Bret Stephens is not the first person to question the utility of a Constitutional Amendment — when prohibition was still in force it was routinely assailed, and eventually repealed with another Amendment. The First, Fourth, and Fourteenth have been sidestepped, undermined, and critiqued by college administrators, NSA spooks, and a certain presidential candidate. Yet nobody has suggested one of the first ten should be repealed. Until now. Presumably, the New York Times editorialist would make his case by pointing to Las Vegas and citing the number of Americans who use a gun to kill themselves or their countrymen. He argued that Democrats make their case “in bad faith,” then illustrated the rhetoric’s relationship with reality. First up was the infamous “loophole” that allows people to sell private property, like a gun, without securing a license. Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe charged that 40 percent of buyers use it to evade a background check; a 2015 survey carried out by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard reviewed 4,000 cases and put the total at 22 percent. Continue reading
In any other environment, Bernie Sanders’ Medicare-for-all bill would be greeted the way Republican attempts to defund or dismantle Obamacare once were — a spirited effort by the minority party to stir its base ahead of the next campaign. The cranky Vermont senator is more true believer than opportunist, every bit an ideological counterweight to Ted Cruz, but there was something missing from the plan he presented, something a salesman would overlook. It certainly wasn’t benefits, controls, or high-minded rhetoric. As it stands, “Berniecare” is very generous: it would cover hospital visits, laboratory services, medical devices, maternity care, prescription drugs, vision, and dental. Consumers would be virtually free from out-of-pocket expenses as Sanders’ plan would effectively bar or disband public and private competition. The missing element from a drive to finish what Sanders called a “long and difficult struggle” to end an “international disgrace” is how he intends to pay for it. Continue reading
Somebody in George W. Bush’s inner circle of advisers had to have been aware of Afghanistan’s reputation before he sent American troops over the border in 2001. The landlocked central Asian nation is known as the “Graveyard of Empires,” having turned back armies led by Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan, as well as British invaders and Soviet forces. That history colors Al Qaeda’s Great Escape in a prologue that includes a few eloquent passages from Winston Churchill’s coverage of the nineteenth century “Malakand Expedition” for the Daily Telegraph. His commentary haunts everything that follows, as does Philip Smucker’s occasionally dark thoughts about front-line journalism, an experience he equated with returning from an “abyss populated by bloody babies and headless rebels.” Continue reading
There were no clocks on CNN counting down to Jeh Jonson’s appearance in front of the House Intelligence Committee in June. The former Homeland Security (DHS) chief’s testimony did not draw curious and committed spectators to pubs and coffeehouses serving spiked java or “Im-PEACH-mints” so they could watch a heavyweight showdown like the one between a sitting president and the FBI director he fired. Johnson met those low expectations while contributing little to the discussion about alleged collusion and obstruction aimed at the Trump campaign and a rookie president. He was on Capitol Hill to talk about another president who is under fire for ordering an “influence campaign” to interfere with the 2016 presidential election and defuse a related assertion. In the process Johnson reintroduced another aspect of this alleged attempt to assist the former Celebrity Apprentice host that has been relegated to the undercard of public interest by cloak-and-dagger intrigue. Continue reading
This long night in Santa Barbara: The group huddled, but before anyone could cast their vote an Arco sign appeared in the distance. A purple square fronted the neighboring store, one with orange letters that spelled out Rainbow Donuts. They had arrived, but were going the wrong way and already passed the first available left turn lane. It was quiet that night, but there was enough traffic on the road to prevent a quick U-turn: a Subaru passed by, then a Kia and a pair of black-and-white cruisers with their lights on and sirens off.
Gwen pursed her lips. “That’s weird.”
A moment passed before the Nissan circled around to make its way toward Seaside Estates and those warm beds within. When the car’s headlights found its gates they shone on a pair of modest, turquoise pillars and a sliding gold-flecked gate; the push-button box mounted on the median was their way in. Mark pressed the big, square button under its speaker. The reply was unexpectedly blunt.
“Hi, yeah, I have a reservation for Edith Tilton,” Mark replied. “We’re friends of hers…she’s not here, but she called ahead, talked to Adam about this.”
The box squawked, “Just a minute,” then went silent. Continue reading