Saturday October 25, 2014
March 20th, 2014
Watching Dianne Feinstein tear into the Central Intelligence Agency on the Senate floor the other day brought to mind a 1970s-era television commercial about a margarine supposedly indistinguishable from butter.
"Chiffon's so delicious, it fooled even you, Mother Nature," says the narrator.
"Oh, it's not nice to fool Mother Nature," she replies, her voice becoming steely as she raises her arms to summon thunder and lightning.
Listlessness is bad politics. Defensiveness is poor strategy. And resignation is never inspiring.
You can feel elements of all three descending around President Obama as he fends off attack after attack from his conservative foes who vary the subject depending on the day, the circumstance and the opportunity.
Recently the Federal Reserve released transcripts of its monetary policy meetings during the fateful year of 2008. And boy, are they discouraging reading.
Partly that's because Fed officials come across as essentially clueless about the gathering economic storm. But we knew that already. What's really striking is the extent to which they were obsessed with the wrong thing. The economy was plunging, yet all many people at the Fed wanted to talk about was inflation.
If Hillary Clinton doesn't run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 - and there's 1 chance in 5 of that - the party could have a nervous breakdown.
Crimea is probably lost to Ukraine. Within the space of a few days, it has become the latest in a string of "frozen conflict" zones that Russia has used to strong-arm ex-Soviet neighbors ever since the Union collapsed.
The history of these unrecognized statelets suggests that authorities in Kiev are unlikely to regain control of Crimea for decades, if ever. There are few better ways of understanding events on the peninsula right now than to look at how these other "frozen" zones emerged.
The NFL hinted it would move the Super Bowl, and Apple said it could find a new place for a planned plant if Arizona legitimized discrimination most foul, most un-American, against gays and lesbians.
In a similarly principled stand, arms maker Magpul Industries has moved its plant to Wyoming.
As the statuesque Cate Blanchett clutched her statuette, she sent an acid air kiss Sandra Bullock's way.
The "Blue Jasmine" star told her vanquished rival, who was gamely smiling after losing for "Gravity," "Sandra, I could watch that performance to the end of time, and I sort of felt like I had."
Let's be real. It's one thing to say that Russia's takeover of the Crimean Peninsula "cannot be allowed to stand," as many foreign policy sages have proclaimed. It's quite another to do something about it.
Religious conservatives have had a good run. Since the 1970s, when Paul Weyrich and other conservative thinkers recognized that conservative evangelical Christians had untapped potential to change U.S. elections, the "religious right" has been a powerful, if always secondary, force in the Republican Party. Conservatives did such a thorough job of rallying evangelicals around causes such as abortion that the word "evangelical" in a political context is now almost synonymous with "conservative."
Just as we've turned the coverage of politics into sports, we're doing the same with geopolitics. There is much nonsense being written about how Vladimir Putin showed how he is "tougher" than Barack Obama and how Obama now needs to demonstrate his manhood. This is how great powers get drawn into the politics of small tribes and end up in great wars that end badly for everyone. We vastly exaggerate Putin's strength - so does he - and we vastly underestimate our own strength and ability to weaken him through nonmilitary means.