Odds and Ends - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Odds and Ends

James Taranto deals with a basic human problem (“Journalism That Dare Not Speak Its Name,” TAS, April 2013): bias, agenda, worldview, paradigm, ultimate concern, religion, excuse for living. He handles Pexton’s covert “reporter” about as well as can be expected, given the secrecy complication. Unfortunately, that “reporter” gets away with straw manning conservatives as having the same bias as Leftists: fairness, i.e. equality. Well, whose “equality”? John Rawls was very clever. He reduced justice to fairness and put right ahead of good. A leading academic. A sophist maybe?

True conservatives are not anthropocentrists. Solzhenitsyn—virtually a prophet—had it right at Harvard in 1978 when he nailed the Liberals for their duplicity. Like Solzhenitsyn, Jefferson was not an academic. When Jefferson wrote “all men (persons) are created equal,” he was not talking about material or emotional or intellectual equality. None of those “equalities” can exist fully. Jefferson was talking about spiritual equality and the legal equality that spiritual equality makes possible. Jefferson’s “equality” was: “All persons are created equal in the eyes of God until Judgement Day, i.e. death.”

Bias? Pexton’s “reporter” makes a very important point about bias. Your bias is your agenda. But, lets quickly clear up what the bias of true conservatives is. Stanley Fish was getting very close when he said that all human beings are biased. Fish also said that there is no such thing as objectivity. Technically, he was correct on both counts. But, if he had put them together, Fish would have singularly clarified the basic human problem. When Fish’s two insights are combined, you have: “Objectivity is a bias for the truth itself.” We are not angels, but, we can have that bias. James Madison called it “freedom of conscience.”

Piers Woodriff
Via the Internet

A correction to your article (“Calvin Coolidge: His Times Are Our Times,” TAS, April 2013), page 13 at the bottom of column two. Cal did lose a race for the Northampton School Committee in 1905. Reference: Schlaes’ Coolidge, pages 86, 88, and 90.

Still, I agree he was “stupendously successful at politics.” Excellent article otherwise.

Gregory Seltzer
Fallston, MD

I want to thank Ben Stein for always being so enthusiastic about the good things in life that we have here in the USA.

I am always surprised, however, that he thinks our taxes should go up so that we can pay for all of the waste and fraud that our government sponsors. He seems like a practical guy, the way he talks about the small pleasures in life; but a life filled with Malibu, hotels, Idaho, flying, and speeches is not the average American’s life and has messed up his thinking if he believes that more taxes will solve our problems.

 He needs to write about what it would be like if we had smaller government, not the big and wasteful one we have. A fine example to start with is the increase ofschool teachers and administrators in the last 40 years. Of course there are lovely people who are teachers, but the increase in percentage of them per student has not helped our students and THAT kind of waste is what we cannot afford to pay for.

Jo Anne Kroener
Dallas, TX

Sarah Palin’s rack??? (TAS, May 2013) Really??? It’s one thing to make the joke about yourself. It’s another thing for men to put you on the cover of their magazine with that phrase. This is a disgrace, please rewrite the cover title.

John Barbados
Via the Internet

The republican party’s problems (“The (Real) Great Divide,” TAS, May 2013) aren’t with technology. They’re with an elite that enjoys cutting the throats of their base. Witness immigration. Most of the Republican base wants much less of it. But the elite—McCain, the Bush family, Rubio, Graham—want more of it and even wish to submerge the Republican base demographically. There is no more stupid political elite than the Republican Party elite.

Derek Leaberry
Online Comment

The Metro system in D.C. is packed full of riders daily but the system has budget shortfalls. This (“The Great Train Robbery,” TAS, May 2013)  is a problem obviously not due to the lack of ridership but rather cronyism sucking the lifeblood out of the project. When traveling in Europe, I see the trains and public transportation extensively used. Ten percent of cars? It’s more like the opposite: Most people in Europe walk and ride the train or bus and this is why, quite frankly, they’re a lot more handsome than people in the states.

Trying to build high speed rail is like trying to build an electric car by first building a flying car. You need to crawl before you can run. The author is right: People will avoid using trains if their destination lacks adequate local public transportation. So the first thing to do should be to put up suspended rail (which can co-exist with roadways) around Los Angeles. That would get a lot of cars off the road. But the problem is that such affordable travel options also attract, er, undesirable elements. This is what killed public transit back in the ’50s but even here it’s hard to point this out.

The Northeast corrider of Amtrak is an operational success but not an economical one—again, due to the mismanagement rather than the rail itself.

Online Comment

“As more conservatives have reconciled to gay marriage….” (“Consternated Conferences,” TAS, May 2013)

And this is why such “conservatives” are no longer conservatives. They have turned their backs on the moral foundations of society. They have forgotten Washington’s warning about the pillars of political prosperity and happiness:

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labour to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity.

C. Vernon Crisler
Online Comment

Reading the new issue I notice complaints and compliments about the new/old size. It is the content of the magazine that matters. I will continue to subscribe as long as the content doesn’t change.

Thomas Rose
Oakland Gardens, NY

As a reader for 20 plus years, I must say I may not renew because of the new size…which is clumsy, hard to hold, and seems like a flimsy copy of Life without the pictures, and we know where Life wound up! Really, you had an exceptional format that fit in the mail and in the magazine rack or the desktop…so what made you take up this crazy size?

Joe Kaluzny
Lakeland, Florida

I have tried for three months to get used to your new format. Each month your magazine arrives bent, crumpled, and/or torn to one extent or another. After spending a few minutes trying to restore it to its original state, I am ready to read it.

Please note it does not fit into standard magazine racks without folding. Then, after folding, the name is not readable. Then my customers cannot easily see the Spectator. The folding and refolding leads to the pages falling out.

I must assume you have never heard the adage, “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.”

Ron Deakins
Via the Internet

I realize the irony of this statement, but don’t people have something more to do with their time than to write about the size of your publication? Like the contents or don’t…that should be the deciding factor.

Deb Oliver
Oklahoma City, OK

Stick to the new format! Stick to the beautiful cover paintings like the two by Carl Bork, Calvin Coolidge last month and Sarah Palin this month.

Reminds me of the great Saturday Evening Post and Collier’s. Good portraits of conservatives we admire will stand out and increase sales more than the “poison-pen-portraits” of people we hate. Good writing and good artwork go hand in hand. A picture is (sometimes) worth 1,000 words.

David L . Smith
Dayton, Ohio

P.S. No more Reagan. How about Rand Paul and Marco Rubio?


A caption in the April issue “Black Sea Changes,” misidentified Oleksandr Oleksandrovych Moroz as Viktor Yanukovych. (Really, can you blame us?)

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