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Ben Stein, on Larry Craig - The year was 2081 [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
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Ben Stein, on Larry Craig [Sep. 2nd, 2007|09:53 am]
matt
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The whole story of Senator Larry Craig, the Republican of Idaho who announced his resignation yesterday, is a nightmare of out-of-control police and weak politicians...

Shame on the GOP leadership, and utter disgrace to the airport police and their thug behavior.

These are security people in airports. Hello! An airport? Don't they have anything better to do?


-- Ben Stein, from http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/09/02/sunday/main3228091.shtml
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[User Picture]From: jane_etrix
2007-09-02 07:32 pm (UTC)
Ben Stein, as per usual when discussing politics, is completely full of shit and not only because the "police state" tactics he decries exist because the GOP encourages them.

While I appreciate Stein's "why does it matter if he's gay" and think Stein is probably being sincere to his own feelings on the issue, I can't ignore how completely disingenuous it is for him to compare Sens. Frank and Craig or to pretend the GOP response wasn't completely predictable. What's the difference between Craig and Frank? Well, let's see. Frank acknowledges he's gay. Frank does not align himself with groups who oppose civil rights for homosexuals, whereas Craig denies he's gay, supports and promotes groups which oppose gay rights and has probably been soliciting sex in bathrooms for years, then trotting home to his wife, who gives him a veneer of "respectability" in the ignorant, bigoted crowd with which Craig surrounds himself.

Stein also does not describe the incident accurately. He neglects to mention that Craig was staring into a neighboring stall for a couple of minutes; he neglects to mention Craig wasn't just "tapping his foot;" he was touching the officer's foot (which was in another stall) with his. Craig claims this is due to his "wide stance" while evacuating his bowels, which is the most ridiculous thing I've heard in a while. Stein says Craig "may or may not have reached his hand under the lavatory partition...," but Craig has never disputed he put his hand under the neighboring stall; he just claims he did it to pick up a piece of paper, which, evidently, was invisible to other people. As yet, Craig has offered no plausible reason for his guilty plea except to claim he's a "victim" of a "witch hunt" by an Idaho newspaper.

Craig is being treated the way he has advocated others be treated. He is a "victim" of his own dishonesty and bigotry, and he has been perfectly happy to take advantage of the kind of prejudice he now faces as a way to further his career. Craig is a victim of the climate he helped to create, the ideas he helped propagate and the attitudes he encouraged; Craig has no one to blame but himself, and Ben Stein should shut the hell up- hello, doesn't he have anything better to do?
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[User Picture]From: hbergeronx
2007-09-02 08:02 pm (UTC)
In a way, I'm totally in agreement with you. I like Stein at the same time I find him completely abhorrent- I remember being amused by the show "Win Ben Stein's Money" until one day, he said he was donating all the proceeds from a particular show to some right to life foundation. I stopped watching. Now, i knew he was a conservative and a speecwriter for Nixon etc., but i didn't really know his politics at the time in any detail. To me, he was the boring teacher collecting attendance in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" But, I'm also trying to understand why I had (and have had on occasion) such a reaction.

I don't know if Craig is a victim of the climate he created. There's excellent evidence that no matter what the facts are, there's an element, an aura, of unintended consequence that is really only beginning to dawn on people, especially moderate Republicans. I think there are many people who say we need more authoritarianism at the same time they're beginning to see the consequence of overbloated authoritarianism. As moderates, they want to see society pull back from that brink.

But then, there are many who also see that you can't have one without the other- the more authoritarian things get, the more leverage there is to abuse that. Is Stein right, and there's a happy medium where law and order does just enough to make society good, or does authoritarianism a slippery slope into hell?

I think I want to be careful about gloating in Craig's case. There's too much of a tendency, I think, to point and laugh when the over-righteous fall under the weight of their own sin- look at how many conservatives gloated over, say, Gore's electric bill. I don't think it's ever the right response.

If Craig is delusional and queer, that's just sad. If Craig is straight and was entrapped, that's just sad. If Crag is not delusional and just got caught, well, maybe that's funny. But, I despair of ever being able to tell that the last option is what actually happened.

What does delight me is that maybe, just maybe, moderate republicans are beginning to say, "wow, unintended consequences are a bummer!" and maybe we can begin to heal after the HUGE damage wrought over the past umpteen years.
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[User Picture]From: jane_etrix
2007-09-03 07:08 pm (UTC)
I don't know if Craig is a victim of the climate he created. There's excellent evidence that no matter what the facts are, there's an element, an aura, of unintended consequence that is really only beginning to dawn on people, especially moderate Republicans.

I think it should be noted that he is not the victim of overzealous authoritarianism in the sense you mean but rather increased airport restroom security due to complaints about solicitation. Regardless, Craig being demonized by his own cabal is a perfect example of the law of unintended consequence. Perhaps, he should have been more judicious in his denigration of homosexuality.

Also, to be frank, if the reality of unintended consequence is "only beginning to dawn..." on moderate Republicans, I have to wonder what the hell they have been doing with their brains for the last several years because it's not like there have not been people who, all along, have been pointing out the dangers of authoritarianism and expanded executive powers. It's not exactly a new theory or anything.

Is Stein right, and there's a happy medium where law and order does just enough to make society good, or does authoritarianism a slippery slope into hell?

You're kidding, right? There is no ideal. Obviously, any authority can be exploited and abused, which is precisely why we have a series of checks and balances in our government (yet another reason the whole unintended consequence thing should have dawned on the moderate Republicans of which you speak)- because it is equally obvious that a functioning system of law is required to have a semblance of general good. Besides, it's preposterous to treat this as a new question. It's not like prior to the Bush administrations power-grabbing we all lived in anarchy.

I think I want to be careful about gloating in Craig's case.

Who's gloating? I find the whole thing depressing as hell.

If Craig is delusional and queer, that's just sad. If Craig is straight and was entrapped, that's just sad. If Crag is not delusional and just got caught, well, maybe that's funny. But, I despair of ever being able to tell that the last option is what actually happened.

Craig isn't delusional. He may be pathetic and pitiable (although I admit, I have no real pity for him), but I don't believe for an instant he's delusional. I think it's insulting to those who have come out as being gay to try to paint deception such as Craig's as a delusion. Criminally hypocritical self-interest is Craig's problem.

Also, I suppose, unless we were present, we must despair of ever knowing "what actually happened" in any matter. I hardly think that's a greater cause for concern in the Craig matter than it is in any other.

What does delight me is that maybe, just maybe, moderate republicans are beginning to say, "wow, unintended consequences are a bummer!"

Well, let's hope so. It's about fucking time.
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[User Picture]From: st_rev
2007-09-03 01:23 am (UTC)
I have trouble believing that Stein actually believes the things he writes, but that's probably a failure of imagination on my part.
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[User Picture]From: hbergeronx
2007-09-03 01:32 am (UTC)
I prefer to believe that he has a talent for genuine but comic/ironic exaggeration (i.e. exaggerating by minimization, a kind of channeling bugs bunny on ether), and that being useful when in the employ of the self-important/overblown/stuffed shirts.
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