Thursday October 30, 2014
June 18th, 2014
Eric Shinseki is a stand-up individual: Willing to serve two combat tours in Vietnam. Later, as Army chief of staff, willing to publicly differ with his bosses when the Bush administration soft-pedaled the personnel needs of occupying Iraq.
Having stepped up at the apex of his career to lead the embattled Department of Veterans Affairs, last week, Shinseki was willing to step down.
This summer, hundreds of sick, desperate people will gather daily in the pre-dawn darkness of a Southwestern Virginia parking lot, part of a late July pilgrimage as predictable as the state's tobacco crop.
They come with festering cancers, rotting teeth, wheezing lungs and aching joints, lining up for hours to see the doctors who arrive with a mobile clinic to deliver health care to the most underserved of America's poor.
There are three things we know about man-made global warming. First, the consequences will be terrible if we don't take quick action to limit carbon emissions. Second, in pure economic terms the required action shouldn't be hard to take: emission controls, done right, would probably slow economic growth, but not by much. Third, the politics of action are nonetheless very difficult.
But why is it so hard to act? Is it the power of vested interests?
I am both shocked and fascinated by Americans' religious literalism.
One Gallup report issued last week found that 42 percent of Americans believe "God created humans in their present form 10,000 years ago."
Even among people who said that they were "very familiar" with the theory of evolution, a third still believed that God created humans in their present form 10,000 years ago.
See Hillary run.
I don't mean for president, not officially. I mean around the country, from TV studio to town hall, New York to Chicago to Austin to Washington. It's been said that she needs to prove her fitness for a big campaign, and her tour for her book "Hard Choices" deliberately puts her in the thick of it, talking and listening and mingling and moving.
I'd just as soon see her - and other politicians - retreat.
About three weeks ago, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a Republican from Texas who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, gave a speech to the Heritage Foundation. Hensarling is a Tea Party favorite. His core view is that better government is less government, and that there is nothing government can do that the private sector can't do better.
The curse of inevitability isn't likely to ruin Hillary Clinton's presidential ambitions, assuming she has them. Not this time.
The takeover Tuesday of the Iraqi city of Mosul by Sunni extremists who spilled over the Syrian border underscores the clash of world views that is underway in the whole Eastern Mediterranean, which I saw close up during my visit to Kurdistan a few days ago. And it's not what you think.
As dawn creeps over New York's Jamaica Bay, flocks of wide-bodied red-eyes -- overnight flights from the West Coast -- land at JFK International Airport. The minute the wheels touch, cellphones click into action.
Mine shows a message (now lost) going something like this: Avoid the taxi lines. Use Uber instead.
When I was a guest on conservative Hugh Hewitt's national radio program last fall, he asked me what foreign policy achievements I thought former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would brag about, if she runs for president.