27 thoughts on “Ben Stein: Colossal Asshole

  1. Wow, and i really liked this guy in those dry-eyes commercial (can’t actually remember what product that was for, thought).

  2. Well… what’s the point of having nukes if we don’t have the cojones to use them? Ben Stein may be a number of things but is he wrong about Ahmadinejad? Has he not expressed a desire to wipe Israel off the face of the world so often that it’s begining to sound banal? Hitler too sent off little warnings about his intentionss towards the Jews, and each time he paid close attention to the world’s response. Every step of the way, he gradually disempowered and dehumanized the Jews, and every step of the way he noted the world’s effective silence and inability to stop him. Are we seeing history repeat itself here? If the world does not stop Ahmadinejad, then they are implicitly giving him a carte blanche to do as he sees fit,
    Iran is too far away for Israel to pull an Osirak. So… given an imminent Iranian nuke threat, what would you have us do? I know that I for one am not going to quietly sit by and allow myself to be herded into a day-glo cattle car. Please let the Iranians know that Israel has nukes and as Ben Stein noted, we will not hesitate to use them against anyone threatening another holocaust.
    But I remain open to alternative suggestions. The scenario described is not one that I ever look forward to. I hate the Iranian government but I have great respect for the Persian people. They used to be our closest allies in the Middle East and I’d hate for their government to bring them to nuclear ruination.

  3. I think ‘Colossal Asshole’ is overdoing it. Ben Stein is known primarily as a humorist, his recent foray into slightly-seriouser journalism notwithstanding. He’s still got one or more feet in the Jon Stewart/Steven Colbert world.
    Anyone? Anyone?

  4. Stein isn’t wrong, although he could have done with being ever so slightly more subtle. There is an opinion circulating here in the UK that we are in he throes of not WWIII but, rather, the beginnings of a new ‘cold war’. During the last Cold War the US and USSR let one another know that, if pressed, they would use nuclear weapons to protect their citizenry. Would they have in reality? No one can be sure, but is is doubtful. This lead to a situation where the US and USSR couldn’t afford to fight a conventional war as it could potentially go ‘nuclear’. So wars were fought by proxy all over the world with the US supplying one side with weapons and the USSR supplying the other.
    It seems to me that Iran wishes to draw the US into proxy wars whilst their nuclear weapons development is completed as they intend to use nuclear weapons to protect themselves from ‘regime change’ both from external and internal forces. Ahmadinejad wants both his own people and the rest of the world to believe that Iran is just meshugga enough to use them.
    The USSR was a totalitarian state which collapsed with an astonishing rapidity once the people were no longer afraid of their leaders. Iran is a theocratic totalitarian regime which could collapse in much the same way, so Ahmadinejad will continue to pick proxy fights with the US until he has nuclear weapons to bargain with.

  5. “The cojones to use nukes”? O, c’est tres freudian! Reminds me of ‘Dr. Strangelove.’ Since it takes a mind, and then a FINGER to launch a nuke, I do wonder whether CK is concerned with the size of his own.
    Sounds like Ben Stein’s been praying too much with ‘The Manchurian Clergyman’ Hagee. How can the braying yahoo of Iran be promising a second shoa, if he denies the first?
    Well, maybe Stein is planning a conversion before Meggido; then he’ll be allowed to partake in the sado-sexual rampage on the road to ‘rapture.’

  6. Ah yes, the ‘nukes are phallic and actually a replacement for right wingers with small members’ argument of defence and foreign policy. Very droll, if a tad asinine Miriam.

  7. Mobius
    Whatever happened to “I may attack a certain point of view which I consider false, but I will never attack a person who preaches it.”
    It seems like calling a guy an asshole is cool if he is says something about Israel rigoursly defending herself. Or is a registered Republican.

  8. “Ben Stein is known primarily as a humorist, his recent foray into slightly-seriouser journalism notwithstanding.”
    Uh– what? Ben Stein was a lawyer and speechwriter for — drumroll please — Nixon. He’s been writing columns since the 80s for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and — wait for it — The American Spectator. His only “forays” are brief ones into comedy, which inlude “Beuller, Beuller, Beuller,” and Win Ben Stein’s Money.
    But don’t make a mistake – Stein is a politician first. A comedian second.

  9. Matityahu, please don’t blame ME; I’m not Dr. Freud, and I also had no part whatsoever in making the movie ‘Dr. Strangelove’ (in fact, I think it was written, directed, and produced by MEN.
    But, if I must be serious: If we make some noun changes in CK’s post — you know, transforming ‘Muslim’ for ‘Jew,’ it could sound remarkably like what Israel is doing — at the behest of the WH — in Lebanon. Or, for that matter, what the IDF did in Bil’in, on Friday [ http://www.pasolidarity.org/main/2006/08/11/bilin-4/ ], particularly the shooting in the head of the unarmed, non-violent, Israeli Limor.
    Then, since CK seems amenable to ‘suggestions,’ here are some: Geneva Accord. Tikkun’s call for a Marshall Plan for reconstruction. And, most importantly, the next time Dick Cheney summons lapdog Bibi Netanyahu to the US, don’t let him back into Israel.

  10. And, Mobius, I don’t know why you’re calling Stein an asshole. He’s done some assholeish things, but making a prediction about Israel’s future actions would hardly qualify. He thinks that Israel would rather nuke Iran than be killed in a second holocaust. Is that inaccurate? Stein isn’t saying that there *will* be a second holocaust, or that Israel would be right. He is theorizing, which is what economists tend to do.

  11. Re: Miriam’s comment
    “Well… what’s the point of having nukes if we don’t have the cojones to use them? Ben Stein may be a number of things but is he wrong about EHUD OLMERT? Has he not expressed a desire to wipe IRAN off the face of the world so often that it’s begining to sound banal? Hitler too sent off little warnings about his intentionss towards the Jews, and each time he paid close attention to the world’s response. Every step of the way, he gradually disempowered and dehumanized the Jews, and every step of the way he noted the world’s effective silence and inability to stop him. Are we seeing history repeat itself here? If the world does not stop OLMERT, then they are implicitly giving him a carte blanche to do as he sees fit,
    ISRAEL is too far away for IRAN to pull an Osirak. So… given an imminent ISRAELI nuke threat, what would you have us do? I know that I for one am not going to quietly sit by and allow myself to be herded into a day-glo cattle car. Please let the ISRAELIS know that IRAN has nukes and as Ben Stein noted, we will not hesitate to use them against anyone threatening another holocaust.”
    Mmmm-okay.

  12. Wow, Mordy, you must have cut and pasted that thing, in its entirety! Could you do me a favor, and explain how to cut and past for comment sections? For some reason, I cannot do it. Similarly, I cannot italicize anything (which frequently reduces me me to capitalizing).
    Any tutorials would be greatly appreciated!

  13. Miriam:
    I’ve commented before on your ‘suggestions’, but you conveniently offered nothing in rebuttal.
    ‘Then, since CK seems amenable to ’suggestions,’ here are some: Geneva Accord. Tikkun’s call for a Marshall Plan for reconstruction. And, most importantly, the next time Dick Cheney summons lapdog Bibi Netanyahu to the US, don’t let him back into Israel.’
    My reply to your ‘ideas’ follows below as I originally posted it last week. Perhaps you’d like to have another go?
    “Sorry, but I disagree. How convenient it would be for Hizbullah if we swept truth under the carpet for the moment and entertained their ’cause’ and ‘views’ as legitimate. Hizbullah attacked the patrol and abducted two soldiers after killing the rest. If they attacked the IDF patrol within sovereign Israel (as I and many folks believe), it raises the stakes significantly and virtually puts to rest the leftist argument of ‘pull back to the borders and they’ll leave us alone’. No. They. Won’t.
    ‘So, I have some ideas: [1] Immediate cease-fire. [2] Marshall Plan reconstruction per the Tikkun ad. [3] Back to the 67 borders, per the Geneva Accord (see? The tough stuff’s already been figured out).’
    Interesting ideas, but 1) define immediate cease-fire? If by that you mean Hizbullah stops firing rockets and Israel ceases offensive operations whilst retaining defensive capabilities, I’m with you.
    2) Marshall Plan idea is good, but fatally flawed. We had government infrastructures we could work with in the original Marshall Plan to keep us from pissing away good money after bad. Given how corrupt the PA has shown itself to be (nevermind the evidence we have that the PA has used EU funds to purchase terrorist weapons) it would seem to me that a modern day Marshall Plan would quickly be perverted into a slush fund for further terrorism. I would advocate something on the order of the Stormont power sharing arrangements one sees today in Northern Ireland before I would advocate throwing money in.
    ‘3) Back to the 67 borders, per the Geneva Accord (see? The tough stuff’s already been figured out).’
    If current history is anything to go by, the only pullout deemed acceptable by Hizbullah and the terrorists is a full scale pullout from Eretz Israel altogether. I cannot see how a pullback to the 67 borders (which were in dispute in 67, by the way) will accomplish anything.
    We pulled out of Gaza and Lebanon, but still the attacks came.
    No one stopped us from declaring a nation in 1948. No one stopped the Palestinians either, but they decided not to declare a state whilst the Arab armies around them ‘pushed the Jews into the sea’. They’ve been fighting this stalemate ever since.
    No one is stopping the PA from declaring a Palestinian state. I wish they would hurry up and get on with it as asymmetric warfare where Israel has to defend herself from NGOs and irregular troops is a recipe for a continuing public relations disaster. Not that I really care what the world thinks any more, but hey ho. “

  14. Nuke talk is always bad. It is foolish and unecessary to bring up this issue. And I guess that a government that calls for the destruction of Israel is absolutely and completely nuts and therefore won’t be be deterred by the possibilty of a preemtive strike anyway. Shimon Peres has already pointed out im May, that “‘Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel to be wiped off the map, should bear in mind that his own country could also be destroyed’”. Well, Ahmadinejad and the crazy mullahs don’t seem to be impressed with that.

  15. Dear Matityahu —
    Sorry, but I never saw these remarks. Sometimes I forget to check threads. The only ‘convenience’ is a logistical one, that I cannot ‘cut & paste’ nor italicize into the comments (I can cut OUT, which I did with your comments; and then I printed them into a hard copy. Yeah, it does appear inconvenient).
    It’s an oversimplification to say that ‘leftists’ think that withdrawal to particular borders will bring peace. I know of no one who thinks this, including Tikkun.
    Simply moving back to certain borders is not synonymous with an end to occupation, which is pretty much the root of all the hostilities. As we’ve seen in Gaza, unilateral withdrawal while maintaining occupation, fixes nothing (nonetheless, I continue to hear rightwingers use the Gaza withdrawal as “proof” there is no peace partner).
    Anger (and psychopaths) aside, does anyone truly believe that hatred is part of one’s genetic make-up? That entire peoples have bloodlust, just because their heads of state do? Another post, here, is on Iranian dissident bloggers being shut down, by Iran’s head of state. What is the difference between that, and 30,000 or so US citizens being on the ‘no fly’ blacklist?
    Two of my siblings keep demanding to know — from me — why no Muslims stand up against suicide bombings (I sent them a link, signed by several Muslims, demanding and end to them, and asked if they had ever heard of this in the mainstream news). They think profiling Muslims, in the US, if fine and dandy, because, after all, there is a problem with their ‘crazy leaders’ calling for blood all the time.
    They acknowledge that the Christians of the remote past, committed atrocious acts, in the name of Jesus, and God. But they said that doesn’t happen any more. It’s just the crazies in the Muslim religion.
    When I asked them what about a man — claiming to have Jesus as his savior — who says that God told him to run for president, and that God told him to invade Iraq, and that God told him to win the war against good and evil, they became mute. I guess it’s easier to attack unknown people for not reigning in the lunatics among them, than to admit to having a lunatic as their own president.
    So, we’ve got this psychotic in the WH, who’s frequently on the phone with ‘God,’ wiping out about 250,000 Iraqis, and we can’t control this man, but Muslims scattered around the world are supposed to be able to get what’s his name from Iran to stop being a shoa denier?
    Yes, by ‘immediate cease-fire,’ I mean everyone stop shooting. Eventually, everyone will, so why not sooner, rather than later?Save some lives. I’ve got friends in the military, too. Not all of the people I love are refusers.
    Of course Israel should retain its ‘defensive capabilities.’ Every sovereign nation has a right to defend itself, and to have a military capability to do so. I suspect that had the Palestinians statehood, and their own army, and their own currency, and normal human freedoms, Israelis and Palestinians would have stopped killing each other a very long time ago.
    Should today’s generations of Palestinians be forced to live under occupation, because the Palestinians of 1948 listened to fools? Does that mean occupation in perpetuity?
    You raise excellent questions about the Marshall Plan. Indeed, there were competent “government infrastructures” in the original (now, oy, it’s globalization, and privatization). The way around the problem of ‘slush funds’ is NOT to give money, but to issue credit (low interest, of course) for the purpose of actual reconstruction, and economic development.
    Governments issue the credit to flegling countries (eg., a new Palestinian State, Lebanon, and yes, to Israel). The states, in turn, use the credit to purchase technology needed for the rebuilding, engineers to teach young people how to do the rebuilding, construction workers to teach construction, and on and on. Make a list of all the work that needs to be done, and you’ll see how busy everyone will be (or, hook up with the Israel Ctte Against Home Demolitions, to help with building a house. Work on that, and then see if you have time to build bombs).
    Create the situation where children have a future, where jobs are readily available, and where most folk have a mission in life, and you will see a dissipation of terrorism. After all, most people want to have kids, and to see them grow up healthy, happy, and productive.
    This type of thing has been done before (Hamilton’s “Report on Manufactures” is an excellent primer).
    The ‘Christian’ 30 years war, which devastated Europe, finally did end, with the 1648 ‘Treaty of Westphalia,’ which significantly concerned itself with “the advantage of the other.” If you’re my neighbor, and your house is on fire, how safe is mine? And that’s just the pragmatic aspect, not the one which should be forefront: tzedek.
    As for the PA declaring a Palestinian state, where shall it be declared? As bits and pieces of walled or fenced off villages, into which they are locked, and which may be under closure at any moment? Good grief, look at where the IDF was, on Friday, declaring yet another chunk of Bil’in under ‘military closure.’
    This carnage is destroying everyone, physically and emotionally. Just look at the video of the soldiers, on Friday
    [ http://mishtara.org/hingus/?p=70 ]; how has their humanity been so diminished, that they could be so brutally violent, even with the cameras running?

  16. mirriam. You are clearly well meaning. You do your ideas no service by making senseless personal attacks. But as long as we are on the subject. yes. I am concerned with the figurative size of my cojones. Despite all the bluster and the bravado, I am seriously afraid. I fear for the lives of my friends, family, acquaintances and fellow citizens fighting in the IDF and living in the path of rockets. I fear for the lives and livelihood of all our neighbours who care more about taking care of their families and loved ones than they do about hating us and perpetuating a conflict that serves no one but the most heinous individuals. I even fear for those who hate us because of a situation that was not of their making and where the options seem so limited that the only solace they have is to embrace that hatred.
    And I fear the possibility of this country being in fact wiped off the face of the earth. But even with that fear, I would hate to live in a world where we have no other recourse than the use of nuclear weapons. The fact is that as much as I love my country, as much as I’ve dedicated my life in part to the prevention of another Holocaust, in all likelihood, I would not have, given the opportunity, the figurative cojones to kill the residents of Teheran even if it meant saving Israel. The thought of millions of innocent people being vaporized because of the sins of a handful of madmen is probably one that I could never live with.
    So yes. You are right, albeit a tad mean spirited, to question the size of my cojones. I wonder if this is an issue that Ahmadinejad and the mullahs also struggle with. It doesn’t seem like it though. Judging by what comes out of Iran every day, they seem fairly confident in the size of their members.
    Finally, you may send me an email at [email protected] and I’ll be glad to outline how one can italicize, bold, blockquote etc. It’s very easy. Always glad to help.
    And Mordy? I don’t recall Olmert ever threatening to wipe Iran off the face of the earth. The comparison is completely off. But other than that, great comment. You’ve really advanced the level of this discourse.

  17. CK,
    I thought Jewlicious writers had a sense of humor. I was responding to “If we make some noun changes in CK’s post — you know, transforming ‘Muslim’ for ‘Jew,’ it could sound remarkably like what Israel is doing — at the behest of the WH — in Lebanon.”
    God. Explaining jokes takes the fucking humor out of them. Ya know?

  18. CK — Currently, I have eight family members and friends fighting in Lebanon. We have some family that perished, and some that survived the shoa. A senior great-uncle fought the Nazis in WWII. Another senior friend, fought fascism in Italy, and also sent guns and money to Hagganah. I too, want Israel not only to survive, but to be happy and healthy, and to have a secure future for its children.
    As for my ‘cojones’ comments, they were made to be polemics, not out of mean-spiritedness. The facile ease (is that redundant?) in which people — both male and female — equate courage and heroism with specific parts of the male anatomy, is dangerous. It can lead to a world totally devoid of Egyptian midwives, and emotional calamity for males whose genitals or genital function are lost to disease or trauma.
    Thanks for your offer to help me to be able to do font-y things within the comment section. I’ll be in touch.

  19. I do have problems with the post headline:
    “I may attack a certain point of view which I consider false, but I will never attack a person who preaches it. I have always a high regard for the individual who is honest and moral, even when I am not in agreement with him. Such a relation is in accord with the concept of kavod habriyot, for beloved is man for he is created in the image of God.” —Rav Joseph Soloveitchik

  20. PS To CK: As for the ‘personal attacks’ I occasionally make, they are grounded in truth, eg., our idiot-boy president is, indeed a complete psychopath, the diagnosis of which was made by the shrink with excellent credentials, Justin Frank, MD, in “Bush on the Couch.”
    For those, like Bush (see, in this case, I will not call him ‘idiot-boy’ so as not to appear to be ‘attacking’ readership, here), who don’t “believe in psychobabble,” there’s always google searches to see video clips of idiot-boy during the prez debates. In the first one, he becomes so enraged at Kerry mentioning his daddy, that he looks like he’s about to punch out the moderator. In the second one, he comes wired, and, and one point — in the midst of his own speaking — he yells out, “NOW WAIT A MINUTE, LET ME FINISH,” though no one could be heard interupting him.
    More recently, one needs to only view the video of him enroute to giving Merkel the unsolicited neck rub, to wonder about his psych status. Yeah, I know that leftist blogs suggested he was back on the booze, but in my professional assessment, he was on very heavy anti-psychotic medications during the trip, in which he was forced to cut way back on his obsessive exercising (in his never ending quest to rid himself of his childhood demons).
    The psychotrope angle hit me even harder, when I listened to his crazed, ‘Elmer Gantry’ type speech before the NACCP. What I heard, was some physiological spittle problems which are notorious extra-pyrimidal side-effects from very strong neuroleptic meds.
    So, my seeming ‘name-calling’ is not grounded in nastiness; it is reality-based (another boogeyman for the idiot-boy).

  21. Yes. Perhaps. But Ben Stein did not ever advocate for Israel’s detonation ofnukes over Iran. He neither suggested nor encouraged it either. All he did was offer his opinion on what Israel would do. Yet you people jumped all over him and let loose with unbeliebvable vitriol to the point where I, a card carrying Liberal who has hated the Republican party for years, has to come to the defense of a former Nixon speech writer. Have you people lost the ability to listen? Are you that mean spirited? Sadly, I’d have to say yes.

  22. In defense of Mobius, I just held a seance and Rav Joseph Soloveitchik agrees with Mobius. In fact he said not only is Stein an Asshole, but, offering a second opinion, he said that Stein is ugly too. The money quote from the seance was, “I vould never take a single vord out of Stein’s mouth seriously and as far as I know, nobody else vould either.”

  23. “our idiot-boy president is, indeed a complete psychopath, the diagnosis of which was made by the shrink with excellent credentials, Justin Frank, MD, in “Bush on the Couch.”
    I think psychology has provided numerous insights into human behavior. But long-distance psychoanalysis is always facile and Dr. Frank should know better than to engage in this sort of nonsense. It reminds me of a similar work, Meyer Zeligs’ “Friendship and Fratricide” which was a superficial “psychobiography” of Whittaker Chambers. In fact, the book told us more about Zeligs’ perceptions and worldview than that of Chambers.
    In both cases the authors never spent any time interviewing their subjects. Instead, Frank “sifts through family memoirs, the writings of critics like Al Franken and David Corn and the public record of Bush’s personal idiosyncrasies for clues to the President’s character, interpreting the evidence in the rigidly Freudian framework of child psychoanalyst Melanie Klein.”
    In the years to come “Bush on the Couch” will be viewed in a similar light to Zeligs’ book: a work of sophomoric generalizations with little substance or intellectual weight.

  24. Wevs1 —
    What Dr. Frank has done in his brilliant “Bush on the Couch,” is called ‘applied psychoanalysis’: “[T]he marriage of psychoanalysis and U.S. intelligence dates back to the early 1940s, when the Office of Strategic Services commissioned two studies of Adolf Hitler. The effort was regarded as enough of a success that it was institutionalized in the 1960s, [political psychiatrist Jerrold M.] Post writes, first under the aegis of the Psychiatric Staff of the CIA;s Office of Medical Services, which ‘led to the establishment of the Center for the Analysis of Personality and Political Behavior’ (CAPPB), which Post founded within the Directorate of Intelligence.”
    Though I had never heard of Klein, when I read the book, I had been steeped in Freud, and Bettleheim, and had taken care of truckloads of psych patients, and had also been speaking of idiot-boy in the way Frank eloquently describes the madness of the prez, for quite a while (and some folk actually thought me insulting!).
    Frank’s credentials are impressive: He’s clinical professor in the Dept of Psychiatry at George Washinton University Medical Center, is a teaching analyst at the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute, is past president of the Greater Washington Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility.
    Any sane individual surely must know that the prez is loony-tunes.

  25. Well… what’s the point of having nukes if we don’t have the cojones to use them?
    Gee, there’s a foreign policy for you! Wonder if other nuclear powers feel the same way. I know I sure feel secure in the US, the only country that’s ever actually used nukes…good thing no one ever attacks us or starts a war with us!

  26. “Frank’s credentials are impressive…”
    That’s never prevented educated and intelligent people from engaging in hackneyed political antics, which this book is. Zelig’s book was lauded by people like yourself as “brilliant” at the time as well. It was considered conclusive evidence of Chambers’ psychological problems. Today, well, let’s just say no scholar of the Alger Hiss case lends it any weight. That includes the people who are still trying to *prove* Hiss’ innocence.
    I understand that leftists will enjoy Klein’s book b/c it confirms their own ideological position. After all, short of ascribing your political opponents motivations to “evil” another cop-out is calling them nuts. The far-right does it was well. If you are indeed a psychologist I’m disappointed that you display an inability to see the complexity of poltiics, especially the role of peception, bias and ignorance in politics. You are simply a mirror-image of the manichean mindset you constantly rail against.
    If we allowed that those who disagree with us just see the facts differently, we would have to conclude that either they, or we, must be mistaken about the facts. That would undermine the obviousness of the reality that we find solidly anchored in “self-evident truths.” We sidestep the disconcerting possibility that we may be mistaken about these truths by attributing not a mistaken understanding of the facts, but bad motives (or, in your and Klein’s case, insanity), to our political opponents.
    It is far easier to reasure oneself about the purity of one’s motives than about the infallibility of one’s own perceptions, so people persistently tend to see a world that is in fact so complicated that its interpretation generates honest disagreement as, instead, so simple that only evil (or insane) people could disagree with them–malevolent people who deliberately ignore the obvious truth. Thus, ignorance of the real possibility of one’s own ignorance both enables and is reinforced by ignorance of the possibility of one’s political antagonists’ ignorance–such that malevolent intentions, not different perceptions, must be responsible for their antagonism.

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