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In Memoriam

Doubleheaders in Heaven Now

By 1.26.15

Life is not fair, as all adults know. Many examples are put forward to illustrate this melancholy truth. For baseball fans of a certain age the argument-ender on this one is the sad fact that Ernie Banks never got to play in a World Series. In fact, one of the best players of the fifties and sixties never played in any post-season game, as most of his Hall of Fame career came before Major League Baseball went to the multi-layered post-season series format. And save for 1969, Banks’s Chicago Cubs never got past Labor Day anywhere near the top of the National League heap, or with a shot at getting there (for most years, make that Independence Day).

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Political Hay

Democratic Pickpockets and Purse Snatchers

By 1.26.15

Like walking in a neighborhood full of pickpockets and purse snatchers, living under the Obama administration should leave all Americans worried about what will be pilfered from them next.

In one of the most hypocritical moves yet — and that’s saying something — by a man who exhaled a lot of hot air in recent weeks, including during the State of the Union speech, talking about the importance of a college education, President Obama is now proposing to end tax-free withdrawals from 529 college savings accounts, diminishing (or perhaps even eliminating) their attractiveness as savings vehicles and thereby reducing incentives for millions of American families to create a college nest egg for their children.

Contributions to 529 plans are not deductible for federal income tax purposes but are deductible in 34 states and the District of Columbia. (Since seven states have no state income tax, 529 plans receive favorable tax treatment in all but nine states.) The income earned within a 529 plan can be withdrawn tax free when used for “qualified higher education expenses.”

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A Further Perspective

Pelosi’s Syriana Versus Boehner’s Bibi Invitation

By 1.26.15

“I don’t believe I’m poking anyone in the eye,” House Speaker John Boehner asserted Wednesday. That was after His Speakership told the media that he had invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before a joint session of Congress about “the grave threats radical Islam and Iran pose to our security and way of life.”

Of course it was a poke in the eye. Boehner admitted he did not consult with the White House before inviting Bibi. Netanyahu wants Congress to threaten tougher sanctions against Tehran. During his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Barack Obama warned Congress he would veto any such legislation.

Boehner’s gambit stunned the White House. Press secretary Josh Earnest called the move a breach of protocol. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the invitation was “out of order.” When she was speaker, Pelosi argued, she coordinated with GOP leaders before inviting heads of state. Netanyahu’s speech was moved to March 3, so Pelosi criticized Boehner for inviting a head of state within two weeks of Israel’s March 17 elections. “It’s hubris,” Pelosi charged.

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Another Perspective

Reframing Perspectives on the March for Life

By 1.25.15

Canadian essayist David Warren is a man with whom I seldom disagree. Imagine my surprise on reading his depressing assessment of the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C.

Warren’s “Marching to Nowhere” starts strongly, with a withering reminder of when a Representative from my state wrapped herself in discretion without having first tried valor. Last week’s fumbling retreat from legislation dubbed the “Pain-Capable Act” by Rep. Renee Elmers and her caucus gave Warren reason enough to claim that the Republican Party consists of “gutless gnomes.” That’s a line I wish I’d written myself.

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Special Report

Fifty Years Since Winston’s Death

By 1.24.15

It is a few weeks past 140 years since a boy christened Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was delivered at England’s Blenheim Palace. He survived the trenches of France, political reversals, and even being struck by a New York City driver to lead Britain from its greatest peril in May 1940 to victory over Nazism five years later. This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of his death. In the age of radical Islam, can we draw inspiration from his career?

Yes, but only, it seems, from his finest hour. Until his moment arrived in 1940, Churchill was frequently dismissed even within his own party as an imperialist adventurer with baroque ambitions, a throwback to an earlier epoch, an author of military debacles, out of touch with a supposedly emergent world of international comity. In short, he was regarded then as most contemporary liberals might view Ted Cruz or Benjamin Netanyahu today.

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Campus Scenes

Free McCollege for All!

By 1.23.15

President Obama offered in this week’s State of the Union address that too few young Americans attend community college. If only more twentysomethings parlayed their GEDs into course work at Walla Walla Community College, judged the nation’s best by one account, then we might once again boast the most well-educated people on the planet.

One need not possess a B.A. from Columbia and a J.D. from Harvard Law to harbor skepticism.

Taking a utilitarian approach to higher education, President Obama cites jobs requiring degrees and the daunting price tag for them as rationalizations for his scheme. “That’s why I am sending this Congress a bold new plan to lower the cost of community college,” the president announced, “to zero.”

You get what you pay for.

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The Hillary Watch

Madame Hillary’s Foreign Policy Achilles’ Heel

By 1.23.15

Hillary Clinton’s serial foreign policy blunders over Libya, Syria, China, or otherwise as secretary of state should torpedo her presidential ambitions. 

She stupidly scorned the foreign policy wisdom in the long-headed Farewell Addresses of Presidents George Washington and Dwight D. Eisenhower.  They warned against entanglements abroad and the influence of the military-industrial complex towards objectless wars.

Clinton, however, championed a virtually lunatic “humanitarian” conflict against Libya’s Col. Muammar Gaddafi, and a military entanglement to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that would strenghthen the Islamic State or the equally terrorist-minded Al-Nusra Front.

In pre-war years, Libya’s Gaddafi had renounced support for international terrorism, abandoned weapons of mass destruction, and paid compensation for the Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. He was an ally in opposing  al- Qaeda and radical Islam.  He was unthreatening to the United States.  Secretary of Defense Robert Gates testified that Libya was not a “vital interest.” 

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A Further Perspective

Big Man on Campus

By 1.23.15

Expecting it to be another campaign speech, I sent this to several friends ahead of Tuesday’s State of the Union address:

Recipe for Watching Obama’s State of the Union Speech Tonight:

1—Build and light a fire in the fireplace
2—Put some Mozart on the stereo
3—Pour a highball or a glass of wine
4—Open a good book

We spent a pleasant evening and, as it turned out, President Obama ran true to form.

After six years we know that the only thing he enjoys doing and at which he is good is making campaign speeches. When he gets restless dealing with issues that require statesmanship, he goes on a campaign swing, getting friendly audiences to smile and laugh at his jibes at Republicans, whom he despises.

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The Obama Watch

Delayed Reaction

By 1.23.15

It took me a couple of days to summon the strength to watch President Obama’s seventh State of the Union Address (the sixth if you don’t count his 2009 address to a joint session of Congress); the speech was an hour-long exercise in deception, hypocrisy, and narcissism — which is to say it was more of the same from the most insular and self-absorbed politician of our generation, a man who never stops campaigning.

Within the first seconds of his long-winded address, the president, missing only a cone-shaped hat and a magic wand in his attempt to recast reality, said that while the first part of the 21st century was replete with terrorism and economic turmoil, “tonight, we turn the page.”

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Faux News

President Obama to Propose Free Churros for Everybody

By 1.23.15

CAPITOL HILL (United British Press) — President Barack Obama intends in weeks ahead to outline a proposal to provide every American with fresh delicious churros at no cost, according to White House sources, who say the president has been "obsessed" with the idea since tasting one of the fried pastries for the first time earlier this month. The president intially wanted to include the proposal in his recent State of the Union Address, the sources say, but he was dissauded by his political advisers, who felt that Obama would be left open to Republican attack if, coming so soon after his call for free community college, he suggested a plan for universal dessert coverage.

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