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Ben Stein's Diary

70 Years Young

By 11.22.14

This is really hard to believe but it’s true. I am writing this just before midnight on Friday night. If I live, in roughly 72 hours, I will be 70 years old. I CANNOT BELIEVE IT AT ALL!!!!

It seems like just yesterday I was a small child walking along Sligo Creek, playing army with David Scull, listening to Carl Bernstein playing Buddy Holly on the guitar. It was just days ago, surely, that I went to those glorious, Gatsbyesque parties at the Alpha Delta Phi House on W. 114th Street with Mary Just, and then down to the Tower Suite or the Stork Club for cocktails.

And wasn’t it just moments ago that I was a student radical at Yale Law School, harassing the professors and making the girls swoon?

Weren’t my wife and I the glamorous student rebels on Lynwood Place in New Haven? Didn’t we hurl contempt at the pig power structure as we entertained Fritz Lang in the Sterling Law Buildings?

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In Memoriam

Mosheh (Son of Isadore) Twersky, R.I.P.

By 11.21.14

It is an axiom of long standing that Jewish blood is cheap. The moral equivalence displayed by President Obama in the wake of a brutal massacre of Jews in prayer — “Too many Jews have died; too many Palestinians have died” — is despicable but not surprising. What possible difference could there be between Jews murdered in a holy place during an act of religious devotion and suicidal homicidal maniacs turning themselves into human bombs to kill women and children?

One might have thought that when those Jews are American citizens their President would accord them respect. But even that hope for change was in vain. Three Americans and an Englishman were killed in the Anglo expat neighborhood of Har Nof in Jerusalem, but clearly that toll did not rank high enough to eclipse the formulaic pap — “Too many Jews have died; too many Palestinians have died.”

This dystopia of myopia is a murky place where decency, compassion, and ethical thinking come to drown. Sadly, we are beyond the point of being rattled by this snakiness.

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Hey, Hey, Hey, It’s Judgment Day

By 11.21.14

Bill Cosby raped me.

Sorry, it just seemed like the “in” thing to say. Okay. So I have never met the man. But I feel like I’ve known him all these years. And to know him is to be known by him. At least cable news imparts this notion.

Joan Tarshis, in 1969 a nineteen-year-old comedy writer, thought she knew the Bill Cosby she knew on television. He broke character by allegedly plying her with flattery, booze, and drugs before plying her with him.

“The next thing I remember was coming to on his couch while being undressed,” Tarshis recalls of a 45-year-old encounter. “Through the haze I thought I was being clever when I told him I had an infection and he would catch it and his wife would know he had sex with someone. But he just found another orifice to use. I was sickened by what was happening to me and shocked that this man I had idolized was now raping me. Of course I told no one.”

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Special Report

Is Pope Francis Duping Liberals on Marriage?

By 11.21.14

It’s no secret that liberals adore Pope Francis. The more secular the “progressive,” the greater the reverence for the new man in the Vatican. Liberals—which includes liberal Catholics and Protestants as well as secularists—see the pontiff as the long-awaited liberator of the reactionary Roman Catholic Church.

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Buy the Book

The Bush Family Ties

By 11.21.14

George W. Bush’s critics, if they bother to read 41: Portrait of My Father, will likely complain that what the book shows best is nepotism, the doors that can be opened by tribal connections. To the less cynical eye, however, this volume is a testament to the meaning and value of the institution of the family.

It is not a stretch to say that the book is, as much as anything else, a storehouse of examples of parents shaping children’s lives—from George W.’s opening dedication to his father and mother, to the last paragraph, which reveals his grandmother’s enduring influence. “George H.W. Bush is a great President and an even better father,” his son writes at the beginning of the book. If this comment seems surprising, remember that the elder Bush, when asked about his most important accomplishment, said, “The children still come home.”

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Another Perspective

What About Obama’s Intransigence?

By 11.21.14

Two weeks ago Barack Obama presided over the electoral cataclysm he and his party richly deserved, but managed to escape, in 2012.

The Democrats lost eight Senate seats, a number that will grow to nine on December 6 when Bill Cassidy finishes off the mortally wounded Mary Landrieu in Louisiana. It might even climb to ten if West Virginia’s Joe Manchin gets around to doing the political math in his home state. In the House, an already quite healthy Republican majority reached a size not seen in nearly a century: officially 244 seats as of this writing, with three recounts and two runoffs possibly running the total as high as 249. And at the state level, Obama’s party was wiped out in gubernatorial elections as well as state legislative races; Republicans now have total control of half the country’s state governments, while Democrats rule only seven.

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Free Market Accountability Project

Net Neutrality Compromises the Internet’s Future

By and 11.21.14

Perhaps President Obama envisions that the Internet is operated by Ernestine, the condescending telephone operator played by Lily Tomlin on Laugh-In. Otherwise, it is difficult to justify why he would want to hobble the 21st century broadband industry with regulations designed in the early 20th century. 

Even FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler earlier this year wrote, the FCC is “not going to take over the Internet,” or “dictate the architecture of the Internet.” And yet, the FCC is now under pressure to follow President Obama’s statement on November 10 to regulate the Internet under obsolete 1930s laws.

These 20th century telephone regulations were intended to regulate traditional telephone services, not today’s advanced Internet services. And, they did a poor job of that.

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Political Hay

Between Barack and a Hard Place

By 11.20.14

Following November’s midterms, Democrats are stuck between Barack and a hard place. On the one hand, Obama costs them dearly with the general electorate. On the other, Democrats are unable to motivate their base without Obama on the ballot. For Democrats, this is a no-win situation — and exactly what they have encountered in the last two midterm elections.

Democrats have inherited a considerable “Obama debt.”

In Congress, before Obama took office, Democrats held 51 Senate seats and 232 House seats; now, just 46 and 186, respectively. 

The same is true with key voters. In Obama’s 2008 win, Democrats took 51 percent of Independent and 50 percent of suburban voters; in 2014, exit polls showed them with 42 percent and 43 percent, respectively.

Even worse is the “strong opinion” gulf. According to Rasmussen polling, on Election Day 2008, Obama had a 40 percent strong approval rating and 32 percent strong disapproval rating. On Election Day 2014, Obama’s strong approval rating was just 21 percent, while his strong disapproval rating was 40 percent.

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Special Report

Political Metastasis

By 11.20.14

Sadly, someone I care deeply about was recently diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer — one that is difficult to survive. The problem with this cancer is that it is rarely found until it reaches what oncologists call Stage III or Stage IV, meaning that treatment options are limited and the prognosis is guarded at best — with even “guarded” representing sometimes unjustifiable optimism.

What was so shocking about the diagnosis is that there was no prior indication of illness, certainly none that a person would attribute to a serious ailment rather than to an insignificant virus or just getting a poor night’s sleep. As the unknowing victim moves through life thinking all is well, he is being killed from the inside out. The same is now happening to our national body politic.

The rise of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States suggested a slightly sick country: A completely unaccomplished man elected to the highest political office on the planet on promises of “hope and change” based on radical and ignorant ideas.

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The Obama Watch

Obama on Ferguson and Jerusalem

By 11.20.14

In Ferguson, Missouri, where the facts of the police shooting that killed Michael Brown have yet to be presented by the grand jury, an entire community braces for violence if the “wrong” decision is announced. While waiting, the Obama administration huddled with those who have a history of inciting racial violence and are heading to Ferguson.

In Jerusalem, where the bloody trail of Jihad streams from a synagogue, the response of the Obama administration is to play the moral equivalency card between Palestinians and Israel.

The contrast could not be more stark — or more telling.

First Ferguson: As headlined at The Gateway Pundit reports:

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