Thursday, September 08, 2005

Ben Stein Guest-Blogs

I'm suffering from an illness that makes my head explode every time I cough. So, I asked Ben Stein to write my blog post today.

Okay. Just kidding. He wrote this for The American Spectator.

I especially liked point number twelve. Yesterday, I wondered aloud to my husband if liberal Democrats who wish to increase federal government involvement in our lives (healthcare, schools, social programs) are having second thoughts?

12 Comments:

Blogger Gina said...

Ok, I heartily disagree with points nine and yes, twelve.

9)There is not the slightest evidence at all that the war in Iraq has diminished the response of the government to the emergency. To say otherwise is pure slander.

Says who? Ben Stein? Since when did he become an expert on federal emergency response?

I am not either, but it seems to me that if a larger number of local (which is what they are supposed to be) National Guard troops and equipment would have been available, relief could have been orgnazed much more swiftly.

To question the actions of my government and its leaders is in no way slander. It is called my 1st Amendment right. I resent even the suggestion that having issues with the government is slander. The way of a free and open democracy is allow all to voice their opinions. Is he trying to tell me that Republicans were completely silent during the presidency of Bill Clinton? Ohhhhh, riiiiight, it's only slander when a Democrat does it.

12.) The entire episode is a dramatic lesson in the breathtaking callousness of government officials at the ground level. Imagine if Hillary Clinton had gotten her way and they were in charge of your health care.

What in the world does Hillary Clinton, at the federal level, have anything to do with Mr. Stien's so-called "ground level" government officials? He can't have it both ways.

Good grief, haven't Republicans gotten over her yet? It was over ten years ago people, time to move on!


On a completely different note Mel, I hope you feel better soon. :)

10:03 PM  
Blogger tab said...

My dh's buddy was one of the firefighters that was down in Louisiana for training when this happened. He was one of those being shot at while rescuing others. He promptly made a call home and said he was on his way home--they (him and a couple others from his station) were not going to stay in THAT environment waiting to get shot.

Maybe I'm calloused, I don't know...but it always amazes me how some people believe that it is the government's *responsibility* to "fix" everything (and immediately) when a disaster happens.

6:37 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

I take exception to #12 too. I used to be one of those "government officials on the ground level" and though, I admit, I often felt frightfully ineffectual because of bureaucratic red tape, I don't think I could ever be called "breathtakingly callous", nor could any of my friends in the public service. It seems a little like he's talking out of both sides of his mouth - blaming Bush is slander, but he can turn around and blame everyone else.

(Just my 2 cents worth - since I'm not an American, I don't have much to say. I do agree that not EVERYTHING can be blamed on Bush, but on the other hand, he has to take SOME responsibility.)

6:52 AM  
Blogger Reloaded said...

For me, ultimately, neither big business NOR big government can save me. I believe the best hope for mankind is to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves.

New Orleans could have used a lot more practical loving of neighbors, but like in many modern communities, we barely know each other's names, much less our individual burdens.

How many lives could have been saved if people 1) could get over their pride, 2) ask for help (e.g. a car ride out of town for them and their elderly or very young charges), and 3) receive help when they ask?

How many?

And I'm no saint. I've lived in one place now for 6 years, and I don't know my neighbors very well, nor they me, and we don't share our burdens.

A man (or woman) is not an island to themselves.

8:10 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Good comments! I am going to have to agree with Gina, particularly on the comments about how we are absolutely allowed to question our government. And about how it is okay if the Republicans moan about the Democrats, but not okay when it is the other way around, according to Ben Stein!

10:07 AM  
Blogger The Dung Beetle said...

I try not to get into these type of discussions, but I felt compelled to weigh-in here.

To say that "George Bush did not cause the hurricane" is a lot like me telling my extended family "I did not cause carbon monoxide poisoning" after ignoring the lack of a home detector for three months straight. I may not have directly caused the creation of the poisonous gas, but I could have taken steps to protect my hypothetical girlfriend and her kids. May they rest in peace.

I'll agree with the point that George Bush alone should not be blamed for the poor-planning in Mississippi and Louisiana... But since his appointed officials were supposed to be responsible for disaster recovery, and since they were warned by NOAA and STILL failed to act, there HAS to be some accountability here. Seeing how these negligent officials are supposed to answer to Bush, and Bush's assessment of FEMA chief Michael Brown's efforts is "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job," I assume that either Bush is completely oblivious to the situation, or he's just being a dick, neither of which are acceptable conclusions to me.

But put aside that yes, there was plenty of warning, and yes, Bush and his cronies fumbled yet again. Put aside the fact that damn-near every weather-guesser in the country said the same thing as Katrina approached the southern coast, which was "Ooooh.. this is gonna hurt..." Let's put this aside, because... and let me be blunt here... I had no faith in the Bush administration to begin with. I honestly thought that it had come to a point where it was impossible for Bush to exceed my worst expectations.

He proved me wrong yet again, and this is what puzzles, confuses, and angers me most about this whole situation. The relief and recovery effort in the aftermath has been sluggish at best, with missteps and gaffes galore. This could have, and should have been his shining moment to restore some sense of compassion and competency to his reign. Instead, it?s yet another quagmire on his watch.

Speaking as a black man, I don?t believe that Bush is racist. I do believe, however, that he has an extraordinary lapse of compassion or concern for people living at, or below the poverty line, or for those who are otherwise underprivileged. There is a class divide here, and it manifested itself in the Federal government?s failure to respond rapidly to this tragedy. It would not have taken five days for the government to respond if Palm Springs were submerged under twelve feet of toxic water. But since Katrina hit a predominantly poor region, with little to offer in terms of representation, who cares, right?

Ben Stein is normally amusing, even to a social left-winger like me. But this time he completely missed the mark, just like Bush.

"Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." ~George W. Bush on the effort to rebuild the hurricane-damaged area. What??? Surrounded by poor people, the focus is on a wealthy senator?s rebuild???

10:37 AM  
Blogger Judy said...

Thanks for posting this Mel. Much to contemplate.

Worse to me than the hurricane, the broken levy and the governments slow response from all sides is the simple yet horrifically tragic realization that our country harbors huge amounts of violent criminals.

Acts of God? We could work through those. Acts of disgraceful stupidity from murderous looting thugs?

Hmmm. Someone deal with THAT!

And, to me it just seems to be pure logic that someone would rebuild Trent Lott's home. Yes, the gulf between the rich and the poor in this country is huge. I'm from the 'poor side'. I don't own my home. If it were to get destroyed, I wouldn't expect a new one. But, I certainly would expect someone with a nice insurance policy to get one. That's just what was formerly known as common sense.

I get what I pay for. I don't expect to get what I don't pay for.

11:04 AM  
Blogger The Dung Beetle said...

"And, to me it just seems to be pure logic that someone would rebuild Trent Lott's home."

I completely agree with that point Judy, but that wasn't the point I was trying to make. I was simply illustrating yet another fumble by Bush. There is a lack of sensitivity to the situation on his part here. If I'm struggling in the muck, fending off looters, staving off starvation, the last thing I'd wanna hear about is Trent Lott's house.

"I get what I pay for. I don't expect to get what I don't pay for."

Again, we are in agrement... however... In the face of a natural disaster... I was hoping to see more compassion and sensitivity.

12:24 PM  
Blogger Buddy said...

Why do Christians take sides in these political blame games? It seems to me that if everyone who was nominally a Christian gave that cup of cold water, did more than say, be warm and well fed, there would have been no failure, and assigning blame would be a moo point.

The failure is ours. Not the president's (except as a Christian, if he is one) and not any government organization. Let's take the blame and figure out how to solve it.

1:48 PM  
Blogger Judy said...

I guess I just don't understand why we (i include myself here) think that we can determine whether or not someone is being sensitive or not.

If my home was lost, all my worldly goods were gone and I hadn't yet located my children, I don't think there would be one blessed thing that someone could say or do that would seem 'sensitive' to me.

When you've lost it all, words, even the 'right' words, are just that. Words.

6:34 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Well said Gina and BJ. Gosh, I thought ALL those on the right were full of logic and reason while ALL those on the left were guided only by emotion. Isn?t that the argument of those on the right? They think they?re soooooo superior because they don?t get emotional. I see very little reason and logic in what Ben Stein had to say in his little diatribe.

I think it's fairly easy to figure out whether someone is being sensitive or not.

Pointing out the financial loss of a VERY rich person while thousands of VERY poor people are STARVING and stranded from a hurricane that wiped out EVERYTHING they had is insensitive.

They may just be words but didn't someone somewhere write about the pen being mightier than the sword? Words are powerful. Words DO matter and to suggest they don't is folly. Think ?Uncle Tom?s Cabin? for starters.

Tell a child he's stupid and worthless everyday of his life and see how those words affect him. After all, they're just words so I imagine he?ll be OK.

SINCERE words of kindness, understanding and empathy will not bring back anything that has been lost but those words can help buoy a person who is faltering. Words can give people strength. This country might not even exist if it weren?t for such words.

The failure is ours? Let?s take the blame and figure out how to solve it? Ok, I?m on board with that. So?how do we solve it? Hmmmm? Do you have any suggestions? Here is my
suggestion?you VOTE for people who are going to get the job done and you don?t give a flying fuck (yes, I said it because after all?it?s only a word) through a rolling donut who that person is screwing, how white that person?s skin is or whether that person believes in the Christian God or not. How about that? What a concept. You actually vote for someone who is competent and not someone you think would be fun to go have a beer with.

7:33 AM  
Blogger Eleanor said...

Nice job Elizabeth. Well said, well written, well done!

2:53 PM  

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