Tuesday September 16, 2014
May 26th, 2014
I knew before arriving that Netflix's "House of Cards" was an unexpected hit here. Still, it took the ripped-from-the-airwaves coincidence of five members of the Chinese military indicted on charges of cyber espionage to grasp more fully the allure of this American political drama for Chinese citizens and leaders alike.
A plague of heroin addiction is upon us. Another plague. Heroin was the crisis that prompted Richard Nixon to launch the war on drugs in 1971.
Time marched on. Cocaine and then crack cocaine and then methamphetamine overtook heroin as the drugs of the moment. Now heroin is back -- and badder than ever.
Here's a novel idea. Since president of the United States is not only the most important job in this country, but also the most powerful on the planet, doesn't it make sense to require an IQ test before anybody can run for that office? Of course, it does. And Marco Rubio should be the first.
Paul Ryan and Jeb Bush, the didactic-meets-dynastic duo, spoke last week at a Manhattan Institute gathering, providing a Mayberry-like prescription for combating poverty in this country: all it takes is more friendship and traditional marriage.
Ryan said: "The best way to turn from a vicious cycle of despair and learned helplessness to a virtuous cycle of hope and flourishing is by embracing the attributes of friendship, accountability and love."
By any normal standard, economic policy since the onset of the financial crisis has been a dismal failure. It's true that we avoided a full replay of the Great Depression. But employment has taken more than six years to claw its way back to pre-crisis levels - years when we should have been adding millions of jobs just to keep up with a rising population. Long-term unemployment is still almost three times as high as it was in 2007; young people, often burdened by college debt, face a highly uncertain future.
Reince Priebus made a joke on Sunday.
I don't know that he meant to - comedy isn't his forte - but the only way to hear one of his comments on "Meet the Press" was as a put-on. He said that Hillary Clinton wouldn't run for the presidency if "she has another month like she just had," with questions about Monica, about Benghazi, about Boko Haram, about her brain.
The more I read the news, the more it looks to me that four words are becoming obsolete and destined to be dropped from our vocabulary. And those words are "privacy," "local," "average" and "later." A lot of what drives today's news derives from the fact that privacy is over, local is over, average is over and later is over.
More than 50 years ago, CBS correspondent Edward R. Murrow revealed to America the awful conditions suffered by migrant farm laborers in "Harvest of Shame," an angry documentary that would become a classic. While conditions have improved for some of the families whose work provides our cornucopia of affordable food, there remains a special group of workers that our political system refuses to protect: the children who pick tobacco.
Finally, an authentic scandal: incompetence and deception at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Given what we know so far, more heads need to roll -- and a criminal investigation should be launched.
Did you read about investors in Chipotle Mexican Grill rejecting the outlandish pay package the fast-food chain's two CEOs had cooked up for themselves? Stockholders overwhelmingly booed the mega-million payout, which would have come on top of the $300 million the duo have harvested in recent years.
By the way, the average starting salary at a Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant is $21,000. And one of the CEOs, founder Steve Ells, makes 778 times the median salary at the chain.