RE: John Tabin’s No Bounce in His Step:
I am a regular reader of TAS, but have not particularly followed Mr. Tabin’s writings. If he has been a conservative and a past supporter of the president, my guess is that with friends like Mr. Tabin, the president doesn’t need enemies. Evidently he hasn’t researched this tragedy very closely, for if he had, he would realize that much of the president’s current “image problem” is more an impression, based not on reality, but the howling wolves of the so-called mainstream media and the disrespectful utterances of incompetent politicians, both local and national. These people, already having no love lost for President Bush, seem willing even to use this great tragedy to divert scrutiny from their own actions while attempting to tarnish the president’s image as a man of action. My impression is that they have found a willing (or unwitting) helper in Mr. Tabin. Little wonder the President’s step is a tad less bouncy!
— H. Cannon
Candler, North Carolina
No, John, President Bush doesn’t have a problem. America has the problem because in America today, there is a mainstream media singly focused on the destruction of President Bush regardless of the consequences to America. And it is the American public that is gullible enough to listen to them.
President Bush is rock solid and I thank God for his leadership. Who was it that said “it’s lonely at the top?” Well my friend, President Bush is showing America every day that while the medicine may taste bad, it is necessary to prescribe it to effect the cure. You may not like it and you may not like him for prescribing it. But the alternatives are unacceptable and quite frankly, frightening.
Bottom line, it’s not the polls that define true leadership. It is the final results. What we are seeing today is the cleanup of eight years of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s absolutely trivial, do-nothing, govern-by-polls, co-presidency.
God bless you
— Jim L
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
I am old. In fact, I remember when Harry S. Truman’s approval ratings were in the 20s! Can you imagine that?
Harry had problems: War in Korea; trouble at the UN; the Republicans had one house of Congress in those days, and there were hurricanes even back then; unemployment was high, even in a time of war.
Harry hung in there — he even fired MacArthur. On that one some said, “What gall!” Today, most historians place Harry in the “near-great” category of presidents, which puts him close to names like Lincoln, Jefferson, Washington, and Roosevelt.
Harry was quite a guy.
George W. Bush is a lot like Harry S. Truman. He even talks like him as Harry was no great speaker. George W. Bush is now facing a great and difficult problem where thousands of Americans require help, and he intends to see that they receive the help they need — from food to medicine, to a place to lay one’s head, to a job, as well as all the needs of a family. He will see that it is done, though it will take time. He will be remembered for a job well done regardless of how current polls read; all polls are suspect these days.
Only one other political leader had to face such evil in modern political history, dating back to Franklin D. Roosevelt. That was Richard M. Nixon, and he was destroyed by both the mainstream media and liberal Democrats, through an astoundingly vicious campaign against him, primarily through television and the leading press of the New York Times, the Washington Post, and a few other papers across the land.
— Allen O’Donnell
Look at the photos of Lincoln before and after the Civil War. Takes a toll.
— David Govett
COASTING TO GREATNESS
RE: Jay D. Homnick’s In the Eye of the Storm:
Finally, someone gives long-overdue credit to our magnificent Coast Guard. I was in the U.S. Merchant Marine for ten years, and I can say that I saw firsthand the professionalism this branch of the armed forces displayed.
We always hear about the accomplishments of the Marines, the Army, and the Navy. The Coast Guard quietly goes about its business of protecting and saving lives without getting its share of praise. Believe me, these guys have some stories to tell.
— Dave O’Brocki
As a proud member of the Coast Guard I want to thank you for your kind words. As you are watching the footage of Coasties proudly doing their jobs, remember that some of them lost their homes too. It is currently estimated that 70 Coast Guard families have lost their homes. Many ended up doing their job in the only uniform they had left and one had to borrow a uniform before he could begin work. Extra uniforms, donations, and volunteers have been sent to help.
— ETC Jeffrey Ring
STATING THE STATUS
RE: Mark E. Hyman’s The Times Crosses State Lines:
I agree, substantively, with the opinions expressed by Mark E. Hyman, but I disagree that the Times‘s positions on underage abortion versus underage marriage are inconsistent or illogical, as Mr. Hyman maintains. On the contrary, the Times‘s positions perfectly encapsulate the views of the left in this country: abortion is always the right choice for girls and women who have not yet established themselves as successful career women; and marriage is an acceptable institution only when it is entered into by two partners of equal professional and economic status, otherwise it amounts to mere female exploitation and degradation. While these positions are simplistic, ignorant, even hateful, they are consistent with the feminist ethos that permeates liberal culture today.
— Steven M. Warshawsky
New York, New York
RE: John Connly Walsh’s The Weather Is Cooler — For How Long?:
You miss the obvious. For ten days now, the media has forgotten Iraq. Even the death of seven hundred made one day, one hour coverage. “Oh, 700 dead on a rumor, too bad, back to N.O. where Bush hates black people.”
The terrorists realize this. Why have the daily car bomb blow up and kill a soldier, if nobody will pay attention? Why sacrifice the car, the bomb, the driver, for nothing? The real question is, will the MSM acknowledge this? Will they realize or will they even care that the bombings have nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with media attention? If so, will they stop covering the bombings and give our boys a break?
Even if the death squads do not exist, I can’t help thinking that it’s a good thing for terrorists to believe that they do.
— John Friedman
Many of my emails to the media are responses to poor reporting. This was an excellent article, which didn’t pull punches but was fair. Congratulations!
— Paul Backes
Eden Prairie, Minnesota
More than one week ago, I read a disparaging report by Mr. Walsh that took contracting officers in Iraq to task, particularly those of the Air Force. As a logistics officer many years ago in the Air Force, I cringe when accounts like that are published because I know that, despite a fair amount of bureaucracy, the Air Force takes pride in the delivery and accountability of its inventories. However, to brighten up Mr. Walsh, I would recommend he seek out Navy Commander Gary Ulrich who is a supply/contracting officer in Iraq, for the third time, right now. When I last talked with Gary, my son’s former scoutmaster, he told me that he had personally issued funds to build 200 new schools. He also personally oversaw the transport of a youth from Iraq to Dallas for medical treatment at Shriners Hospital for Children.
Please pass the word that contracting through Commander Ulrich is in good hands. The story is worth telling.
— John R. Tannehill
RE: George Neumayr’s A Civilizational Vacuum:
One of the best articles I’ve read regarding the sociological perspective of this disaster… very thought-provoking. I saw the clip in the Washington Times (note NOT the Post) today and brought up the website immediately. I’ll check in regularly from now on!
I wanted to let you know how thoroughly I enjoyed reading the above article. The author has a real gift for phrase-making. I will be sending it to my friends (and enemies). Keep up the fine work,
— Haakon Jepsen
As a former high school teacher (’66-’72) who quit in frustration while trying to make a difference, I believe that a major contribution to the problem is that “schooling” replaced education in the mid ’60s. Instead of imparting facts and knowledge as education to create in the organic computer known as the human mind an “operating system” for thinking and reasoning ability, and establish an academic database of facts and knowledge on which to base a concept, it became schooling where students were awarded grades regardless of what they learned. Discarded were “civics” and “principles of American Government” courses that emphasized knowledge of American government principles.
Contributing to the problem was the infamous “hippie” era and its “social justice” premise that influenced thinking of many impressionable youngsters. An increasing number of people have believed that government has the responsibility to provide for people, rather than the people providing for themselves. Indoctrinated in the socialist concept, they fail to realize that government demanding 100% of the GDP and redistributing it via government programs is the basic premise of the failed socialist concept of Karl Marx and others. Sweden tried the socialist premise for a time, but quietly abandoned it. And, the few remaining socialist enclaves such as Cuba are hardly examples of socialist economic utopian idealism.
— Richard B.
Thank you so much, Mr. Stein, for being an island of rationality and wit in a sea of ignorant, malicious, and malevolent diatribes.
— Gary Cooke
As I follow nightly the Reader Mail, patriotic “pro” and the caterwauling “con,” I tried to imagine a President John F. Kerry responding to the disaster.
Picture this: Kerry in his psychedelic knee-length Speedo, sliding down that wire from a helicopter to his waiting windsurfer below — buffeted about by the elements and wash from the chopper blades — hair oddly in place throughout.
As he clings to — whatever you cling to as a windsurfer — sailing swiftly through the sludge past the trapped and abandoned, I hear him shout: “This is worse than the Mekong Delta. I captained a swift boat there when I served in Vietnam, you know. But hang on, folks, Teresa will be along in our yacht any day to get you. Just wipe your feet before you go on board. She cannot abide filth.”
Lucky lefties, they didn’t get the president they deserved. Move on.
— Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California
Ben Stein is a bright and intelligent guy. I just don’t see where he addresses (really addresses) the issue of the top three positions at FEMA being unskilled for their appointments, bordering on flunkies.
Generally, if you’re lucky, having a lackey running a large bureaucratic organization doesn’t necessarily wreak havoc unless your luck runs out, like it did in New Orleans. The FEMA appointment was not some ambassadorship that you hand out to a college buddy and hope he doesn’t embarrass you some day by passing gas during dinner with the English prime minister. The head of FEMA is just too important for that, especially for a president who made his candidacy all about 9/11.
— Mitch Jaffe
First off, I cannot believe a person with your credentials would write such nonsense and make such juvenile and babyish arguments.
You have got to be kidding me!…
Let’s get to the point at hand. We are blaming Bush for taking five days to get extra help to the Gulf Coast cities that they so desperately needed. As a USMC veteran, I know for a fact there could have been troops in the area hours after the storm hit, NOT days. Your article is absurd. There is only one point that in dispute and that is why it took five days to get the extra help. Not whether he caused the hurricane or that he caused any of your adolescent arguments. Just, WHY did it take him so long?
Before you call me a “Bush-basher,” understand this… I, nor any of the unfortunate people of that area, do not care who was president at the time. Whether it was Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, or George W., you would still hear the same outcry from me and the rest of the nation. Why five days? I leave you with this thought. If everything was done as quickly and efficiently as possible, why is there a need to investigate the administration for doing the best they could?
One angered American that will NOT “Get Off His Back,”
— Steve Feeser
Ben Stein is so off…. Michael Brown who?
— Adam Biesk
Los Angeles, California
Again, I agree with Ben Stein. When is the American public going to quit blaming everything on politics? Events happen; tragedy happens; miracles happen. Things happen. It’s not all political and President Bush is not responsible for 911, the earthquakes, the floods, the impoverished, the lame, the sick, etc.
What we do need in America right now is TERM LIMITS for our Congressmen and Senators. Until then nothing will change.
— Judy Taylor
I really don’t think the majority of Americans blame President Bush for what happened in New Orleans, however, I do believe that the response of the federal government to this tragedy was very slow, to say the least.
I am a registered Democrat that lives in North Louisiana. I don’t always vote as a Democrat but usually as a Republican. I respect the moral values and Christian beliefs of our president. This, however, does not keep me from seeing that the director of FEMA is not qualified for the position. It is true, from what I can ascertain from the news, that the mayor of New Orleans nor the governor of Louisiana acted to help those who did not have a way to evacuate (before the storm hit).
I’m not trying to point fingers at anyone on a local level or federal level. Those who can hear just need to think of what would be happening even now if this had been a nuclear attack on our nation. WE ARE NOT READY AND WE ARE NOT ORGANIZED.
Even now, those people in shelters in Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi are not receiving the help they need. Why? Because the disaster was so big and so many people were affected that our nation does not know how to cope. FEMA makes promises it cannot keep. For example debit cards were promised yesterday and they couldn’t deliver. Also, Louisiana needs that help as bad if not worse than Houston.
From watching TV news releases this morning it seems that, with the help provided from other states (including New York and Illinois) the New Orleans Police DO have security under control and also a plan to begin recovery.
Instead of trying to point fingers at our governor, the mayor of New Orleans, or President Bush it seems that we all should be on our knees praying that the good Lord will see us through. It has been said that help must be requested from the bottom up (the mayor, the governor, and then the federal government) but that shouldn’t matter when everyone, if they have eyes to see or ears to hear, can see what a major disaster has hit the state of Louisiana. As early as Tuesday (after the storm hit on Sunday morning) anyone with a TV knew that help was needed, whether requested or not.
A city the size of New Orleans cannot voluntarily evacuate — yes, those that have a car and money for gas (that’s another story). That doesn’t take into consideration the thousands of poor in the projects, people in hospitals and nursing homes.
— Gloria Bramlett
Stein’s article “Get Off His Back” is by far one of the most logical pieces of thinking I have read since Katrina made landfall. One thing that was forgotten, however, is that Mississippi took a worse hit from the hurricane than New Orleans, but our wonderful media has chosen to ignore those folks and center all their time and energy on The Big Easy. Maybe the mayors of Gulfport and Biloxi need to go on the Today Show and do a little complaining of their own. Frankly, I’m tired of the liberal media finding excuses for some people’s behavior while at the same time trying to tar and feather any Republican who holds public office.
— Sharon Lauderman
I just want to say that we here on the coast do not care who is to blame, we want one thing. Help! It was slow to get here, but it is here. I agree with almost everything Mr. Stein says. There are plenty of “affluent white people” here who have lost everything. The hurricane didn’t pay much attention to race. And, I find it very presumptuous of Rev. Jackson and others that rescue workers even cared what color they were. The people that are here want to help PEOPLE, not just white people. I have only recently been able to watch the news and I can say I was absolutely disgusted to see Hillary Clinton calling for an investigation… FOR WHAT? Another investigation will cost the taxpayers more money and will return with no definitive conclusions. I agree that the governments of Mississippi and Louisiana did what they were required to do, meaning mandatory evacuation orders. It may be the fault of Louisiana that they did nothing to help those who did not have the means to evacuate, but I seriously doubt they would have left. The night before the storm our local channel WLOX interviewed a “poor” woman who refused to evacuate because “the last two storms weren’t so bad, and didn’t hit us.” I can assure you that woman is dead if she did not evacuate. I guess my point is Mississippi has many poor white neighborhoods and Louisiana had help a lot sooner than we did. Of course we have the gang-bangers to thank for expediting that, once they began shooting at rescue workers they all came over here!
— Jennifer Tannehill
Please explain to Ben that when you are Captain of the ship, you are responsible for what goes on your watch. Tell Ben to stop the partisan whining and come with plans for how all of the American Government levels ( Republican and Democratic) who failed the American citizens of the impacted states get it right next time. There responsibility of the Capitan is to be prepared for the next disaster
— John H. Bishop (who lives in a Hurricane prone state)
I can’t really dispute much of what Mr. Stein wrote. However, he was just answering some of the more ludicrous accusations flung at President Bush. Some of the more realistic questions for his administration, things that really were within his power to affect, deal with:
– How FEMA’s agency position was changed in such a way that its emphasis was so focused on terrorist threats at the expense of more usual natural disaster threats, and why it was limited in much of its former ability to marshal all of the resources needed in a more timely fashion;
– Why the federal budgets for levee rehab and improvement in New Orleans were cut despite massive amounts of data and models presented as recently as three years ago that predicted this sort of outcome, not to mention a FEMA report in 2001 that listed this exact sort of disaster as one of the most potentially devastating events they could foresee,
– Why was it not possible for even a part of FEMA planning to have a quick-reaction force in place to have at least a first wave of rescue and relief available in the area to go in immediately after the hurricane (a private hospital in Rhode Island was able to do that);
– How, with the White House having declared a state of emergency for all of Louisiana two days before the hurricane hit, could rescue and relief agencies in the government be caught so off-guard when the declaration clearly spells out all that the Federal government was to help, but didn’t?
While I don’t believe racism was at work here, how can the agencies (local and national) which are supposed to be prepared for this sort of thing ignore the fact that there are large numbers of people who cannot afford to, or don’t have the resources to evacuate? Since the state of emergency was declared two days before the hurricane, and it was apparent that not everyone was evacuating, why didn’t this occur to anyone at the planning level? It may not have been racism, but it could have been turning a blind eye to those living at the poverty level and below. There are always going to be those too stubborn or delusional to leave in situations like this, but you can’t attribute that to all those who remained behind.
No one with any common sense could blame Bush for the hurricane or actions of looters and snipers. The question of whether the assets of the National Guard were stretched too thin as a result of the Iraq war is relevant, and I think, unanswered — but there have been quotes in the media from some in the Guard and Reserves that indicate it could have been a factor.
There are plenty of questions to be asked about the contingency planning on the local and regional level, but that doesn’t dismiss the questions that should be asked of the Bush administration. Unfortunately, Mr. Stein’s rebuttal of the ridiculous accusations merely act as a smoke screen for the more serious questions.
If history is any indication, no one in the Bush administration will be held accountable for the delays and gaffes that certainly cost lives and inflicted unnecessary suffering upon those who were least able to help themselves. In fact, I expect some of those whose actions caused that very suffering will probably be rewarded by him. It seems that’s the way this administration works.
As much as I like Mr. Stein (not knowing him personally, but as a celebrity), I hate to see him be this sort of apologist for President Bush when I’m sure he must realize the problems are much deeper and different than most of the frivolous points he addressed in his diary.
— Richard Kirkman
Four years and hundreds of billions of dollars after 9/11, and the feds still have no rapid response for a major terrorist attack (i.e., hours not days). If the levies were destroyed by a bomb instead of a storm ALL New Orleans residents would have been at home and the disaster would have been infinitely greater and with NO warning. You can blame the governor, you can blame the mayor or Ronald McDonald if you like, but the bottom line is the feds were caught completely flat footed. That you cannot deny or refute. Remember, the buck stops at the commander-in-chief (well, it used to). He needs to step up and take responsibility and then tell us how we will be better prepared next time and he then will gain my respect and confidence.
It is amazing to me that so many people love George W. Bush so much that they won’t ever allow him to take responsibility. It reminds me of a parent that sees their child always getting into trouble but refuses to admit he did wrong. They always blame it on someone or something else. Not my little Georgie, he’s innocent. He would never do wrong. He is not a child he is the PRESIDENT of the most powerful nation on earth. A truly great leader takes responsibility even when they are not directly at fault. But, he won’t do that, he is too arrogant for humility. He knows that he will be protected by those that support him “no matter what.” However, it will catch up eventually but unfortunately OUR children will reap the consequences.
Regarding global warning: though not proven beyond any doubt, there is a significant amount of respected scientific data that global warming is real. Erring on the side of caution seems to be the most logical action here. Is it not better to prepare for worst case scenarios than to find out later that, oops, we were wrong? Oh sorry, I forgot, Mr. Bush is never wrong.
Thoughts from an American patriot!
— John Maietta
I have read your article and couldn’t agree with you more. Poor Mr. Bush. May god bless him and give him strength and courage to lead us through this horrible crisis. He has one of the most difficult jobs in one of the most difficult times that we live in.
I think he’s doing a great job, but it seems rediculous to even mention it without being bombarded by other opposing and intrusive opinions.
Just the other day I was in my vets office and these two older women were sitting there criticizing the way George Bush is running the country and fighting the war.
So I made it my buisiness to stick up for our president, needless to say I barely made it out of there alive. I thought those little old ladies were going to kill me. So now I’ve learned my lesson and keep my opinions to myself….
Anyway I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for posting your article online. I’m glad it made it’s way into my e-mail. I will spread your word to as many people as I can.
— Elena S.
Brooklyn, New York
This planet has experienced many ice ages (all before humans had any possible affect on climate). Each ice age was followed by global warming, which is why as I write this, I do not see a one-mile thick sheet of ice when I look out my window.
My question is; what caused these numerous past instances of global warming?
It sure wasn’t due to activity on the part of humans.
We are to believe that the present warming trend is mostly the result of human activity. Computer models “verify” this (if the computer models are that accurate, they should be able to “turn on the model,” say, at 20 million years before the present, and the model should be able to duplicate the major climatic milestones in earth’s history, yes?).
— Alex Custin
Mr. Stein, thank you for the comments on President Bush. Fox News is supposed to be fair and balanced. What a show they try to put on.
— Phillip Yost
Thank you so much for printing this!!! I heard it on a radio broadcast this morning and went straight to the web to download and e-mail it to everyone I know.
— Kristen Bowman
BURN IN HELL! You are nothing more than Right Wing extremists….
RE: David Hogberg’s Pulling Teeth:
The left hates HSAs. Of course they do — allowing individuals to self-provide their own healthcare isn’t on the Dependency Party agenda that assures politicians’ incumbency, based on government services, subsidized by taxpayers. Likewise, the left hates voluntary PRAs, and allowing parents the freedom of education choice. Leftist policies prevent citizens from providing for their own families, because they’re forced to subsidize non-family members, via punitive taxation. The big three, education, healthcare, and Socialist Insecurity, were designed to keep citizens dependent on taxpayer largess, which translates into votes at the ballot box, assuring long-term incumbency for pandering politicians.
These lying slugs take an oath to support/defend the Constitution, yet none of the big three are mentioned as constitutional functions of the central government, yet politicians continue to violate taxpayers Tenth Amendment rights. Let the revolution begin — continue to expose the fraudulent politicians, whose power of the federal purse is the mother’s milk of incumbency.
— Harry Thompson, Socialist Insecurity retiree
THE L.A. TIMES IS HIRING
RE: George Neumayr’s The Elite’s Moral Gadfly:
Neumayr’s column is a complete misinterpretation of what Kinsley said in his stem cell column. If only Neumayr had Kinsley’s brains and insights, he wouldn’t have written such a ridiculously stupid column of his own.
— Patrick Ponticel
1. As a long-ago subscriber to Sports Illustrated, I recall reading the letter or two that would invariably appear shortly subsequent to the legendary annual swimsuit issue (and presumably still does) offering that the published responses to the much vaunted issue were of considerably greater interest to the writer than the subject matter itself. TAS‘s “Reader Mail” section these days evokes for me the exact same sentiment.
2. TAS is to be congratulated for the First Amendment faithfulness and classical liberality that it is exhibiting in spades in publishing seemingly all of the responses of its readership. That said, it is arguable that a little bit of separating of wheat from chaff might be in order, which could be realized via a new editorial policy of publishing only those contributions which include full names and hometowns.
3. The seething apoplexy that has been piqued by George Neumayr and by the other TAS contributors who have unapologetically drawn the incontrovertible conclusion, based upon observable, verifiable facts, that local leadership and systemic ineptitude, on-the-ground moral bankruptcy, and a turbo-charged entitlement mentality, all contributed materially to the misery and loss of life in New Orleans, is every bit as stupefying as the widespread acts of depravity that were perpetrated upon the city at its most vulnerable point. It is now clear that not only is there no honor among thieves (and thugs,) but also neither is there any intellectual honesty among liberals.
4. Speaking of intellectual dishonesty, how ’bout those readers who took offense at Jay Homnick’s criticism of the president? Is their suggestion that he and his administration could not and should not have been measurably better, earlier informed, and quicker to react?! The Bush-o-philes out there would be well advised to realize that “W” is not infallible. (If he was, after all, then he would have known that there were no WMDs in Iraq when he insisted that there were, and American troops wouldn’t today be taking bullets and shrapnel in the cause of that nation-building that he repeatedly promised in 2000 America would not engage in under his leadership.)
5. Apparently the liberals’ rage over those painful observations that were initially put forth by TAS about New Orleans blinded them early on, thereby sparing them the further anguish of reading Reid Collins’s Ou Sont Les Chevaliers? for I saw no response to this worthy piece, histrionic or otherwise. Its central point is that the predominance of one of the welfare state’s original and more prominent features, the broken family (admittedly now a quaint term by today’s parlance, partly courtesy of that critical mass of middle class whites who decided that single parenthood is fine and dandy after all), undoubtedly and considerably worsened a bad situation for thousands of Katrina’s victims. It’s hard to imagine that a lot more victims would not themselves have been better situated, and would not have had better situated relatives and others to turn to, if there were but a lot more traditional families in place of those many, many actual “families” which are an amalgamation of cohabitants, absent parents, step-parents and half-siblings. While love might make a nouveau family, it sure as hell doesn’t itself make for nearly the same degree of networked solidarity and economic empowerment that traditional families do. The vexation of it all is that, now that we’re well beyond the first generation of this brokenness, there is a legitimate question of the practical culpability of the members of these modern, loosely constructed social units, which, after all, merely model what those who have formed them were born into and raised within themselves, all enabled by tax dollars; but the ferocious winds and rising water of Lake Ponchetrain proved to be quite indifferent to the matter of blame. Will society’s leaders, black and white, political and religious, remain so as well?
— Francis M. Hannon, Jr.