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Loose Canons

Sen. Feinstein Offers Tears for Terrorists

By 12.15.14

If you’re at all knowledgeable of the CIA’s actions since the 9-11 attacks, and if you read the “torture report” released Tuesday by Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Democrats on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, you’ll have to conclude that it is as much a work of fiction as the Rolling Stone article condemning fraternity life at the University of Virginia for condoning a culture of rape.

The SSCI report was written with Jonathan Gruber’s philosophy in mind, that Americans are so ill-informed, stupid, and gullible that they’ll buy any well-crafted narrative.

Let’s cut to the chase: no one can defend those rogue CIA interrogators who caused two deaths of detainees or who did things such as force-feed detainees anally or stuff a man into a small box for ten days. But the vast majority who didn’t — especially those who conducted interrogations under the “enhanced interrogation techniques” program — deserve to be defended against the charges Feinstein’s report levies against them.

Her report had three objectives.

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Ben Stein's Diary

I See America Working and It’s a Beautiful Sight

By 12.13.14

People ask me all of the time, “Ben, now that you’re not doing a quiz show, what do you do?” The answer is that for my fun and livelihood, I travel the country from end to end and up and down talking with business people about the economy. And it’s a fascinating, eye-opening journey.

In a word, it reminds me of the immortal Walt Whitman poem, “I Hear America Singing.” I hear and I see America, and the free market capitalist system working. And working beautifully.

Remember those evil oil companies who were using their muscle to oppress the American family by keeping oil and gas prices high? Well, despite being fought tooth and nail by the government and the environmentalists, the oil companies discovered a way to get immense amounts of oil and gas out of shale.

The result, as every American now knows, is a giant drop in energy prices that translates into a bonanza for almost all American families. The oil companies did that, not the Energy Department. The oil companies might now regret that they did it since oil has fallen so much… but in the end, the consumer made out great as the free market would have predicted.

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Political Hay

It’s the Branding, Stupid

By 12.12.14

Kathleen Sebelius sees Obamacare as “working.” It just suffers from “a very bad brand.”

The former secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services told Politico, “Obamacare, no question, has a very bad brand that has been driven intentionally by a lot of misinformation and a lot of paid advertising.”

The translation into Gruberese reads: “The American people are too stupid.” The 58 percent that favor repealing the law have been manipulated into their opinions—and not, alas, by PajamaBoy or Magic Johnson public-service announcements.

“I think we may need to call it something in the future different,” Kathleen Sebelius-Gruber concludes, “but it is working.”

The proponents of change recalcitrantly clinging to discredited ideas remains a universal political paradox. Miserable people want to bring change to everything but the one thing that would bring happiness: themselves. Transform one-seventh of the economy? Do it yesterday. Change my mind? Never.

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Special Report

The Self-Enforcing Nature of the Old Moral Code — It’s Gone

By 12.12.14

Yeah, yeah, I’m I’m olllllld. I know and confess it. I remember the Kennedy assassination. I remember when all the guys wore coat and tie at college football games. I remember when the New York Times could be characterized as more or less a pro-American institution.

I mean, look — I even recall when a kind of moral consensus about sex, and sexual relationships, denied the likes of Rolling Stone magazine and Lena Dunham the privilege of whomping up national crusades against the Predatory Male.

We no longer have that consensus. But, boy, do we have Lena Dunham. And Taylor Swift. And the president of the United States — to sound the alarm about the male multitudes who view women as disposable playthings, fit for ravaging at will. Presently, America’s rape “crisis,” as we’re probably supposed to call it, vies with CIA torture and Obamacare for Topic of the Moment status.

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Eminentoes

When the UN Apes Al Sharpton

By 12.12.14

Among the familiar hucksters who sought to capitalize on the troubles in Ferguson, Missouri, came a new face: Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights and self-styled heir to the non-existent royal houses of Iraq and Syria.

“I am deeply concerned,” Prince Zeid said in a press release, about “institutionalized discrimination” in America, and “I urge the U.S. authorities” to conduct “in-depth examinations” of racial justice. Notwithstanding the overwhelming evidence that Michael Brown’s death resulted from the criminal acts he engaged in before and during his encounter with officer Darren Wilson, Zeid’s Human Rights Council invited the Brown family to testify before a hearing and afterwards issued a 14-page condemnation of America’s record on race.

Self-awareness, it’s safe to say, is neither Prince Zeid’s nor the Human Rights Council’s strongpoint. Far from representing “the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights,” the Council includes many of the poster-children for abuse: Pakistan, Venezuela, China, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Russia and Cuba.

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The Nation's Pulse

Our Competitive Entitlement Economy

By 12.11.14

It’s not unusual for non-Americans, and many Americans of a center-left disposition, to portray the United States as a dog-eat-dog society: one in which the poor are left to fend for themselves and where a night-watchman state doesn’t intervene, save in extreme circumstances and often not until it’s too late. It’s a mantra that’s endlessly repeated, from the academy to the pulpit, from Congress to your local council.

Judging, however, from the latest update on global social expenditure released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)—hardly a den of infamous “neoliberal” bogeymen—this portrait simply isn’t true. In fact, as the Washington Post’s Robert Samuelson notes, it turns out that America is the world’s second-biggest social spender, right after that global exemplar of fiscal rectitude and economic prudence: France.

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Political Hay

Does the Democratic Party Have a Future?

By 12.11.14

In a rather wistful, even elegiac piece in the December 2, 2014 edition of National Journal, political analyst Charles Cook describes how leading to last month’s election, the Democratic Party “paved the way for their own defeat.” Describing as “noble” such priorities as “health care, the environment, and civil rights,” Cook notes that “an argument can be made that it is because Democrats have subordinated their traditional focus on helping lower- and working-class Americans move up the economic ladder” that there has been a “decline in support for Democrats among certain groups.”

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Patriot Nation

The Self-Hating Americans

By 12.11.14

They hate America. They hate themselves for being Americans. 

And in a vivid display of just how far self-hating Americans will go to smear their own country, look no further than this quickly infamous leftist-generated so-called CIA report. Its title as bequeathed by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency's Detention and Interrogation Program.

Three former CIA directors, two former deputy CIA directors, and a former Democratic Senator on the Senate Intelligence Committee have responded in detail to the report pushed out by California’s Senator Dianne Feinstein, the outgoing committee chairwoman. And they have not been kind.

In the Wall Street Journal, the three former CIA directors — George Tenet, Porter Goss, and Michael Hayden — say this:

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Media Matters

Rolling Stone’s Journalism by Synecdoche

By 12.11.14

The moral of Rolling Stone’s unraveling story about gang rape at the University of Virginia should be simple: reporters ought to stop treating rape stories as a unique genre of journalism, exempt from scrutiny.

Modern guidelines for reporting on sexual violence from the Columbia Journalism School, for example, instruct reporters: “Don’t be surprised if accounts only make partial sense.”

Sabrina Rubin Erdely was so unsurprised by a nonsensical story about seven fraternity brothers ambushing and raping a UVA student that she made it the centerpiece of her 9,000-word article about campus sexual assault. Because she did, she will now have a glorious opportunity to seek out a new career in technical writing or public relations.

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At Large

The KGB’s Old Headquarters Lives On

By 12.11.14

Moscow

Red Square is one of the world’s most iconic locales. Dominated by the Kremlin, St. Basil’s Cathedral, and GUM Department Store, the space looks little different from Soviet times. While Lenin’s mausoleum remains, any hint of menace is gone. Indeed, even during the worst of the USSR the square was more symbolic than threatening. For the most part no one went to the Kremlin to die.

Very different, however, is Lubyanka, just a short walk up Teatralny Proezd past the Bentley and Maserati dealerships. 

In the late nineteenth century 15 insurance companies congregated on Great Lubyanka Street, prospering as the great czarist despotism entered the industrial age. The Rossia agency, one of Russia’s largest, completed an office building in 1900. Excess space was turned into apartments and leased out to retailers selling everything from books to beds.

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