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The Charlie Watch

Is Charlie Crist the Only Dem Who Wants Obama’s Help?

By 9.3.14

Democrats have become quite good at turning out their voters on Election Day in presidential years. But not so good in off years. Which may help explain the peculiar approach to the governor’s race taken by rookie Democrat Charlie Crist. 

You may well ask, what’s a Charlie Crist race without a peculiar approach? Point well taken. But with President Obama’s popularity in Florida tanking, and Obamacare never having been popular in the Sunshine State, you might wonder why Crist—who was Florida’s Republican governor from 2007 to 2011 and wishes now to be governor again, this time as a Democrat—has been taking every opportunity to praise Obamacare and its namesake. He has chided real Democrats for trying to put some distance between themselves and Obama. Unlike other Democrats running in tight races where Obama is unpopular, Crist says nothing would tickle him pinker than to have Obama come to Florida and campaign for him. (This may well happen. There are places in Florida where you can walk from the west coast of the peninsula to the east without ever stepping off of a golf course.)

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Ben Stein's Diary

Let Me Get This Straight

By 9.2.14

Labor Day
This was an educational summer. We learned this summer that when terrorists kill Jews, that’s legitimate anger and frustration. When Jews defend themselves, that’s genocide.

We learned that Europe, which Henry Ford called “that slaughterhouse of nations” or something similar, is still chock a block with anti-Semites who are wildly happy to join hands with the emerging Muslim majority in Europe to torture the Jews.

We learned that the elite media, especially the New York Times, will turn on Israel and the Jews and seek to curry favor with the enemies of Jews and of America in any way they can. (Yes, of course Jews own the New York Times but the Jews who own the Times are white Jews.)

Big stuff.

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Loose Canons

With ISIS and Russia, None of the Above Is Not the Answer

By 9.2.14

Why the shock at President Obama’s confession that he doesn’t have a strategy to deal with Syria and ISIS?

Here’s the deal: a strategy—be it diplomatic or military or a combination of the two—can only be developed after a president decides what the policy objective is to be. His job is to decide what the desired result of a strategy is supposed to be, and our military leaders and diplomats are supposed to craft strategies to achieve that result. Unless and until Obama decides what result he wants to reach in Syria and Iraq—or in Ukraine, the South China Sea, or anywhere else for that matter—no one can create a strategy to produce that result.

It may be that Obama is afraid of making such policy decisions. Or it may be what it appears: that Obama’s most fundamental policy decision is not to make the decisions essential to defending our interests or the freedom of our allies. Regardless, you can’t have a strategy without the predicate policy decision.

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Serve and Volley

Federer Improves—And the Yanks Are Knocked Out Cold

By 9.2.14

You can say that the first week of a major in tennis represents the triumph of hope over percentage: the world is wide open, anything is possible, the bold will be rewarded.

You can then add the sobering reflection that the second week, in the thick of which we find ourselves at the U.S. Open at Flushing Meadows, Queens, represents the triumph of percentage over hope: the world has doors that slam on you when you thought they were unhinged.

Maybe you were unhinged, intoxicated with your own dreams.

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The Right Prescription

Bureaucrats Have Revived End-of-Life Counseling

By 9.2.14

Remember the controversial provision of Obamacare that would have paid physicians extra money to provide “end-of-life counseling” to seniors whose conditions required expensive medical care? That feature of “reform” caused such a public outcry that the Democrats had to drop it from the final legislation. But the government apparatchiks didn’t give up. On Christmas Day, 2010, it came to light that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) planned to implement the program anyway. Within a week, however, vehement objections by clinicians and citizens alike forced the CMS bureaucrats to back off once more. Well, they’re at it again.

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Letter From Paris

Hollande’s Last Chance

By 9.2.14

Maybe the third try will be a charm for President François Hollande. After doggedly attempting to apply socialist dogma for his first two disastrous years in office and bringing the French economy to its knees, he reshuffled his cabinet again this summer. It has dawned even on this Socialist Party apparatchik that governing by tax-and-spend while subjecting businesses to an incomprehensible thicket of hostile, hobbling regulations—the Labor Code now runs to over 3,000 pages—won’t work. That inventing a new levy here, tweaking an old one there, creating still another special handout, is ruining not only his term in office, but the country as well. His third stab at forming a viable administration, coming only 147 days after the second one, set a record for the shortest duration in Fifth Republic history and makes the Italian government look rock-stable by comparison. The sweat on the beleaguered presidential brow is now visible to all.

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The Presidential Spectator

No More Affirmative Action Presidents

By 9.2.14

The latest Gallup poll indicates that 14 percent of the people “moderately disapprove” of Barack Obama’s performance as president and 39 percent “strongly disapprove.”

Since Obama won two presidential elections, chances are that some of those who now “strongly disapprove” of what he has done voted to put him in office. We all make mistakes, but the real question is whether we learn from them.

With many people now acting as if it is time for “a woman” to become president, apparently they have learned absolutely nothing from the disastrous results of the irresponsible self-indulgence of choosing a president of the United States on the basis of demographic characteristics, instead of individual qualifications.

It would not matter to me if the next five presidents in a row were all women, if these happened to be the best individuals available at the time. But to say that we should now elect “a woman” president in 2016 is to say that we are willfully blind to the dangers of putting life and death decisions in the hands of someone chosen for symbolic reasons.

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Political Hay

The Sad Irony of John Lewis Playing the Race Card

By 9.2.14

I will never be out-n**gered again” was the vow George Wallace made after losing to John Patterson the 1958 Democratic primary for governor of Alabama. And so he wasn’t. The very next year, his sights already set on second run for governor in 1962, Wallace proclaimed:

There’s some people who’ve gone over the state and said, “Well, George Wallace has talked too strong about segregation.” Now let me ask you this: how in the name of common sense can you be too strong about it? You’re either for it or you’re against it. There’s not any middle ground as I know of.

The strategy of playing the race card, by then a Democratic Party staple (as Bruce Bartlett notes in detailed fashion in Wrong on Race: The Democratic Party’s Buried Past), delivered the political victory Wallace sought. By January of 1963, George Corley Wallace was being inaugurated as the new Democratic Governor of Alabama, famously declaring in his inaugural address:

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Ben Stein's Diary

There Is No Weather Here

By 9.1.14

Sunday
Here we are back in L.A. In Beverly Hills, to be specific. The weather is glorious. Maybe a bit too hot but the air conditioning takes care of that. Both wifey and I have had some respiratory thing. It has laid her low and it makes me a bit tired. I bring her take out Mexican food and frozen yogurt from little places in gay West Hollywood. That’s how she stays alive.

I have been working on my bills and taxes. Boring, maddening work. How anyone who spends as much as I do has avoided bankruptcy is a miracle.

Today, I worked like a myrmidon on a speech for some super-smart engineers, then went to a little café on Sunset Plaza all by my little self to have some calf’s liver. It was heavenly, although contemplating the idea of eating a calf’s liver right now makes me feel sick to my stomach. How did I do it? Crazy.

As I sat out on the sidewalk and watched people go by, people of all races, speaking many different languages, looking menacing in many different ways, I felt a super-powerful wave of missing Sandpoint. I have been back from Idaho for one week now and I am ready to go back for good.

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Current Wisdom

Current Wisdom

By From the July/August 2014 issue

The NationIn a grisly interview with Mr. Jon Weiner, Miss Sandra Tsing Loh (this is not a typo) discourses on the wonder and sadness of her plumbing:Jon Weiner: This is the only menopause book I’ve ever read. Are there others?Sandra Tsing Loh: The literature of menopause is the saddest, the most awful and the most medical of all genres. You’re sleepless, you’re anxious, you’re fat, you’re depressed—and the advice is always the same: take more walks, eat some kale and drink lots of water. It didn’t help. But there is one excellent book. It’s a big one—the Gravity’s Rainbow, the Infinite Jest of menopause books: it’s The Wisdom of Menopause by Christiane Northrup. However, it is more than 700 pages long, so any woman with a very short attention span and no focus—which is a menopausal woman—will not get through it.(June 2, 2014)New York Times
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