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Dance of the Lemons

By 10.14.15

Ever heard the phrase “dance of the lemons”? It’s a term invented to describe the rather distasteful annual spectacle within public education wherein failed unionized teachers who cannot be fired by a public school system are merely shuffled from one bad school to another each summer.

In a different context, that phrase could also be applied to the collection of retreads, failures, and kooks assembled on stage in a Las Vegas casino ballroom Tuesday night in front of the CNN cameras for the first Democrat debate. The privileged, tenured, and thoroughly talentless politicians on display by that party gave us a two-and-a-half-hour demonstration of just how hollowed-out the Democrats are after seven years of Barack Obama, and made a prophet of Donald Trump who suggested most of America wouldn’t last more than 10 minutes in watching them.

We endured it so you didn’t have to. And here are seven moments illustrating just how awful it was.

Political Hay

A Night to Forget in Las Vegas

By 10.14.15

The Democratic National Committee has received much criticism for its decision to limit the number of debates but after Tuesday’s boring and inconsequential one in Las Vegas that criticism may lessen. Nobody on stage seemed too interested in challenging Hillary. To the extent that any of these candidates struck at her, it was with the flat of the blade.

Martin O’Malley, who has been whining about the paucity of debates, made little to no effort to debate Hillary. Why does he want so many debates held if he thinks issues like her e-mail scandal aren’t worth debating? Given the chance by CNN host Anderson Cooper to attack her on that issue, O’Malley wilted. He saved his courage for pols not in the room, those odious “xenophobes” who don’t support open borders.

Hillary had such an easy time of it she reached over in mid-debate and shook Bernie Sanders’s hand after he too declined to question her “damn e-mails.”

The Energy Spectator

Twenty-Six Democrats Are a Start

By 10.14.15

Americans are sick of the bickering in Washington and want both parties to cooperate and get something done. Friday, October 9, offered proof that this can still happen. The House passed H.R. 702, the bill to lift the decades old, and outdated, oil export ban with 26 Democrats joining the majority of Republicans and voting for it.

Yes, the Republicans could have passed the bill without the Democrats—but there are strategic reasons why it was important to bring as many Democrats on board as possible. And, getting them on board wasn’t easy; it didn’t happen naturally—especially since, two days before the vote, on Wednesday, October 7, the White House issued a veto threat in the form of a “Statement of Administrative Policy.” It says: “Legislation to remove crude export restrictions is not needed at this time.… If the President were presented with H.R. 702, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”

Special Report

A Continent Under Siege

By 10.14.15

For many Americans, the European migrant crisis is fading, out of sight and out of mind. That’s too bad, since uninvited asylum seekers from the Near and Middle East are pouring into Europe at a rising rate. The exact number is staggering, uncertain, and disputed. Perhaps 250,000 arrived in September alone.

One might not blame these opportunistic newcomers. At the same time, Europe cannot rationally stand by and pursue the policies it has. The continent faces its greatest existential crisis in decades.

On October 5 Germany’s top-selling newspaper Bild reported — based on leaked government forecasts — that an astonishing 1.5 million migrants could enter Germany this year. This is nearly double the previous official figure of 800,000 and five times the size of the government’s March estimate.

This summer, Germans greeted chancellor Angela Merkel’s moves enthusiastically. The mood is quickly changing. Fifty-one percent of Germans now believe the country can’t cope with the flood of migrants, up from 40 percent two weeks ago.

Letter From San Francisco

Sanctuary City Is a Haven for Felons

By 10.14.15

As he runs for re-election in November, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon faces no opposition. The cozy position was unlikely, when you consider that Gascon arrived in the city as a pro-death penalty Republican from Arizona in 2009 after then-Mayor Gavin Newsom picked him to be chief of police. Today he’s the rare prosecutor who has sent a message to career criminals in the country illegally: San Francisco will make the feds really work to deport them.

In 2011, after then-Ess Eff District Attorney Kamala Harris won the race to be California’s attorney general, Gascon was Newsom’s choice to replace her. By then, Gascon no longer was a Republican. He no longer supports the death penalty. He does support San Francisco’s sanctuary city policies — including the city’s 2013 Due Process for All ordinance, which prohibits city law enforcement from honoring federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests except for inmates who have been convicted of a violent felony in the past seven years. “I think it’s good public policy,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial board Friday.

Main Street U.S.A.

Who’s ‘Crazy’ Around Here?

By 10.14.15

It strikes me all of a sudden that a word spoken on behalf of the Republican Party’s “crazies” might not come amiss.

Ah, those half-wits, those yo-yos, those howlers at the moon — just look at ’em! Overthrowing House speakers, threatening to shut down Congress over funding for Planned Parenthood, allowing no end to trouble for responsible GOP leaders! And all of this to the vast entertainment of the liberal media.

So, what kind of word might be appropriate to speak on behalf of the House’s Freedom Caucus and their allies in the Senate, such as Ted Cruz? Let’s steer clear of considering the speak-loudly-and-lay-about-with-a-big-stick tactics, asking instead how it could have come to this.

I speak as one who thinks John Boehner should continue to run the House; who thinks shutting down the government would make zero sense; and who regards Donald Trump as a shameless blowhard, to be trusted no farther than the present writer can throw the family grand piano. The thought of Trump in possession of any political office higher than second assistant dogcatcher gives this writer the willies and the shakes.

The Current Crisis

Hillary’s Long and Winding Road to Last Night

By 10.14.15

Here we are again with Hillary Rodham Clinton confronted by charges of obstruction of justice, perjury, and general improbity. Such behavior has been going on with her for a long time. Some journalists who today chronicle the charges facing the Clintons were not even born when it all began.  

For those of us with unflagging memories and abundant experience, it goes back decades. I would date the first official charges of Hillary’s crookedness and reckless disregard for the law to Watergate in 1974 when she improbably served on the Watergate impeachment staff. Her bossthen was the general counsel and chief of staff for the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Zeifman, a Democrat. In a personal evaluation of Hillary’s performance he wrote, “I decided that I could not recommend her for any future position of public or private trust.” Why? Zeifman had learned that in this historic undertaking “she had lied” to him and to others repeatedly. Had Americans been attentive then, or at least had Democrats been attentive, America might have been spared Hillary’s decades-long cavalcade of mendacity and intrigue.

Play Ball

Kinder Gentler Baseball

By 10.13.15

The media furor over Chase Utley’s hard but unexceptional slide into second base Saturday night, and Major League Baseball’s gross over-reaction to it, demonstrates once again how completely the liberal world-view has penetrated the once red-blooded realm of competitive sports. The only thing that separates this slide from most of the thousands of others over the last century in baseball is that Ruben Tejada’s right leg was broken in the collision. Because it was, the media and MLB went straight for the victim card, leaving their sense of proportion in the infield clay of Dodger Stadium. 

Political Hay

The Bread Slicers’ Debate

By 10.13.15

Call it the “bread slicers’ debate.”

“Bread slicers” is a term once used by the late Jack Kemp as he happily described to me the difference between himself and then-Vermont Congressman Bernie Sanders, the latter famously a self-described socialist. Kemp described himself as a “bread baker.”

The concept was as obvious as it is simple. Redistributionist economics is, if you will, the equivalent of slicing a loaf of bread. There are only two questions to be had: who gets the thick slice and who gets the thin slice. Bread baking economics — aka “Reaganomics” or supply-side” or “classical” economics — is about abundance, baking an endless number of loaves of bread to feed everyone.

As Kemp biographers Morton Kondracke and Fred Barnes have noted of Kemp in a recent Wall Street Journal article: 

Another Perspective

Putin’s Historic Quest in Syria

By 10.13.15

If you want to understand the foreign policy of Russian President Vladimir Putin, you might begin by looking at a map of Russia. It is a vast country that spans the globe from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific Ocean at latitudes that make winter a series of omnipresent challenges. One of those challenges is the need for warm water ports.

Access to the sea is vital to Russia’s prosperity. Russia’s quest for warm water ports has dominated its policy of expansionism since Ivan the Terrible, and it guided the policies of Peter the Great when he wrested what became known as St. Petersburg from Sweden.

There are only three places through which Russia can trade by sea with the wider world — St. Petersburg, Vladivostok, and Crimea. Vladivostok is thousands of treacherous miles from the hub of the Russian economy and requires icebreakers four months of the year, making Crimea and St. Petersburg all the more important.