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Ben Stein's Diary

Stoned Crazy at the ‘New York Times’

By 7.28.14

Sunday—Beverly Hills
I awakened this morning to a cloudy sky. Off to swim while pausing every minute or so to throw the ball for Julie. We have had no rain in just about forever, and even any rain at all would be a Godsend.

Then, breakfast, and while my English muffins were toasting, I opened the New York Times. With suitable sounding of clarions, bugles, coronets and drums, the Times announced that its mighty “Editorial Board” would now be endorsing the legalization of marijuana. This was announced with as much solemnity as if there had been an actual sighting of the Lord God Jehovah at Union Square.

The Times “Editorial Board” has decided that the federal ban on marijuana is all too much like the Volstead Act, which enacted Prohibition on alcohol. It is creating a new, immense class of law breakers, and filling up prisons with marijuana law breakers, who turn out, by the cunning of racism, and through no fault of their own, to be largely black.

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Another Perspective

Fences and Neighbors

By 7.28.14

President Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras said, “We are neighbors and it’s best to remain friends with your neighbors,” as he arrived in Washington for meetings with his U.S. confrère in the presidents’ club this weekend. They are concerned about emigration and immigration, which are causing tensions and difficulties on the Rio Grande, the great river that forms our natural border with our neighbors. We too want to be neighbors, and in fact have little choice. They are there. We are here. They are so far from God, so close to the United States, as the Mexican proverb has it, we can tell them to complain to God, or better yet, get it through their heads that God helps those who help themselves, but since the surest and quickest way of helping themselves is to cross the Rio Grande, we have to face it: their problems are ours. So what do we do?

Our great poet Robert Frost provides sound advice: “Good fences make good neighbors.” He means this in several ways, including the neighborly bonds that are formed in a common project. Consider:

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Political Hay

Florida Hearts Hillary

By 7.28.14

I know, I know, it’s early. But as of now the elves at Quinnipiac say Mz. Hillary leads all of the likely Republican presidential candidates for Florida’s 29 electoral votes in 2016. (29!) Recently reliably red, Florida now trends deep purple. It went narrowly for the little hustler from Chicago in 2008 and 2012.

If Quinnipiac is measuring the Florida political universe correctly, and the presidential election were held last week, La Clinton would have beaten Jeb Bush 49 to 42. She would have bested Marco Rubio 53 to 39, Rand Paul 53 to 37, or Chris Christie 54 to 33. 

Asked who they fancy for their presidential nominee, 21 percent of Florida Republicans go for Bush, 18 percent for Rubio, 10 percent for Ted Cruz, 8 percent for Paul, 7 percent for Mike Huckabee, and 6 percent for Christie.

On the Democratic side, Clinton essentially runs the table, with a few shut-ins favoring Joe Biden (what a dull country we would be without our eccentrics), and the odd Cherokee doing a war dance for Elizabeth “Crazy Left” Warren. All non-Hillary alternatives remain in the mid-to-low single digits.

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The Nation's Pulse

Do Know Why About Norah Jones

By 7.28.14

One of the last places I expected to be was at a concert featuring Norah Jones. And yet there I was standing no more than 20 feet away from her near stage right late last week at The Sinclair in the heart of Harvard Square in Cambridge. 

Jones, the daughter of the late sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar, was performing with her band Puss n Boots, which released their debut album No Fools, No Fun earlier this month. Puss n Boots is an all female alt.country supergroup featuring the triumvirate of Jones, Catherine Popper (former bass player for both Ryan Adams and Grace Potter and The Nocturnals) and jazz singer Sasha Dobson. The three have been playing together for more than five years in front of friends and at the occasional gig around New York City before deciding earlier this year they were ready to release an album and go on tour.

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A Further Perspective

Keep China Off Our Carriers

By 7.28.14

Describing his approach to dealings with the Soviet Union near the end of the Cold War, President Reagan famously warned, “Trust, but verify.”

A version of that wise caution should be used in dealing with the increasing efforts by the Chinese Navy to cultivate more cooperative military relationships, particularly in seeking greater access to U.S. aircraft carriers: “Cooperate, but very cautiously!”

China’s navy chief, Adm. Wu Shengli recently urged his counterpart U.S. Admiral Jonathon W. Greenert to bring the USS George Washington, an aircraft carrier based in Japan, to a mainland Chinese port and allow the crew of the newly commissioned Chinese carrier to take a tour. Asked for his reaction to that request, Admiral Greenert replied, “I’m receptive to that idea.” 

Excuse me, but not so fast, Admiral. Let’s go slow on exploring cooperation with the Chinese navy.

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Loose Canons

Things Obama Just Won’t Do

By 7.28.14

Watching Fox News on Friday morning, I saw my friend retired Navy Capt. Chuck Nash talking about what we need to do to help resolve the crisis in the Ukraine. What he said made a lot of sense, but it struck me that we all know that President Obama will do absolutely nothing he recommended.

There are so many crises like that around the world and here at home that could be solved entirely or at least ameliorated by the president. The long list of actions President Obama should take to resolve many crises around the world describes many that are — or at least were before Obama — in America’s interests and within America’s grasp. We can take it to the bank that Obama will do none of these things. It takes only a few examples to illustrate the point.

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Political Hay

What Texas Has to Tell Us About How Immigration Will Play Out in 2016

By 7.28.14

So whose job is it, exactly, to stem the tide of illegal entries into a state? Someone sneaking across the Rio Grande from Mexico is entering both the state of Texas and the United States of America, but if the authorities take notice of his presence here, the federal government will claim jurisdiction, preempting, for the most part, anything Texas might have to say about the nature of the hospitality extended to the unauthorized visitor

The problem is that the federal government seems insufficiently interested in preventing illegal immigration. This is what finds us in the second decade of the twenty-first century with between seven and twenty million illegals among us. If that seems an absurdly broad range, consider that illegals do not exactly raise their hands for the census. You therefore get those who don’t consider illegal immigration a pressing problem citing the lower figure, while more concerned voices cite the higher. If we split the difference at about fourteen million, that’s between 4 and 5 percent of all the human beings in the United States.

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Ben Stein's Diary

Castrated by Our President

By 7.26.14

Friday
Travel with a three year old is exhausting. Wifey, our daughter-in-law, “The Kitten,” and our three-year-old granddaughter left Sandpoint about noon yesterday. We hated to go. The sky was a dramatic silver gray and the wind blew the cottonwoods against the windows and Mr. Buffett’s trains roared by. It was what I always wanted.

But we have to return the Kitten to our son and we have to return his daughter, too. So, an uneventful flight to Seattle from Spokane, a brief snack in Seattle, and then, WHAAM!!

Just as we boarded the 7:25 PM flight to LAX, the beloved Coco-Puff was slammed by a bad stomach ache. That would be bad enough for any of us big boys. Or girls. Intestinal disorders while traveling should be illegal. I have suffered from them all of my life.

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Enemy of the Week

Plagiarists and Illiterates

By 7.25.14

We used to think, he’ll never talk alone. But that was before we got the picture. There he is, standing in the middle of nowhere to the southwest of the West Wing, at a mini-podium, next to a mini-table, accompanied by no one, not even the teleprompter twins. And he’s saying something mean about Putin, a repeat actually of what he’d said about Putin three days earlier. So much for the flexibility he said he’d have in dealing with Russia. A change of locations doesn’t count. No doubt he replayed his anti-Putinisms in La La Land yesterday, but the press and cameras weren’t there, so we’ll never know, unless the Russkies let us know themselves.

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Special Report

Instead of Immigration, Let’s Try Colonialism

By 7.25.14

Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi visits shelters housing the thousands of children streaming across the border from Central America and says, “We’re all North Americans” and she’d like to take them all home with her.

Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont thunders that 9-year-old girls are being raped on the streets of Guatemala and that we must take them in to save them.

And Democratic Congressman John Lewis of Georgia is even more generous. He says that there’s no sense in having borders anymore. America belongs to the whole world and we should open our doors to let everyone in.

Democrats are obviously the “Party of Compassion.” They want to extend the blessings of America to the whole world. They believe, it would seem, that we have created something close to the perfect society here — a society in which only half the population has to work, where 20 percent receive food stamps, where 10 million people are on disability and where, in the words of Pelosi herself, government healthcare enables people to “quit their job to stay home and write poetry.”

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