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Ben Stein's Diary

A Day of Nausea

By 7.23.14

Sandpoint, Tuesday, July 21, 2014
Rain. It is startling to see rain on my window pane. It is an extinct phenomenon in California. Just a few drops on the glass here are intoxicating. Will it ever rain again in Sunny Cal? It had better. Someone will make a fortune trucking in water. But it won’t be me.

I awakened with a nasty intestinal virus. Why? I don’t know but my wife had it two days ago so it’s going around. As my pal Phil always says, just a touch of nausea makes life deeply unsettling, destroys all sense of proportion, robs you of your vitality. That’s just a touch of nausea. My Tazo Refresh Tea helps, but I need lomotil as well.

I slept very late, then answered e-mails. As I saw the rain hovering over the lake, I read the encouragement of those who have been angered by my rough treatment in the media. The one I treasured especially was from a woman of roughly my age. Many years ago, she had a middle-aged pregnancy through an affair with a married man in the construction trades.

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The Hell-Hole Spectator

The Nation’s Sympathy for Communism

By 7.23.14

The communist apologists over at the Nation, the self-described “flagship of the left,” have outdone themselves. The liberal rag, notorious for its long record of useful idiocy in the service of tin-pot dictators and tyrants, has once again fallen in love with Castro's Cuba. You would think it was the sixties all over again.

A self-congratulatory article about the Nation's educational staff trip to Cuba sets a dangerous precedent by commending the Cuban government for its political and economic advancements. But the Castro regime is just as guilty of crimes against humanity as it was four decades ago. Just because the island is showing feints at “progress” does not make the regime worthy of praise.

Last week, Cuba renewed its ties with Russia—Big Brother’s Big Brother. Putin forgave 90 percent of Cuba’s debt, amounting to $32 billion. There are also reports, and denials, that Russia has agreed to fund the Lourdes electronic eavesdropping base in Cuba.

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The Current Crisis

In the Middle East, A New Alignment Being Born?

By 7.23.14

It did not take all that long, when you think about it, for America’s Nobel Prize-winning statesman to bring the world to a boil. Perhaps our Nobel Prize-wining president was only a community organizer all along. He has brought the world to a boil not by his use of force but by his inattentiveness. He has been playing golf or lecturing the world from a higher plain. He has been picking fights with the Republicans or devising new ways to thwart the Constitution. He has not reacted to provocations around the world that threaten peace and our allies. The allies are beginning to worry.

The President has simply failed to respond to an outburst of violence around the world. It is an outburst that has not been seen since the 1970s. His only reaction is mere rhetoric, sometimes no rhetoric at all. Sometimes he changes the subject. Whether it be mobs of Central American children at our southern border or armed rebels in Ukraine shooting commercial aircraft out of the skies there is only emollient talk from Washington. There is no alternative policy. Things are getting worse.

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The War on Terror Spectator

Kerry Shows His True Colors on Israel—Again

By 7.23.14

It should come as no surprise to anyone that our secretary of state, John Kerry, was caught on a hot mic bashing Israel during a commercial break while in an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. Kerry sarcastically characterized the IDF’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza as a “hell of a pinpoint operation” while on speaker-phone with an adviser. 

After all, it was less than three months ago that Kerry said Israel could become an Apartheid state if a Palestinian state were not established. This comment, made behind closed doors during a sitting of the Trilateral Commission, put Kerry on the defensive for a few days before he issued a classic non-apology apology.  

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The Obama Watch

Support the Revolution Or Else

By 7.23.14

Eliminating freedom by fiat, President Obama signed an executive order this week mandating that all federal contractors conform to his conception of gay rights. Any company or organization that dissents from his view can now be stripped of its contract.

“We’re going to prohibit all companies that receive a contract from the federal government from discriminating against their LGBT employees,” he said. “America’s federal contracts should not subsidize discrimination against the American people.”

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Culture Vultures

Why Does Anyone Care About Vampires?

By 7.23.14

Are vampires scary? Though by all rights they should be, they’ve never really frightened me. Or even been that compelling, really: I read Dracula once and stopped there.

Pop culture, on the other hand, loves vampires. But most of its vampires aren’t frightening either. From The Vampire Chronicles to Buffy to True Blood to Twilight, vampires can be seductive or they can be ridiculous, but they don’t seem to provoke fear in the audience or even seem to be designed to. (Articles I’ve never seen: “Scary moments from last night’s True Blood.This sort of article, on the other hand….) Indeed, the vampire who kicked off this whole trend back in 1819 was modeled on Lord Byron; a striking figure, to be sure, but not really a frightening one.

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Special Report

Appeals Court Slightly Wounds Obamacare

By 7.22.14

It’s too soon for champagne, but perhaps a beer is in order.

In a 2-1 decision in the case of Halbig v. Burwell, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has ruled that the Internal Revenue Service cannot interpret the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, as allowing subsidies for those Americans who purchase health insurance from the federal health insurance exchange known as Healthcare.gov. This is because the text of the law specifies that subsidies or tax credits are available for insurance purchased on state-created exchanges.

Later on Tuesday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled oppositely: that the subsidies are permissible for the federal exchange. More in this in a moment.

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Ben Stein's Diary

Performance Art Indeed

By 7.22.14

Monday, Sandpoint, Idaho
A trying day but a rewarding day. The smoke has returned somewhat but temperatures are pleasant and a delightful breeze blows across the lake and the beach. I lay out on the balcony for a while, then came inside to nap with my Big Wifey by my side.

My “smart phone” rang and on the other end of the line was a gossip columnist from New York City. She had a smear item on me. In brief, this is what it’s about.

About five months ago, as I was walking through SFO to get into my car, I met a young woman who was extremely excited to meet me. She was literally jumping up and down with excitement. She told me she was a “performance artist” but hinted at some scary parts of her life. She said she would like to be a writer and asked if I could help. We exchanged texting addresses and off I went in my car. I spent fewer than five minutes talking to her in a busy airport terminal.

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Main Street U.S.A.

At Last — Someone Did Something

By 7.22.14

So, then, what are we supposed to think when the governor of Texas dispatches National Guardsmen to the state border with Mexico in order to deflect the onrush of illegal border-crossers? What are we supposed to do?

Do? A strange concept these days. Do something about the Russians and their depraved allies for shooting down a passenger plane? Do something about the depraved crowd of terrorists who provoked Israel into assaulting the tunnels in which they skulk? Do something about those equally depraved Iraqi terrorists now rounding up and expelling Christians from their midst? Do something about the kidnappers of schoolchildren in Nigeria?

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Freedom Watch

America Invites Calamity Through Weakness

By 7.22.14

Witness the latest fruits of modern leftist foreign policy, as embodied in this instance by the much ballyhooed Obama/Hillary Clinton “Russian Reset”: 298 people who booked a flight on Malaysian Air’s Flight 17, now dead. Brutally slaughtered by those thugs supplied and inspired by Vladimir Putin — the ex-KGB agent who has come to view the president of the United States and his secretary of state (make that secretaries of state, in the plural) as, in the vernacular, wimps. Leaving him free to do anything and everything from invading Crimea to supplying anti-aircraft missiles to his favored thugs prowling the Ukrainian countryside.

There is serious, understandable grief for the deaths of those associated with AIDS research. Here, for example, is the Gay Star News:

The AIDS research community and activists were stunned and horrified to learn that prominent AIDS expert Dr Joep Lange was among those killed aboard a Malaysian Airlines flight which was shot down over Ukraine on Thursday.

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