May 18, 2013 |
What is it about presidents' second terms that makes them seem so scandal-ridden? Simple: The iron law of longevity. All governments make mistakes, and all governments try to hide those mistakes. But the longer an administration is in office, the more errors it makes, and the harder they are to conceal. Just ask Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton or George W. Bush, all of whom spent much of their second terms playing defense. The longevity rule caught up with Barack Obama last week as he wrestled clumsily with not one controversy but three: the Internal Revenue Service's treatment of "tea party" groups, the Benghazi killings and the Justice Department's seizure of Associated Press telephone records.
May 17, 2013 |
ROME -- The Moroccan-born dancer at the center of Silvio Berlusconi's prostitution trial took the stand in court for the first time Friday, describing how female guests at Berlusconi's so-called bunga-bunga parties stripped to their underwear and dressed up as nuns, nurses and even Barack Obama. Karima el Mahroug, better known by her stage name Ruby the Heartstealer, was giving evidence at the trial of three associates of the former Italian prime minister who are accused of procuring prostitutes for him. Berlusconi is on trial separately on charges of paying Mahroug for sex when she was 17, a crime in Italy, as well as trying to cover up the alleged crime.
May 16, 2013 |
On Wednesday, President Obama fired the head of the Internal Revenue Service, the first sacrificial lamb brought down after the alleged “targeting” of conservative political groups by the IRS. Obama declared, “Americans are right to be angry about it.” Call me out of step, but I am angrier that the president is joining the rush to judgment. All that is known for sure is that some IRS functionaries took a shorthand route to identify partisan political groups that might be pretending not to be political so that they could get the tax-exempt status available to social welfare organizations.
May 15, 2013 |
The revelation that conservative political groups seeking tax-exempt status were singled out for special attention by Internal Revenue Service bureaucrats has given Republicans their best cudgel yet to beat on the Obama administration. But as the outrage revs into high gear, let me offer a contrarian perspective: As inept as the IRS may have been in the way they processed applications for 501(c)(4) status, the bigger scandal is that the IRS grants the tax-exempt designation to so many overtly political organizations, treating them as if they are no more engaged in partisan politics than the Girl Scouts. The reality is that numerous high-powered political operatives for both Republicans and Democrats have formed 501(c)
May 12, 2013 |
There are two things you can do for your mother on Mother's Day. One is to say "thank you. " (Over lunch, with flowers.) The other is to ask her for advice - even if she's not convinced you really want it. "I don't think kids take any advice from their parents after they're 12," my mother told me last week. "But maybe they'll consider it. If they consider it, that's all you can ask. " Lois Doyle McManus is 87, and arthritis is getting in the way of her piano career. Her most recent performance, a concert with a community college orchestra, was last month.
May 10, 2013 |
Republicans could make an easy hit on the Obama administration by highlighting the State Department's apparent bureaucratic blundering during and after the deadly terrorist attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last fall, but they refuse to settle for such a small political prize. Instead, they have got themselves all steamed up and snarling about heinous, impeachable offenses that are figments of their imaginations. The latest round of House hearings about the Benghazi incident provides a perfect example of how American politics has been warped and gummed up by bombastic, partisan extremism.
May 7, 2013 |
One hundred prisoners held in the American detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are engaged in a hunger strike -- a desperate attempt to get the attention of President Obama, who was elected in 2008 having promised to shut the place down. Not only did Obama fail to close the facility, his administration has neglected to appoint anyone to oversee repatriation of the 86 current prisoners who have been cleared for release. Among the 166 detainees at Guantanamo, some, no doubt, are true enemies of the United States.
May 3, 2013 |
In October 2002, Barack Obama, then an obscure state senator in Illinois, stood in Federal Plaza in Chicago and gave a speech about Iraq that launched his career toward the White House. "I don't oppose all wars," Obama told the crowd. "What I am opposed to is a dumb war. " More than a decade later, Obama's vision of a smart war - or at least a new way of war - is clear, even if he has not publicly articulated it. He has presided over a vast expansion of CIA and Pentagon authorities to secretly kill thousands of people around the globe, relying on missile-firing drone aircraft, special operations teams, mercenaries and privateers.
May 2, 2013 |
Gov. Jerry Brown, a onetime Jesuit seminarian, issued a proclamation designating Thursday a Day of Prayer in California, timed to coincide with the National Day of Prayer proclaimed by President Obama pursuant to an act of Congress. “A National Day of Prayer is an occasion for each of us to reflect more deeply on the eternal verities and those matters which transcend our everyday routines,” the proclamation reads. “Through prayer, one opens the heart and stills the mind so that the Divine Presence may be directly encountered.
May 1, 2013 |
Barack Obama really, really does not want to get tangled up in Syria. For almost a year, Obama's secretaries of State - first Hillary Rodham Clinton, now John Kerry - have pressed the president for more aid to the insurgents who are fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad. Obama and his White House aides have resisted, fearing a slippery slope that would lead inexorably to U.S. military intervention and the kind of messy Middle Eastern war he campaigned against in 2008.