Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ben Stein hurts himself

In an essay on yesterday's American Spectator Ben Stein, who I usually like, embarrassed himself by getting all weepy and indignant at the treatment of accused rapist Dominique Strauss-Kahn .

1.) If he is such a womanizer and violent guy with women, why didn't he ever get charged until now? If he has a long history of sexual abuse, how can it have remained no more than gossip this long? France is a nation of vicious political rivalries. Why didn't his opponents get him years ago?

2.) In life, events tend to follow patterns. People who commit crimes tend to be criminals, for example. Can anyone tell me any economists who have been convicted of violent sex crimes? Can anyone tell me of any heads of nonprofit international economic entities who have ever been charged and convicted of violent sexual crimes? Is it likely that just by chance this hotel maid found the only one in this category? Maybe Mr. Strauss-Kahn is guilty but if so, he is one of a kind, and criminals are not usually one of a kind.

Since his arrest we have heard that this is not an isolated incident.  Some who know Mr. Strauss-Kahn have been worried that something like this might come to light for some time.

3.) The prosecutors say that Mr. Strauss-Kahn "forced" the complainant to have oral and other sex with him. How? Did he have a gun? Did he have a knife? He's a short fat old man. They were in a hotel with people passing by the room constantly, if it's anything like the many hotels I am in. How did he intimidate her in that situation? And if he was so intimidating, why did she immediately feel un-intimidated enough to alert the authorities as to her story?

I admit that I've never stayed in a $3000 per night hotel, but I have spent several nights in a hotel whose rooms are currently renting for over $700 per night and I heard no noise from any other room or the hallway or the street (until I opened the window to catch some of the noise from Bourbon St. one block over).

As for how Strauss-Kahn could overpower an hotel maid I guess that Mr. Stein doesn't realize that the typical working mother doesn't spend half her time in the gym like the young Hollywood actresses that he associates with back in Los Angeles.

And the part about her feeling "un-intimidated" enough to file charges is stupid enough not to require a response, but I'll give one anyway.  She was "un-intimidated" enough to talk to the police after the rape, when she was no longer in the presence of her rapist.  When his arms weren't wrapped around her, when his weight was no longer pressing down on her and when his penis was no longer being thrust into her.  By Mr. Stein's logic any woman who reports being raped must be lying because if she had really been raped she would always be so frightened of her attacker that she would never dare to come forward.

4.) Did the prosecutors really convince a judge that he was a flight risk when he was getting on a flight he had booked long beforehand? What kind of high-pressure escape plan is that? How is it a sudden flight move to get on a flight booked maybe months ago?

Can anyone say Roman Polanski?  From France it is a short flight, or drive, to a nation with no extradition treaty with the US where Strauss-Kahn could live out his life in luxury.

5.) Mr. Strauss-Kahn had surrendered his passport. He had offered to stay in New York City. He is one of the most recognizable people on the planet. Did he really have to be put in Riker's Island? Couldn't he have been given home detention with a guard? This is a man with a lifetime of public service, on a distinguished level, to put it mildly. Was Riker's Island really the place to put him on the allegations of one human being? Hadn't he earned slightly better treatment than that? Any why compare him with a certain pedophile from France long ago? That man had confessed to his crime. Mr. Strauss-Kahn has not confessed to anything.

One of the most recognizable people on the planet?  What world does Mr. Stein live on?  Quick, show of hands - who knew what this guy looked like before the news hit?  Nobody?

As for putting him in Riker's Island that is what NYPD does with people who have been accused of crimes like rape and who are not eligible for bail.  And he is not eligible for bail because he possesses the money and the contacts to escape the country with or without a passport.

And if Mr. Stein thinks that working for an international organization which seeks to milk the American taxpayer in order to fund global socialism is a "lifetime of public service" I wonder why he is writing for a magazine like American Spectator rather than one like Mother Jones.

6.) People accuse other people of crimes all of the time. What do we know about the complainant besides that she is a hotel maid? I love and admire hotel maids. They have incredibly hard jobs and they do them uncomplainingly. I am sure she is a fine woman. On the other hand, I have had hotel maids that were complete lunatics, stealing airline tickets from me, stealing money from me, throwing away important papers, stealing medications from me. How do we know that this woman's word was good enough to put Mr. Strauss-Kahn straight into a horrific jail? Putting a man in Riker's is serious business. Maybe more than a few minutes of investigation is merited before it's done.

Mr. Stein is supposed to be a lawyer so I would hope that he would know that the police have a procedure that they follow when investigating an allegation of rape which involves a medical examanition of the victim.

And then we have his continuing obsession with Riker's Island.  What Stein seems to be saying is "Why would the police find the word of this insignificant peon so compelling that they would treat a wealthy and important global socialist in the same manner that they would treat any average American citizen in the same circumstances?".

Again I wonder why Stein is writing for American Spectator and not Daily Kos or the Huffington Post.

7.) In this country, we have the presumption of innocence for the accused. Yet there's my old pal from the Ron Ziegler/ Richard Nixon days, Diane Sawyer, anchor of the ABC Nightly News, assuming that Mr. Strauss-Kahn is guilty. Right off the bat she leads the Monday news by saying that Mr. Strauss-Kahn is in Riker's... "because one woman stood her ground..." That assumes she's telling the truth and he's guilty. No such thing has been proved and it's unfortunate for ABC to simply assume that an accusation is the same as a conviction. Maybe he's in jail because one person didn't tell the truth. I don't know one way or the other, but I sure know that there has been no conviction yet.

In this he does have a point regarding the media, we all remember the Duke Lacrosse players.  However as Harlan Ellison pointed out the presumption of innocence applies to a person's treatment in a court of law not the court of public opinion.  If Diane Sawyer stepped over the line and stated that Strauss-Kahn was guilty of rape and he is not convicted in a court of law he can sue her and ABC for liable.  Perhaps Mr. Stein would take the case.

I think that the business about Stein's "Nixon days" takes us to the heart of the issue with him.  Nixon, for those too young to remember, was more liberal than LBJ on domestic fiscal issues.  He is hated by the left because he exposed Ivy League darling Alger Hiss as a Soviet agent and got him sent to jail not because of anything he did while president (including Watergate). 

Stein's father was one of Nixon's economic advisors and Stein holds Nixon out as one of his major political heroes.  For someone like this instinctively coming to the defense of an international socialist like Strauss-Kahn would be a natural thing to do.

8.) In what possible way is the price of the hotel room relevant except in every way: this is a case about the hatred of the have-nots for the haves, and that's what it's all about. A man pays $3,000 a night for a hotel room? He's got to be guilty of something. Bring out the guillotine.

No, it is just pointing out the hypocrisy of another Lear jet liberal.  Here is a man who was once a member of the Communist Party, who left not because he disagreed with their goals but because he saw more opportunity to further his political career as a socialist, wallowing in those luxuries available only to the very wealthy.  $3000 hotel rooms (complete with maid "service" for me, but not for thee).  There is also the fact that as the head of an outfit that gets most of its funding from the United States most of that three grand per night might well have been ripped from working American's paychecks.

I don't know Mr. Strauss-Kahn. I have never laid eyes on him in person. He may well, in the future, be found guilty of atrocious conduct towards the complainant and maybe towards others. But, so far, he's innocent, and he's being treated shamefully. If he's found guilty, there will be plenty of time to criticize him and imprison him. But nothing has been proved yet except that the way this case has been handled so far is an embarrassment to this country.

Yes Mr. Stein Strauss-Kahn is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law but his treatment has not been "shameful".  He has been treated like any other person who has been credibly accused of a violent felony and who poses a serious flight risk.  What would have brought shame upon this nation is if a rich and connected man had been treated with the kid gloves that you wish had been employed in this case.

I've been hard on Ben Stein here so let me close with giving credit where credit is due and congratulate him on being able to get through an entire essay without once mentioning Ferris Bueller.