Re: Enemy Central’s Enemy of the Year:
Thank you for your eminently sensible choice of TBII as the Enemy of the Year. Forget the New York Times and the so-called Democratic Party, who may possibly recover in the same way the so-called Republican Party survived after 1939. The real enemy is the Enemy: the TBII and assorted well-armed clowns of similar dispositions. As Churchill remarked, “We of the allied forces have met a common enemy, and we will crush the Nazi renegade.” Well, the Islamist terrorists were allies of the Nazis, so we may consider the present engagement as a delayed mop-up operation — with the tentative approval of the Republicans and the disapprobation of the Democrats and the mealy New York Times. Who cares? We know the enemy. Death to the TBII, and screw their witless Western enablers, the latter of whom inadvertently confirm the strength of the democratic experiment.
— John R. Dunlap
San Jose, California
While I can understand the point of view of the EOY selection board, I can’t quite agree with it.
True, the Islamofascists in Iraq and elsewhere hate us, hate what we stand for, hate what we believe, hate those who agree with us, and hate what we may be able to do in the Middle East and elsewhere (as in stop or diminish 1400 years of strife, tribal and clan warfare, and other wonderful “attributes” found there.)
But they are marvels of consistency, and make no secret of their hatred.
The NYT, on the other hand, is covert, nasty and underhanded while hiding behind the First Amendment (so are all the other wannabes like the WP and LAT.) They, to me, are the real enemy — the “Et Tu Brute” ones who knife us in the back while claiming “patriotism.”
— Cookie Sewell
Congratulations to our EOY. Well deserved in an obviously crowded field, but they did sink to the level needed. I have two questions: 1. Will Helen Thomas travel to Ramadi to present this to them?? 2. Will this be covered in depth by Al-Jazeera and the NYT??
In addition to the enemy of the year, The American Spectator should recognize January 14 (Benedict Arnold’s birthday) as TRAITOR’S DAY and bring to the public’s attention that individual whose act or acts in the preceding year have given the greatest aid and comfort to enemies of the United States.
Happy New Year.
— Peter Latham
PRESIDENT OF THE YEAR
Re: Paul Beston’s Stoic of the Year:
I agree wholeheartedly with this article. A terrific piece of good news about W. I would also just like to remind the naysayers, concerned about the violation of civil rights by the g’vmnt, where were you guys when Bork and Thomas were having their library and video rentals looked into by the likes of TED KENNEDY?
— Janis Johnson
What may not be invincible are the RINO’s in the party. I am sick of them voting for the terrorist and against our safety. They need to get a backbone and stop acting like liberal Democrats with their spending and hating America.
— Elaine Kyle
Paul Beston makes a very good point concerning President Bush. Were it not for the complete lack of serious competition from the leaders of the Democrats President Bush would look lots worse. Doggedness and stubbornness can take you a long way when you are battling waxwork dummies. Sadly for the nation both the Democrats and the Republicans are effectively leaderless. For now, thanks in large part to the Liberal Media, the Democrat “leadership” is President Bush’s biggest asset as few Americans are willing to accept the Democrat’s policy of surrender and defeat.
— Tillman L. Jeffrey
Re: Ben Stein’s Good Morning, 2006:
Once again, Ben Stein, paints with the master strokes born of decent values and gracious, vivid intellect. I am struck by his open sincerity and his able pen as it describes the “journey” that he, and I believe many of us, are making.
Ben articulates what many of us know and cherish but, too often, fail to express… past and present brave souls have paved the safe, comfortable roads of our contemporary “journey’s”.
We owe these souls common decency and common sense.
Common decency demands our gratitude. Common sense demands they enjoy our absolute support.
Thanks for Ben.
— John Curtis
You know…you just gotta like Ben Stein !
What’s not to like ?
— Joe Holmes
Cedar Park, Texas
Amen Ben Stein, Amen!
— Jim Haupt
— Jim USMC 73-77
What a beautiful piece. Thanks to Ben Stein and the Spectator, and best wishes for the new year.
— Malka Rabinowitz
Ben Stein is truly a gifted writer. His year-end tribute to veterans paints very vivid portraits of times of appreciation during his younger years, similar to heartwarming times that many of us love to remember. Men and women in uniform, in various fields of war, serve as an ever-present backdrop and foundation on which these portraits stand. This article should be a “must read” for many of us in country who far too often take things for granted, especially in these difficult times.
— Robert Jackson
This Army brat and Marine wife is eternally thankful for your words of Dec. 30, and though I can hardly write through my tears, I wanted to tell you just how much your profound and beautiful words of support and encouragement are to people like me.
I lost my dad in Vietnam. Lost my first husband to a service-related cancer (at age 32). But I still love the military and its great people. I recently re-married another Marine, and though he just retired after 29 years’ service, my every waking thought is of the bravest Americans who are training, fighting and dying — all so we can raise our children in the greatest nation on Earth. They’ll live forever, because they’re part of the fabric and history of America. They’re bigger than most of us. It’s columns such as yours that will finally make Americans wake up and realize there are things worth fighting for in our world.
Thank you, and a very Happy New Year to you and your families.
— Laura B. Armstrong
daughter of Lt. Col. Roger Bartholomew (USA, KIA Vietnam, 1968)
If this can be forwarded to Mr. Stein:
You’re the best. Thanks and Happy New Year.
— Cory Steiner
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Ben Stein, for reminding us that we are who we are because from the very beginning men, and women, have stood up and said, “No more.” I think at least once a year every single magazine, newspaper, and TV news should print or read “In Flanders Field.” My hope for the new year is that our military can see enough progress in Iraq to allow our troops to come home. Happy New Year.
— Kay Clinard
Ben Stein’s article is, once again, on target. He grounds us in the reality that our freedom is due to someone’s sacrifice for us. Would that the left could remember that they are able to speak freely, even to criticize, because someone fought for the freedom to do so.
I am grounded by a single teacher in high school, a retired Col., who wrote thoughts on the blackboard for us to ponder. One day in 1967 he wrote these words on the board and transformed my thinking forevermore, “Somewhere out there a man died for me today, and I must ask and answer, am I WORTH dying for?”
May that thought hold in each our minds and that of those who daily snipe at the President. This war is for freedom for keeps. We could lose, what then?
— B. Gunn
East Texas Rancher
Thank you Ben for reminding me of the reason I can enjoy the freedoms of being a citizen of the US paid for by those courageous men and women serving in our armed forces. I have enjoyed life in these United States for over 70 years and survived numerous armed conflicts; WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, the first Gulf War and now the war in Iraq only because someone else was fighting them for me. I did serve on active duty in the US Navy Reserve, but was fortunate to be a “twener”; between Korea and Vietnam.
— Thomas Bullock
West Covina, California
Ben, how many women were killed at Chosin reservoir? If I remember correctly, that was mostly a Marine action. Are we becoming a little PC here? I realize that women were killed in our nation’s wars but they were not frontline deaths (until Iraq). Maybe you’ve spent a little too much time in that California sun.
— Pete Chagnon
God Bless Ben Stein and his family forever — for remembering our Armed Forces.
— Karen Monro
Thank you, Ben.
— Vietnam Vet
Re: Jed Babbin’s A Very Unmerry New Year to You:
Bull’s eye, Jed!
Our president finally stood and got counted, and left assorted Democrats howling at the moon. They are pathetic. I think it is their self-congratulatory affect that affects me the most.
— Cara Lyons Lege
Nice one, Jed. Get me all stoked, and then NOT tell me who the perfect Repub for ’08 is? Shame on you.
— Scott Warren
If you’re thinking Tommy Franks, I’m right there with you!
— Michael A. Fraley
“…set sail for 2008, with an eye on the few people who we think can lead us forward in the war.”
If we were really “at war,” we (the American public) would demand all-out attempts to win overwhelmingly, unconditionally and immediately — or at least as close to the latter as at all possible — instead of assuming we’d still be mucking around on the current cul-de-sac three years hence, with no plan to actually finish off our effort or objectively measure its success.
But, of course, we’re not. We’re merely attempting to forestall a deflationary economic downturn, continue the spread of what’s termed “globalization” (even though at least 80% of Americans don’t want any more of it and recognize it as contrary to their best interests) and undertaking some bizarre social reform program among the failed, ignorant and cowardly of the world, all while our own country’s cultural and economic foundations continue to slowly crack and rot under us.
— Peter Jacobs
Great article, you hit all the nails on the head (too bad could not have been REAL heads).
How about starting a term limit campaign for both Houses of Congress, then just maybe they would start working for U.S. instead of worrying about the next election.
— Elaine Kyle
Jed Babbin’s “To Hell with 2006” is a great idea and a very funny column. Thanks Jed.
As to your description in the last paragraph, it sounds to me like someone with a first name like a rock opera by The Who and a last name that goes well with ‘beans’.
— Greg Barnard
OLD MAN RYAN
Re: James Bowman’s review of Munich:
I enjoyed James Bowman’s review of Munich. Unfortunately, I noticed an error in it.
While the old man at the end of Saving Private Ryan is the same character (Private Ryan) as the one Matt Damon portrays, it’s not “Matt Damon” performing “emotional maunderings in front of the war graves.”
Rather, it’s the emotional maunderings of Harrison Young, who is listed in the credits as “Ryan as Old Man.”
— Calvin Dodge
James Bowman cuts to the heart of the problems with Spielberg’s Munich, which is the lowest-common-denominator cliches of his “vision,” not his take on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict per se.
For a complementary but somewhat different perspective, your readers may also wish to read the following.
— George A. Pieler
Perhaps James Bowman in his recent review of Munich missed one of Steven Spielberg’s cliches. The final shot of the movie shows the twin towers still standing on the New York skyline. Was this Spielberg’s way of telling us that he thinks that we were repeating Israel’s moral mistakes when we undertook a “revenge mission” against al Qaeda?
— Scott Fraser
THE NATION’S CONSCIENCE
Re: Mark Tooley’s ‘Tis the Season:
Mark Tooley complains, “At Christmas time, church officials might be expected to focus on the fairly momentous birth of their Savior. Instead, many are bewailing Republican budget ‘cuts’ as an attack upon the meaning of Christmas.”
I see the Democrats as our country’s “conscience,” and the Republicans as our “accountants.” These are necessary points of view for finding balance in Washington. Mark Tooley is the pot calling the kettle black in his rants. (I am a Republican that voted for George Bush the “uniter” and compassionate conservative.)
I’ve been studying the Institute for Religion and Democracy message since the Iraq war started in 2003. I’ve found them very supportive of the war and George Bush. Then I found the IRD to have roots in the Progress for the New American Century, the ones that brought us the foreign policy of preemption — made up of former Democrats that crossed over to become Neoconservatives, forming this influential think tank.
I am a member of a mainline church and I sense there is such a divide in our church over this war most are afraid to talk about it lest they offend. But, I believe most Christians are now aware of the terrible mistake we made in invading Iraq. When George Bush stated the number of dead at some 30,000 we finally understood the failed policy that he brought to the presidency.
As for the PNAC and its front group the IRD, they have much to repent of. “For they speak no peace: but they devise deceitful matters against them that are quiet in the land.” (Pss.35;20)
— George McGinnis
Re: Jay D. Homnick’s Hanukah Reflections:
A very interesting and entertaining article. However, it is completely wrong. Not wrong historically but wrong as to why Hanukah is successful. My father, a kosher Jew from the Bronx and long dead, born a hundred years ago, made endless fun of Hanukah. What his contempt came down to was this: no self-respecting Jew, when he was a self-respecting Jew himself, had anything to do with Hanukah.
Quoth he: “Hanukah was invented by Jews to annoy the Goyem.”
Simple as that. We can’t have little Billy getting presents when little Abe doesn’t. And so, like the wretched Bas Mitzvah, Hanukah is something pushed on us by secular Jews concerned about the self-esteem of their hard-charging little charges.
Wake me at Rosh Hashannah.
— Stacey Lippman
West Palm Beach
With regard to his critique of Granville Sewell’s discussion of evolution and probability, Arthur Hunt draws an analogy between living systems and the separating of oil and water. Hunt posits the notion that oil separating from water is some sort of proof that a “highly ordered” system can come about “entirely on its own” — even though, as he later points out, this phenomenon is simply entropy playing out at the microscopic level. Problem is, I don’t recall Sewell ever saying that there is no order in the universe, only that we cannot explain how “more” order can be derived from “less.” Sewell never argued that such physical order as already exists ought to be ignored, nor that physical order is particularly hard to find.
Whenever anything happens, ultimately it can only be by accident, or design, or necessity. The behavior of oil and water fall into this latter camp; they separate because they are adhering to the laws of physics. Indeed, there is nothing particularly “highly-ordered” about the process of oil and water molecules banging into one another until the heavier molecules find the lower portion of the cruet — in fact, no chemical reaction takes place at all. To explain it, all we need to know is a little something about gravity.
No such simple physical cause can explain how living cells occurred by necessity — and therefore Hunt’s analogy breaks down. It seems more likely than he has confused a superficial orderliness in appearance with the much deeper orderliness of biochemistry. In terms of complexity, rather than try to explain how a living cell could spontaneously appear, fully formed and functional, I would gladly argue that the Sears Tower resulted naturally from earthquakes, snowstorms, and glaciers, and all without an architect in sight.
— Lee Dise
Regarding Jonathan Proudfoot’s question as to why evolution is more accepted in Europe than in the US, perhaps the question should be rephrased to something along the lines of, “Whoa, there’s within the U.S. a contingent of people who continue to insist that evolution is false. Moreover, that country’s Hollywood/Academia/MSM Ministry of Propaganda portrays said people as quasi-Cro-Magnon men from the very theory they decry. Such a backhanded compliment alone provides cause to question whether those simpletons might actually be correct. Perhaps free-thinking people ought to hear them out, rather than dismiss them out of hand. Otherwise we run the risk of stifling, even shouting down, honest scientific debate.”
As to the original question posed, the reason for evolution’s higher degree of acceptance on the European side of the primordial pond is that our brethren there have found many thousand times more transition-state fossils than have we. (Many thousand multiplied by zero is still zero, right?)
Regarding Arthur Hunt’s salad dressing example, let’s review what was described: an entity (the salad eater) outside the system (the salad dressing) adds energy to the system by shaking it up. The added energy disperses and intermixes the components (oil and vinegar) by breaking some of their molecular bonds. The added energy then dissipates out of the system through frictional heat as gravitational forces segregate the two differently-densitied compounds even faster than do the compounds’ mutually-repellent molecules.
But note that the two compounds were already segregated before the infusion of additional energy. The example is not much more than noting that a block of wood and a rock thrown into water segregate themselves. It does not violate the second law of thermodynamics by being a closed system ending with more order than it originally had. Even salad dressing pays homage to, well, follows exactly, actually, the second law of thermodynamics.
— R. Trotter, PE
Of all the theories of science, human evolutionary theory seems very, very low on the list, valuewise. It has no practical application, the fundamentals can’t be replicated in finite time, and the evidence for it is necessarily incomplete. Schools would be better advised to focus on the parts of biology that are more immediately relevant and that can be demonstrated in real time. Surely these would be more exciting to students and of more immediate value as well. Also these topics would better demonstrate the scientific method.
— Charles Akemann
Professor of Mathematics
University of California, Santa Barbara
Granville Sewell overlooks one tiny point in attempting to argue that thermodynamics prevents evolution. In talking about such things as energy entropy, disorder, and the like, what he is really arguing is the — admittedly ludicrous — claim that the second law of thermodynmics prohibits ANY biological reproduction. Unless Sewell wants to claim that every act of bacterial and viral replication is driven by the miracle a divine hand, he is telling us that our own children are thermodynamically impossible.
And bumblebees can’t fly, either.
Obviously, there are forces that tend to produce disorder in our organized systems. The result of these circumstances result in genetic mutations. Genetic mutation is the engine that drives evolution, while natural selection is what steers it.
The laws of thermodynamics, combined with the hard-to-deny reality of biological reproduction, don’t make evolution impossible — they make it inevitable!
— David Merritt, Geologist
Amargosa Valley, Nevada
I was reading and nodding along to unsigned’s response posted 12-29, until he/she started going on about how the Boomers were not responsible for the election of Clinton. It was all downhill from there.
Bill Clinton, born in 1946, is a Boomer, whatever definition you use… I guess I’m just not understanding the ‘we aren’t responsible for a bit of this’ mentality. That sounds like something my Gen X peers would whine!
What the heck, leave me unsigned, too!
I find myself concurring with several recent comments regarding “the greatest generation.” I know (or knew) a lot of folks from that generation, including my father, who were just outstanding people: willing warriors, industrious workers, decent citizens and neighbors. There were also a great number of left-wing fellow-travelers, malingerers, and violence-prone union thugs. The idea that that particular age cohort constituted “the greatest generation” is the simplistic sort of blather one should expect from mental midgets like Tom Brokaw or Andy Rooney.
Embarrassed as I frequently am by the antics of the lefties and fools of my age cohort I would still speculate that we fielded the same percentage of willing warriors, workers, and decent citizens as my father’s generation. Each generation mustered a useful minority, a malignant minority, and a majority just along for the ride, as has each generation through history; just as my sons’ generation is doing now.
— Steve Gingerich
I simply must reply to “Unsigned’s” reply to Lawrence Henry’s “Screwing It Up, One More Time.”
First, let me confess I too, alas, am a boomer being born in 1960 and turning 45 today. Like me, Mr. Henry may have said for years that I was of the ’60s generation but not really a part of it. Old enough to remember much, too young to partake at the time, though I tried to make up for it. Those of us born after ’55 or so really grew up in the ’70s and ’80s. Mr. Henry and I have much in common, including hanging around with tough old birds of the Greatest Generation in churches and storefront meeting halls trying to learn what it is to grow up, abandon self-pity and face the world as a man. My first real boss, Lenny J., was a bombardier in a B-24 who survived his 25 missions over Europe, including the first Ploesti Raid, and then went on to fly 28 more clandestine “Carpetbagger” missions in a blacked-out, disarmed B-24 under “Bull” Donovan’s OSS at great risk. His plane was once shot down over the Bay of Murmansk by our jittery Soviet “allies” and he had to bail out of the nose-gear door into the frigid waters below. A couple of crewmates didn’t make it. He was 24. My longest “sponsor,” Milton G., was a Marine radioman/rear gunner in a Dauntless dive bomber in the Pacific who saw some action but didn’t like to talk about it much. And of course I’ve heard all their “I-was-there” accounts of the Depression-era years before the war and their exciting exploits in building the greatest nation upon their return home.
Lenny, originally from New Jersey, came home to a successful insurance career in S. Florida and success as a father of three bright, responsible grown boomer children. Milton returned to run the family furniture store in Manhattan and raising a disabled daughter and a dysfunctional, drug-addled son in a marriage where the love had long ago waned. Lenny is a devout Catholic and ran a tight operation at home, insisting his wife stay at home until the kids were grown. Milton was a lapsed Jew whose approach to child-rearing was more relaxed in progressive NYC. Lenny is a staunch, life-long Republican who despises the Dems despite his Northeasterner and Depression-era beginnings. Milton, a staunch Democrat though wizened with age admitted he saw some problems with their direction in his latter years and if memory serves he tended Republican in the Presidential elections but otherwise bought pretty much the whole liberal program as did the great bulk of voters from their generation. FDR Democrats they are called and for decades the largest, most powerful voting block, particularly on Social Security. They were a paradox: vanquished the Nazis and Commies but almost let America go to hell in a handbasket.
“Unsigned” has done a signal service by detailing some of the failures and negligences of the “Greatest Generation” that are conveniently overlooked in any discussion connected with the boomers, the ’60s, the culture wars or anything we can trace back to when our nation seems to have slipped its moorings in the early ’60s. “Unsigned” has said publicly what I’ve said privately for years, though he is not so courageous as to attach his name. I can understand why, but with the GG crowd one is expected to face his detractors openly. Unsigned goes farther than I in his indictment of the Greatest Generation (GG), but still he is on to something for one simply cannot blame all the woes of a society and its culture on one generation, especially the one in which the most disruptive shift occurred while they were yet adolescents for the most part. And no thinking adult would blame a child for burning down the house if it was his parents who gave him the matches and bid them “go play,” would he? No, a hard look at what the so-called GG let go on is in order. A fair and balanced approach must look not just at what came before, as we always do by way of contrast on this topic, but also what were those more mature generations doing in response to the boomers’ juvenile demands? After all, the GGers were the grownups at the time, no? No generation is a civilizational island in its own time, not even the boomers. Unsigned is right, it’s the GG generation that bought into the whole liberal political and cultural package and kept it going with votes right up until recent times. It’s not for nothing ol’ Rep. Claude Pepper of south Dade County was one of the most feared politicians on any issue regarding Social Security or entitlements for seniors. One need look no further than the dying-off of the FDR Democrats as the main contributor to the political realignment and subsequent political victories in the last 10 years or so. Ask the Dems, one of their dirty little secrets is the literal dying-off of their major donor base along with lower self-identification amongst the young.
I had said to both my pals over the years there are two issues their generation will be cursed for by those in the future: Buying into the grab-all-you-can Ponzi scheme mentality of Social Security and letting your children play with cultural matches who damned near burned the house down. Their responses were telling. Lenny readily agreed and went further along Unsigned’s lines, but the flame of Milton’s ‘ol time liberalism burned in his eyes as he muttered about “changing times,” “new ideas” and such. More tellingly, can you spot which of these two heroes’ offspring is the official poster child of the ’60s boomers? Yet, is he really representative? I don’t believe so.
The good news for Mr. Henry, Unsigned, and all of us, is for every aging hippie with “issues” there are two, three or more who didn’t loath their country, didn’t dig Che, didn’t riot on campuses, fought for their nation, married and had kids in that order and otherwise went on to productive, non-drug addicted, unselfish lives just as their GG parents before them. But a crucial difference is all these unsung boomers, like Unsigned and me, don’t buy into the GG’s politics because they’re not new ideas anymore. They have a track record and it’s not pretty. And as for the poster-child boomers’ cultural agenda, I have a track record of trying their ideas and it’s not pretty. The boomers as a whole always get the kind of Age-of-Aquarius press that they do because it’s poster-child boomers who went on the long march through the institutions of the press and academia. But, one political battle at a time, it is the silent majority of the boomers winning and gaining ground. We count them conservatives, but I think they’re just the normal kids of the ’60s and ’70s who’ve had enough of watching the school-yard know-it-alls screw it up for everyone else.
Take heart, Mr. Henry, the FDR Democratic voters are almost gone, at least half the boomers are not lefties, and the younger generations despise the aging hipsters with their dork knobs, faux retro-revolutionary politics and elitist “progressivism,” so who does that leave to enforce the poster-child boomers’ wanton desires? They are a shrinking force in our society and culture and with the continued information revolution their influence will only shrink more. Also, with each passing year the foolishness of poster-child boomer politics becomes clearer to their mature counterparts. Another of my axioms I’ve said for years is that liberalism is the ideology of adolescence and the good news there is most people do grow up eventually, yes, even boomers. You, I, and many other boomers are growing older and wiser and that means more realistic and that means more conservative as it’s defined in modern politics.
The worst part of being at the tail end of the boomer generation is that the sizable cohort among us that have done so much damage, like the poor, will always be with us, at least in this boomer’s lifetime. But, just think, in a few more years or so, we’ll be regularly reading the obits of the poster-child boomers leading lights.
— Mark Shepler
Re: Mark Gauvreau Judge’s Not So Fast, Mr. Meyerson:
Amen and Amen!
Happy New Year!
— Joan Rovenger
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