The Kensington Review

3 December 2004

Latest Commentary:

Senator Frist’s PAC Worth Less than Its Bank Loan -- It is hard not to like Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN). As the only physician in the Senate, he has a clarity on science, and especially healthcare, that balances out a few of the more troglodyte perspectives in the chamber. But the good doctor has found a way to get into political, but not legal, hot water over the way his political action committee has handled its money. It has a bank loan of $360,000 outstanding at 4% with US Bank in Nashville. According to Federal Election Commission filings, the PAC is worth $312,807 and has "debts and obligations owed" of $349,107. The embarrassing part is the loss of $460,000 in the stock market.

Sharon Defeated on Budget, Can’t Call Election -- Whatever hopes the realists may have had for a breakthrough in the Mid-East following the post-mature death of Yasser Arafat were destroyed this week as Ariel Sharon’s coalition government couldn’t get its budget passed. In parliamentary systems, this usually means new elections. But Israel is in a rather odd position. There is a majority in favor of Mr. Sharon’s withdrawal plan, and there is a majority in favor of more domestic spending. But the majorities are not made up of the same people.

Activist President of CALPERS Ousted -- Sean Harrigan’s two-year stint as head of the California Public Employees Retirement System (CALPERS) came to an abrupt end on Wednesday when the California State Personnel Board voted 3-2 to remove him as its representative to the CALPERS board. Under Mr. Harrigan’s leadership, CALPERS has seen its assets rise to $177 billion today from $161 billion a year ago, and that 2003 figure is up 22.3% on 2002, the highest ROI for CALPERS since 1995. It is difficult to see how his removal was anything other than a political decision.

Ken Jennings Finally Loses on “Jeopardy” -- It took ages, but someone finally beat Ken Jennings on “Jeopardy.” The quiz-whiz has a record of 74 and 1, which brought him around $2.5 million in winnings. While the rules changed in 2003 to allow champions to stay beyond the 5 show limit previously in place, Mr. Jennings’ achievement in the field of trivia is astonishing. By one count, he answered 2,881 questions, or because of “Jeopardy’s” rather silly format, he offered that many questions to the “Jeopardy” answers. It almost makes the game a respectable intellectual exercise.



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