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Put Not Your Trust in Judges

By 8.18.14

I’m old enough to remember the “Impeach Earl Warren” bumper stickers. They were produced by the hard-right John Birch Society, and most people thought them kooky. Still, they reflected the way many conservatives felt about the then-Chief Justice of the Supreme Court 50 years ago, and the federal bench generally. The courts had expanded the rights of alleged criminals, struck down voting barriers and mandated school busing, and all this went down hard with conservatives.

Times have certainly changed. Now it’s conservatives who look to the courts to fix our political problems. Last month the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a crucial portion of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), and if that decision sticks it’s going to increase drastically the premiums people have to pay. That in turn would lead to tremendous pressure to repeal the law, and that’s just what conservatives want. The decision itself was a well-reasoned analysis of a poorly drafted law, but the case was brought by conservative activists who sought to torpedo a law they opposed.

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Another Perspective

What About Watertown?

By 8.18.14

Before the folly of the Ferguson Police Department’s overreaction to looting and rioting following the fatal shooting earlier this month of Michael Brown, an unarmed, black teenager, there had been concerns raised about the militarization of our local police departments by the federal government. Last month, Fox News Channel’s John Stossel wrote: 

I want the police to be better armed than the bad guys, but what exactly does that mean today?

Apparently it means the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security equip even the tiniest rural police departments with massive military vehicles, body armor and grenade launchers. The equipment is surplus from the long wars we fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Following the Ferguson folly, Alec MacGillis of the New Republic picked up on this theme:

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Loose Canons

Hillary Slippary

By 8.18.14

According to the New York TimesPeter Baker, “In this summer of global tumult, the debate in Washington essentially boils down to two opposite positions: It is all President Obama’s fault, according to his critics; no, it is not, according to his supporters, because these are events beyond his control.”

Mr. Baker entirely misses the point. The global tumult is, largely, Mr. Obama’s fault because he has so drastically reduced America’s influence that events are beyond his control. That has become so obvious that even Hillary Clinton understands.

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Ben Stein's Diary

Moral Decency in Disintegration

By 8.16.14

A trip up to the charming town of Sandpoint. It went well except that our flight from SEA to Spokane was postponed for an hour. We took an earlier flight but then my wife’s luggage was not in Spokane. We had to wait two hours for that. We passed the time at a fine local Spokane restaurant called the Rusty Moose. Good food, good service.

We sat at the bar and next to us were two soldiers. One of them was quiet. The other was talkative. He wanted to know if I thought there was much of a future for civilization.

“We Americans come from the Enlightenment,” he said. “But how many other countries have the values of respect for law, respect for human dignity, respect for the individual that we have?”

“Maybe Israel and the UK,” I said.

“Right,” said the soldier. “That was my count, too.”

This is a conversation I have been having often. People just come up to me and ask me if I think civilization has a future, if I think human decency has a future.

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Enemy of the Week

Stupid Stuff

By 8.15.14

Okay, we’re not normally this nervous, but it’s not every week that we have a big date in the offing. Our leader has announced he plans to return to Washington, D.C. on Sunday for reasons yet to be divulged. Maybe he needs help for his addiction to golf. Maybe he needs to get away from all those rich folks of Martha’s Vineyard. Maybe he just needs to escape from Madam Hillary’s manic clutches. Or maybe, just perhaps, he wants to ask us for advice. Don’t know how we might help. He’s been exactly the man we knew he’d be from the moment he first set eyes on a teleprompter. Who are we to expect someone not to be true to himself?

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A Further Perspective

The ‘Other’ D-Day — Operation Dragoon

By 8.15.14

August 15 marks the 70th anniversary of the Allies’ amphibious invasion of Marseilles and southern France in 1944. Though it stands as a historical footnote to the acclaimed D-Day invasion of Normandy, it played a vital role in the liberation of France and the ultimate defeat of German forces. The operation, codenamed Dragoon, got off to a dreadful start with the suicide of one of the key Allied leaders shortly before the invasion launched.

Rear Admiral Don Moon, who had commanded the naval forces at Utah Beach in the Normandy invasion, and was tasked with commanding the right wing of the Dragoon landings, had begged Vice Admiral H. Kent Hewitt, overall commander of the invasion, to postpone the attack, arguing that assault training had been deficient, and that German forces would decimate the invading Allied forces. (He had expressed similar apprehensions before D-Day.) He died in his stateroom just days before the attack from a self-inflicted wound to the head from his service .45. A carefully penned suicide note lay on the table in front of his dead body.

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The Nation's Pulse

Drugs Are Bad, Mkay?

By 8.15.14

“Drugs are bad, mkay?” explains South Park’s Mr. Mackey. Like Nancy Reagan, Joe Friday, and other tellers of this simple truth, Mr. Mackey plays the punchline. But a teller of simple truths isn’t a simpleton but rather someone blessed with the ability to cut through sophistry.

When I was very young, a man in a dress asked me if I rejected the glamour of evil. I remained circumspectly silent. Two adult relatives, assuming my virtue from my visage, answered “yes” for me.

Drugs strike as the epitome of this peculiar phrase uttered by that peculiarly draped man. The chemicals prove so seductive that they make the hideous attractive. Snorting lines probably seemed glamourous to Robin Williams in his twenties. But what’s less glamourous than a sixtysomething-year-old man hanging from his own belt?

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Special Report

When Bogie and Bacall Were Duped by Hollywood Communists

By 8.15.14

Lauren Bacall died this week at age 89. Her obituaries are paying tribute to a glamorous actress, a famed star from Hollywood’s Golden Age, the wife of Humphrey Bogart, and a lifetime liberal. She’s also being celebrated by liberals as a fighter for freedom in the arts, one who bravely confronted the closed-minded anti-communists in Washington—a stoic battler against Joe McCarthy and his “witch hunts.”

Sorry, but reality is more complicated.

The facts are that Lauren Bacall herself learned the truth about communism in Hollywood. She admitted to being badly duped by bad guys. She learned her lesson, even as her fellow Hollywood liberals to this day have not, opting instead for a false narrative that feeds a handy caricature. Here’s what really happened:

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Reader Mail

Pro-Semitism Is Flourishing

By 8.14.14

Ben Stein has shared this letter he received from a dear friend in Missouri:

Dear Ben,

I read of your most justifiable concerns about growing anti-Semitism, so I thought I’d warm your heart with some reports of pro-Semitism. Forgive me if this is sort of long, but pretend it’s an article in the Spectator.

Since 1997, John and I have been serving with a ministry called Prayer Mountain in the Ozarks, aka Billye Brim Ministries, an extremely pro-Israel organization. Billye Brim has been leading tours to Israel for decades. Because of her well-known pro-Israel activism, in the late 1990s she was approached by Rani Levy, the son of Col. Yehuda Levy, who had been the president, publisher, and editor of the Jerusalem Post, as you probably know. Rani brought Billye information on a rare piece of property for sale in Israel, in Migdol on the Sea of Galilee. Rani said he thought the ministry was supposed to have it. Billye agreed, the property was purchased, and there are plans to build a study center there, called Prayer Mountain in the Galilee. Here are three related pro-Semitic items:

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The Iraq Spectator

The Collapse of the Liberal World Order

By 8.14.14

President Obama has ended the Iraq War.” So says the White House blog, the headline preserved in the amber that is the Internet. The date: October 21, 2011 at 2:18 Eastern Daylight Time. Along with a video of the president saying this, a statement on the site has been helpfully provided, partially excerpted here:

In 2008, in the height of the presidential campaign, then-Senator Obama made a promise to give our military a new mission: ending the war in Iraq.

As the election unfolded, he reiterated this pledge again and again — but cautioned that we would be “as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in.”…

Now, that promise will be wholly fulfilled. Today, President Obama announced that the rest of our troops will be home by the holidays.…

But this moment represents more than an accomplishment for the President. It marks a monumental change of focus for our military and a fundamental shift in the way that the our nation will engage in the world….

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