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Nobody is Really Ready for Warren

By 2.12.15

I've seen the interviews and I've heard the songs. I've seen the fake poll showing her leading in Iowa. I've been subjected to her mug in every corner of the Internet since she first pulled ahead of Scott Brown in that fateful race for Senate that propelled her from the lowly ranks of the Harvard faculty and the Troubled Asset Relief Program bureaucracy to the glittery halls of national elected office.

But I don't really believe anyone really wants the Massachusetts mohican to run for president.

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The Current Crisis

Brian Williams’ Future

By 2.12.15

On the vexed matter of Brian Williams my friend and colleague Wes Pruden raises a fundamental question. “Brian Williams, the tall tale teller for NBC News, has had a rough few days, but he’s likely to survive,” writes Wes. “He’ll probably be back,” Wes speculates, even overcoming the derisible endorsement of Dan Rather. Dan, your endorsement could be the kiss of death to poor Brian. Is there no reality-check on these egomaniacs?

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At Large

Setting the Stage for a Losing Falklands War

By 2.11.15

Recent reports about British defense have an ominous, heading-for-a-cliff feel about them.

Many in the defense establishment and private think tanks were dismayed when the Cameron Conservative-Liberal Democrat government, despite international turbulence, cut Britain’s Army from 100,000 to 82,000, its smallest since before the Napoleonic wars.

The Falklands, which it cost hundreds of British lives and five front-line ships of the shrunken, bath-tub Royal Navy to recapture from Argentina in 1982, are defended by, apart from Rapier ground-to-air missiles, just four Typhoon fighters and 1,200 ground troops. A single warship makes visits. And forces must still be found for the Middle East and NATO. Not to mention calls to intervene against the massacres of Christians in Africa.

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Letter From San Francisco

Yes, California, There Is a Death Penalty

By 2.11.15

What happened to California’s death penalty? There has not been an execution since 2006, when a federal judge ruled against the state’s three-drug lethal injection protocol. In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld three-drug executions. It didn’t matter. Though as candidates Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris — who both personally oppose capital punishment — promised to uphold the law, in real life they’ve let things slide. Fed up, two men related to murder victims have filed suit to push the state to carry out the law.

Kermit Alexander wants to see the law work on Tiequon Cox, convicted of killing the former football player’s mother, sister, and two nephews in 1984; Cox went to the wrong address for a $3,500 contract killing. Bradley Winchell is sick of waiting for the execution of Michael Morales, who raped, hammered, strangled, and stabbed to death his 17-year-old sister, Terri Winchell, in 1981. Sacramento Superior Court Judge Shellyanne Chang ruled in their favor Friday after Harris challenged them on the dubious grounds that crime victims and the general public “lack standing” to sue the state.

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Special Report

Prudence, Power, and Aggression

By 2.11.15

Is there a moral obligation to help Ukraine defend itself from Russian aggression? Nation-states do not have moral obligations. But states have interests, of which the obligation to function as instruments of their peoples’ moral interests is not the slightest. We should help Ukraine. The question is how.

The German Chancellor’s reluctance to provide the Ukrainians with weapons is understandable. If the effort is doomed to failure, as she implies, why bother? It would represent a costly gesture, not a policy. Rationally, economic squeeze plus resilient diplomacy, even in the face of repeated Russian insults, lies, and open contempt, may be the more sensible course.

What about Nigeria? Do we have a moral obligation to help Nigeria? The argument from morality should not change from one country to another, should it?

The harsh truth of the matter is that this is not the right question. The right question is this: do the neighbors of the country in trouble give the impression they want to do something about the crisis in their region?

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Spectator's Journal

Writing for Love of Country

By 2.11.15

A week or so before the annual Robert L. Bartley dinner, which The American Spectator again will be hosting tonight in Washington, Bob Tyrrell got to a restaurant he favors a few minutes before me; it was one of the periodical sit-downs at which we bat ideas around and assess the general situation, which we find, as regular conservatives and straight-ticket Republicans, by turns hilarious and appalling. I hate late; I always assume everyone else, and with good cause, feels the same way, and — this is righteous conservative dogma — you pay for your sins. I know Bob Tyrrell pretty well, but dogma prevailed over knowledge, and I expected he’d be mad and I’d be sorry.

But Bob was genial and affable as ever as I sat down and the thought crossed my mind there were few people in his position, which is after all the position of a major force in journalism, not conservative journalism whatever that is, but journalism, American current affairs, who would not, one way or another, let an impolite sonofabitch of a writer know he is out of line for making the boss wait five minutes. Bob never was that way.

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Media Matters

NBC’s Decision

By 2.11.15

Tom Brokaw, commenting on whether or not his successor Brian Williams would survive as the head of NBC’s “Nightly News” program, told the press that this “is a very serious issue that must be resolved on the facts.” It appears to have been resolved more on the basis of money and ratings. Were credibility the network’s first consideration, Williams would have been removed from his position last week.

If the most celebrated surgeon at a hospital killed a patient on the operating table through an act of gross malpractice, it wouldn’t take executives at that hospital weeks to determine whether or not that doctor should remain the “face” of the hospital. They would fire him immediately. They wouldn’t need to hold days of meetings to decide “if we should keep him on as the head of surgery.”

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Buy the Book

America in Retreat

By 2.10.15

Bret Stephens has written not just a good book on American foreign policy. He has written an important book.

As Islamic radicalism rampages through the Middle East on a global drive to create a caliphate, the Chancellor of Germany is trying to deal with Vladimir Putin’s aggressions in the Ukraine, the Chinese navy is on track to outnumber the U.S. Navy by 2020, and America’s allies have understandable doubts about America’s lack of resolve, not to mention U.S. credibility. That doesn’t even touch the Iranian mullahs and their relentless drive to possess nuclear weapons. Or the craziness that goes on in North Korea.

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At Large

Abbott Survives an Aussie Coup—For Now

By 2.10.15

If you think American politics resembles the melodrama of a reality show, it has nothing Australian politics.

During the Labor government of 2007-2013, Kevin Rudd was ousted as Prime Minister and party leader by Julia Gillard only for Gillard to be ousted by Rudd. Here is what I wrote about this sorry state of affairs at the time:

Of course, the person who benefits the most from this row on the Labor front benches is none other than Tony Abbott. So long as there is instability as to who exactly is leading the Australian government, the Leader of Her Majesty’s Official Opposition needn’t say a word. With each passing day, Abbott looks more and more like a viable alternative by default, and if an early election comes to pass it would be the Liberal Party’s to lose. Australians are longing for the sort of reliable, stable government they had under John Howard and might be eager to give Abbott a decisive mandate. With each passing day, it is clear the Labor Party cannot govern itself, never mind Australia.

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The Nation's Pulse

Hating the Duggars

By 2.10.15

Every day seems to bring another example of intolerance by a shocking number of people on the American left. Whether progressives/liberals are picketing, denouncing, demonizing, boycotting, and seeking to shut down florists and bakers and photographers who—pleading their First Amendment rights of religious freedom—beg not to be forced to service a same-sex marriage ceremony, or whether they’re suing Hobby Lobby or the Little Sisters of the Poor for not funding other people’s abortions, the examples keep piling up. And yet, amazingly, these progressives/liberals never seem to detect a conflict between their constant professions of “tolerance” and “diversity” and the undeniably obvious fact that they only tolerate things they agree with. That, of course, is not tolerance. In so many areas, they will not tolerate you disagreeing with them; when you do, they want to shut you down.

Well, I’d like to remark on yet another example. It concerns the Duggar family.

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