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Ben Stein's Diary

A Tough Act to Swallow

By 8.14.15

In the course of the super lie-a-thon that was the Senate testimony of Wendy Sherman, the cry baby former community organizer who was the lead negotiator with the Iranians over nuclear arms, and that of her junior partner, Adam Szubin, the mysterious Orthodox Jew turned advocate for Iran, several super lies came out, as they had to.

One of the worst was about how long it would take Iran to get back to its nuclear arms production schedule if the U.S. bombed Iran’s facilities. “A few months,” was the basic answer. After all, said these two witnesses, the knowledge was already in the heads of the Iranians. “You can’t bomb that away,” said the testificants, or words to that effect.

But how can that be true? Doesn’t that depend on the scope and scale of the bombing? If we used bunker busters or even atom bombs against the facilities, and if we kept on using them until the Iranians didn’t have a day without bombing of their facilities, wouldn’t that delay the production of the weapons by more or less forever?

The Hillary Watch

Term(agant) Limits on Mrs. Clinton

By 8.14.15

Comedienne Elizabeth Woolf opened for Jon Lovitz at the Hard Rock in Fort Lauderdale the other night, and she demolished Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for President in one line.

“I am really happy that Hillary Clinton is favored to win the Presidency. This will send a powerful message to every young girl in this country that you could potentially reach any level or attain any position in this country…” Here came a long pause.

“… provided your husband does it first!” Checkmate! Absolutely brilliant.

I thoroughly enjoyed her approach, that the whole point of “the first woman President” is undermined by the fact that we could not find a woman to blaze her own trail to the door of the White House. But in my view the whole business is moot, because I think Hillary’s candidacy is unconstitutional. That is correct: I believe that the type of intent-of-the-law spirit-of-the-law constitutional interpretation Anthony Kennedy and his fellow Justices have been practicing leads inexorably to the conclusion that the Constitution of the United States forbids Hillary Clinton to run for President.

Eminentoes

Bernie Sanders, Weirdo in Chief

By 8.14.15

Senator Bernie Sanders tops former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton 44-37 in a poll of likely Democratic voters in the New Hampshire primary. A proud socialist in the driver’s seat in a state where they inscribe “live free or die” on the license plates speaks to what a long, strange trip it’s been.

Socialists normally run for president. They rarely call themselves socialists. The novelty of “Bernie Sanders for President” stems from his truth in advertising. But some truths one never prefers to advertise.

Political Hay

Common Core, Idiocracy, and the Great Unlearning

By 8.14.15

If you’re not spending your Thursdays surfing YouTube in search of the latest tutorial in conservatism from PJTV’s Bill Whittle, you are doing yourself a disservice by omission. Whittle, a Hollywood writer, amateur pilot, blogger and impresario of American liberty — he’s one of the best public speakers you’ll ever hear — does a weekly segment called Afterburner that makes its way onto the PJ Media YouTube channel, and this week’s is well worth a watch.

In it, Whittle bemoans what he calls The Great Unlearning — a rapid and pronounced dumbing-down of American society that manifests itself in conspiracy theories (often the 21st century’s version of the silly superstitions of medieval villagers), video voyeurism and other passively depraved practices emblematic of a culture of spectators rather than doers and dunces rather than experts.

The Marital Spectator

How the Supreme Court Abolished Article V of the Constitution

By 8.14.15

On July 31 at the American Bar Association’s International Human Rights Award Luncheon, former Justice John Paul Stevens declared that, while the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment establishes a right to “gay marriage,” it does not protect an individual’s right to keep and bear arms.

Now when it comes to the issue of “gun rights” I have no personal dog in the hunt (so to speak). I’m not a gun owner. In most circumstances I wouldn’t recommend keeping a gun at home because I think statistically a gun kept at home is more likely to be used on someone in the home than on an intruder (though I wouldn’t want an intruder to know that I don’t have a gun at home).

Still, I marvel at Stevens’ ability to reject an application of the Fourteenth Amendment to a right clearly enumerated elsewhere in the Constitution (viz., “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” in the Second Amendment) while affirming its application to a supposed right not elsewhere even remotely alluded to in the Constitution (viz., the right of a person to marry a person of the same sex).

Sanctuary City Watch

Sanctuary State Is a Haven for Criminals

By 8.13.15

“I am not remiss to say that from Washington, D.C., to Sacramento, there is a blood trail to Marilyn Pharis’ bedroom,” Santa Maria, California police Chief Ralph Martin charged last week. On July 24, two burglars allegedly broke in to Pharis’ home as she slept. They sexually assaulted and beat her. Pharis, 64, a U.S. Air Force veteran, died in the hospital Aug. 1. It turns out that one of the two men charged for the crime, Victor Aureliano Martinez Ramirez, 29, is an undocumented immigrant against whom Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a detainer in 2014. Ramirez has pleaded not guilty.

The case seems like Kate Steinle all over again. On July 1, Steinle was strolling on Pier 14 in San Francisco with her father, when a bullet pierced her heart. Authorities charged Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a seven-time convicted felon and undocumented immigrant who had been deported five times, with murder. He pleaded not guilty. If the San Francisco sheriff had honored an ICE detainer, Lopez-Sanchez would not have been in San Francisco on July 1.

Political Hay

Are Reagan Democrats Becoming Trump Democrats?

By 8.13.15

The Gallup poll. December, 1979.

President Jimmy Carter — 60%. Former California Governor Ronald Reagan — 36%. So confident was Carter White House Chief of Staff Hamilton Jordan of the coming year’s presidential election that he boasted: “The American people are not going to elect a seventy-year-old, right-wing, ex-movie actor to be president.” Hamilton Jordan was a smart guy — and he was also wildly wrong. A little less than a year later the American people — ignoring that Gallup poll — elected Ronald Reagan to the presidency in a landslide — in a three-way race. Reagan won 50.8% of the vote to Carter’s 41%. Third party candidate John Anderson, a liberal Republican who had been defeated by Reagan in the GOP primaries, won a mere 6.6% of the vote. Reagan carried 44 states to Carter’s six plus the District of Columbia.

Flick Story

The Real Men from U.N.C.L.E.

By 8.13.15

I am planning to see the cinematic version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. this weekend, but I am not planning on enjoying it very much.

Although I had long heard of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., I never saw an episode until last fall. It can be seen on Sunday nights at 10 p.m. EST on the retro cable station Me TV following Columbo (which I promise to write about one of these days). I don’t what made me tune in, but now I can’t get enough. To give you an idea of how much I have come to like watching those two shows back to back, I have been doing something I thought I would never do — not watching ESPN Sunday Night Baseball.

For the uninitiated, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was the brainchild of Norman Felton, who was inspired by Ian Fleming’s James Bond books and movies. Indeed, Felton tried to collaborate with Fleming on this project without success. Undeterred, Felton carried on and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. debuted on NBC on September 22, 1964.

A Further Perspective

Public Education Is Learning the Hard Way

By 8.13.15

My career was in newspapers.

And so I saw our industry grow complacent on astronomical profit margins, making us easy prey for the digital innovators that took our advertisers and readers, and along with them our revenues.

The free market can be as ruthless as the African Serengeti in culling out the old and the weak. Just ask Blockbuster, Borders, Circuit City, the U.S. Postal Service or, most recently, anyone involved in TV cable.

It can be a painful dynamic, but one that has driven American success since Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown.

Now imagine if public education were exposed to such forces rather than protected from them. Certainly the growing sums of money we have invested in our classrooms over the past several decades would have bought more than the meager results we see today. But somehow the narrative of spend more to get more remains stubbornly ingrained in the national conscience despite all graphs to the contrary.

The commitment to education in state legislatures still is measured by annual increases in funding. And if more money doesn’t move the needle, then obviously it wasn’t enough money.

The Energy Spectator

The Sun in Obama’s Eye

By 8.12.15

The solar industry is jubilant over President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, released in its final form on Monday, August 3. The same day, however, some other news reminded the public of what happens when government policy mandates and incentivizes a favored energy source: Taxpayer dollars are gobbled up and investors lose out.

“The fundamental objective of the Clean Power Plan,” according to Solar Industry Magazine, “is the phasing out of coal-fired power plants in favor of low- or zero-emission sources…” It does this through three “building blocks,” one of which is: “increase electricity generation from non-emitting renewable sources, such as solar and wind.”

The International Business Times (IBT) reports: “The proposed regulations to combat climate change will likely spur an exponential amount of additional solar deployment.”

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