As always Ben Stein is at his reflective best when he writes about the selfless contributions of our soldiers and veterans. As I have gotten older I find that Memorial Day has become the holiday that has the most personal meaning to me. It is a day to reflect and realize how petty and insignificant the current political squabbles are today. On this day I think about my paternal grandfather. An infantryman who landed at Normandy on D-Day, fought through France only to be cut down by artillery fire on the western side of the Rhine in November of 1944. In 2002 I had the privilege to meet with my grandfather’s best friend who was with him at the time of his death. Until this point I only knew my grandfather from his military photograph and my dad’s childhood memories of his father. For the next three hours I was in rapt attention. I was told stories not of derring-do, but of a quiet man with two young children who decides to join up late in the war out a sense that “something had to be done.” Of a workingman, a carpenter, whose sense of common decency and duty was such that he cared for his family and by extension his country so much that he would put his life at risk for a common moral cause.
When I was a child I was always mad because I never got to meet the handsome man in the cool uniform. I used to play with my plastic army soldiers and imagine my granddad storming the beach, knocking out machine gun nests, and single handedly taking out the German High Command. My dad would show me his father’s medals and the flag that they received at his funeral. As a young man I became upset with the fact that a man in his late twenties with children had no business running off to war. That while admirable, he left his wife a widow and his children without a father. As time went on my selfish thoughts gave way to the fact that near the end of the war we were running out of prime candidates for military service. I am sure that he realized that it was necessary to heed the call and sign up for service and in this case the ultimate sacrifice to his country. Everyday and especially on Memorial Day, I wonder if I would have had the fortitude to face that challenge. I will never be able to answer that question. One question I can answer is that because of my grandfather’s love for his family, friends, and his country I was never faced with that challenge. To all the veterans and all those on active duty, we can never do enough to honor your brave service.
— Ron Pettengill
London, United Kingdom
“They Did God’s Work” is the most astoundingly magnificent tribute for Memorial Day I have ever read. It is thought provoking. It is humbling. It is real sympathy for those who have lost a loved one, and ultimate honor for those who have died in defense of our beloved nation. And a much needed slap in the face for those who seek to destroy our nation, mislead our countrymen with falsehoods, separate us from our God and disgrace our Military.
Today is Sunday. It is truly a good day. Because once again, I have been reminded that America is not lost. The leftist media has not won. And our Military is still doing God’s work.
God bless you Ben. Thank you for reminding us what Memorial Day is about. Thank you for reinforcing our patriotism. Thank you for sending our military forth “in the name of God.” Thank you for being faithful to our nation. After reading this speech, in my heart I have to call you a brother. I really am shaken to the bone in appreciation for your service to our nation and for honoring those who gave their lives for our God and country. Best to you.
— Martin N. Tirrell
Lisbon, New Hampshire
The remarks of Ben Stein in Arlington were my inspiration for Memorial Day 2006. He put the juxtaposition between real Americans and the MSM into perspective. Those of us with a sense of history and a modicum of common sense realize that the liberal media have short-changed the brave men and women who fight for our continued freedom in America. Radical Islam is a threat to our freedoms and will continue to spread like cancer unless the brave military are successful in their mission. God bless their courage and fortitude in the wake of the cacophony of unknowing critics.
— Sallie Jones
As a veteran, I offer a small suggestion on “how to make it up to them.” But first, I have to say that there is no way to compensate a mother for the loss of her son, or a wife and children for the loss of her husband and their father. But there is something we can join together and accomplish that will keep the hero’s spirit alive in the hearts of America.
Ask your self three questions. Does my town have a Veterans’ Memorial? Why not? What can I do to make such a memorial a reality?
My town, Wellington, has just such a memorial. It is in a triangular piece of land where all enter the village. Prominently displayed are the flags of the United States, Florida, and each branch of the military. On the rock work that comprises the backdrop are the words “Veteran’s Memorial.” Quite literally, thousands of people pass it each day.
I think our park is much like a Veteran’s Cemetery: a dignified, simple place of quiet peace. Interestingly, on Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and Veterans Day it is strewn with yellow flowers. Somebody remembers.
Wouldn’t it be magnificent if every town in America had a place to lay yellow flowers?
— Jay W. Molyneaux
I understand Ben Stein’s compassion for the families of military personnel. My father was a British Army Captain during World War II. After enthusiastically enlisting and training at Sandhurst, he participated in campaigns in Italy, Greece, North Africa and the Middle East. I wouldn’t be here today if he hadn’t met my mother in Greece. But military life doesn’t prepare soldiers for civilian life. By age 40 he was an alcoholic, and at age 50 he shot himself in the head. The repercussions of war go far beyond what most people imagine.
My quibble with Ben Stein is that he doesn’t use his brain to do the most good. If he is able to approve of Keynsian economics in the New York Times one day, why does he choose to act as an apologist for the Bush administration the next? The fact that Americans are dying in Afghanistan and Iraq is indeed disturbing, and it is appropriate to grieve for the dead, the wounded and their families. But wouldn’t it make more sense for a person with Ben Stein’s influence to discourage our participation in ill-conceived wars? If we hadn’t invaded Iraq, none of those casualties would have occurred, and Saddam Hussein would still be doing his brutal dictator shtick — without any weapons of mass destruction. Ben Stein comes across as an opportunistic journalist and a servant to those in power.
— Paul Dorell
Highland Park, Illinois
Thanks Ben Stein for your insightful article. I am a veteran and you hit the nail squarely on the head. Good to see that there are a few in Hollywood who understand the sacrifices our service members and their families make to preserve our way of life.
— Dusty Woodlee
Re: Mark Tooley’s Fellow Methodist Demands Bush Impeachment:
Thanks to Mark Tooley for his excellent article describing the dangerous folly of the religious left and the real and tragic consequences it causes. I am particularly thankful that he mentioned the often-forgotten silence of the religious (and non-religious) left during the Khmer Rouge bloodbath. Those murdered Cambodian people deserve remembrance, and their blood is at least partially on our nation’s hands.
As for Mr. Tooley having to endure wicked idiots within his denomination, let me just say, brother (bite lower lip, crackly voice, fake tears), I feel your pain. I am a Southern Baptist, the very denomination boy Clinton and al-Gore claimed as their own back when that was a prerequisite for election in the South. I’m not sure how many of Clinton’s mistresses claimed similar allegiance, or if al-Gore approved of using the Earth’s precious wood to construct pews in said churches, but I suppose that doesn’t really matter.
— R. Trotter
In response to the good reverend: I guess Bill Clinton should have been impeached for his invasion of Kosovo to remove an evil dictator. You never heard any cries from conservatives against this action. To my knowledge there were never any weapons of mass destruction or any threat to America there so what is the difference except for the fact that Bush was in charge and every opportunity is made to make him look bad.
— Leon Weight
Idaho Falls, Idaho
As a MODERATE and lifelong Methodist, I’m writing to tell you Mark Tooley couldn’t have been more OFF the mark in this snide and sarcastic “report.” Most MODERATE Methodists I know are sickened by this president and more than ready for impeachment proceedings to begin.
Be sure next time you let Tooley loose on a “report” that someone actually EDITS his work, or call it for what it is — nothing but a right-wing hack at work again. They’re everywhere it seems, even in our church.
— Ellen Massey
I, in no way, wish to impugn Mr. Tooley’s statistics regarding the percentage of more conservative or more liberal members of his church. In fact the very idea that the majority of church members would not advocate the same line taken by the church leaders contains the answer to his (Mr. Tooley’s) problem.
Either organize and change the leadership in the denomination to a more moderate one, or simply withhold the funds necessary for the church to carry on its jihad against America. No one is keeping Mr. Tooley and like-minded Methodists captive within the denomination. They are free to join other denominations or to form a splinter group within the overall United Methodist denomination.
That is precisely what has taken place in my bygone church home that left me, the Episcopal Church USA. Millions of members have left that denomination. Thousands of members are now in the process of aligning with a more conservative branch of Anglicanism. Others that have not yet moved have closed their wallets and checkbooks to the Episcopal Church USA.
My point, Mr. Tooley, is simply this: you have within yourselves the seeds of a solution to the problem which you deplore. If one refuses to take the effective steps available to remedy a bad situation, then one becomes a part of the problem, not the solution. The branch of Christendom to which I now adhere worships the very same God and has the very same Savior that I celebrated when I was a communicant within the Episcopal Church. I happen to think that I am being more true to the Bible now, and less true to the politics and power struggles of men and women who have taken their eye off the prize. I could be wrong, but I don’t remember where Jesus taught against taking personal responsibility for one’s personal situation. Sitting and complaining is not taking responsibility.
— Ken Shreve
Mark Tooley’s article on the United Methodist Church’s attack on Bush brings to mind an interesting aspect of the President’s current church attendance. Even though there is a United Methodist Church close to the White House, President Bush attends St. John’s Lafayette Square which is an Episcopal Church. What is strange is that the Episcopal Church is just as liberal and pacifist as the UMC. In addition, theologically speaking, both denominations have rewritten, revised and compromised the Christian faith to the point of heresy. There are more conservative, orthodox manifestations of both traditions in D.C. that the President might choose to attend but instead he is indirectly endorsing the left wing apostate fringe of the Christian Church. In matters of faith both Bush presidents have been a mile wide and an inch deep. The UMC can protest all they like, but it is the President’s own personal witness that is most damning to his integrity. That is too bad.
— Fr. John W. Westcott, III
Anglican Province of Christ the King
I grew up in the Methodist Church and most of my family remains involved. The denomination is in a civil (or not so civil) war between regular Christian folks and the leftists who control most of the Church bureaucracies. My brother was involved with supporting preacher training schools that were in rebellion against the Church leadership by actually believing in the Bible. The current top hierarchy is made up of a bunch of draft dodgers from the ’60s who never believed that Jesus came to save from sin. They have hijacked the Methodist Church and it is the main reason that it is steadily shrinking. The Bible believing Churches are growing as people finally give up on their former Churches.
— Mike Bergsma
WHAT’S WRONG WITH DENNY?
Re: Jed Babbin’s Hell Is for Hasterts:
Although I consider myself a stout conservative, Speaker Hastert is way out of line on his defense of Rep. Jefferson’s office search by the FBI. Speaker Hastert’s proclamation that Rep. Jefferson’s office is off-limits due to the Speech and Debate clause in the constitution is laughable. A 1974 Supreme Court case already set the parameters for the Speech and Debate clause and when it can be lawfully invoked and stashing cash bribes in your office wasn’t one of them. Has Congress become so insulated that they can believe Americans don’t believe our representatives should be held to the same criminal laws that we must abide by? Since when is Congress above the law? If the Senate is tone deaf to the wishes of Americans on immigration, the House is no less “out-to-lunch” on believing their offices are off-limits to criminal probes. If that’s the case, let’s change the Fourth Amendment on search and seizure to protect all of us who have offices in our homes from being searched.
— Thomas Miller
Jed Babbin is exactly right. Dennis Hastert is busy dealing with legislation and behind him a firestorm is developing around a pismire Congressman from Louisiana involving the favorite pastime of that state: corruption. What on earth made the Speaker step into that mess???
Note to Dennis: While your political enemy is busy setting fire to his hair, stand back and enjoy the sight.
Bravo to Attorney General Gonzales! Finally, someone in the administration with some fortitude and character.
— Judy Beumler
My thinking is that Hastert’s diabetes is out of control. I am an insulin dependent diabetic of 17 years duration. His flushed appearance and tremendous bulk signal a problem. Most of all his actions and reactions signal a change in behavior common to diabetics whose glucose readings are out of control.
— Annette Cwik
Where is the leader we’re looking for?
Yes, W Bush is strong on the war,
And our economy’s booming, let’s thank him for that.
Let’s give this true American’s back a pat.
But where is the Reaganesque figure of our day?
Who has the straightforward, clarifying way
Of reaching the people with unambiguous intent?
Who refuses steadfastly to bend and relent
To the weak-kneed politicos gathered around
The Rotunda of power, full of fury and sound?
Going before the cameras there was once a guy
Who overcame the media, looked us each in the eye,
And direct from the shoulder told us just what he thought.
He could not be diverted, his favor not bought.
We trusted him always to do what he said,
To get his message out over the head
Of every pushy reporter, each arrogant anchor,
And he did it with grace not ever with rancor.
We look for his like among today’s women and men,
But Ronald Reagan will not come this way again.
— Mimi Evans Winship
Thanks, Jed. Your article speaks volumes about the current state of affairs, one that I have been concerned about for a while.
— Pete Chagnon
Re: Clinton W. Taylor’s Hard to Digest:
That Clinton Taylor has time to share his thoughts about Reader’s Digest while writing his dissertation is laudable. His articles are always on unusual topics and always worthwhile.
In considering the decline of Reader’s Digest, I think “digest” is the operative word. Wasn’t it always a select excerpting of thoughtful pieces gleaned from a wide range of good writing? Well, just look at the current media menu from which to digest. Pretty slim pickins’.
— Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California
I still have a vivid, eerie memory of sitting in a doctor’s office sometime in the early 1990s, picking up a Reader’s Digest, and reading a scary, in-depth profile of a guy named Osama bin Laden. That story really nailed bin Laden, and what he intended to accomplish.
It was several years before I ever heard his name again, and when I did my mind went right back to that Reader’s Digest article. I wasn’t the least bit surprised that bin Laden was behind 9/11 — I had been warned almost a decade earlier. I guess the Reader’s Digest was never able to penetrate the Beltway.
— Donald Palmer
If you believe the Reader’s Digest has gone off course you should also check on National Geographic. It has become a shill for greenies and environmentalists. What a shame that both magazines have lost their original real value.
— Paul Bunker
La Moille, Illinois
Re: Jay D. Homnick’s Gory Movie:
Alas, Mr. Homnick, you have concisely illustrated the fact that the “revolutionaries” were not revolutionary at all, ever. They were phonies from day one who were easily led and still are. Truth be told, other than the fools who subscribe to their secular religion, it’s all about derivative power, not earned power. For, they only survive and, at times, “succeed’ owing to the sacrifices of their betters to whom they invariably show disdain and contempt. The spoiled brats, Al Gore pre-eminent among them much like The Beast (a.k.a. Hillary), have absolutely no sense of irony or humor.
— P.A. Melita
RISKS OF CIVILITY
Re: Jim Bono’s letter (under “Reading Good”) in Reader Mail’s Liver Spots:
Re: Jim Bono’s reply to Ken Shreve’s reply (“Idiom School”) to my reply to… My, I sure opened a Pandora’s Box of Worms with my flippant inquiry into the origin of and fondness for (not the definition of) “spot on.” Obviously, levity is no laughing matter.
About Pandora’s Box. Yes, I know it was all the trouble in the word, not worms, in that box. But Pandora’s Box also held “hope.” And it is my hope that I never offend the sensibilities of PBS viewers again, for I am one, too.
Ask a civil question, start a Civil War!
— Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California
GIVE AMERICA A HUG
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.’s Carter Wins Second Coogler:
Hello Mr. Hater,
Saw your article on Carter. Let’s see: 20 books that each sold much more than any of your works, Nobel Prize, Carter Institute pushing fair voting and negotiating in world affairs, Baptist minister, Habitat for Humanity, the first major leader to push human rights and President of the United States. You ignore all his good works. You obviously do not agree with him politically, but instead of making a reasoned, factual argument against his policies, you personally attack him. Personal attacks instead of rational argument show the weakness of your ideas and beliefs. I expected much more.
Please think before your speak or write more hateful words. Your prose is ugly and is unhelpful to moving this nation forward. By your hate you hurt America.
Given your anger and hate issues, it is no surprise to see you feature Ben Stein. He is the conservative coward who agreed then refused to debate comedian Elaine Booser re: Bush vs. Gore on TV prior to the 2000 presidential election because he claimed his dog was, “scared of Gore.” You two are a well-matched pair.
Keep publishing on the Internet because your current words are a waste of ink. When you can construct a logical, sequential argument, please try your hand at writing again.
— D. Stuart
I just came across your amazingly smug, shortsighted and poorly written article on Jimmy Carter (our worst president ever, apparently — what a bold move beyond the typical Clinton-bashing) on the CNN web page. Curious, I then checked up on some more of your articles (since I hadn’t heard of your before), and I was surprised to discover that most of those articles were even worse. Wow, you’re shallow. Really, really shallow. A highlight — Spielberg’s Munich isn’t realistic enough for you. Something to do with large bullet holes and upright corpses, I believe. That’s great insight, Bob. I’m glad your friend in law enforcement has managed to blow the lid off these lies. A Hollywood film (not to mention a Spielberg film) that doesn’t accurately portray political (and other) realities? Stop the presses. Can we chalk this up to your lack of understanding of film, or do you have absolutely no respect for your readers? Do you really believe they’re as stupid as your articles suggest?
— Matt Ramsey
I would donate to Osama bin Laden to send the response Punky-lips Tyrrell deserves for maligning President Carter.
I suppose Tyrrell is one of those sicko puppy-torturers like Bush who chortles at swift boating true heroes.
I bet Tyrrell wouldn’t have been man enough to wipe Reagan’s demented ass when it was diaper-changing time!
Lionize the insane and evil. Ridicule the patriots.
Yes, I could cheer bin Laden to rid us of a few more of his ilk.
Anytime, anyplace American Sissy Spectators. But, borrow somebody’s brain if you have the balls to show up. I’ll buy the gas to fill your motor mouths to illuminate us with William Bennett, William Kristol and willie the pimp.
Loudmouth, lilly-livered cowards, just fleecing the country with all the moral clarity of P.T. Barnum.
Real spectacles you are making of America.
— Jim Wright
Kansas City, Kansas
R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is an idiot. His article about Jimmy Carter was full of nothing but hatred, no facts, no ideas, nothing. And I don’t even like Jimmy Carter. I don’t often read your publication, but a man like this does nothing good for you, especially if it’s a conservative journal. As a conservative, Junior should stop bashing Bill Clinton, because Clinton is more of a fiscal conservative than George Bush could ever dream of being. What Junior should be focusing on is the fact that the Democratic Party has taken the identity that the Republicans once had of being fiscally responsible. Junior should be concerned that his president has ruined the Republican Party, which was once about smart economic policy and making the American situation better, before making foreign countries better. Now it’s about religion and making foreign policy on a hunch, or a belief. Now nepotism is our national policy for making presidential appointees (see Brownie). Junior should be focusing on Republicans like me, because I have quit the Republican Party based on the fact that I now have more in common with the Democrats. Thanks for nothing, Junior.
— James Collum
FACTS ARE ENOUGH DISAPPOINTMENT
Re: Paul Dorell’s letter (“Fantasies of Democracy”) in Reader Mail’s Liver Spots, Sheryl DeMille’s letter (“Everyday Loudmouths”) in Reader
Mail’s Jimmy Wins Again, and Paul Dorell’s letter (under “All Sung
Out”) in Reader Mail’s The Ditsy Clucks:
Since Mr. Dorell is rather fond of quotes, I won’t have to tell him who said that “a cynic is a person who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” I am also pleased that he has learned the new magic word, the one that replaces abra-cadabra. It is, of course, Halliburton. The Halliburton myth must have evolved similarly to the evolution of the Cronos myth in ancient Greece. Both would seem to prove the old adage that a lie told often enough is always going to be believed by some people. Personally, I am waiting for the next one from the Bush caused Katrina, Bush runs Halliburton, Bush is listening to you and your Aunt Sally on the telephone crowd. Perhaps this group could take a lesson from some of those police departments that have a suspect killed while he is committing a crime, and proceed to hang every crime since the Lindbergh kidnapping posthumously around his neck. I am as disenchanted with the President as any one else, but I do not need mythology to underpin my disappointments. I have immigration and several other gaffes.
— Joseph Baum
Mr. Dorell, with all due respect, you need to get out more.
— Mike Showalter
JFK IS OVERRATED
Re: R. Andrew Newman’s “Senator, You Are No Jack Kennedy:
Various clever and effective answers for Quayle can be proposed. Maybe more important to ask is whether Quayle really was less qualified than JFK.
JFK did not have a distinguished career in Congress. His main accomplishment was to violate the traditional requirement that a politician achieve something and wait one’s turn to run for president — a fact that underlines his lack of accomplishment. Richard Reeves says Khrushchev knew JFK didn’t attend his econ classes and made a fool of him when they met. JFK knew early that he had not impressed Khrushchev and told Rusk it would be a long winter, since he knew Khrushchev would test a person he saw as weak. JFK gave Khrushchev the signal through a senator’s column that the Berlin Wall could be built and it was built. Only JFK’s previous incompetence led Khrushchev to put nuclear weapons in Cuba, so that JFK is the only president who almost destroyed the world. Newly declassified documents on later Cuban developments reveal that Castro told Richard Goodwin that he agreed to: give up the Soviet connection and stop exporting revolution. JFK saw this as a sign of weakness and continued his typically reckless efforts to assassinate Castro.
Only LBJ’s insistence that a civil rights bill was a moral requirement (Bared Ruined Choirs, Garry Wills) led JFK to work for a civil rights breakthrough that only LBJ actually produced — LBJ, the more experienced candidate in 1960. Whether JFK would have got out of Vietnam or not, one reason he might have stayed was that he feared he might be perceived as weak and inexperienced.
Quayle had impressed the first President Bush with his foreign policy acumen. And when Bush was unavailable during the Filipino crisis, Quayle showed real leadership that produced good results.
Ironically, Quayle’s VP opponent was more qualified than his running mate.
— R.L.A. Schaefer
I have always thought Dan Quayle could have overcome his shortcomings if he wanted to work hard. Richard Nixon had some very bad moments by 1962, but spent much of the Sixties working to help Republicans who eventually re-nominated him to run for President.
Dan Quayle made his choice, moving from Indiana to Arizona to play golf when his vice presidency was done. He could have set to work to re-define himself and build influence in the party by working for Republican candidates. I am disappointed in him.
— Joe Deegan
NO SUCH ORWELLIAN LUCK
Re: Eric Peters’s How Creepy Can It Get?:
I work in surveillance at a casino in Reno, and I can assure you that facial recognition software is too expensive and too inefficient to be employed by any casino in Reno. At our casino, we have around 400 cameras, and you’d be surprised by what you can’t see. In addition, video surveillance is often hindered by such factors as lighting (or lack thereof), foreground objects blocking the view (such as balloons, promotional signs and slow-moving security officers) and technical glitches (we still record everything on videocassette). Sometimes, crimes occur in the parking lot, but the incident might be too far away from the camera lens for us to identify the perps. Not all cameras have the zoom capacity. Sometimes cameras on auto-pan pan away from criminal activity at just the wrong moment. Finally, since most casinos have more cameras than VCR’s, the industry uses a multiplex system, in which 16 camera views are recorded onto one VCR tape. A particular camera view must be decoded, but the movement is herky-jerky, and renders positive identification problematic at best. Sometimes, stuff happens right in front of a camera, and you can’t even tell what’s going on, because the mulitplex system distorts the imagery (among other things, flashing slot machine lights create visual havoc).
Believe me, I wish the Orwellian omniscient video surveillance system existed, because it would make my job a lot easier.
— Robert Ellis