in the House? Until the early twentieth century, after each decennial census, seats were added to the total number in the U.S. House. Each member of Congress represented a much more manageable number of constituents. In 2006, with a population of 300 million, the people of the United States are represented by 435 Congressmen, creating a ratio of approximately one representative for every 690,000 citizens. With numbers like that, Congressional candidates are “forced” to raise big money to spread their message via their local media. If modern Congressmen represented less populous districts, might that not curb the need for such massive fundraising? Wouldn’t our representatives be able to campaign in a much more localized atmosphere? I think such an expansion would also diffuse power that has been concentrated in the hands of so many career House members. Smaller districts, coupled with biennial meetings, might be the solution to the problem Mr. Collins addresses.
Doug Nanney
Memphis, Tennessee

Oh God, would that it could be done! Except for the extension from two to four years, of course.

Actually, I don’t think it’s necessary to limit the sessions to a biennial system. Annually would do. And I know the perfect time of year to do it: between the Independence Day and Labor Day holidays, with no air conditioning allowed in the Capitol during that time. Can you imagine those sweating old goats begging for the “leadership” to let them escape from there? I certainly can. Some other ideas:

1. Reduce their pay to only cover expenses to travel to and from the session, with a small stipend to live on while in D.C.

2. Establish Congressional dorms for them to live in, with a nice cafeteria. I did say a “small” stipend, didn’t I?

3. Eliminate the Congressional pension system. It’s a travesty anyway.

4. Reduce the “staff” allowance almost to zero. You can have a secretary, and that’s it. Do your own research and horse-trading.

5. Any overseas “fact-finding” trips must be accomplished using military transportation only. Strap yourselves in to that nylon-webbing seat, sit back, and enjoy. Oh, and don’t forget those earplugs!

Given the time, I’m sure I could come up with, oh, about a thousand more. But, you get the idea.
Scott Warren

I agree and have an additional proposal. The House and Senate should both have a Committee for the Revocation of Laws. The committees should be sending a steady stream of laws to the floor to be revoked by a simple up and down vote. Robert Heinlein took it a step further by requiring a two-thirds majority to pass a law and a one-third minority required to revoke a law — just to keep government small.

I have a better solution as how to (regulate) congress. Move the House and Senate to Fairbanks, Alaska. How many lobbyists would follow?
Gene Hall

Re: Lisa Fabrizio’s ‘Tis the Season:

It matters little whether heatstroke or the media onslaught seconding Big Al’s excellent climate adventure has driven Lisa Fabrizio to break into verse as she opines “The only solution, I suppose, is that the entire GOP hold its collective breath, at least until November 7 of this year.”

Alas, the offerings of her Christmas muse make asphyxiation seem a merciful alternative to apoplexy. The very principles of natural law she espouses demand you should give us seasonable respite by setting her instead to translating The Stuffed Owl into Kung, Dard, and tongues too rich in glottal stops to pose much risk of human intelligibility. Under no circumstances should she be allowed to recite to killer whales.
Russell Seitz
Cambridge, Massachusetts

I wish to nominate myself for the Sierra Club’s “summertime scoundrel” award. I recently drove 600 miles round-trip to Watkins Glen, NY to watch 700-horsepower Indy cars burn up the track for three straight days. On May 27, I spent the afternoon at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut as Rolex GT racers made not only alarming speed but highly excessive noise. On June 16, after my daughter’s graduation in Brooklyn, I’m headed to Raceway Park in New Jersey to watch NHRA dragsters put 8,000 (yes, eight-thousand) nitro methane-fueled horsepower down on the quarter-mile drag strip with engines that roar so loud that they literally vibrate your bones. At night, they shoot 10-foot flames out of their exhaust headers. Cool. I’ll be maundering around until September — ISMA SuperMods, Lucas Oil Alcohol Drags, World of Outlaws Sprint Cars etc. And if I hadn’t been out of work for two years, I’d really go for it. Ain’t summer grand…
Steve Nikitas
Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Re: Doug Bandow’s “I Just Had to Do It”:

Why didn’t Dana do this? Why didn’t Dana’s husband do that? Obviously Dana’s slant and target of blame for this unfortunate and agonizing decision is ridiculous, and would make many pro-choicers cringe. But, the real question here is why wasn’t the contraception available to this woman when she needed it? The morning-after pill prevents implantation in the exact same way that “the pill” does. Why is one controversial and the other not?

While pharmacies are not obligated to stock every pill approved by the FDA, I don’t understand why some pharmacists are morally opposed to preventing an unplanned pregnancy and maybe preventing a later abortion.
R. Mays

Re: Paul Beston’s Don’t Flinch:

I get your point but be careful. This is the same argument the anti-death penalty crowd uses when people support the death penalty but don’t want to watch it on TV. I saw United 93 and think everyone should. However, my mom won’t see it. She’s not some squishy liberal. She’d rather not relive those horrible events but she still votes for politicians like the President who are tough on terror. She’s not alone. What is the saying about the “silent majority.”
Sterling Heights, Michigan

Re: Ben Stein’s Keeping the Faith:

As an Iraq war veteran, I took great pride in sending your remarks to every veteran I know including the brave Iraqis who worked for us. I received this note from my translator who had to flee Iraq and is now in hiding. This lady has risked her life to work for us. Other Iraqis on my staff and in the Iraq judiciary have been killed because they stepped up to build a country. All live and work with the threat of death for wanting a better life. There is no room for “sunshine patriots” in Iraq. Please, if you would, send Fatima a few words of encouragement. I could have accomplished nothing without the bravery of her and all her colleagues.
Colonel (Retired) Daniel L. Rubini
Former Senior Advisor to the Iraq Ministry of Justice
Coalition Provisional Authority

Re: Mark Tooley’s Fellow Methodist Demands Bush Impeachment:

One would not expect Mr. Tooley to know that Mr. Winkler can only speak for himself no matter how important his position is. Only the General Conference can speak for all United Methodists. Be that as it may, as a United Methodist pastor, I concur with Jim on his demand. But there was no communication from his agency to us speaking of his demand. If it hadn’t been for a reference in my email from SOJO, I wouldn’t have known about it. Much the pity.
Rev. Earl Kammerud
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Re: Clinton Taylor’s Hard to Digest:

Clinton Taylor’s piece on the old Reader’s Digest was right on target. I’m proud that I did much of that “dogged investigative reporting” for the magazine from the 1970s to the 1990s. And did you know that when the Congress was debating whether to create the U.S. Information Agency (motto: “Telling America’s story to the world”), one congressman said, in effect, “Why bother. Let’s just send copies of Reader’s Digest around the world.”
Joseph Harriss
Paris, France

Re: Manon McKinnon Germany Gets Its Kicks:

McKinnon is exactly right. Prostitutes shouldn’t be going to Germany for the World Cup games. They should stay in Congress and the state legislatures where they belong.

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