Archive - Aug 2009


August 11th

More Like "Ben Whein"

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The list of things that should cause cognitive dissonance in conservatives is huge. Even if you just limit it to the things so cognitively dissonant they should cause massive cerebral hemorrhaging, you're left with an unwieldy pile of contradictory concepts. Case in point: personal responsibility vs. a sense of entitlement. Personal responsibility, to conservatives, means that if you have something, you must have earned it somehow, and if you don't have something, you clearly didn't work hard enough to earn or keep it. Which, as a concept, is directly at odds with the non-stop whine-fest that erupts from any conservative when you take one of their toys away from them.

Like Ben Stein and his New York Times column. For some reason, the New York Times paid Ben Stein to write a column in every other Sunday business section for around half a decade. This is impressive, because as far as I can tell, Ben Stein has spent over 30 years making money out of two items on his resume - speechwriting for Nixon, and his deadpan teacher in Ferris Bueller. Every single thing he's done since then is based on one or both of those things. Anyway, he spent his column inches talking about the world of finance, until a fun and interesting fact came to light. Ben Stein was a whore.

Technically, that's not the fact that came to light. Anybody who's owned a TV set in the past few decades knew that Ben Stein was a whore. The interesting fact was more that he'd drastically lowered his standards as a result of the recession. You know, like when Mr. T. did commercials for payday loan companies? Stein was shilling for, one of those shifty-ass websites that rips you off by promising you information you're entitled to for free, but only if you subscribe to their service. How do I know they're shifty? Largely common sense. It's always a bad idea to let any Internet site automatically charge you for something each month, because whether it's porn, America Online, or "free" credit information, you'll have to jump through flaming hoops to get them to stop.

When the New York Times found out that one of their financial columnists was tied to a company providing what is, to put it charitably, an iffy financial service, they cut Stein loose. The doctrine of personal responsibility demands that Stein accept that his actions caused the loss of whatever they were paying him. The doctrine of the sense of entitlement demands that it be everyone else's fault. Guess which path Stein takes? In the American Spectator, Stein spreads it thick and evenly in a circle around himself, and never once gets any on his shoes. Amongst the blamees:

Lingering animosity at the Times over "Expelled": You see, when Stein's creationist traveshamockumentary "Expelled" came out, it was viciously criticized by both the Times' science editor and its movie reviewer. Which provides us an awesome doubleback entitlement justification bonanza. It's not that he made a shitty movie about shitty science, you see, it's that the neoDarwinists and atheists at the Times hated him for challenging the status quo, and that hatred lingered for years, just waiting for the flimsiest excuse to boot Stein out.

That he dared to criticize Goldman Sachs: ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"At roughly the same time, I made a new set of antagonists by repeatedly and in detail criticizing the real power in this country, the "investment bank" Goldman Sachs, for what seemed to me questionable behavior. This elicited a mountain of favorable mail but also some complaints by well-placed persons."

I honestly don't know what Stein wrote about Goldman Sachs, but I'm guessing, from the shading, half-truths, and outright bullshit contained in the rest of his self-aggrandizing Youa Culpa in the Spectator, that the mental picture of Ben Stein, crusader against the corrupt capitalist banking industry, silenced by people in high places, is even more ludicrous than it sounds.

That he dared to criticize Barack Obama: Again, this needs to be seen to be believed.

" By a total coincidence, I was tossed overboard immediately after my column attacking Obama. (You can attack Obama from the left at the Times but not from the right.)"

The fuck? Stein takes the Times money, writes for them, but clearly never actually reads the paper. For fuck's sake, they pay Russ Douthat to say stupid things about Obama a lot more often than they paid Stein to do the same. I realize the whole "nobody in the media dares criticize Obama" thing is an article of faith among all the people who make good money by criticizing Obama in the media, but try to make it at least a little bit plausible, fuckwit.

Stein also weakly defends his association with FreeScore, calling them merely an "Internet aggregator", that they have an "unblemished record with consumer protection agencies", which is an impressive feat considering they charge people $30 a month for a "free" credit score, and that nobody complained when he did Comcast commercials with Shaquille O'Neal, and that he never actually wrote about FreeScore in his column. Well, tough shit. Nobody cared about the Shaq thing because you weren't hired as a telecommunications expert. You were hired as a financial expert, and sold your image to an unethical finance company. It's the free market at work, baby. You're supposed to embrace it, not blame it on haters and atheists.

Oh, and lest you think that Stein's well of vinegar and water has a bottom, let me share with you this one final bit, in which Stein compares himself to, I shit you not, Dylan going electric. ACTUAL NOT-SHITTING-YOU QUOTE TIME!

"The whole subject reminds me of a conversation Bob Dylan had long ago with a reporter who asked him what he thought about how much criticism he was getting for going from acoustic to electric guitar. 'There are a lot of people who have knives and forks,' he said, 'and they have nothing on their plates, so they have to cut something.'" - Well, Stein, the New York Times had to cut something. Your sorry, whiny ass. Enjoy making wingnut welfare word rates in the righty blogosphere, assmunch.