Reader Mail

The Hurricane Continues

Leftist rage -- no end in sight. But Ben Stein has many friends. Plus much more.

9.7.05

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RAGE IS IN
Re: George Neumayr's Masques of Death and the "Astonishingly Cruel" letters in Reader Mail's Watch Your Tongue:

Just read "Masques of Death." What planet do you live on, you hateful creatures? Guess Willy Horton isn't dead yet. While we're at it, let's also blame the '60s, abortion, Clinton, and maybe even Chappaquiddick. You wingnuts are beneath contempt.
-- John A. Shutkin
General Counsel
Shearman & Sterling LLP
New York, New York

What a truly repulsive, thoughtless, and poorly reasoned article. So New Orleans has one of the highest murder rates in the country? Well, given that the federal government repeatedly disregarded warnings of natural disaster from a variety of informed sources (including its own), and compounded this criminal negligence with inexcusable and continuing delays in its response to the disaster, I would say that New Orleans has completely reset the bar for murder of its citizens. Although it may be months before we know how high.

Cops neutered by the NAACP and the ACLU? Not based on what I've seen on Bourbon Street. I've never noticed excessive gentleness there.

Currents of chaos and lawlessness have run through New Orleans throughout its history? Agreed. And so it was ripe for collapse? The same could be said of Baltimore, New York City, or Washington, D.C. Are we then due for a hurricane?

And the city's collapse is the result of a "politically correct culture?" I thought it was due to the collapse of the levees. (Although perhaps if vouchers had been approved, all those poor kids could have gone to parochial school, there would have been no looting, Katrina would have hit somewhere else, and they could have patched the dikes with the vouchers after they were processed.) Absolute insanity.

And politically correct? You have obviously never been to New Orleans, as I have many times. Decadent, perhaps. Wild and crazy, sure. Tough and dangerous? Absolutely. I live in the Bronx, so I'm used to a state of urban alertness, and I keep my eyes open when I'm there. But politically correct? I don't think so. Ever been to Mardi Gras? No one I've ever met in NOLA would ever let political correctness get in the way of having a good time.
-- Andy Bassford
Bronx, New York

Re: George Neumayr's "Masques of Death," et al.

While not being surprised by the ad-hominem attacks on President Bush, FEMA, the military, state and local government, the police, etc., I am thoroughly, and sickenly disgusted. There are plenty of lessons to be learned, however, criticisms from the omnipresent popular media are fatuous at best.

Pardon me (not) for observing that all of the media personalities seem to be very well off after spending eight days supposedly "on location". Brian Williams (just to pick on one in particular), seems, every night, to be hygenically hearty, have a perfect coiffure, and be well sated and hydrated. As well, the innumerable outlets always appear to have more than enough power to supply their cameras and microphones to cast critical reproach upon picayunish vitriol.

As soon as the NBCs, CBSs, ABCs, FOXes, Weather Channels, CNNs and the rest of the usual suspects depict scenes of their own helicopters, trucks, and sundry other conveyances laden with relief supplies, especially medicine, I might, just might, think about granting them the opportunity to opine.

SHAME ON ALL OF THEM. I'm more sickened at "the media" than I have been at any other national tragedy in my lifetime of nearly 50 years. May Almighty God spare the suffering as well as those striving to save them, and forgive the rest of the "no-good-doers".
-- Joe Minkiewicz
Winston-Salem, North Carolina

I am glad you found where to place the blame of the Katrina aftermath disaster. All this time I thought that most of the people were looting because they were poor, abandoned and hungry. What would you have done if you were in they're same position, desperate for food, clothing, shelter, and trapped in a dead city that you couldn't leave because you had no money or transportation. I think you would be in the streets stealing food as well. This would have been the situation in any major city that collapsed and was subsequently abandoned for four days. Its not about liberalism or conservatism, it is about how an entire city was let down by its Federal, state and local governments. Democrat and Republican alike are to blame. You should join in the chorus of people demanding accountability rather then insinuating that this disaster of government failure has something to do with New Orleans crime rate and "gangsta rap."
-- Joe Mac Stevens

A confirmation that George Neumayr's piece was spot on is the fact that the left are screaming and screeching against it. Everyone (who has a rational mind) knows that the first step in fixing a problem is that you must first admit the problem and then identify the cause. But for the left, politically correct feelings trump rationality any and every time. This is akin to not treating a drug addict because in doing so, you may offend him by saying he's a drug addict. Oops, now I'll be accused of calling the people of New Orleans a bunch of drug addicts.
-- D.C. Norman
Durham, North Carolina

BEN STEIN'S AMERICA
Re: Ben Stein's Get Off His Back and Reader Mail's Ben Stein, Bush, and Katrina:

It is amazing to note the great number of folks who (minds totally devoid of facts relating to the disaster in New Orleans) can get so ridiculously and vapidly emotional when they read Ben Stein.

One must feel sorry for those poor folks. Facts, to them, seem to not exist. Emotion must have replaced good sense in their minds.

Ben, please continue. Thank you.
-- Paul Bunker
La Moille, Illinois

Hallelujah!!!!

Thank you so much for saying out loud what we have all been talking about around here. Of course, we are military so it stands to reason that our views would be that of Mr. Stein. I just wish he could get on the TV and broadcast to the world those very same sentiments! The news media would never admit all those things. What can I say: I feel like we're always swimming upstream!!!!!!!!!!!

Gratefully,
-- Trina Zigan
Air Force Wife

After reading all the emails to the editor about the last Ben Stein article, I had to write.

Ben Stein was absolutely correct in everything he wrote. Since when is the president responsible for disaster plans in every state and every city in the United States? Since when is the president responsible to see that every citizen has enough food and water to carry them through a disaster? Since when is it the responsibility of the president to personally evacuate every citizen in the path of a hurricane? None of the governors or mayors was responsible? None of the people themselves? I knew our country was turning into a socialist welfare state, but I had no idea how deep this thought process had taken over minds until reading many of the responses to his article.

Ben, please keep taking unpopular and bold stands. Keep telling the truth. Eventually, some few people might listen and learn.
-- Yvonne Owens
Indiana

Kudos to Ben Stein for another straight from the hip assessment. Sitting here inside a high tech joint operations center at a military base on graveyard shift gets boring. Ben brightened up the evening despite having to watch Paula Zahn, Christiane Amanpour et al. CNN's robots drone on with their slanted view. It stands to reason that the Bush-bashing responses come from where else -- CaCa-fornia, Boston and other liberal bastions. The only conclusion drawn from their responses is that they're even angrier than they were before Katrina.
-- David in Atlanta

I am astonished at the masochistic tendencies of so many liberals. The pain they seem to suffer from the writings of Messrs Stein and Neumayr appears to drive them into more irrationality than is normal even for them. Why do they continue to read TAS? Could it be that, in the words of a great Arizonan, "In their hearts they know we're right"?
-- Charles Dana

Absolutely wonderful. I'm forwarding to everyone I know. Thanks.
-- unsigned

I will circulate Ben Stein's article to everyone I know. It's a concise indictment of his intellectual and moral vacuity.

Most absurd is that he devotes two of his 13 "points" to essentially repeat that "Bush did not cause this hurricane." Who has accused the President of that? No one. What Bush has been rightly accused of is a monumentally slow response to a disaster. Every President faces such tests and Bush has failed. It's really not hard, Ben, unless you lack the courage to face "the truth."
-- David Mott
Cookeville, Tennessee

Amen! I wish that all of America would hear, read, and heed what Ben Stein has to say about this whole blame game that has been going around, (mostly towards Bush). I hope that everyone caught in the hurricane's path is now in a place of safety. Keep up the good work and keep telling it how it is!!!!
-- James Dibble
Arkansas

I must say a simple but HUGE Thank You to Ben Stein for this article. I live in South West Alabama, 35 miles east of Waynesboro MS. Our area has some damage and some residents do not have power yet. I can only speak surely for myself and close friends, we do not blame President Bush. I believe most other people in this area would agree.

It is so good to hear "truth and common sense" from someone in Mr. Stein's position.
-- Teresa

I would just like to second and third the feelings of Mr. Stein. I've become so outraged at the way the media is treating our President, I've stopped watching the news! It's bad enough that all they show is people clinging to life in shelters and on rooftops, but to dig for mud to sling at everyone in charge is just silly. Many times I've heard our leaders, and past leaders say there will be a time and a place, and plenty of blame to go around. Why not wait a few days, let these people settle into a new life, then decide who caused the tragedy that's all over the TV? Or better yet, why not blame the country's nemesis? I say Osama Bin Laden sent the hurricane. He's just as good a scapegoat as anyone, and it's not like he's around to defend himself!
-- Steph

Thank you so much for writing what you did in "Get Off His Back." I am boiling mad about the lack of response to the outright vitriol in the media and in the blogosphere. I am but a teeny blog in the Houston area, and not likely to get much noticed, but I have posted your article in the hopes that someone will see it. Your points should be repeated and often and loudly.

As a side note, my eleven-year old daughter misses your "Win Ben Stein's Money" show and we get the biggest kick out of hearing your voice in the Nickelodeon show "Fairly Odd Parents."

Best of luck to you and your family,
-- Sharon Ferguson
Richmond, Texas

Your commentary "Get Off His Back" gave me a deep sigh of relief, because you put into words the feelings I have inside and cannot articulate -- thank you -- and GOD BLESS PRESIDENT BUSH!!!!!
-- Debbie

My daughter and I have been volunteering at an evacuee center in Austin, Texas, and the evacuees here are very grateful for the help they are receiving. It's Sunday, Sept. 3, and families in Austin are getting apartments, people are opening their homes to them, doctors and ministers are 24/7 at the centers. Telephones and computers are set up for people to access assistance and to find family and friends. The outpouring is amazing.

Those busy blaming President Bush likely aren't rolling up their sleeves and helping victims.

Thank you, Ben Stein, for reminding people that natural disasters aren't the fault of the federal government or the president. These horrific events bring out the true nature of individuals -- few people are heartless criminals who prey on the victims, but most are generous and caring individuals who open their hearts, their wallets, and their homes to those in need.
-- Peggy Venable

Thank you for those clearly stated facts. As usual, we too, in Australia, are inundated with downright lies and half-truths. Naturally, it is all soaked up by the largely unthinking majority of fools who inhabit this planet.

I too, thank God for George W. Bush and, may I add, John Howard.

Keep up the wonderful work.
-- Alexandra Taylor
Sydney, Australia

The vitriol heaped upon Mr. Stein is a striking metaphor of Katrina's fury directed at him & the President by the mindless haters on the left. If nothing else, Katrina gave these people another venue for their ad hominem attacks. One critic hints that Bush should have issued shoot to kill orders for the looters & snipers when the mayor & the governor refused to take action. Imagine the MSM's photo footage of National Guard troops engaged in gun battles on the streets of N.O.; then imagine MoveOn's comparison to those of Iraq. Most certainly, it would have given the NYT another opportunity to invoke the quagmire analogy in another "war" started by Bush.

Such scenes would have given Tim Russert the vapors after his immediate call for impeachment hearings.. Another Bush critic took note that "40% of the population of N.O. makes < $8,000 a year." Taking her statement as fact; all the more reason for the mayor & governor to have acted sooner. After all, aren't these "leaders" aware of the economic plight of their own citizens?

Then again, maybe some one can explain why that huge supply of school busses remained unused to transport citizens out of N.O. Speaking of inaction, can anyone tell me where the Louisiana State Police were? I did not see or hear them mentioned until Saturday. For all their hateful venting on Bush's purported inactions; the more rational of us will reflect on the response of many Americans to this tragedy as well as acknowledge the enormity of the carnage that no response could have ameliorated.
-- A. DiPentima

Please tell Ben Stein that his article concerning our President and the hurricane was absolutely refreshing. Thank you for printing it. Bless him for writing it.
-- Nancy Verrecchia

Mr. Stein took the words right out of my mouth. Why is the "mainstream" media the propaganda tool of the left?

Actually there is one small thing I'll quibble with Mr. Stein. Global warming is occurring from my unscientific perspective. Just take a look at the melting of glaciers in the Northern Hemisphere. I doubt man has anything to do with this. The sun is more likely the culprit. Sun spots and earth temperature are closely related from what I'm told.
-- Tom Heimbach
Centreville, Virginia

I want you to know how very much I appreciated Ben Stein's succinct column about the truth surrounding the Hurricane Katrina disaster and about how the President should not be blamed. The media coverage has been sickening in their beating up on the President and their use of this tragedy to push their anti-Bush ideological agenda is beyond the pale. Thank again, Ben Stein
-- unsigned

Thank the good Lord someone finally printed some truths! God Bless Ben Stein! Fortunately, a friend of mine passed them along to me.
-- Jeanette Shearer
Marblehead, Massachusetts

Typically asinine pap from the right.

So here is my point-by-point response to Mr. Stein.

Points 1.-3 do not require any response and were. Just meant to be funny, so I will let that pass....

Point 4 is completely disingenuous (but the right does this too often and we on the left left it up to the intelligence of the audience and look where it has gotten us!) No one is laying global warming itself (true, untrue, unverifiable, whatever, is a moot point right now) at the feet of the boy-king.

But a suspected link between harsher and longer hurricane seasons and global warming has to be raised right when the events occur, not later, since the MSM and the people have, aided amply and gleefully by the right-wing noise machine, such short attention spans.

A side-swipe at the general idiocy of the science-rejecting moron in the WH is perfectly legitimate for venting our grievance -- most especially because the said moron just decreed that "intelligent design" (God save his earth from such suicidal ignorance) should be taught in schools alongside evolution. Hell, when the premise is this wrong, any conclusion can be correct....

The unspinnable facts are these: during any calamity, natural or manmade, anticipated or not, Bush and his minions respond only upon political pressure and then only minimally -- add to this the colossal and possibly criminal ineptitude (I maintain it is willful) and their absolute lack of interest in actual governance, and you have the makings of a spectacular failure propped up only by the right wing media and their believers. This whole house of cards built on smoke and mirrors has finally met its maker, ironically enough. May be one good thing will yet come of this disaster...
-- unsigned

It's nice to see there's two sides to every coin!! I was beginning to think George Bush was the anti-Christ.

THANK YOU BEN!!
-- Frederic Guillossou

(to be continued...)

CHARITY SEARCH
Re: Patrick Hynes's Hate Is All You Need:

Regarding Patrick Hynes' article "Hate Is All You Need," I would like to suggest that Mr. Hynes contact his MoveOn.org friend and more thoroughly investigate what this person was referring to when he or she expressed criticism of the government website for not listing any of the "better secular charities." With just four mouse clicks, I was able to find a list of major, well-known charities accepting relief donations for the hurricane victims. Of course, never letting facts interfere with a good argument seems to be a way of life for people affiliated with leftist outfits like MoveOn.org.

Here's all you have to do to find a list. Start at the so-called official web site of the federal government (per a Goggle search), www.FirstGov.gov. From there, click on the link listed under Hurricane Katrina Recovery as How You Can Help. At the next page, click on the link titled Disaster Help Gateway, which brings up the website www.DisasterHelp.gov. A series of links will appear, one of which is titled Help the Victims of Hurricane Katrina. Click on this link, which opens this FEMA website. In the box with the heading Quick Links, click on the link titled Disaster Organizations, which brings up a page from the website www.nvoad.org. Here you will find over 40 links to major, well known charitable organizations. Although many of these web sites are for religious organizations, such as Catholic Charities USA, you will also find links to the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, United Way and World Vision, among others. If the good folks at MoveOn.org are familiar with secular charities that are better than these four, I wish they would share that information. I've never heard of any charitable organizations that are better than the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

BTW, I didn't find any charity on the list that is directed by Pat Robertson.
-- Kevin Cecotti
South Park, Pennsylvania

C'mon folks, we all know that the real cause of the hurricane was the new weaponized weather machine (WWM) that Dick Cheney has had installed at the Cheyenne Mountain base in Wyoming. Dick was doing a test run and an overanxious aide decided to do in a blue state with a predominately black population. Look for Kanye West to disappear any day now. We all know it's true. Get real!
-- Ron Pettengill
London, UK

HIPSTER VICTORS
Re: Ronan Thomas's The Iron Fog:

The reason that "the countries of the former Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact seem remarkably reluctant to follow suit" (i.e., admit past crimes and punish those responsible) is that they were never made to do so.

Having won the Cold War decisively, the USA's response to the demise of our greatest enemy was nothing short of feckless. The USSR didn't merely collapse; it was conquered by a superior state. The correct response by the Bush 41 and Clinton administrations should have been more aggressive than merely offering aid and plaudits for the future spread of democracy.

Japan is a prosperous nations whose economy is now strongly linked to the USA, and whose citizens have a strong affinity for the west. For this reason, I can't conceive of a time in the near future where Japan and the USA will clash (although I've been wrong before). But this didn't happen by chance. The Japanese understood one thing very clearly in August 1945 -- they had been defeated, and although their new Masters were benevolent, the old ways were definitely over. Neither Mr. Putin's Russia, nor any of the old Communist-apparatchik states, have ever been forced to understand this lesson.

This soft approach is why Putin and Russia are starting to thump their chests again. It's why we still have a Communist slave-state 90 miles off of the coast of Florida. And it's also why I have to lecture teenagers at our local church as to why t-shirts with images of Che Guevara are extremely inappropriate. Imagine wearing a t-shirt with Himmler's face on it, and walking down Fifth Avenue; now ask yourself why are Che and Fidel cool? It's mind-boggling.
-- Gavin Valle
Peapack, New Jersey

Excellent piece, all too true, especially within our intellectual community. With their spurious MacArthur Grants and other amenities, they still think they were the grandest of the grand, the smartest of the smart, the best-intentioned.

Fools then, fools now, and destined to be fools to the end. Kudos to you, again, for pointing this out.
-- Tony Outhwaite
New York, New York

CHICKENS GET A LICKIN'
Re: Andrew Cline's Challenging the Chickenhawk Epithet and the "Who You Callin' Chicken?" letters in Reader Mail's Katrina Media:

The chickenhawk charge is hogwash. Those among the economically blessed who hear the calling to serve have always served, though I will admit that less of them seem to be hearing the calling than in the past. That's because so many of them are liberals.

My son Joshua graduated with honors in 2004 from Kent School, one of the best private schools in the country. He is currently at Emory University, majoring in Middle Eastern Studies and Semitic Languages. He is in ROTC, with the intent to serve in Special Operations/Civil Affairs where he can use his education to combat Islamic terrorism and pretty much do all the things on your list (and I do like your list) of questions to turn back the chickenhawk charge.

As an assistant football and swimming coach during the son's years at Kent, I had the privilege to coach eight young men who are at Annapolis right now, preparing to be Navy and Marine Corps officers. Others are in ROTC or otherwise planning to serve when their time comes.

I'll never forget one young man (a senior wide receiver and d-back), who came to me a few days after 9/11 with tears in his eyes. His family is one of the country's wealthiest. He had received early admittance to Columbia. He knew I had been an enlisted Marine and he told me he wanted to quit school immediately and join the Marines. I told him to finish high school, get his college degree and join the Marines as an officer, because the Marine Corps can always use good officers. I assume he's in OCS at Quantico as this is written.

When I hear the chickenhawk charge, I refute it with what I have seen of these fine young men. Now I have your questions as well. Thank you.
-- unsigned

That was quite a rant on the website Friday, and like a lot of rants, it was based on a misconception. It is commonly understood a "chickenhawk" is a person, usually male, who supports a war his country is currently engaged in, but always manages to find reasons why he doesn't need to fight in it.

For example, Bush and Cheney both said they supported the war in Vietnam, but Bush got his dad to fix it so he didn't have to go, and Cheney famously got a student deferment because he had "other priorities." I'm guessing that one of his priorities consisted of not having his testicles blown off by a land mine.

Our "volunteer" military is primarily made up of people who need the meager health and housing benefits they provide (which, as you know, are being cut). Many of our war supporters "choose not to serve" simply because they are not desperate enough to enlist.

Now we are in a time of many disasters, simultaneously. The Iraq quagmire continues to fester, and there are over 6,000 National Guardsmen from Mississippi and Louisiana who can't do the jobs they signed up for because they're bogged down in the Middle East.

The military is desperately in need of new people, and yet there are millions of healthy young American men in their 20s who are college-educated, fluent in English and supportive of the war, but those fellows are just too busy making money and going to parties to even consider getting their pretty hands dirty.

You say that we who oppose the war are stupid and hate America, but in a time of crying need, these boys say, essentially, "I don't have to go to Iraq, and you can't make me." If this is how they show their love of country, I'm glad they don't love me.

I don't know where you were on 9/11, but I was six blocks away from the Twin Towers with my daughter, on her fourth day of kindergarten. We walked home two miles in the smoke because the subways and buses stopped running. If anyone wants terrorism to end, it's me.

We considered moving away, but decided that if we left the home and school we love because of fear, then the terrorists would have won. My wife and I fight the war on terror in our small way by raising our child here, and I changed my career to teach English to immigrants, so they feel more assimilated.

Webster's defines "hypocrisy" as "a pretense of virtue," and anyone of fighting age who supports the war but "chooses not to volunteer" proves himself by definition to be a hypocrite and, yes, a chickenhawk.
-- David Jenkins
New York, New York

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