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A Further Perspective

Waterboarding Worked

By 5.18.15

Dianne Feinstein of California arguably used to be the CIA’s best friend on the Democratic side of the Senate. I think it’s fair to say that San Francisco voters were not enthusiastic about her pro-intelligence posture during the George W. Bush presidency. One thing DiFi has going for her, though, is that it’s hard even for critics to not crack a smile at her famously idiosyncratic stubborn streak. She’s old-school. She makes up her mind and digs in deep. And then something else sticks in her craw.

As Senate Select Committee on Intelligence chairwoman during President Barack Obama’s first six years, Feinstein did lock horns with CIA brass — and it was over the Bush years. She is on a crusade to convince America that Bush-era coercive interrogation techniques were wrong — a respectable position — but also produced no intelligence, which is hard to believe.

Political Hay

The Problem for Folks Like Us

By 5.18.15

I heard it first at the barber shop. Then at the airport. And then from callers to a radio show. Folks like us seem to think we have a problem.

They think that we have too many candidates, and that the candidates will spend too much money tearing one another down, and that the process may produce, after a burst of fratricidal campaign spots, a mortally damaged nominee. This concern is unlike us. Folks like us tend to encourage dissent and welcome debate; we are the permanent insurgency and we thrive on the hurly-burly of controversy. But now that we’re up against the glacial advance of Clinton Inc., these folks seem to be saying, maybe we should skinny down a bit, husband our resources, and begin to look for the high ground of party unity.

I hear these folks. But they’re wrong, or at least prematurely wrong.

Eminentoes

Bye, George!

By 5.15.15

Fate has a nasty sense of humor sometimes. The single most engaging person in show business today at any level is Ali Wentworth (Schmoopie to Seinfeld devotees), former host of Yahoo’s Daily Shot, the best original production in the history of the Internet. I defy any honest viewer to see any episode of that show, or any of her public appearances, and not find her immensely likeable. In particular, I would recommend her coffee klatsch with Jerry Seinfeld on his new show, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

And who does this absolutely delightful human being choose as a spouse? None other than the penultimate creep George Stephanopoulos (the title of “ultimate creep” is taken during Charles Schumer’s lifetime.) If that match was made in Heaven, it might have been through connections his father cultivated on high in his quarter-century as Dean of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Cathedral.

Well, there is no accounting for tastes. Personally I never baste lamb but I would not lambaste people who do. Hopefully we can keep liking Alexandra while heaping scorn upon her husband.

Flashback

Buy George

By From the October 1994 issue

From our October 1994 issue: "Buy George: Is that what top people at NationsBank were thinking when they gave Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos an exceptional $668,000 loan?"

In May, with the help of a $668,000 loan from NationsBank Mortgage Corp. (a NationsBank subsidiary), George Stephanopoulos bought an $835,000 D.C. building containing a posh apartment above an eyewear retail store. Gossips, realtors, and all manner of investigative reporters immediately began asking: How could someone who pulls down a mere $125,000 a year—with a net worth between $30,000 and $100,000—afford such pricey real estate? “Stephanopoulos got a great deal,” says one source in the banking world. “They waved it in front of him. The only thing he did wrong was he should’ve known NationsBanc wasn’t giving him this deal because he was Joe Schmoe off the street. He was given this deal because of who he was.”

Special Report

The Train-Wreck Ghouls

By 5.15.15

Mere hours after Train 188 from Washington to New York City jumped the rails and killed eight, the Democrat spin machine stood atop the wreckage and cranked up its familiar rant about Republican neglect of America’s infrastructure.

The Washington Post’s Philip Bump opened with a piece Wednesday morning assailing Republicans for Amtrak’s “funding problems” (it was chartered as a for-profit agency, directed again by Congress to turn a profit in 1997, has never seen a drop of black ink and has soaked up some $45 billion in the four decades since inception) on the basis that Republicans don’t ride its trains.

Then came the parade of leftist politicians.

We failed them,” said Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) of the dead, before there was a firm body count.

Campaign Crawlers

Rand and Rubio Drive the Debate

By 5.15.15

The Republican Party plans to pare down its presidential primary-season debates from 20 in 2012 to less than half that this go-around. No matter. The candidates, two of them at least, appear ready to drive the debate before any formal such event takes place.

“I think there’s a consistent theme here that every candidate should be asked,” Rand Paul told CNN’s audience this week, “and that is: Is it a go-ahead idea to go into the Middle East, topple governments, and hope something better rises out of the chaos? Because recent history seems to show that—you know what?—we’re not getting something better, we’re getting something worse.”

There’s something fundamentally conservative in the libertarian’s answer. When I interviewed the Students for a Democratic Society’s first president Al Haber for A Conservative History of the American Left, I asked him in his book-filled living room to define the motivating idea behind the Left: “What is the better world possible?” Rand Paul asks conservatives to consider the worse world possible.

A Further Perspective

Justice for All Minorities?

By 5.15.15

The New York Times reported in a May 3 front-page article that “residents say arsonists singled out Asian-American owned businesses during the rioting” in Baltimore’s Sandtown. That's the neighborhood where Freddie Gray grew up and apparently died from complications of a spinal injury incurred while in police custody.

This targeting of Asians, yet again, points to the long-running issue of racism among those who protest steadily and irately against racism.

What's missing in the recent sequence of looting, arson, and destruction that occurred in the majority-black city of Baltimore — and previously in Ferguson, Los Angeles, and elsewhere — are protest banners that say “Asian Lives Matter,” and “Jobs Created by Korean Mom & Pops Matter,” and “Minority-owned Asian Businesses Matter.”

NPR reporter Nurith Aizenman went to the streets in the Sandtown neighborhood close to the spot of Freddie Gray's arrest. On “this particular stretch — picture three treeless blocks of row houses, a lot of them boarded up — the only shops that were targeted were ones owned by Asian immigrants, mostly Koreans,” reported Aizenman.

At Large

Getting It Wrong in Britain, as Cameron Rocks

By 5.15.15

Who got it wrong in last week’s British election? The pollsters did, consistently concluding it was too close to call. The news media did—both there and here— by dutifully repeating the same message and predicting it would result in a shaky coalition of parties. Labour got it wrong by promising to take the United Kingdom backward. Only the Conservatives got it right: they won an outright majority of seats in the House of Commons. 

Now, Prime Minister David Cameron has another five-year mandate, having promised “renewal” after a period of austerity. In the campaign he promised he would appoint women to a third of the cabinet, and he has. The cabinet has several members who will provide a strong talent bench for the future.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives’ coalition partner, the Liberal Democrats, were reduced to a shadow of their former representation in Parliament and their leader resigned. So did Ed Milliband, the leader of the Labour Party.

Labour’s one piece of business now is to find someone who will take his place and replace his yesteryear message with something more closely reassembling the years of Tony Blair: pro-business, and pro-growth.

The Hillary Watch

America’s Very Own Evita

By 5.14.15

As I perused lengthy excerpts from Peter Schweizer’s blockbuster new book Clinton Cash, I was suddenly having flashbacks to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s smash hit musical Evita. The musical’s attack on the Eva Peron Foundation (yes, there really was such a thing) and her rise to power as Argentina’s First Lady and virtual aura of sainthood roughly parallels Hillary Clinton’s path to national prominence. Let me explain.

Schweizer presents an excruciatingly thorough investigation of the Clintons’ massive accumulation of wealth ($136.5 million since Hillary said they were “dead broke”). Clinton Cash carefully traces how the Clintons through their respective political careers have conducted or facilitated hundreds of large transactions (either as private citizens or government officials) with foreign governments, corporations, and private financers. The result has been that the Clintons have become incredibly rich and their Foundation is worth a whopping $2 billion.

Campaign Crawlers

Who’s Afraid of Kamala Harris?

By 5.14.15

The Sacramento Bee and the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., would announce Thursday she would be running for retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer’s seat. At last, it seemed as if California Attorney General Kamala Harris, the only name Democrat in the race, might face some competition. Then Sanchez claimed that the announcement email had been sent out by mistake. Oops, as former Texas Gov. Rick Perry would say.

Then Team Sanchez sent out a press release that promised “a significant political announcement” Thursday. If Sanchez does throw her hat in the ring, she flubbed her entrance. Harris may be the luckiest politician in California.

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