SWINGING AT FRIENDS
Re: Jay D. Homnick’s Three Days of the Candor:
I wish to thank Mr. Homnick for having in no small way help assuage my anger at President Bush and transform it into something more sustainable — disappointment. Had the President reacted more decisively and quickly to the Katrina disaster and, in particular, the situation in New Orleans, he could have replenished his stock of “political capital” that to date he has spent not very wisely. Not that this should have been his primary reason for exerting forceful leadership during such a crisis since peoples’ lives were at stake. And hence it was no time to worry about the lesser legalities such as posse comitatus, something even Rumsfeld mumbled about on at least one occasion.
Bush failed as a leader. No amount of excuse mongering by the administration nor rabid, vile accusatory finger pointing by liberals can diminish nor exaggerate that fact.
— Dennis Sevakis
This fellow has missed the boat, literally. I’m getting a little sick and tired of so-called conservatives jumping on the beat-up Bush bandwagon. Yes, a leader should have stepped forward, but that leadership should have been at the local level like Rudy in New York since we have a Constitution dictating state rights and federal limitations. Bush is a convenient punching bag right now for the Left and for our so-called conservative friends like Mr. Homnick. The media and the “experts” should take a look around at average America and see how they really feel about the New Orleans fiasco. I haven’t heard one person in my workplace or my husband’s workplace who defended the people of New Orleans and their behavior (or at the least the behavior shown to us by the press). I personally don’t like people demanding that I help them, yelling at me, and that is what I saw on the TV. My one thought was, Americans don’t act this way. Americans act like the people of Mississippi and Alabama who quietly accepted their fate and went about the job of cleaning up, not demanding that the rest of America help them. The help would come, it ALWAYS does, and they knew that, but in the meantime, they rolled up their sleeves and helped themselves. They didn’t need saving. They went about the business of saving themselves. And that’s the American spirit.
President Bush does not look smaller in my eyes because I know the truth, something Mr. Homnick kept rattling on about but had obviously missed during these “three days of candor.” If any blame needs to be made, it should fall squarely on the feet of 1) personal responsibility of the inhabitants of New Orleans to get out (I saw a lot of cars underwater on the news last night, which doesn’t support the claim that they had no way to get out) and 2) the LOCAL government for not following its own disaster plan (there were a lot of school buses flooded as well). Nowhere in their disaster plan did it recommend housing people in the Superdome or the Convention Center.
I think Mr. Homnick needs to dig a little deeper for the truth instead of letting the media color his viewpoint.
— A. Parrett
I understand everyone’s need to blame the President for any part of the New Orleans disaster they can find. But if we just must blame a President, why not go back to the one who paid France 80 million francs in the Louisiana Purchase deal which included the whimsical notion of a city seven feet below sea level and surrounded by water?
— Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California
Why publish tripe like this? Even ABC News is grudgingly saying that the fault isn’t all Bush’s, which is an understatement. The first responders are supposed to be local and state. This sickens me that a great magazine would allow this to be printed.
— H. Cannon
Candler, North Carolina
Excellent, I wholeheartedly agree. Keep calling them like you see them!
I cannot thank you enough for the written words defending our President. As a former resident of New Orleans, I know first-hand, the corrupt powers that run that city. If you were able to tour the “real” New Orleans and see the rundown buildings used as schools, see the city streets away from the French Quarter and how dirty, nasty and filthy they are, see the drug-infested trailer parks where you padlock your doors while at work (if you happen to work that is), and the general lawlessness that runs rampant throughout the city, you’d understand why people like myself applaud your article and put condemnation where it belongs, squarely on the head and shoulders of Mayor Nagin. … I could go on and on, but in interest to your time, which is valuable I’m sure. I’ll leave things as they are, and once again say, “Thank you!”
— Marrianne Rudy
Ben Stein’s list of “truths” displays quite clearly the contempt that the Republican Party holds for the American people.
The underlying claim is that Bush’s critics are crazy: Don’t they know that Presidents don’t cause hurricanes?
Of course we know this, and I’m not sure that this is the right time for smart-ass, “clever” responses.
We are blaming Bush, the president who ran on a platform of National Security, for failing to secure the homeland. If responsibility for keeping Americans safe is entirely a local matter, than why did anyone bother to vote for Bush? Would he have reacted differently to a surprise terrorist attack, as opposed to a natural disaster for which there was plenty of warning, both as to the severity of the storm and the paucity of the defenses against it?
Bush’s critics are not as stupid as Mr. Stein seems to think; Bush supporters, unless the are merely being dishonest and narrowly partisan, are.
— John Farley
New York City
While I always enjoy musings by Mr. Stein, I wish that his piece “Get Off his Back” was at least, in some ways, relevant.
His list is absurd and does not in any way address any of the actual complaints levied against President Bush — at least none that I’ve personally seen on television networks from Fox News to CNN to ABC.
Now, of course, his list is supposed to be absurd and that, in part, is the point of it, but among his list of “truths” the only one that seems to have any relevance to the discourse and debate I myself have had or seen is #8.
While our President is indeed rushing aid to Louisiana now, one cannot deny he was slow in responding and, when he did, it was an awfully callous press tour that ended with nothing more than a wave goodbye, with nary an idea for assistance or bit of insight to be heard. In an interview with Diane Sawyer just prior to his visit, he was actually flip about the situation.
I’m not a Bush supporter, but I’m also not a staunch Democrat. I believe in Bush’s war in Iraq, even if I disagree with how he sold it to the public. I support the President when he’s doing the right thing, and he’s done the right thing before. I’m also the only (mostly) Democrat I know who thought felt he kicked Kerry’s ass in the latter debates.
It seems, however, he just didn’t do the right thing here. After all, doing ANYthing would’ve been the right thing, and he 1) waited too long and 2) when he finally arrived, he did nothing more than pose for some pictures. Even the White House clearly saw he made the wrong choice — they sent him back, what, 48 hours later?
So, all-in-all, I agree with every point Mr. Stein makes, save for #8 — as that’s the only one that holds any import.
Oh, and regarding number 9: again, I’ve not heard any pundits make that accusation, but I have heard people comment that the debt created by the war makes national disaster relief a heavier burden for the country, and that sounds like a pretty logical point to me, but I admit to having no idea how true it is in regard to the national debt and so forth.
— Keith S.
Just read your essay “Get off his back” about GWB, and I must say you haven’t lost your knack. I was under the impression that you quit doing comedy because you wanted to get back to politics, but now I know the truth. You were staging a comeback! I knew (and still prayed to [God]) that you couldn’t deny what He has given you; an undeniable sense of humor.
Here, here. Thank you for saying what needed to be said. We need more people like you.
— Barbara Stevens
Ben Stein is the greatest, a true intellectual voice of reason and sanity. God bless him — he is a national treasure!
— Gene Deveney
Hoboken, New Jersey
….So with respect to Mr. Stein’s “truths,” the overriding truth is that Republicans will say anything to protect Republicans. Mr. Stein is a sharp guy, a prevaricator, but sharp. I’ll be happy to debate him on science any time, but you won’t catch me spewing on law, something I haven’t been trained in. I guess that hubris is enough, instead of science? But my real question is this: Does the editorial staff at the Spectator fact-check anything?
— Gregory P. Miller, Ph.D.
Socorro, New Mexico
Bravo, Ben Stein. Let me please add one more small question: If the hate-Bush crowd actually believed that the man had the power to cause hurricanes, would they dare to speak of him that way?
— Martin Owens
I hope the people of this country never “Get Off His Back,” until his back is moving away from Washington, D.C. and into a courtroom, where he and his whole administration belong to answer many charges to what they’ve done to most of the citizens of the United States. Not the wealthy, no, they have been well taken care of. It is the rest of us who fight to defend this country, and pay most of the taxes to keep this country going –ï¿½ not so the Bushes and the Cheneys and the remainder of his administration and much of Congress.
— Arthur Mensor
Palm Springs, California
As I watched all those tens of thousands of able bodied men, women, and children just sitting on that curb, in front of the Superdome or the Convention Center, in 95 degree heat with danger and death all around, waiting to be rescued, it occurred to me that I would not have sat on that curb, not for a day, not for an hour, not for five minutes. I would have put the baby on my shoulder, pushed my mama’s wheelchair, and I would have walked out of that city. The fact that so few took the initiative to do that is illustrative of the basic problem. It never occurred to most of those people that they needed to help themselves. I find the ramifications of this rather frightening.
— James E. Flowers
The piece “Get off His Back” by Ben Stein was spot on with one exception. The following comment rings hollow in light of recent history.
“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.”
During the L.A. riots in April-May 1992, President Bush (the First) sent 4,000 active duty soldiers and Marines within 72 hours of the call for help from the mayor of L.A. and federalized the California National Guard. (Source: Parameters, Summer 1997, pp. 88-109. US Army War College Quarterly)
Surely the events in the wake of Hurricane Katrina begged for a similar federal response. We should acknowledge that we are at war, and those military resources that would have been useful in this disaster are better used to safeguard U.S. national interests as we prosecute the war on terror.
— Tony Schwalm
I read your piece today, and was so grateful to see that someone in the press could finally tell the truth about George Bush and his efforts to help the poor people in New Orleans! I am so sick of the liberal press and their attempts to destroy our President. As you so truthfully brought up, this is the one President that really cares for all his people, with no bias as to color nor faith!
God Bless You, and keep up the good work.
— Nancy Doyle
Oh yes, God Bless George Bush. Unbelievable. Honestly Ben Stein. Honestly. Please use your brain. Apply some logic to the situation. THINK! (Not with your wallet).
Thank you so much for Ben Stein’s article. He very succinctly stated the tremendous frustration I have experienced with the attempts to blame Bush for this very terrible — but natural — disaster.
During the Clinton administration, no matter how unethical, immoral or questionable Clinton’s behavior and judgment was, many of these same people were quick to defend and forgive him. Because Bush is Republican — and particularly because he is a conservative one — they constantly question his judgment and motives, and their frequent attempts to make him appear unethical or immoral are almost ludicrous. To hear them talk, you would think that Bush is responsible for every ill this world has ever experienced, and I am sick of the obvious malice and rancor they have shown towards him throughout his presidency.
— C. Seebald
I’m wondering is there any way for this article to reach the mayor of New Orleans?
I am a moderate conservative in a liberal world — academia. While I don’t agree with every one of Mr. Stein’s points in his recent defense of the President’s actions after Katrina (and isn’t that what rational America is supposed to be? Intelligent disagreement?), I do applaud him for making the points that so many people are ignoring. The current condition of New Orleans is the fault of the residents, the mayor, and the Louisiana government. The residents who stayed despite the evacuation order who were not forced to stay because of infirmity took needed resources away from a legitimate rescue operation that should have helped those aging or disabled residents who were physically unable to evacuate. Instead, those resources went to policing armed looters and pacifying the thousands of able-bodied people “trapped” in the dome and convention center demanding that someone should “give” them what they need….
While I am not a huge fan of some of the decisions of this administration, and I believe that our (states, nation, cities) readiness for domestic catastrophes is certainly in need of examination, I think that blaming Bush for something he neither caused nor had immediate responsibility for is absurd. What we should be doing is cheering the spirit of the people who have offered in the thousands to house the homeless, the people who are sharing food with their neighbors amidst the ruins of their neighborhoods, the millions of dollars raised by the rest of the nation immediately — schoolchildren, radio stations, companies, students– and the help offered by other nations. This help was offered despite the demonization of Bush the media likes to say has happened globally. We are a strong country, and this should be celebrated in the wake of such a disaster– not denigrated by slamming the most prominent scapegoat.
— Amanda Stiebel
St. Louis, Missouri
Wow, I knew Mr. Stein was sadly misguided in his political views, but I never realized just what a tail-kissing, amateur little suck-up he has become. His article on your site regarding the “All Mighty” President’s response to Hurricane Katrina (9/2/2005 and updated on 9/4/2005) is sophomoric in its approach, tragically flawed in it’s logic, and sadly, it is just as accusatory and demeaning as he claims the world has been to his president. Mr. Stein is a hypocritical elitist dolt who obviously has no concept as to what is really happening right before his very eyes. He should stick to entertainment and quit trying to pawn himself off as someone who speaks for the masses of this country who are embarrassed and sickened by this president and his administration….
— Jason Hutchinson
Do not listen to a word he says. He wrote speeches for the most conniving, deceitful President in the history of our country. He and his money resent you all very much. Please die so he can have everything.
— Jason Blundy
The United States is hands down the world’s biggest polluter in terms of CO2 emissions. Also, China is voluntarily reducing their emissions. We are not.
“George Bush is the least racist President in mind and soul there has ever been….” Seriously, how could someone know this one way or the other?
— Thomas Hay
Ben Stein is a very intelligent person and he couldn’t be more right. What are the statistics for other hurricanes or other disasters and the Federal Government response time? What good does it do to spew hatred and racism? How does that help? Are the people criticizing doing anything constructive to help?
— Paula LaPanta
While I appreciate many of the things you point out in your Special Report (“Get Off His Back”) I’m taken aback by your incomplete grasp of the situation….
I am neither a Democrat nor Republican. And I can honestly say that I am equally disgusted by both sides (liberal and conservative) who are twisting the situation to either blast Bush or defend Bush blindly.
If you were able to objectively open your eyes, you’d see that our President failed to demonstrate true leadership at a time when our country needed it most.
Way to go, Mr. Stein!
Timely and truthful words.
We’ve had to completely turn off our television because of the blamethrowing. Questions like “Who’s responsible for this hurricane?” have shocked, appalled and disgusted us. In fact, the phrase “shock and awe” come to mind as I listen to so-called journalists who think that news is based upon conjecture and opinion.
They seem to have confused editorial with just the facts.
Thank you for pointing out the gamble people chose to make. It happens everyday in Vegas and many walk away ruined there, too. Is that President Bush’s fault as well?
Thank you, Ben Stein!
— Janet B.
Someone thinks just like me I am so glad to hear that I am not alone. I am so tired of the finger pointing and all when many of these people chose to stay right where they were knowing what was coming. Thank you, Ben, for this article. I am forwarding it on. I have been so upset with the mayor who can cuss and blame like crazy but I think he is blaming to get the eyes off of himself for not leading his city as he should have. For not caring for the elderly and sick like he should have. Thank you, Ben.
— T. Buckmaster
…Mr. Bush should not only be impeached, but imprisoned. He has knowingly murdered thousands of Americans in his personal war, knowingly based on lies and deceit, and allowed countless more to die by taking away the resources they need in emergency to further line the pockets of his good old boys. His crimes are reminiscent of Saddam Hussein and he should be treated accordingly.
On a side note, I find it interesting that a rich Republican white man, like yourself, feels he can comment on whether or not Bush is racist and you seem to think your opinion will hold water. It’s no different from an Atheist saying there’s no God. Your opinion will certainly not change the minds and hearts of the people who know they are being oppressed by this man or the poor parents of the soldiers he led to death.
On a personal note, I used to enjoy watching you on television. I will never do that again, nor will millions of other people who read the letter you wrote.
— Laura Banks
Bravo! I’m so glad someone is finally getting the word out that all of this is not President Bush’s fault! I’m so tired of all the finger-pointing.
Adding insult to injury, I saw a young healthy woman interviewed. She refused to leave her house. She didn’t want to “live with 100 people she didn’t know” (understandable), or be sent to a state she would never even want to visit (SLAM). Why can’t everyone focus on what is being done and the outpouring of thousands willing to help? Some of these people want to refuse help, then blame authorities for having no aid.
So I suppose we will stick to helping those who want to be helped, praying for our President who must be under an ungodly amount of stress, and getting on with life.
The critics will be eating their words at some point, secretly wishing a man like President Bush were back in office.
Ben Stein is right on the money. It was never patently obvious to me that the Bush administration dropped the ball in the aftermath of Katrina. What is becoming obvious is that the Democratic Party has been in power for the better part of the last 60 years in New Orleans and the state of Louisiana. How much worse would the situation have been if President Kerry had been in charge, with a whole eight months of administration experience (in his entire life) under his belt?
— Tom Van Eck
Finally! Someone that has some sense. Please relay my thanks to Mr. Stein for his article “Get Off His Back” dated 9/2/05. I’ve forwarded it to many people.
— Connie Bailey
I needed to respond to a previous poster about Ben Stein.
“While the violence is inexcusable, it is also a direct result of the failure of any government agencies — city, state or federal — to have infrastructure in place to control the population”
Would anyone predict that people could collapse so quickly? Good god, how have we come to expect so little from people? Who would predict that Americans would turn against each other in such a savage manner? People dying of starvation after four days?! “Failure … to control the population.” Is that what you expect from your elected officials? To be controlled? Much was revealed about the rot in the culture in that city in the behavior of its citizens and the ineptitude of its officials. “Good Job Fellas, Here’s some free tickets to Vegas for not abandoning your posts!”
— Bill Patterson
Kudos to Ben Stein! Imagine, we have relegated our President to the position of — God. Shouldn’t we all be afraid to verbally attack him or do anything to make him angry? If he can cause such destructive storms and chaos and crime and death and be sooo evil, we’d better stand back out of the way, don’t you think?
— Linda Waugh
I wish that every newspaper in America would print Ben Stein’s article. Bless you for printing the truth.
— Patty Seymour
Thank you, thank you for publishing Ben Stein’s article on hurricane Katrina! Finally, a voice of reason amidst all the insanity and hype the liberal media has been shoving down our throats. If only we could get more articles like this one out in main stream America, maybe some of the talking heads would stop talking so much!
Thanks again for standing up for my President, George W. Bush!!!
— Amy Wick
Please pass along to Mr. Stein that I was overwhelmingly pleased with his analysis of the recent tragic events in New Orleans. It is a shame that his commentary will never see the light of day insofar as the average American since the broadcast media, led by the Communist Broadcast System, is doing everything they can to bury our President over this event.
Beyond this disaster, the media bias may well put Sequoia Legs in the White House in 2008 which would be a considerably bigger disaster than Katrina.
— C.K. McCusker
To spend an article impugning people for “sticking pins in effigy of Bush,” and then to use your last point to criticize Hillary, is deeply intellectually dishonest.
Furthermore, callousness isn’t what’s being displayed, and isn’t what has people upset. Incompetence, to the point of negligence, is. Negligence that has cost lives, and to which Bush is ultimately responsible.
— Walter Stevens
…We have read and agree completely with other articles Ben has written, and absolutely, if he has not yet been eternally ostracized by the “in crowd,” he’s in for it now! We want him to know there are many citizens in America that do have good sense and a conscience and we know the difference between truth and falsehood, the difference between a natural disaster and mere man’s capabilities. I fear, gone are the days of reporting news with integrity and moral character. Thank you Ben Stein for a dose of TRUTH….
May God help this nation before we self-destruct. BRAVO to Ben Stein for “guts,” BRAVO to our President for his steadfast desire to serve and protect His country rightly and be honorable in doing the job, BRAVO for the absolutely amazing efforts of our government and fellow citizens to mobilize the assistance of this great nation in less than seven days, to meet a need that didn’t exist seven days before, for a catastrophic event that was unthinkable seven days before!
— Sharon Adams
I was e-mailed a copy of your story entitled “Get Off His Back.” I was very happy to see someone finally step up and say something good about our President! The man has done so much to try and help and has got nothing but criticism for it. I knew it wouldn’t take long before the racist card was played. Even though as you say, there are a large number of people sacrificing to try and help and are white skinned!?!? From all over this United States. So thanks! I certainly appreciate your effort to try and help do what the TV reporters are not.
— S. Varn
Thank you, Ben Stein! Love,
Re: George Neumayr’s Masques of Death, the “Astonishingly Cruel” letters in Reader Mail’s Watch Your Tongue, and John Shutkin’s and other letters in Reader Mail’s The Hurricane Continues:
I can not remember reading something so misguided and racially ignorant. Not to mention a complete utter irresponsible disregard for a city you know nothing about except through the printed media. I should put my thumbs in your eye sockets.
You and your ilk are the reason there are poverty stricken areas. Cutting services and privatizing necessities breeds horrible conditions for those the slip through the cracks. Forty percent poverty rate is not a coincidence. It is a stain on the most powerful and rich country on earth. There is a reason we have taxes, and it is not to give them to Halliburton or to serve the debt on manufactured Fed money. It is for people.
I suppose you think people choose to be poor. I have heard that one before. I can’t wait for Coulter’s “spin.” This one is the liberal’s fault again.
Hell has a special place for you. My hatred for those that think the way you do, especially at a time like this, boils.
— Todd Grove, Rich White Guy
Lower Garden District in beautiful and culturally significant New Orleans
Research on the internet indicates that John Shutkin has joined Shearman & Sterling just this month, as their first in-house general counsel. Presumably this means that he is a lawyer TO Shearman & Sterling, not OF Shearman & Sterling.
So I ask, what kind of a wing nut attaches the name of a law firm to which he has been attached less than a week, and in a role in which the law firm is more his client than his employer, to a crackpot Letter to the Editor? Can we assume that all Shearman & Sterling partners consider you hateful, contemptible wing nuts? Wouldn’t it be a hoot if you called up Shearman & Sterling and asked?
You have in the past printed several of my letters. I also have an employer. I have never attached their name to my writings; it didn’t seem important.
— Name Withheld
I wrote a partner I know at S&S and he replied that “John is the Firm’s General Counsel, but I do not believe that he was writing in an official capacity. I expect that the partnership would reflect many different views on the topic.”
Andy Bassford has provided the lowest point that The American Spectator has ever reached or will reach in the future by falsely accusing the federal government of murdering the citizens of New Orleans. He has matched secessionist (or Confederate) Aaron Broussard who did the same for Meet the Press.
— R.L.A. Schaefer
Your article seems to portray the criminals and gangs as a majority in New Orleans, which in fact is false. Most residents in New Orleans that are black just happen to fall below the poverty level. While the gangsta rap mentality is evident, why don’t you also write about how many young black college students there are in Louisiana and the New Orleans area. It’s articles like the one you have written, lead people to believe that all blacks in the area embrace the hoodlum lifestyle, when in fact that is not the truth. These gangsta rap culture lovers are the young black teenage boys who see no way out of the ghetto except gangsta lyrics and drug selling. This way of thinking has even replaced the “I will be an NBA star” mentality. While I do agree we have a lot of work with these young black teens, I do not agree with you generalizing a whole city because of a wayward few.
I read John Shutkin’s diatribe response to Mr. Neumayr’s article with some degree of awe and a great deal of mirth. I hope this General Counsel at the “white shoes” New York law firm of Sherman & Sterling LLP prepares his clients cases with a greater degree of logical objective analysis than he gives to his personal missives, especially given the hefty hourly rate his firm commands. Nothing in Mr. Neumayr’s article remotely leads to the litany of imaged blame Shutkin disingenuously attributes to Mr. Neumayr. Neither “the 60’s, Clinton, abortion,” et al., are logically germane to Neumayr’s point. But if you must ask, Mr. Shutkin, perhaps you might ask Al Gore if “Willie Horton” is still alive, since it was Gore who first perpetrated “Willie Horton” on the hapless Michael Dukakis.
— A. DiPentima, Esq.
I have read your editorial. It is as hate filled a piece as I have seen in a long time. I think you have gone Rush Limbaugh one better and, however dubious that is an achievement. I think that you are wrong. I have no further comment. I simply wanted to go online to register my strong disagreement. Fortunately, yours is not the prevailing opinion there are a lot of other Americans who also disagree with your views and will not be persuaded by them.
— Alfred P. Kremer
Rochester, New York
Re: Andrew Cline’s Challenging the Chickenhawk Epithet, the “Who You Callin’ Chicken?” letters in Reader Mail’s Katrina Media, and David Jenkins’s letter (under “Chickens Get A Lickin'”) in Reader Mail’s The Hurricane Continues:
David Jenkins has made an interesting, common, and false surmise which proves that he knows very, very little of the people who enlist, most particularly of the men who go into the combat arms and SOF. He seems to think that because he knows so many well-educated, well paid young men who don’t join, those who do join are ill-educated and ill-paid. I know lots of middle-aged and old men who served and are very active in their churches. That doesn’t mean everyone who hasn’t served is a young atheist.
Does he understand why anyone who wasn’t poor and unlearned would enlist? Maybe he should start with the answers to that question.
— Edward Ahlsen-Girard CDR, USNR, Recalled to USCENTCOM Operations Directorate in September of 2001
BLAME IT ON THE RAIN
Re: Patrick Hynes’s Hate Is All You Need:
I was reading where the Astronomers are puzzled by Saturn’s rings changing and disappearing. I know its Bush’ fault, and something should be done about it.
— Herb Teague