Latest News

Political Hay

Two Weeks and Too Weak

By 10.23.14

Less than two weeks from November 4, Obama’s support is looking too weak to avoid another midterm defeat. Four years ago, Obama led Democrats to a loss of six Senate seats, 65 House seats, and loss of the House of Representatives. While November’s election has been slow to take shape, a Republican advantage is now becoming clear. 

Even taken at its best, Obama’s standing in the polls hardly heartens Democrats. Obama appears to be close to where he stood four years ago. Within the numbers, things are even worse.

According to Rasmussen nationwide polling released October 20, Obama’s total disapproval was 52 percent and his total approval was 46 percent. Those totals almost exactly match his standing in a 10/20/12 Rasmussen poll — 52 percent disapproval and 47 percent approval. That such seemingly close numbers four years ago still led to a midterm thrashing is bad news for the president’s party.

Send to Kindle

Politics

Republicans and Democrats Both Patronize Young Voters

By 10.23.14

Midterm elections are all about turnout: empowering those random demographics who have little else to do all day besides take in '80s sitcom reruns and consult with telemarketers. Numbers count, and numbers don't show up to polls between presidential elections, when the most important decision on the ballot is whether the local library can repair its water fountains with public funds.

To add to the expected crowds of old people at the polling booths in two weeks, both the Republican and Democratic parties are attempting to "empower" the "disaffected youth," by which they seem to mean people my age who don't earn enough money to be day drunk and might be counted on to reliably vote. To no one's surprise, these efforts are laughably terrible. On the right, you have the noted arbiters of campus cool, College Republicans, with a "Say Yes to the Dress" ad that's insulting even for TLC, a cable channel that airs a show about nudists trying to find their dream home.

Send to Kindle

The Current Crisis

The Harvard Twenty-Eight to the Rescue

By 10.23.14

Mirabile dictu! Fully 28 profs and former profs from the Harvard Law School have taken a stand for freedom and for the rule of law. They are on the side of the Constitution and simple fairness. As Ivy Leaguers go, their stand took courage. No other Ivy League school has had the temerity to buck the bullying of federal government’s Department of Education Department over the its threat to punish universities that it adjudges as being lax on allegations of sexual assault or sexual harassment. That is right. The Department of Education says it will withhold funding if its ukase is not followed by suspect universities. Harvard is suspected of such laxity by the Department of Education, and so the university hopes to mollify the government bureaucrats by enforcing a draconian policy toward alleged sex offenders.

The Harvard Twenty-Eight responds that this policy is unfair. Furthermore the university has a vast enough endowment to go, if need be, its own way. What is an endowment for anyway, if not to ensure the independence of a university? Raise a toast to Harvard Law.

Send to Kindle

Ben Stein's Diary

Lunch With Dr. Kissinger at the Nixon Library

By 10.23.14

Wednesday
A few days ago, Fred Malek, a super-successful investor whom we used to refer to in the Nixon days as “Haldeman’s Haldeman” for a time until he went on to bigger and better things in the OMB, called me to invite me to an event.

Secretary Henry A. Kissinger, the foremost expert in foreign policy currently alive, maybe the foremost one since Metternich, has just published a book World Order and he’s coming to the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace to promote it and to speak. Now, I have so much respect for Dr. Kissinger that I would pay to fly to anywhere to hear him. But he’s right here in Sunny Cal, so I told Fred I would be there with bells on.

And, sure enough, after a nice drive from Beverly Hills with me sleeping in the back seat, our pal Robert driving, and my other pal Phil listening to some horror story about electromagnetic pulses on his headphones, we arrived at the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace.

Send to Kindle

The Charlie Watch

No Fans, No Hits, No Errors

By 10.22.14

The debates are done in the Florida governor’s race, and this is probably a good thing for both candidates, two strange fellows who don’t present well behind the podium.

Last night’s CNN Hour was mostly just more nyah, nyah, nyah. People who understand the issues facing Florida have already made up their mind who they will vote for. Those who don’t got no help from either Republican incumbent Rick Scott or former Florida governor and Democrat challenger Charlie Crist. At least there was no argument over a fan, which Crist somehow managed to do without.

Scott again charged that Florida lost 832,000 jobs while Crist was governor. A stupid charge as this happened during the global economic meltdown. Crist sensibly countered that he wasn’t responsible for the meltdown, just as Scott wasn’t responsible for the recovery. What both men did in the economic sphere and how these things affect the economy was overlooked for the hyperbolic charges.

Send to Kindle

Special Report

Sermonizing Pols

By 10.22.14

In a time of triumphant secularism, politicians treat the religious with increasing contempt. It was only a matter of time before headlines about government demanding the sermons of pastors appeared in the United States. Seeing themselves as superior to the religious, secularists feel entitled to bully pastors who impede their political plans.

Secularists have grown far more dogmatic than many of the religious. They are the ones who now hold the view that “error has no rights,” while circles within the Catholic Church now see “positive aspects” in error.

Send to Kindle

A Further Perspective

‘New’ CDC Ebola Strategy Still Too Dangerous

By 10.22.14

Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced its new Ebola strategy. It includes more training and more protective gear for hospital staff. The CDC is also encouraging states to designate certain hospitals for Ebola preparation. For example, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is designating eight Ebola “supercenters.” The CDC is presuming that a few days is enough to make a hospital Ebola ready. That’s a gamble. Texas Health Presbyterian, a highly regarded 900-bed hospital, couldn’t handle Ebola. The CDC is betting on other hospitals to fare better. A safer strategy would be to expand capacity at the nation’s four bio-containment hospitals, which have treated Ebola patients successfully without the virus spreading to a single healthcare worker.

Most Americans have virtually no risk of getting Ebola. But doctors and nurses treating an Ebola patient are at high risk, despite assurances by the CDC that its “protocols” work.

Send to Kindle

In the Colosseum

Raul Labrador: The Negotiator

By From the September 2014 issue

Washington is a city full of dueling egos, a kind of bubble of exaggerated self-awareness. But it’s where Raul Labrador, the forty-something immigration lawyer-turned-Congressman, has made his bed.

There is something brutally honest about Labrador. And it’s not just that he tells it like he sees it or that he has a diagnosis for every problem (though he does). He’s in the negotiating business. From afar, his fellow conservatives in the House seem to be wandering leaderless through a desert, chasing budget cut mirages, hunting for Obamacare oases. In Labrador, they may have found their man. 

Today, it’s mid-summer and Labrador is sitting in his tiny office in a back corner on the fifth floor of the Longworth House Office Building. Outside, the Capitol is engulfed in the kind of steamy, blistering humidity Washington, D.C., is known for. Inside isn’t much better. A portable fan is running to try to cool things down. 

Send to Kindle

The Bootblack Stand

Of Aliens and Isolationists

By From the September 2014 issue

Mr. Plunkitt—

In expectation of runnin’ for president, I’ve been workin’ with a language coach. But I still keep gettin’ tripped up. The other day I was at a nice Dallas café, and I ordered two Buds Lite and the chef’s special paninus. The waiter looked at me funny and then asked me to meet him in the alley. I never even got my sandwich! How do I make myself seem smart without coming across as a faker?

Rick Perry
Governor of Texas


Governor—

What makes you so sure the American people want a member of the intelligentsia in the White House? After all, they did elect that dolt Zachary Taylor. No, what Americans want is a man with true grit. A man who wears sandpaper boxer shorts. One who’s willing to eat the larva at the bottom of the tequila bottle, or to lick an electric fence, just to taste the voltage. A man who’s not afraid to make love to his first and only wife under the twinkling stars, after breaking into the local planetarium.

Might you be such a man?
GWP


Mr. Plunkitt—

Send to Kindle

Ben Stein's Diary

The Death of Ben Bradlee

By 10.22.14

Tuesday
Wow. The death of Ben Bradlee. We are all mortal.

Naturally, I disliked him very much for his harm to the ultimate peacemaker, Richard M. Nixon. But when I looked up Mr. Bradlee in Wikipedia (sometimes reliable, sometimes not), I was staggered by something that had long been lurking in my old brain and now becomes crystal clear. Two things, in fact.

First of all, I had always thought that the Beautiful People in the Northeast, Hollywood, and D.C. loathed Nixon because they thought he was way below their social station. After all, his first major target was a New England Blue Blood Communist spy, Alger Hiss of Harvard. When Nixon drew blood with that attack, the gauntlet was thrown down to avenge Mr. Hiss.

So, now I see that Ben Bradlee has about the fanciest pedigree that anyone I have ever seen on Wikipedia has had. Descended from European Royalty in about ten different ways. Heir to substantial wealth in New York and Boston. Boarded at St. Mark’s School, a super waspy redoubt. Harvard, naturally.

Send to Kindle

Pages