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Failure Is Woven Into the Fabric of Obamacare

By 6.15.15

Obamacare’s apologists, tired of being laughed at for claiming “it’s working,” have adopted a new talking point that they hope will produce less mirth. They now claim the law is such an integral part of our health care system that it is no longer susceptible to repeal or even revision. As President Obama recently put it, “This is now part of the fabric of how we care for one another.… This is health care in America.” This is a perfectly absurd claim to make about a law that has been in effect for only a year and a half.

The Nation's Pulse

The Importance of Being Earnestly Native

By 6.15.15

How come natives never go native? Maybe they can’t. I’ll have to ferret out the logic on this one. Or maybe they’re too smart to do it. But there seems to be no shortage of gringos who wish to be something other than what they are.

Consider: Jeb Bush wants to be Hispanic, going so far as to identify himself as Hispanic on his Miami voter registration form. He later claimed this was just a mistake, changing the form and admitting that he is in fact the white-bread, privileged, preppy, gringo, silver-spoon-in-his-mouth, summers-in-Kennebunkport, just-a-splash-of-water-please, old-money WASP that he was born. (OK, not totally a WASP now. He converted to Catholicism in 1995. A recovering WASP?)

A Further Perspective

Sacramento’s Idea of Health: Undocumented Welcome

By 6.15.15

“There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false. The reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally,” President Barack Obama proclaimed in a 2009 speech to Congress. It was a memorable event, in part because Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., shouted, “You lie.” Editorial page umbrage followed.

This month, the California Senate proved that, though Wilson was wrong to heckle the president, he had reason to challenge the sincerity of Obama’s pledge. By a 28-11 vote, the Democratic-controlled state Senate became the first U.S. legislative body to vote to expand health care to immigrants who are here illegally. Senate Bill 4, by state Sen. Ricardo Lara, would allow Californians without documentation to buy Affordable Care Act policies (assuming the feds grant a waiver), authorize residents up to age 19 to enroll in Medi-Cal regardless of immigration status and allow some people 19 or older to enroll in Medi-Cal regardless of immigration status.

Ben Stein's Diary

A Shortage of Pity

By 6.15.15

Night after night, I see on the news horror stories about immigrants seeking to leave Nigeria, Eritrea, Somalia, Chad, Niger, all over Africa, wanting to come to Europe. They are willing — eager, so eager they will pay for it — to take dangerous old boats across the Mediterranean in hopes of reaching Italy. There, they hope to have a more materially sufficient life.

Who can blame them? They live in miserable conditions in Africa. Their nations are underdeveloped, socialist, buccaneering and corrupt. Their chances of a plentiful life are slim. Whatever their countries are doing, it’s not working. The African refugees are the rough equivalent of the sad but highly motivated men and women and children of Central America who risk death trying to enter the USA illegally.

They are the same in some ways as the heart-rending immigrants from Syria and from Myanmar.

Special Report

A Bicycle, an Infection, and a Lie

By 6.14.15

“Land of Song!” said the warrior bard,
“Tho’ all the world betrays thee,
One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard,
One faithful harp shall praise thee!”
— “The Minstrel Boy” by Thomas Moore

The last two weeks have seen a surprising sequence of events surrounding the Iran nuclear weapons talks. It all started on the night of Friday, May 29 when John Kerry arrived in Geneva for an all-day talk scheduled for the following day, Saturday, May 30. The talks did not go well. A senior administration official described them as “intense,” which is diplomatic-speak for “nasty.” There had been plans to continue the next day, but the Iranians mysteriously hightailed it out of Dodge City that night.

Ben Stein's Diary

Don’t Compare Nixon to Hillary, Mr. Thomas

By 6.13.15

A few days ago, a Mr. Evan Thomas had an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal attempting to compare Mrs. Clinton with Richard Nixon, as if being anything like Nixon is like being the devil. It is a totally mistaken approach in almost every way. Yes, they are both human beings in politics. Yes, they feel and felt antipathy towards the press. Yes, they are both fallible.

Ben Stein's Diary

Having No Decency

By 6.12.15

Last night, I was in Malibu filing and writing checks to charities and watering my pitiful jacarandas, which just refuse to grow. I slept for a long time with my dogs, Julie and JoJo. I could hear the waves crashing on the sand far below. A mild breeze blew in the screen door of my bedroom. The popcorn tasted deliciously salty and buttery. It was great.

As it happened, it was truly great because I had wanted to stay out there all night. After all, my wife was out of town at one of her charities in Boston. Nothing urgent was happening at our home in Beverly Hills. I could sleep in Malibu and hear the waves all night.

But some urge made me pack up and set out for home in town anyway. Ha! No such luck! As it happened, there had been a fatal crash at PCH and Latigo Canyon. Some poor devil was going the wrong way at speed down PCH and now is deceased. So, the Sheriffs had closed down PCH for at least three hours. Back I went to my little fifties modern home in Trancas, ate some already broiled chicken, and watched the fabulous American Heroes Channel — used to be called the Military Channel.

Another Perspective

A Tribute to Quick, Efficient National Elections… Canadian Style

By 6.12.15

It’s June 2015. We are seventeen months away from the 2016 presidential election. Even the presidential primaries are looming way off somewhere on the distant political horizon. 

Nonetheless, we already have 10 declared Republican primary candidates (with Lord knows how many others waiting in the wings… can we really tolerate another Trump bid to hype his “Celebrity Apprentice” gig?).

Adding to the political merriment, we have three declared Democratic candidates ready to challenge Hillary’s arrogant sense of entitlement to be the Dems’ designated standard-bearer. Most political pundits have declared her the prohibitive favorite to be the nominee, but there’s plenty of time for more damaging exposés on the Clinton Foundation, the Benghazi debacle, and more scandalous secret cell phone nonsense that could sink her candidacy.

No matter how you slice it, democracy in this country is slow, cumbersome, and outrageously expensive. Our multi-billion dollar election campaigns drag on endlessly with mind-numbing repetition, silly slogans, and attack ads that insult the intelligence of most of the electorate.

The Nation's Pulse

Comedy-Club Commissars

By 6.12.15

I have seen the future—and it smirks.

Laughing or grinning? Not so much. Condescending, self-righteous, disapproving smirks are the best the frowny future offers in the smile department. 

Jerry Seinfeld lamented this “creepy PC thing” on Late Night with Seth Meyers this week. The remarks follow a few days after the comedian’s admission that he avoids campus performances because of the uptight reactions to jokes about race, gender, and other taboos.

Last year, Seinfeld scoffed at the idea of comedy quotas. 

“This has gotta represent the actual pie chart of America?” Seinfeld asked regarding the comedians appearing on his web series. “Who cares? Funny is the world that I live in. You’re funny, I’m interested. You’re not funny, I’m not interested. I have no interest in gender or race or anything like that.”

The response to Seinfeld’s outspokenness hasn’t been entirely supportive. Comedian Dean Obeidallah scolded Seinfeld at not to “blame college students for wanting comedy that fits their own sensibilities. Why should any audience have to change their comedy tastes to fit a comedian’s act?”

Political Hay

The Democrats’ Nominee Will Be…

By 6.12.15

Two weeks ago in this space I proffered the notion that Hillary Clinton’s inevitability as the Democrats’ nominee is a tenuous one, and since then little has come to speed up the Hillary Express.

There was last week’s straw poll of Wisconsin Democrats in which Hillary reeled in just 49 percent of the vote while the socialist senator Bernie Sanders, he of “fantasy rape” pseudo-literary fame (not to mention his status as a despoiler of folk music), came in closely behind at 41 percent.