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In Memoriam

Men Like Stan Evans

By 3.9.15

“I need to call Stan,” I told my kids as I dropped them off. It was Sunday, which was always a good day to reach Stan Evans. When he needed me, he usually called on Sunday evenings. And when Stan wanted to talk, he kept calling until he got you. He was conservative all right—so much so that modern technologies like voicemail and (most of all) email were not options.

No, Stan preferred old stuff, especially Cold War documents on yellowed, wrinkled paper, listing names of so-called “progressives” who, Stan slowly confirmed year after year, were often not merry liberals but closet communists doing the dirty work of Moscow. And yet through it all—the documents and double-dealing and deceit—Stan always maintained his renowned humor. “Happiness is finding a declassified list of closet communists,” he once told me with a laugh.

Now, it was February 8 (which I know from my phone log), and I needed to call Stan.

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A Bigger Perspective

Obama, Netanyahu, and the Starship Enterprise

By 3.9.15

James T. Kirk: Your ship is compromised, too close to the singularity to survive without assistance, which we are willing to provide.

Spock: [speaking privately] Captain, what are you doing?

James T. Kirk: Showing them compassion may be the only way to earn peace with Romulus. It’s logic, Spock. I thought you’d like that.

Spock: No, not really. Not this time.

Nero: [replying to the offer of assistance] I would rather suffer the end of Romulus a thousand times. I would rather die in agony than accept assistance from you.

James T. Kirk: You got it! Arm phasers. Fire everything we’ve got!
—Star Trek (film) 2009

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A Further Perspective

Which Leaker Is Worse, Petraeus or Snowden?

By 3.9.15

Former four-star general and CIA chief David Petraeus pleaded guilty to one count of retaining classified information for handing over information in personal notebooks to his biographer girlfriend in 2011. He agreed to pay a $40,000 fine; prosecutors said they would recommend two years’ probation instead of prison, although a judge could decide otherwise. It’s a sad close to a government career for the man whose counterinsurgency strategy turned around the war in Iraq. He’s an American hero who seemed all that much more upright when he resigned in November 2012 after admitting to an affair that compromised his position — without drama and after quickly owning up to his mistakes.

Except he didn’t come completely clean; America now knows — because it’s in the official record — Petraeus lied to the FBI. That’s a serious offense. But should he go to prison?

On one side, Petraeus supporters, such as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., argued that Petraeus had done too much for the country to be discarded in a prison cell. In January, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said the Department of Justice should not prosecute the former CIA chief, as he had “suffered enough.”

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Special Report

Forgiving a Killer?

By 3.9.15

Kelly Gissendaner is on death row in Georgia, her execution having been postponed twice recently. Her religious faith and theological studies while in prison have gained her many admirers who are campaigning for commutation of her sentence amid much favorable media attention.

One teacher from a Lutheran college, writing for CNN, first met Gissendaner in prison, where the inmate “arrived for class beaming with excitement about the journey she was about to begin — participation in a yearlong academic theology program sponsored jointly by four Atlanta seminaries.” The convicted murderer was “full of contagious joy and gratitude, open to others and to new experiences for growth and ministry.”

Visits by a pastor to her prison over the years helped launch Gissendaner towards “courageous self-reflection,” finding “her own voice and [coming] to see that her reflections on Christian faith could be a gift to the wider church ‘on the outside,’ as well as in prison,” as the professor recounted.

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Special Report

Some Conservatives Playing Too Close to the Sun?

By 3.6.15

P.T. Barnum said there was a sucker born every minute. There would have to be to satisfy all the hustlers out there. And this was before the alternative fuels dodge. As the late Mr. Rogers might have put it. Can you spell S-O-L-Y-N-D-R-A?

A gaudy amount of money, most in the form of government subsidies, has been shoveled into solar power research since the first Arab oil embargo of the 1970s. The subsidies have enriched various folks nimble enough or connected enough to receive them. But they have produced very little in the way of power, and nothing that can compete with power generated by fossil fuels.

Solar power was way uneconomical when Nixon was president and the subsidies began. It remains so today. Because of physical limitations having to do with the huge area of solar panels required to produce any significant amount of power, and the fact that we insist on having things like night and clouds, solar is unlikely to ever be more than a niche energy source. And an unreliable one at that.

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The Right Prescription

Kennedy Won’t Save Obamacare’s Bacon

By 3.6.15

Supporters of the “Affordable Care Act” have been rather glum of late. Since the Supreme Court agreed to hear King v. Burwell, a lawsuit that challenges the Obama administration’s decision to funnel insurance subsidies through federal exchanges established in the 36 states that refused to create PPACA “marketplaces,” they have rather ironically bemoaned the possibility that five unelected justices could do irreparable damage to the law with one “wrong ruling.” Consequently, they have desperately grasped at a thin straw tossed their way by Justice Anthony Kennedy during Wednesday’s oral arguments about the case.

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The Obama Watch

A President Who Can’t Get Any Respect

By 3.6.15

“Nothing new here,” said our president, in the spirit of a vain and testy ostrich, upset that someone who did not have his head buried in the sand had dared to contradict his view of the world.

Nancy Pelosi, the house minority leader, leapt to his defense following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress on Tuesday. She shed great salty tears all through Netanyahu’s speech, or so she said — “saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States as part of the P5+1 nations, and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing a nuclear holocaust.” It is true this administration gets no respect — from Israel or from other nations, whether friend or foe. Why should it?

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The Nation's Pulse

Shooting an Elephant or Two — or Forty-Three

By 3.6.15

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus this week announced plans to phase out elephants due to the complaints of animal-rights activists regarding the well-being of the beasts. Acrobats flipping thirty feet above the hard ground sans net and lion tamers kissing the king of the jungle on the lips don’t similarly move the activists into action.

Who will rescue us from the humans who rescue the elephants from the humans?

We lose a lot when we allow the world savers to pursue their ambitions unimpeded. They never achieve what their messiah complexes set them toward. Worse still, they often leave the planet they promised to rescue in need of rescue.

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Play Ball

A Perfect Day for Baseball

By 3.6.15

Wednesday was a perfect day for baseball in Tampa, with temperatures in the low eighties, about as warm as it will be in Yankee Stadium until the All-Star break. A nice breeze kept the celebrants comfortable and kept the championship flags above George M. Steinbrenner Field snapping.

The game itself was unremarkable. The Phillies beat the Yankees 3-1 in regulation, putting the thing through in slightly more than two and a half hours. The game featured a couple of authentic 11 o’clock highlight plays and only one error. No one went long. Taken all around, not bad for a spring opener. The congregation of 9,673, including me, was just glad that baseball is back, even though the events of this game are largely already forgotten.

Those in attendance trended heavily toward fuggedaboudits in Yankee gear, eager to see the new iteration of the Evil Empire’s team (not so evil of late, after two straight seasons for not even making the playoffs). They were also there to boo A-Rhoid. Alex, Wednesday’s DH, was playing in his first game after his most recent suspension, this one a year and change.

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The Oregon Trial

Oregon’s Long Statewide Nightmare Isn’t Over

By 3.6.15

This week brought news that Oregon taxpayers are on the hook for $35,000, per person, in legal fees for a clown car packed to the wheel-wells with Democratic politicians and consultants.

The newly subsidized include disgraced ex-governor John Kitzhaber, forced to step down last month. Also covered under that law would be the state’s former first lady, Kitzhaber’s fiancée and business associate Cylvia Hayes, also forced to flee the governor’s mansion in Salem last month; as well as sixteen of the couple’s closest friends and cronies.

So long as this stays a criminal matter, the state’s liability is capped at $35,000 per head. However, there will be related lawsuits and, a reporter for the Oregonian wryly notes, “In civil cases there is no cap.” To figure out what the state’s total legal bill will come to, start at $630,000 ($35,000 x 18, according to the back of our envelope) and leave the meter running until, let’s say, 2020. That might get close to the final price tag.

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