How did so flawed a man as Newt Gingrich get to the top of his party in the 1990s? For that matter, how did so flawed a man as Bill Clinton get to the top of our government in the 1990s? And — here I am giving you a hint to the answer for the above questions — how did so flawed a man as Dominique Strauss-Kahn get to the top of the International Monetary Fund and of French politics? All are about the same age. All have similar, shall we say, recreations. The answer is that they came from what is called the 1960s generation. Now they are gone. There will be temporary reprises — more court appearances for DSK, an occasional public appearance for Bill, some more catastrophic missteps on the campaign trail for Newt — but for all intents and purposes, they are history.
William J. McGee, the consumer advocate on the Department of Transportation's Future of Aviation Advisory Committee wrote "Forcing the F.A.A. to Fly Blind" in The New York Times (April 9, 2011), where he laments Congress' cut in the FAA budget, saying, "A $4 billion cut will necessarily reduce the work force further. And it's hard to imagine this will not diminish safety." Mr. McGee suggests there will be shortcuts in aircraft maintenance.
Here are a few facts and then a question. Each Boeing 747 costs $317 million, its 777 goes for $284 million and its 737 sells for $80 million. Airbus' giant 555-plus passenger A380 sells for $375 million. Here's a true or false statement: If it weren't for the FAA, airline company CEOs would not take the necessary measures to ensure that their aircraft took off and landed safely.
The president's speech last week, which was described by the White House in advance as a speech intended to reach out to the Muslim world, will probably go down as one of the least well-understood major presidential speeches in modern memory. Confusion concerning the president's words and intent cut across the lines of Jews, Christians and Muslims, Democrats and Republicans, neocons and paleocons, friends and foes of Israel, and friends and foes of the president.
For many serious commentators, the confusion lies on what the president meant by his statement that "We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states." Was this a shift of policy, no shift or a critical increase in U.S. presidential pressure on Israel in future peace negotiations?
When Barack Obama replaced George Bush, there was unbridled joy among the elites. The days of "cowboy diplomacy" were over! Finally, we had a president who was a careful multi-lateralist, who wouldn't rudely impose his will, but would instead work with allies to build consensus.
But that's not what Obama delivered with Israel last week, is it? Obama went to the State Department and insisted Israel needed to stop its "unsustainable" policy toward the Palestinians and "boldly" retreat behind pre-1967 borders. A stunned Benjamin Netanyahu responded as any ally would if so roundly betrayed. He publicly – correctly – denounced Obama’s policy prescription.
Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic magazine (and website) posted an item on May 20 headlined: "Dear Mr. Netanyahu, Please Don't Speak to My President That Way." Netanyahu, he wrote, threw a "hissy fit." That pretty much encapsulated the American media’s reaction. "Cowboy diplomacy" is just fine from time to time – if the man in the saddle is Obama.
If the Wall Street Republicans and the conservative Republicans don't resolve their differences and work as a TEAM ("together everyone achieves more"), we will go back to having a Democratic majority in Congress and President Barack Obama will be re-elected for another four years.
Ripples began to form last year when then Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul of Kentucky spouted what some say were typical libertarian views but what to others sounded like criticisms of the fixed and firm Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Conservatives are worried that an ideal Reagan conservative has yet to emerge and lead the 2012 GOP presidential field. But are we allowing the liberal media (and establishment Republicans) to manipulate the narrative to prevent such a result?
Obviously, the liberal media do not have the best interests of Reagan conservatives in mind when they do their "reporting." So when they tell us certain GOP candidates are unelectable or electable, common sense would counsel us to take their advice with mounds of salt. But do we?
With friends like President Obama, who needs enemies? If you're Israel, you already have quite enough of those.
On May 14, 2011, the State of Israel observed the 63rd anniversary of its independence. But if the proposals made by President Obama in his State Department speech are implemented, that observance could be its last.
Welcome to the land of the freeloaders and the home of the depraved. No image captures America's regressive ethos better than that of 30-year-old Stanley Thornton Jr., self-proclaimed "Adult Baby." Profiled on a recent National Geographic reality television show, Thornton claims to suffer from a bizarre infantilism that leads him to wear diapers, lounge around in an oversized crib and seek constant coddling.
The nappies may be extreme, but let's face it: Thornton Jr. — let's just call him Junior — is a symptom of our Nanny State run amok, not an anomaly.
One of Dictionary.com's definitions of blackmail is "to extort money from (a person) by use of threats." Substitute "taxpayers" for "person" and you have what the White House and congressional Democrats are doing with the debt ceiling.
In case you weren't paying attention (and too few are) the United States officially reached the debt ceiling on Monday. Treasury Secretary Tim ("I forgot to pay my taxes") Geithner informed Congress of difficult decisions he was forced to make to keep the country solvent, which is a joke. How can a country be considered solvent when just the interest on the debt amounts to more than the entire gross national product of many countries?
This White House, like its predecessors, can take some comfort in the fact that the Middle East has been breaking the hearts of diplomats and foreign politicians for at least 2,000 years. Of course, some centuries have been worse than others (Pontius Pilate had a particularly difficult innings). But in modern times, the American voting public has become accustomed to seeing regular news from the Middle East feature wars, terrorism, mayhem, religious fanaticism and failed peace initiatives.
As a result, few presidents pay much of a price at election time for failing to deliver peace or other conspicuous diplomatic successes from that cradle of civilization and birthplace of the three great religions of the Book. I am certainly not prepared to predict that President Obama will lose many votes in 2012 based on his Middle East policy.
Hear that? It's the escalating cry of American employers and workers trying to hold on to their health care benefits in the age of stifling Obama health insurance mandates: Gangway! Gangway! Save me! Waive me!
Obamacare refugees first began beating down the exit doors in October 2010. As I've documented since last fall, waiver-mania started with McDonald's and Jack in the Box; spread to Dish Networks, hair salon chain Regis Corp and resort giant Universal Orlando; took hold among every major Big Labor organization from the AFL-CIO to the CWA to the SEIU; roped in the nationalized health care promoters at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (whose board of trustees includes health care czar Nancy Ann DeParle); and is now gripping entire states (Maine, New Hampshire and Nevada all recently got in on the act).
The latest to catch the waive? West Coast liberals.
The liberal vision of government is easily understood and makes perfect sense if one acknowledges their misunderstanding and implied assumptions about the sources of income. Their vision helps explain the language they use and policies they support, such as income redistribution and calls for the rich to give something back.
Suppose the true source of income was a gigantic pile of money meant to be shared equally amongst Americans. The reason some people have more money than others is because they got to the pile first and greedily took an unfair share. That being the case, justice requires that the rich give something back, and if they won't do so voluntarily, Congress should confiscate their ill-gotten gains and return them to their rightful owners.
As much as CNN likes to tell the public and advertisers that it’s squarely in the sensible center between the partisan attacks of MSNBC and Fox News, the reality says otherwise. Even if CNN has no Screaming Schultzes or Crazy Larry O’Donnell types, it’s still firmly in the Democratic sphere of influence.
On his show “In The Arena” on May 12, CNN host Eliot Spitzer recounted how a story in The New York Times “brought a smile to my face. It said the president of the United States calls you for wisdom and advice about issues around the world. So first, when he calls you, what does he say? Hi, Barack calling for Fareed? What does he do?”
His guest Zakaria replied, “Mostly it's been face-to-face meetings. You know, usually organized by Tom Donilon, the national security adviser,” and it’s been a “very thoughtful conversation.” (That certainly compliments both sides of the chat.) Spitzer then added “I’m not going to ask you what you have said to the president but it makes my heart warm that the president is calling you for wisdom and advice.”
I think people are missing the main point of Obamacare's alleged "death panels": Obama has forfeited any claim to moral authority in pursuit of his so-called health care reform.
It is indisputable that the thrust of Obama's push for Obamacare was that too many Americans were being denied access to medical care, and that health care "should be a right for every American." He obviously believes insurance companies let his mother die in refusing to cover her medical bills because of her pre-existing condition.
Last week, President Obama came to my home state of Texas calling for immigration reform. He should have also rallied citizens for tort reform, which is a hot issue right now around the country and in Texas politics in particular.
I've deferred (or better, repackaged) Part 2 of my article on bullies to oppose some real-life legal bullies — those sue-happy individuals (serial litigants) who tie up and abuse our court systems and civil rights to oppress and take from their victims (defendants).
Politicians and political activists frequently declare the end of the world will occur if their candidate isn't elected, or if the debt ceiling isn't raised. Some conservative Christians think the end is on the way because of behavior and practices they judge immoral. Somehow the country, not to mention the planet, survives and when "doomsday" passes, the prognosticators live to predict Armageddon on another day.
Now comes radio preacher Harold Camping, the nearly-90-year-old owner of a network of stations he calls "Family Radio." Camping once belonged to a traditional church. He then decided all churches are corrupt and people should leave whatever congregation they're in and listen only to him because only his interpretation of Scripture is true. I believe that is one characteristic of a cult.
If you listen to the passengers and crew who flew on American Airlines Flight 1561 last weekend, there's no doubt about what happened on their harrowing trip: A Yemeni man shrieking "Allahu akbar!" at the top of his lungs more than 30 times rushed the cockpit door twice intending to take down the plane and kill everyone on board.
The clammy, sweaty lone male passenger exhibited classic symptoms of what Middle East scholar and author Daniel Pipes has dubbed "Sudden Jihad Syndrome" — a seemingly random outbreak of threatening behavior or violence by a hysterical Muslim adherent who had not previously exhibited signs of Islamic radicalization. It took at least four men to tackle and restrain Rageh Ahmed Mohammed al-Murisi. "There was no question in everybody's mind that he was going to do something," passenger Angelina Marty told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Can you imagine how insufferable President Obama would be about his record in office if he actually had abundant positive accomplishments? Have we ever seen a starker contrast between a politician's record and his self-assessment of it?
It's not as though the president just avoids or downplays his failures. It's more like he showcases them, but only after completely revising history to put his actions in a favorable light.
"I heard someone say yesterday that the last years had been completely wasted as far as he was concerned. I'm very glad that I have never yet had that feeling, even for a moment," Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in April of 1944.
Horrified by the Nazi treatment of Jews, the German Lutheran pastor would join the conspiracy against Hitler and ultimately be hanged in a prison camp the next year.