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Concentrated Minds

Re: Ben Stein’s Simply Terrifying:

Ben Stein’s writing is the literary equivalent of Samuel Johnson’s observation that “The prospect of getting hung in the morning will concentrate the mind wonderfully.” Very few writers can say so much, so well and so concisely as Mr. Stein. His comparison of the Bastards in Black Robes with the Falangist followers of Francisco Franco is a flash of insight into the black soul of liberalism. Liberals have come full circle into fascism.
Bob Keiser
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

I live about 15 minutes away from the hospice where Terri Schiavo is living her last days. Last night my wife and I were driving by the area and decided to stop. Not to gawk, not to protest, simply to go there. Because both of us sensed that something extraordinarily wrong was taking place. A few days ago I was one of those saying that Terri should be “allowed to die,” that “it was none of anyone’s business,” etc. My mind is changed after hearing that her husband is that in name only, that there is testimony that she is disabled rather than being in a vegetative state. Maybe that is entirely wrong; but maybe not.

I’m not a particularly religious person but I prayed today for the first time in a long while. And when I was at the hospice last night I turned toward it and mouthed the words “I’m sorry.” I don’t know if anyone heard my prayers or words.

I have asked myself “why” many times in the last few days. Why is the husband so insistent? Why not cede custody to the parents, walk away, and get on with his new life? Why are there so many pundits anxious to see this woman die? What makes them so sure of themselves? I guess the last straw for me was the poll conducted that showed a majority wanted this woman to die. A poll? Is that how we determine life and death? 51% says death so you die? The people conducting the poll, the people responding to the poll, and certainly the pundits using the poll as support for their position should be ashamed. The Carvilles and Begalas of the world should pray they never are in the position Terri Schiavo is in.
William R. Falzone
Seminole, Florida

I totally agree with Ben Stein about the courts being out of control. The part of his column that does not stand up is that Terri Schiavo is not brain dead. Mr. and Mrs. Schindler have hired a neurologist who has prostituted himself by declaring that Terri is not in a persistent vegetative state. In fact it has been reported in the news that this neurologist has been involved in many right-to-life cases. Terri is brain dead. CT scans show that where she used to have a cerebral cortex there is cerebrospinal fluid. Other neurologists have declared Terri to be in a persistent vegetative state. The burden is on Mr. Stein to provide proof that Mrs. Schiavo is NOT brain dead. Testimony by licensed practical nurses with limited scientific training is not proof. C’mon, Ben, what has happened to your otherwise sharp brain?
Ed Parker

Dear Mr. Stein: My wife and I are prolife period. No exceptions. America is almost dead to the core. They are murdering Terri. This is Hitler reborn. America will pay for Her slide toward satanism. There should be a national outcry. We are too busy polishing our possessions, attending sports events and generally not paying attention to what is actually at stake here. Thank you so much for your stand and being out front.

How right Ben Stein is. God weeps at our inhumanity. What would it cost to hand this woman over to her parents to care for her? We are a people these days steeped in a deep sickness of PC and PC legalese. We are worthy of God’s derision and that frightens me, we are better than that. Spare her some consideration and spare us God’s contempt.

Gene Hauber
Meshoppen, Pennsylvania

It’s idiotic commentary like this by mental midgets like you that WILL get some judge or other court officer shot. Happy hunting.
Ben Flores

Ben took the very words from my mouth about the raw unmasked evil of our judges. Hell is too congenial a place for these cravenly wicked men.
Tony Bonn

Let’s not forget that this began with Terri’s “loving husband,” Michael Schiavo. He holds the ultimate power of Terri’s life and death. It was Michael Schiavo who decided that his wife should die. Why? Because, according to him, this is what Terri wanted. With no directive written and signed by Terri, we are to take his word at face value. People can find fault with the judges and the courts and Congress and the president if they want, but don’t ever forget that Terri’s death is at the hands of her loving husband, Michael Schiavo.
Kitty Myers
Painted Post, New York

Oh dear! Mr. Stein has become unhinged. I thought it was the other side that did that, but I see that Republicans can lose their perspective too. What a bunch of claptrap.

I am not going to defend the Supreme Court decisions that Mr. Stein attacks. Late term abortion is wrong. Depraved minors should be subject to the death penalty if anyone else is. But his attacks on the court system in general as “fascinated by its own obsession with letting innocent people die” is ridiculous.

What we have in the Schiavo case is a situation where the Florida courts in good faith went through a legal process that lasted over fifteen years. The judge heard evidence, evaluated the credibility of the witnesses, and made a decision. Mr. Stein wasn’t there; I wasn’t there; President Bush wasn’t there; Congress wasn’t there; the judge was there. The losing party did not accept the decision, joined forces with a powerful political interest, and engaged in a relentless publicity campaign that has involved confusion of the facts and vilification of the other side and the court system itself. If we are to have ordered liberty in this country, we need to respect the court system and the process of the law, not trash them.

Rants like this should give us all pause, because there is nothing persuasive about them. Liberty is not preserved by accepting the idea that the process is not legitimate when we don’t like a particular result. One would think that conservatives would understand this better than anyone else.

Don’t tread on me.
Leland E. Hutchinson
Chicago, Illinois

Ben Stein has said it right, short and sweet. This is terrifying. This alliance between the euthanasia left and the left courts is devastating to life. What is also terrifying is the left’s ability to set the terms of debate in this through the media and the medical profession that this is a question only of suffering, not of judges who believe they are gods, and guardians who can’t be questioned as to their motives. Can this judge believe otherwise? The US Congress couldn’t stop him. No wonder people are going crazy. All they are asking for is a fair and impartial review, not a rehash of old material. The press has been completely dishonest in reporting — to the point of claiming it’s no big deal to die of dehydration (L.A. Times). Now, we watch children being arrested for giving a glass of water. What a perverse use of our police. What is it doing to the
officers involved? To be ordered to arrest children who want to give a glass of water to a thirsty woman?

This is a break down of the rule of law — separating it from morality and common sense, and making it illogical and cruel. No wonder people are upset. The media is also smothering debate — accusing people of being uncivil, vicious name-calling and “let’s move on” attitudes.

There is a lot going here, will have a lot of unintended consequences.

Ben Stein’s article below is exactly right. There is something very unseemly about aged parents having to go from court to court in America begging for the life of their daughter, and being told NO. I think to a great degree the soul of America is hanging in the balance over this Schiavo case. Is the letter of the law more important than the pleas of a desperate mother for the life of her little girl? In America, for godsake! Something in this country is terribly broken.
Steve Hayes

It’s a highly charged, emotional issue, but in this country, when families can’t agree courts must decide. How else would you like this issue to be settled? By Congress? By the President? By a state governor? Let’s face it, there is no other way, and our court system has decided it, over and over again. IMO, Ms. Schiavo has been dead for years; however, my opinion (just as yours) doesn’t really count. That’s why the matter has to be resolved by the courts.
Jerry Lyons
Supply, North Carolina

Re: Ben Stein’s closing remark, “The Falange followers of Francisco Franco had an evil cry: Long live death. Obviously, Justice Kennedy was listening.”

Well, didn’t Kennedy say we ought to base our law on the opinions of foreigners?
Anthony Antetomaso
The People’s Republic of Massachusetts

Re: Shawn Macomber’s The Vermontization of America:

I often like your articles. This, though, was intensely insulting to bike riders such as myself who are otherwise conservative on a variety of issues.
Richard Simonson

Shawn Macomber says he fell off his bicycle long ago and hasn’t gotten back on. I think he ought to give it a try again. I find that riding my bicycle to work rather than driving is much more conducive to thinking my way through the terrible flaws in all the latest leftwing deceits.

As to the particular bike paths he mentions, I don’t know if they’re good ideas or not. It depends on the details. The funding method is suspect, of course. Even if they are good ideas, one wonders what sorts of trading of favors had to be done to get them in the congressional highway budget.

But I would like to point out, that not all hardcore bicyclists are at ease with this mania for bike paths. I did about 5200 miles of bike touring and commuting last year, some of it shown on the maps here at Very little of it was on bike paths, and sometimes I avoided bike paths where they were available. The problem with bike paths is that they are often slow, unsafe, and boring. The safety hazard comes in part from all the extra sideroad crossings that are needed.

I am all in favor of making roads more bicyclable. Sometimes that can be done by improving them for motor vehicle traffic. For example, resurfacing a road and adding a bit of a shoulder means I can ride without being endangered by motorists who are dodging potholes.

There is a place for bike paths. They’re good for leisurely family rides with small children. Maybe they’re the right thing for some heavily urbanized areas. But I’m afraid that in the long run, bicycle paths will work against bicycle transportation. I am wary of the state bicycle coordinators being hired under congressional mandates from the ’90s. In the name of helping bicyclists what these people are really going to be doing is shunting them off onto a bike path ghetto and keeping them off the regular roads. That is not what we want.
John Gorentz
Battle Creek, Michigan

Why is it that bikers get their paths and lanes for free? Everyone else has to pay a road use tax in the form of a license for EVERY vehicle they put on the road, except a bicycle. I think that if bicyclists want ANY lanes, they should PAY A TAX for the extra vehicle they are putting on the road, just like everyone else has to. I’m not talking about the kid who rides his $50 bike to school or to deliver papers; I’m talking about those who buy bikes with $2,000 titanium frames, $200 wheels, $100 tires, $100 helmets; $90 tights, etc., AND PAY NOTHING, while others who want to use a $200 utility trailer have to pay a tax.
Gordon Paravano
Sedona, Arizona

If people actually rode their bicycles, bike paths might have some value, but even when there are bike paths, most people don’t use them. Also they become paths for other things like golf carts.
Frank Mauran

C’mon, Spectators. Fess up.

YEWWW people just want to divert that money to build SWIMMING pools, and HANDBALL courts.

We know your sort.

Doug Welty
Arlington, Virginia

Re: Lawrence Henry’s Is This “It”?:

The “It” passed. The “It” was the event of Nov. 2, 2004. That is, the just finished American elections.

I surmise that this is “It” for the fact that on that date the largest electoral vote count in the history of the Republic occurred. It is significant for several reasons.

* Democrats turned out record number of voters. But more important Republicans did them 3 million better. Significant in that Republicans have not traditionally been grass roots vote getters in comparison to the Democrats.

* That many had determined that the 2004 vote may have been a turning point in the make up of this country for at least a generation. That the electorate determined to speak loudly at the ballot box for “NO” has emboldened the Silent Majority to be more vocal.

* The 2004 election also marked a change in the culture war. No longer are the Lefts bastions in the educational, media and judicial edifices being left unchallenged. The Ward Churchill’s are being shown up for what they both represent and lack. The fact that the battle has been enjoined indicates a major shift in attitude.

So what was the “It”? The majority of the individual voters saying “No More!”
John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

It is interesting that Mr. Henry only considers one side of “it” in this controversy. Hasn’t he read the polls? And no, I don’t mean the ABC poll. Everyone I’ve spoken with about the Schiavo case, and granted, we are all just middle of the road, working, tax paying Republicans, are disgusted with the Republican/religious right position on this issue. Hopefully this is going to be an “it” moment that shows the country how the religious right is only concerned with controlling peoples lives. FMA, Schiavo, steroids, etc. The Republican party has lost its way. It is no longer the party of fiscal responsibility, limited government or free markets. It is now the party of the religious extremists that are more interested in one woman’s “life” than in the rule of law. Perhaps Mr. Henry should ask God who killed Terri Schiavo… isn’t he/she ultimately responsible for her fate?
Ben Berry
Washington, D.C.

No, this is not “IT”!

Do you remember the map last year showing Canada and the East and West coasts of the United States together as a kind of North American Euro-Socialist People’s Republic; and the central part of the USA labeled “Jesusland”? That’s where we’re headed, for real. And the sooner, the better, so far as I’m concerned. To Hell with the Leftists! But, I guess, my saying so is redundant, since God Himself probably is saying the same thing.
John G. Boulet, M.D.
Austin, Texas

First off, I have supported President Bush, the Republican Congress, the war in Iraq, the Administration’s path through the unrest in Iraq — the whole shooting match. I lived for the day to see Clinton leave office. In doing so, I have patiently suffered the ridicule and criticism of… our less ardent citizens. UNTIL NOW.

I lack the words to adequately describe the total disgust that I now hold for this bunch of “conservatives”. This includes the Congress and the President. I always though that conservative described the RESTRAINT of use of government on the people. What I have seen done in the name of “Saving Terry Schiavo” is nothing more that a horrible abuse of our system of government and a media circus. What frightens hell out of me is that it could be done to me. Or my wife. Or my children.

Mr. Henry goes on and on about the courts not belonging to the people. Perhaps it is news to Mr. Henry, but the legislature belongs to the people. The courts belong to the law. The people write the laws — through their elected legislatures. The courts then stand separately and interpret what the laws say. To be otherwise, would be law by media circus.

I find it incredibly ironic that the conservative side of our country, as represented by Mr. Henry, is in today’s spotlight, arguing FOR activist courts. Can we be so damn stupid not to understand that we will be hostage tomorrow to what we create today?

Is there no conservative listening to consider the possibility that when five or six different courts, in two separate legal systems, say no legal action is possible — that the problem just MIGHT be the proposed action — not the courts?

“IS this it?” Mr. Henry asks. For me I think it well might be. If a federal government unleashed upon its people is where today’s conservatism leads, I believe I am through with it.
Stuart Chatham
Savannah, Georgia

Good Lord. I believe that every substantial point Mr. Henry makes I’ve been hammering at Vote for Judges. I feel validated.

If the Schiavo case isn’t “It,” I don’t know what it’ll take. I called it road rage, with the judiciary flipping the bird at Bush & Congress. But Henry’s construction really hits the nail on the head: The Courts Killed Terri Schiavo. I’m ordering the bumper stickers today.
Karl Maher
Denver, Colorado

Yes this is “It.” However, the “it” that it is likely is not the one that is written about in this article. More likely “it” is the following:

We as a society need to take a good look at ourselves. The Terri Schiavo case is one of the more troubling. What is happening here should be called what “it” is, a HOMICIDE. Not only is it a homicide, it is being done by “cruel and unusual” means. If as a society we want to JUSTIFY THIS HOMICIDE as we do in certain other cases, then we must do so through our elected representatives and open discussion of what we are doing. However, per a very recent Supreme Court ruling, we must be careful that it is not of a “cruel and unusual” nature. What depth have we stooped? The “it” is the depth to which we have stooped and I am afraid one that we as a society will likely not recover. Instead of correcting ourselves, we will just continue for many wrong reasons down this path. I lack your optimism that there will be a turnaround.
Roger Peele

Many opponents of the war in Iraq find the Republican opposition of Terri Schiavo’s mercy killing surprising. As if the life of one Christian American is holy and the lives of a hundred thousand Iraqis are not. This is a very interesting argument which as all other arguments is only valid if the opposite is also true. When we assume that a United Europe is a good thing we automatically must assume that a divided Europe is a bad thing. Arguments are like mathematical formulas wrapped in language. It’s a truth that speaks for itself: Three times two can only be six when six divided by two is three. If six divided by two would somehow not be three than the entire argument that three times two is six is not believable. It’s so simple it’s almost ridiculous.

Those who oppose the war in Iraq do so because they believe it is a war of conquest. So when these people say that they find it hypocritical to oppose active euthanasia while waging such a war it must also mean that wars of conquests are permitted by countries which actively kill life which they deem unworthy. I was not the one to combine the Iraqi war with Terri Schiavo. But it seems to be a valid reason why to oppose active euthanasia when the person did not give his or her consent. History taught us that mercy killings have led to genocide. Active euthanasia isn’t dangerous because bringing democracy with military means to the Middle East is immoral. It’s dangerous because those people who oppose removing a neo-fascist regime in Iraq are also capable of murdering people in the name of humanity and cost-benefit considerations. If you don’t want to get to this conclusion, don’t make the Iraq-Schiavo argument. It’s that simple.

With kind regards
Daniel Teeboom
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Re: Jay D. Homnick’s Political Hay:

The author, Jay D. Homnick, stated in his article (“Political Party”), “The casual reader may assume that Esther was only a beauty queen with a good heart, but the Talmudic tradition is that she was a political mastermind.”

“When they saw Helen coming towards the tower, they said softly to one another, ‘Small wonder that Trojans and Achaeans should endure so much and so long, for the sake of a woman so marvelously and divinely lovely.'”
— Homer’s The Iliad

A husband, even a king, has the opportunity to see his wife when she is at her most beautiful state; when she is most simple and natural. I believe that King Ahasuerus was able to separate Esther’s appearance from her character; that she was beautiful on many levels.

The power of a beautiful woman lies in the strength she imparts to her husband. It’s as simple as that. I loved Homnick’s humor! He strikes me as someone who loves to laugh, but at the same times wants others to see the amazing and miraculous strength given to man (and woman) by God to survive. I love to hear more from Jay D. Homnick!

Sherri Reaume

Re: William Tucker’s Unlike a Rolling Stone:

The William Tucker article about Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone” was so blatantly narrow-minded and completely ludicrous as to defy understanding. His biggest complaint with both the song and Dylan is that they are not as popular as Elvis who possibly wrote half a song in his whole career. To not understand the magnitude of importance of both Dylan and “Like A Rolling Stone” is essentially to be blind to art and culture! Rock prior to Dylan at best was fun and not poetic or artistic. “Like A Rolling Stone” opened all the possibilities for popular expression and thus has put Dylan’s influence almost everywhere in American culture.

The one place Dylan’s has fortunately had little influence has been on being narrow-minded and hateful. Conservatives who thrive on divisiveness, greed and outright meanness should probably listen to Dylan more often and possibly become more human.

Re: Robert A. Levy and Alan Gura’s Playing Chicken Roulette:

Article. IV.
Section. 1.

Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

The District of Columbia is a Federal city — thus all laws and courts in D.C. are Federal — but how can the Federal govt. so directly violate the Constitution? It would appear that, under the law (and the Constitution is still the law of the land, isn’t it?), the Federal Gov. is bound to recognize State actions/permits/licenses/etc. But, D.C. doesn’t recognize legally issued State carry permits. This on the face of it appears to be in direct conflict with the Constitution.
John Pierre-Benoist

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