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Ben Stein's Diary

Recipe for a Perfect Day

By 12.23.15

Drive out to Malibu with your dog, Julie Goodgirl, magnificent German short-haired pointer. Stop at The Duck for a very rare hangar steak. Watch football at the bar as I eat it. Learn that the Redskins are in the playoffs.

Get home. Go through mail and see that I still have some money left after a lifetime of extravagance. Pay a few bills at the 25-year-old dining table. Look at the floor to ceiling windows and see a  perfect sunset.

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Notice that it changes every few minutes and the sun gets redder and redder and sends up sunbeams behind the oaks.

Play Ball

Managing Dusty Baker

By 12.23.15

“I think that’s the number one thing that’s missing, I think, in the game is speed. You know, with the need for minorities, you can help yourself — you’ve got a better chance of getting some speed with Latin and African-Americans. I’m not being racist. That’s just how it is.”

It may have been a solid two weeks since National League manager Dusty Baker uttered that politically incorrect statement during an interview, but the firestorm hasn’t cooled off since. In response, Major League Baseball has scheduled sensitivity training for all Major League coaches and managers, and civil rights leaders are applying pressure on baseball to fire Baker, as well as planning protests at each Major League Stadium on opening day if their wishes aren’t heeded. Cable TV outlets have gone wall to wall covering the growing scandal, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch has vowed to investigate this episode to see if any hate crimes have been committed.

Political Hay

Trump Spells Trouble for Clinton

By 12.22.15

If recent polls from more than half a dozen reputable polling organizations are to be believed, of the six leading Republican candidates for president Donald Trump is the one least likely to defeat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general election.

Polling can be and has often been wrong, sometimes spectacularly so, but Trump’s electability gap has been a consistent feature of his primary campaign as a fire-breathing self-funding willing-to-say-anything non-politician politician.

However, even if you believe (as I do) the conventional wisdom that Hillary Clinton is “clearly itching to run against Mr. Trump,” he nevertheless poses a substantial threat to her presidential aspirations in advance of November’s elections.

Sports Arena

Footbrawl in the Meadowlands

By 12.22.15

Before last Sunday, Odell Beckham Junior’s chief offense to heaven and Earth was a hairdo that looks like a cheap carpet sample. In Sunday’s New York Giants-Carolina Panthers game he demonstrated that when a defensive back consistently gets the better of him, our Odell does not work and play well with others. The Panthers, at 14-0, remain perfect today. They may not have been had Beckham played his A-game instead of going head-hunting.

Early on Panther defensive back Josh Norman was covering Beckham like the dew covers Dixie. Beckham’s reaction to this could more easily be described as assault than as football. For his Sunday rashness, Beckham was suspended Monday for one game by the NFL. Check out the clips and see if you think the punishment might have been a bit light.

Main Street U.S.A.

The Triumph of Christmas

By 12.22.15

Baylor University’s Rodney Stark, a social science professor celebrated for his acute understanding of contemporary religion, says to prophets of religious doom and disappearance: Huh? What are you talking about? Had your morning coffee yet?

Of course, we all know, as does Stark, about the Islamic State and its various bloody works. But isn’t Christianity — the world’s biggest faith — on the downswing?

Where churches are weak, watery, and wimpy, the answer is yes. Where they are robust, preaching and teaching the Gospel, the answer is no.

In a pungent, highly informative new book, The Triumph of Faith, Stark says that evidence points to “an ongoing religious awakening. Never before have four out of five people on earth claimed to belong to one of the great world faiths.

“People want to know why the universe exists, not that it exists for no reason, and they don’t want their lives to be pointless. Only religion provides credible and satisfactory answers to the great existential questions.” This is so, no matter how many Ten Commandment signs we may rip from courthouse walls as federal judges beam!

Buy the Book

Reagan’s Last Act

By 12.22.15

In writing Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan, Craig Shirley has written the Reagan book that had to be written.

The long time Reagan biographer (author of Rendezvous with Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign that Changed America and Reagan’s Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started It All ) has written a superb book that tells of the last days of the president millions of Americans had come to love and admire.

Chapter after chapter tells the moving tale of the post-presidency for its central figure. Writes Shirley: 

The Energy Spectator

The Omnibus Deal’s Mixed Energy Bag

By 12.22.15

The decades-old legislation that prevented American producers from exporting oil is officially overturned — despite previous presidential threats to veto a bill to lift the oil export ban. That’s good policy. However, to get the support of “reluctant Democrats,” the Economist reports, “an additional five years of tax credits for wind and solar power” was part of the package. That’s bad energy policy.

Another Perspective

Not ‘The Mikado’: The Bravado

By 12.22.15

With apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan.

(With Donald Trump performing as Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner, with his little list of people who never will be missed.)

As next year it must happen that some losers must emerge
— I’ve got a little list. I’ve got a little list.
Of Republican contenders most deserving of a purge,
— And who never would be missed — they never would be missed!
There’s the presidential second son — whose energy is low.
The guv who thinks Dad’s mailman gig delivers Ohio.
That small dude from Kentucky, who shouldn’t be onstage.
And the whelp who knows what “triad” means — just put him in a cage.
And the former neurosurgeon, an avowed twin separatist.
— A weak knife pugilist — that loser won’t be missed!

(pause)

The Public Policy

The Busybody Left

By 12.22.15

The political left has been trying to run other people’s lives for centuries. So we should not be surprised to see the Obama administration now trying to force neighborhoods across America to have the mix of people the government wants them to have.

There are not enough poor people living in middle class neighborhoods to suit the political left. Not enough blacks in white neighborhoods. Not enough Hispanics here, not enough Asians there.

Nowhere in the Constitution does it grant the federal government the power to dictate such things. But places that do not mix and match people the way Washington wants them to can lose all sorts of federal money they currently receive under numerous programs.

Handing out vast amounts of the taxpayers’ money is the way the federal government has expanded its power far beyond the powers granted by the Constitution — thereby limiting the freedom of individuals, localities, and states. Washington is essentially buying up our freedom with our own money, taken in taxes.

Campus Scenes

The Cult of Social Justice

By 12.21.15

There are too many white musicians in the Oberlin College jazz band. This was among the numerous complaints — “concrete and unmalleable demands” — in a 14-page manifesto issued last week by the Black Students Union (BSU) at the elite private liberal arts college in Ohio. The second item on their list of demands was “a concerted effort to increase the percentage of Black students and specifically Black female identifying instrumentalists in the Jazz department. We would like to reiterate the demand for a 4% annual increase in the enrollment of Black students in the Jazz Department starting in 2016 to accumulate to 40% increase by the year 2022.”

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