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News of the Future — Moderate Syrian Rebel Edition

By 9.18.14

Mosul, Iraq, October 8, 2014 — Multiple sources have confirmed that Free Syrian Army (“FSA”) forces, part of the “moderate” rebel groups recently trained and armed by the Obama administration, have defeated three small groups of ISIS fighters — with perhaps 25 to 40 members of the terrorist organization killed in each battle — on the outskirts of Raqqa, the Syrian city thought to be home to ISIS leadership. In his daily briefing, a smirking White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, “Today’s victories conclusively prove that the president’s critics were operating from ignorance and partisanship, and not in the best interests of the United States and the region.” President Obama is scheduled to appear on NBC’s Meet the Press this Sunday to discuss this rare Middle East success for his administration.

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Political Hay

Ask a Liberal: Who Lost Iraq?

By 9.18.14

Who lost Iraq? In so many words, that is now the increasingly potent counter to years of liberal charges that America’s problems in the world can be traced to the Bush-Cheney foreign policy — specifically the invasion of 2003. The question has now taken root, with “Iraq” serving as shorthand for everything from Iraq itself to ISIS, the Syrian mess, Benghazi, and more. Graphically illustrated by the beheadings of two American journalists, a British aid worker, ISIS armies causing chaos in the once-stabilized region. Not to mention the murder of a 19-year old New Jersey college student Brendan Tevlin by a self-professed jihadist, the arrest of a Yemeni store owner in New York who sought to fund ISIS, and the news that the Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan has written to the head of ISIS asking to join.

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Ben Stein's Diary

Alcohol and Sexual Assault on Campus

By 9.17.14

Tuesday
This just occurred to me as I was lying on my bed in my home in Malibu, trying to draw some air-conditioned breaths as the heat wave continues. I was listening to a story on the radio about student misconduct and these little bitty thoughts crept into my heat-stroked brain:

I, your humble servant, had the great pleasure of graduating from Columbia College in New York City in 1966. It gave me a fine education and good friends so I have affection for it. I had my first romantic relationship of any meaning there. It was a powerful experience and I still have vast affection for the woman I was involved with (although she won’t speak to me — she’s a Democrat).

I was thus greatly concerned when I read that the students at Columbia are suffering from a string of sexual assaults and are demonstrating about it. I read that this phenomenon — sexual assault among students — is a national epidemic. Mr. Obama is treating it as a crisis and devoting government attention to it. And it is a serious matter.

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A Further Perspective

Will We Keep the First Amendment Safe From Harry Reid?

By 9.17.14

Nobody tell Harry Reid that a few clauses of Magna Carta are still in effect—he’ll want to repeal them next.

We’ve only got a few tatters left of our own counterpart to that document, and Reid just led a party of Democrats on a raid to destroy them. Our Bill of Rights came with ten amendments, but we’re down to one that’s reasonably intact—the First Amendment—and now the Democrats want that one, too.

OK, I’ll concede the Third Amendment’s in fine shape, but only because there are no armies of soldiers crashing into bedrooms uninvited, whatever Claire McCaskill might think. But otherwise, the First Amendment is just about all we have left of our republican experiment. The forces of control have taken the rest, even our property, which they loan back to us on certain conditions.

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The Current Crisis

From Pete Rozelle to Roger Goodell

By 9.17.14

Being a sports impresario—in this case an NFL commissioner—has never been easy. I know, such magnificoes oversee the most prosperous sport in the country. They just put the logo of the NFL on a product line and watch the money flow in. Do they have a line of formal wear or of gardening equipment? It is only a matter of time, and sports fans will be drawn to them with wallets open. Does the NFL have a line of women’s lingerie? Apparently Mr. Roger Goodell, the present commissioner of the NFL, is contemplating it. Why else would he be so apprehensive about a handful of women critics out there squalling in the audience along with his millions of admirers, both men and women, both wearers of lingerie and opponents.

Goodell has just appointed four women to some sort of policy positions in the NFL to appease this angry minority. As I say, being a sports impresario has never been as easy as it looks.

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A Further Perspective

The Denialists

By 9.17.14

The more violence that comes out of the Islamic world, the more that the Left insists Islam is a “religion of peace.” The rise of ISIS has inspired Western leaders to redouble their attempts at reeducation. Appointing themselves Islamic authorities, they declare that ISIS is “not Islamic.”

These Western leaders are far more protective of Islam than their own historic religion. They are willing to subject Christianity to scrutiny for its supposedly reactionary teachings, even as they hold that the doctrines of Islam are flawless and beyond criticism.

At Yale this week, student groups that typically sponsor critics of Christianity denounced the appearance of a critic of Islam, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, on campus. Had Ali arrived to blame Ray Rice’s domestic violence on patriarchal American culture, she would have been welcomed with open arms. But, instead, she came bearing a message they didn’t want to hear: that Islamic culture mistreats women. As a victim of genital mutilation and forced marriage at the hands of Muslims in Somalia, Hirsi Ali is understandably baffled by the Left’s enthusiasm for Islam.

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Another Perspective

Why The Scottish Referendum Doesn’t Matter

By 9.17.14

My first brush with Scottish nationalism took place in a movie theatre in London’s West End. The year was 1995 and I was working as a parliamentary intern for Jimmy Wray, a Labour MP from Glasgow. Jimmy was a large bear of a man without any pretensions and he didn’t think it beneath him to invite an overseas parliamentary intern to see a movie with him.

On this particular night, Jimmy and I went to see Nobody’s Fool starring Paul Newman. What I remember about that night wasn’t the feature film, but rather one of the coming attractions. The coming attraction in question was Mel Gibson’s Braveheart. Near the end of the trailer, when William Wallace was leading the charge, four young men at the front of the audience leapt to their feet and cheered.

I am sure these same young men, now nearly 20 years older, will leap to their feet and cheer should there be a yes vote in Scotland’s referendum this week ending more than 300 years of Union with England.

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Ben Stein's Diary

You Cannot Bomb Away Insanity

By 9.16.14

Monday
The heat here in L.A. today is torture. Hot as blazes and humidity. Just crazy hot. Over 101 here in Beverly Hills, and that is rare. I dragged myself to me 12-step meeting in an airless chamber where there usually is modest air conditioning if I bribe the manager of the building. But today, barely a whisper and the heat was like being whipped. It reminded me of days in Maryland and D.C. before air conditioning. Hell.

Is there any honor great enough for the men who invented air conditioning? Is there are prize big enough? The Internet is a nuisance. Jet airplanes are their own torture. Space travel is a mirage, so far. But air conditioning — there is a work of God’s genius in man.

After the meeting I walked a few blocks to Citibank to reactivate a dormant account. I earn .10 percent interest on that. Is that cool or what? That the bank takes in deposits at price X and then lends them out again at 45 times X. That’s what the Fed has given us and it’s great for bankers and I LOVE bankers, but maybe we depositors could just get a few pennies more.

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The Obama Watch

Obama at the Gates of Vienna

By 9.16.14

Barack Obama is at the Gates of Vienna. But America is not at war with Islam! Got that? As a matter of fact, all those ISIS (or ISIL) people cutting off heads in those videos? They aren’t Islamic at all, according to President Obama:

Now let's make two things clear: ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL's victims have been Muslim....ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.

Never mind that the beheaders have dropped the “In Syria” or “In the Levant” and simply refer to all their accumulated turf — now the size of Great Britain — as just “IS” as in “Islamic State.” Or that they may have as much as $2 billion in stolen assets.

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Main Street U.S.A.

What? We Don’t Expect to Win?!

By 9.16.14

According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, just 28 percent of Americans are “confident” that the president’s plan to destroy the Islamic State will succeed. Sixty-eight percent say they aren’t confident at all.

We are talking here, my friends, about Americans. What must be the reaction in the Islamic State? “I tell you, Mustafa, the Yankees will never finish this game. They will swat and swat; they will grow tired; they will withdraw while pretending not to withdraw.” Would the Islamic State reaction be something like that?

Countries are like ball clubs or rock groups. They develop reputations: in the case of countries, a reputation for firmness in the face of challenge, or a reputation for climbing out of windows, ahead of the cops, to avoid unpleasantness; a reputation for promise-keeping, a reputation for reducing the firmest pledges to mere theories. Guess which reputation Americans see as operative presently in White House affairs.

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