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Brit Hume Debates Brit Hume

By 11.18.14

Who doesn’t like Brit Hume? Outside of the anti-Fox foamers and the occasional cranks? He’s smart, experienced, and completely unafraid to speak his mind with considerable forthrightness and clarity. More than frequently he’s also right, something that can’t be said for a lot of people.

Which is just why his two Sunday appearances—the first on Chris Wallace show, the second on Howard Kurtz’s—confused. It was almost as if there were two Brit Humes debating one another.

Let’s begin with Brit Hume number one.The subject is President Obama’s impending executive order giving amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. Wallace read a question from a viewer named Jim, who suggested that Republicans use the power of the purse to defund the implementation of the president’s executive order on immigration, as well as Obamacare. Send the bill to the president, who, of course, will refuse to sign it—resulting, presumably, in stalemate and a government shutdown. Hume responds:

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A Further Perspective

Stephen Harper Steps in for Obama

By 11.18.14

The events of the last year go a long way to explaining the nature of power. We’re used to thinking of power relations in material terms: America owns all the guns in the room, and therefore it’s the most powerful country in the world. But Obama has proven that military superiority isn’t the same thing as power, real power. What’s the use of having all the guns if you’ll not pull them out of your holster, or if you’ll do so only in stupid and unpredictable ways?

What’s missing from a purely material understanding of power is the spiritual element, the readiness to stand up to misbehaving thugs, the resolution to see fights through to the end, the right reason that avoids idiotic wars. Against the morally weak, the thugs know the difference between the two kinds of power. So did Winston Churchill. “We lose many battles,” he said. “But there’s one battle we always win—the last one.”

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Political Hay

Governors Under Seige

By From the Sept/Oct 2014 issue

The math looks good. Very good. One can presume that when the American people head to the polls this November, the GOP will hold the House and perhaps strengthen its majority there. The Senate is a tantalizing six seats from Republican control, and Republicans have twelve prospects. In three red states—Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia—strong, experienced, Republican candidates are running ahead of second and third-string Democrats. In another four states that voted for Romney—Louisiana, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Alaska—first-tier Republicans are challenging incumbents who vote in lockstep with Obama. And in another five states—Iowa, Colorado, Oregon, Michigan, and New Hampshire—particularly strong Republican candidates could upset seemingly stronger opponents.

Republicans now have majorities in both chambers of the legislature in twenty-eight states, while Democrats fully control only seventeen. Come November, Republicans have a good shot at seizing control of the West Virginia House, the New Hampshire House, the Iowa Senate, and the Oregon House and Senate. There are no likely pickups for the Dems in state legislative bodies.

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The Times’s Little Saint Nick

By From the Sept/Oct 2014 issue

We often assume that racism or sexism is primarily about in-your-face bigots or misogynists,” op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof lectured his New York Times readers in June. But no, it turns out “research” has demonstrated “that the larger problem is unconscious bias even among well-meaning, enlightened people who embrace principles of equality”—people like Nicholas Kristof.

Scientists, claimed Kristof, have proved that “females don’t get any respect”: 

Researchers find that female-named hurricanes kill about twice as many people as similar male-named hurricanes because some people underestimate them. Americans expect male hurricanes to be violent and deadly, but they mistake female hurricanes as dainty or wimpish and don’t take adequate precautions.

Just one problem: the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was bunk. For one thing, the researchers skipped Katrina (along with 1957’s Audrey), counting it an “outlier,” so we can still blame George W. Bush.

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Why Israel Won’t Listen to Critics

By From the Sept/Oct 2014 issue

At the end of weeks of fighting in Gaza, international condemnation for Israel’s conduct has been increasingly harsh with each passing day. With the toll of Palestinian casualties rising to nearly two thousand at press time, and with Israeli fatalities still only several dozen and most of them soldiers, the Jewish state faces fresh opprobrium from the press as well as even senior figures in the Obama administration as combat in the densely populated strip yields new horrors.

But Israel’s resolve remains remarkably cemented, its people self-assured, as I observed personally during the opening weeks of the fighting. In virtually every other conflict in which Israel has been engaged in the decades since it came into possession of the West Bank and Gaza as a result of the Six Day War, public opinion has faltered. This stands as an exception. A country whose politics are generally characterized by bitter ideological divisions and whose elections have almost never yielded a majority to any party suddenly finds itself more united now than at any point in recent memory.

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Book Review: All The President’s Men

By From the Sept/Oct 2014 issue

Editor’s note: Forty years after Richard Nixon left public office, he remains in college journalism textbooks merely a stage prop used to set the scene for the heroics of the intrepid Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. But as our own Ben Stein noted in this 1974 review of All the President’s Men, a book-length treatment of the Watergate investigation, the duo’s greatest talent is perhaps not reporting but self-promotion. They have, after all, convinced a generation of moviegoers that they singlehandely—well, perhaps doublehandedly—felled a United States president.

At one point in the story of how two reporters for the Washington Post covered the Watergate story and broke much new ground in it, the following lines occur: “They had not broken the law…that much seemed certain. But they had sailed around it and exposed others to danger. They had chosen expediency over principle and, caught in their act, their role had been covered up. They had dodged, evaded, misrepresented, suggested, and intimidated, even if they had not lied outright.”

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Tough Crowd

From the Sept/Oct 2014 issue

We are disturbed by the slurs on American Indians in Ira Stoll’s article “Teepee Populism” (TAS, July/August 2014) about Elizabeth Warren—starting with the cover of the issue, with its caricature of Warren as a goofy Indian sprouting head feathers in front of a teepee. If you wanted to criticize her for being less than ingenuous about various aspects of her past, surely you could have done so without trotting out tired stereotypes of the Native people of this continent.

The article brings up many other areas in which you think Warren gives cause for concern as a possible presidential candidate besides the matter of her alleged Native ancestry. You could easily have discussed these without resorting to offensive stereotypes. The cover graphic—along with the article’s title, the sick joke about the Cherokee jeep, the reference to war path, etc.—perpetuates racist attitudes, which are echoed in some of the online comments. Why not cut the facile slickness and show a little respect?

Dorian Brooks & Anna Watson
Solidarity with American Indians

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Current Wisdom

Current Wisdom

By From the Sept/Oct 2014 issue

New York Times

Paul Krugman, filled with laughing gas, as he reads of President Barack Obama slipping on yet another banana peel: 

The truth is that these days much of the commentary you see on the Obama administration—and a lot of the reporting too—emphasizes the negative: the contrast between the extravagant hopes of 2008 and the prosaic realities of political trench warfare, the troubles at the Department of Veterans Affairs, the mess in Iraq, and so on. The accepted thing, it seems, is to portray Mr. Obama as floundering, his presidency as troubled if not failed.

But this is all wrong. You should judge leaders by their achievements, not their press, and in terms of policy substance Mr. Obama is having a seriously good year. In fact, there’s a very good chance that 2014 will go down in the record books as one of those years when America took a major turn in the right direction.”

(June 16, 2014)

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Last Call

The Modern Supermarket Is a Miracle

By From the Sept/Oct 2014 issue

Few things can buoy the human spirit more than a trip to the local store. There, on endless shelves, stacked ceiling high, sit the progressive fruits of thousands of years of civilization, just waiting to be plucked into a shopping cart. Sometimes I come home giddy, and, while putting the cereal and milk in their proper homes, I regale my wife with the magic of it all. You probably think I’m kidding.

Maybe the best way to explain my heightened state of mind is to quote a little from comedian Louis C.K., a guy with twenty-five Emmy nominations to his name. A few years back Mr. C.K. did a bit on late night TV—the video subsequently whooshed around the Internet—on how “everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy.” My favorite part is when he makes fun of airline gripes, the horror stories friends and relatives tell about their arduous journeys after arriving in a matter of hours from thousands of miles away.  

“First of all, we didn’t board for twenty minutes. And then we get on the plane, and they made us sit there on the runway for forty minutes.”

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The Obama Watch

Barack Obama and the Art of the Deal

By 11.17.14

The real Joe Stalin turned up at the Potsdam Conference: not benign Uncle Joe, but the murderous dictator — a bully brimming with malice. Old newsreel footage captures an act of startling rudeness. In a show of truculence and disrespect toward his wartime allies, Stalin strides into the conference room and tosses his briefcase onto the table where Truman and Churchill are seated.

Everything had been breaking Stalin’s way in the ten weeks that had passed from Germany’s surrender on May 7 to July 17, 1945, the first day of the conference. While American forces pulled out of Europe and headed for the Pacific, Stalin still had most of his 2 million-strong Red Army stationed in a long line from the Baltic to the Adriatic.

The Soviet Union had overrun most of Eastern Europe and the Balkans. What was to stop it from conquering Western Europe, including Britain? If there was anything that Stalin needed to complete the task, it was a credible navy.

One of the topics on the agenda at Potsdam happened to be the fate of the German fleet.

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