Wednesday August 27, 2014
June 1st, 2014
Let's hope the situation at the Department of Veterans Affairs gets just a little bit worse. Not dying worse, but enough to stir President Barack Obama to forceful action.
For Obama, a crisis isn't a terrible thing to waste but a hard thing to feel. He's too smart to get upset, or as senior adviser Valerie Jarrett explained to biographer David Remnick, Obama has "been bored his whole life." He's "just too talented to do what ordinary people do."
The brew is weaker but still being drunk in Texas, as the tea party there bucked a national trend and toppled more establishment Republicans on Tuesday.
Tuesday's vote marks the end of the line for two of the most durable figures in Texas. Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst lost his bid to run for re-election to Dan Patrick, a state legislator and radio host, and 17-term Rep. Ralph Hall lost to a lawyer, John Ratcliffe.
President Obama, in his West Point commencement address the other day, went to unusual lengths to explain and defend a foreign policy that critics have argued is entirely too cautious in addressing America's challenges abroad.
Caution: The following tribute to the late great author-poet Maya Angelou may be hazardous to some of my touchier readers.
The previous paragraph is called a "trigger warning," a disclaimer of the sort that often has been applied to online discussions about rape, sexual abuse and mental illness. In recent months they have spread to a place where power struggles can be most intense: college campuses.
Next week the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce new rules designed to limit global warming. Although we don't know the details yet, anti-environmental groups are already predicting vast costs and economic doom. Don't believe them. Everything we know suggests that we can achieve large reductions in greenhouse gas emissions at little cost to the economy.
Just ask the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
We've learned so much this election season. True, almost nobody has noticed yet that there's been voting. But trust me, the lessons are mounting.
For instance, in Texas this week, the Tea Party had a wave of triumphs in critical primary runoffs. We thought the Tea Party was dead! What happened? The secret may lie somewhere in the wave of political excitement that swept through the state and drew an energized 7 percent of registered voters to the polls.
A strong contender for quote of the month comes from Dennis Loy Johnson, of the small publishing firm Melville House. "How is this not extortion?" he said to David Streitfeld and Melissa Eddy of The Times, in a story published last week. "You know, that thing that is illegal when the Mafia does it." He was referring to Amazon.
As I walk up to Bobby Van's Steakhouse to meet Gerry Adams, I'm surprised to see him sitting alone outside. Wearing a dark three-piece tweed suit with a green ribbon on the lapel, the alleged terrorist on the terrace is calmly reading some papers.
We no longer have news. We have springboards for commentary. We have cues for Tweets.
Something happens, and before the facts are even settled, the morals are deduced and the lessons drawn. The story is absorbed into agendas. Everyone has a preferred take on it, a particular use for it. And as one person after another posits its real significance, the discussion travels so far from what set it in motion that the truth - the knowable, verifiable truth - is left in the dust.
When President Barack Obama sits down to write his foreign-policy memoir, he may be tempted to use as his book title the four words he reportedly uses privately to summarize the Obama doctrine: "Don't Do Stupid Stuff" (with "stuff" sometimes defined more spicily).