Thursday December 05, 2013
Archive - Aug 15, 2013
Democrats and Republicans, bracing for a game of chicken over a possible government shutdown and a debt-ceiling default, should rewatch the 1955 movie, "Rebel Without a Cause," starring the American icon James Dean.
Imagine this: It's the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. A huge television event, watched the world over. The U.S. Olympians join the proud march of nations. They're our emissaries, our exemplars. And as the television cameras zoom in on Team USA, one of its members quietly pulls out a rainbow flag, no bigger than a handkerchief, and holds it up. Not ostentatiously high, but just high enough that it can't be mistaken.
Sarah Palin spun the applause meter at the 2008 Republican National Convention when she quoted Ronald Reagan:
"You and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children's children, what it once was like in America when men were free."
One wonders what the meter would have read if Palin pointed out that Reagan said those words to warn against the freedom-hating menace of Medicare.
Aug. 6 marks 68 years since the United States committed what is arguably the single gravest act of terrorism that the world has ever known. Terrorism means the deliberate targeting of innocent civilians, and targeted they were, with the cutely named "Little Boy" atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima at a location and time of day when, as the Strategic Bombing Survey commissioned by President Harry Truman conceded, "nearly all the school children ... were at work in the open," a perfect opportunity for mass incineration.
Secretary of State John Kerry has pulled off a major achievement in getting Israelis and Palestinians to say yes to the United States. Can he now get them to say yes to each other?
The 2016 presidential contest is more than two years away, and Hillary Rodham Clinton has not decided whether she will be a part of it. But the race to define her potential candidacy is well underway - and far outside her control.
Already, independent super PACs have sprouted to boost or bludgeon the former secretary of state, and a television miniseries and documentary are in the works - projects one person close to Clinton called "ill-conceived."
Reince Priebus says a lot of goofy things, but the chairman of the Republican National Committee has a point.
Films can dramatically alter the way famous people are viewed, making them cooler, more glamorous, more sympathetic - and the reverse. Clever filmmakers can offer up delicious soufflés of propaganda and storytelling, putting a new imprint on the historical record.
During the 2001 assault on the World Trade Center, I was trapped in a train under Manhattan for hours. As news of the collapsing towers, the attack on the Pentagon and the crash in Pennsylvania filtered down to the passengers, the conductor kept telling us this tunnel was the safest place we could be. Meanwhile, the tunnels were being searched for explosives.
If the new, decentralized al-Qaeda is such a threat that 19 American embassies, consulates and other diplomatic posts have to be shuttered for a week, we have a decade of wrongheaded U.S. policy to blame.
The Arab Spring contributed by creating power vacuums for militant anti-Western jihadists to exploit. But myopic decision-making in Washington clearly played a huge role -- and, while I hope we're getting smarter, I have my doubts.
Hopefully it won't be settled in the same way but, arguably, this nation is as divided as it was in the era of the Civil War. OK, War Between the States, if that is your preference.