Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge claims in a new book that he was pressured by other members of President George W. Bush's Cabinet to raise the nation's terror alert level just before the 2004 presidential election.
Ridge says he objected to raising the security level despite the urgings of former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, according to a publicity release from Ridge's publisher. In the end the alert level was not changed. Ridge said the episode convinced him to follow through with his plans to leave the administration; he resigned on Nov. 30, 2004.
Why am I not surprised by the results of the following poll? A Marist poll released this month shows men are more likely than women to approve of the Philadelphia Eagles' controversial decision to allow Michael Vick back into that exclusive club otherwise known as the National Football League.
"Although Vick was convicted and served prison time for his role in operating a dog fighting ring, a majority of football fans nationwide -- 57 percent -- agree with the NFL commissioner's decision to allow Vick to return to the league. 36 percent disagree with that decision. Younger fans and men are more likely to be in favor of the ruling compared with older ones and women."
The CIA hired private contractors at Blackwater USA in 2004 as part of a secret program to kill top-level members of al-Qaida, a person familiar with the program said Wednesday.
The contracts, which were unsuccessful, were canceled several years ago, the person told The Associated Press. He spoke on condition of anonymity because the program remains classified.
Americans remain skeptical of President Barack Obama's healthcare reform drive, but their views have not changed much after weeks of sometimes angry protests at public meetings, according to an NBC poll released on Tuesday.
Obama's approval rating on healthcare was at 41 percent, unchanged from last month, while 36 percent believed his reform plans were a good idea and 42 percent a bad idea -- also unchanged from last month's NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.
Frustrated liberals have a question for President Barack Obama and Democratic lawmakers: Isn't it time the other guys gave a little ground on health care? What's the point of a bipartisan bill, they ask, if we're making all the concessions?
A case in point:
Sen. Charles Grassley, a key Republican negotiator on health care, was on a winning streak as Congress recessed for August, having wrung important concessions from Democrats, including an agreement not to tax employer-provided health insurance and a limit to demands on drug companies.
The Obama administration is sending mixed signals on its commitment to publicly funded, government-run health insurance as a supposedly indispensable component of health-care reform.
Over the weekend, President Obama said that the public option was not "the entirety" of health-care reform, and his secretary of Health and Human Services said that the public option was not the "essential element" of reform and suggested that instead the administration might be open to health-care cooperatives as an alternative. And Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs indicated that the public option might be only one way of achieving the administration's overriding goal of choice and competition.
The problem that President Obama was about to address was unconscionably big and growing worse: The huge backlog of Veterans' Affairs benefits claims filed by men and women who once fought America's battles -- only to discover they now must battle their own government, just to get what they already earned.
And the setting and audience where the president would be unveiling his plan for resolving the problem was also big, and appropriate: A speech to the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, gathered in Phoenix on Monday, plus all those watching on cable news television.
Some of the nation's biggest advertisers are distancing themselves from Fox News host Glenn Beck after he called President Obama a racist during a July 28 broadcast.
Geico has pulled its ads from Fox News Channel's "The Glenn Beck Program." Lawyers.com, which is owned by LexisNexis, also has vowed not to advertise during the program, according to Color of Change, an African-American online political organization that has been urging advertisers to stop supporting the show.
Additionally, Procter & Gamble, Progressive Insurance and SC Johnson all said their ad placements during the broadcast were made in error and that they would correct the mistake.
Let's hope the drafters of health-care reform have the political courage to stand up to the "death panel" crowd.
However, there is evidence that the strident mischaracterization of a useful provision in the bill is having an effect. Simply put, the provision says that if you choose to discuss end-of-life issues with your doctor, Medicare will pay for the visit. And it will pay for one such session every five years, more often for someone who is seriously ill.
The Obama administration has signaled that it might accept health care cooperatives instead of a government-run health insurance program to compete with private insurers.
Interest groups disagree on whether such co-ops would have enough negotiating clout to help consumers without threatening private insurance companies. Here, in question and answer form, is a look at the issue based on interviews with several authorities, including the chief proponent of health co-ops, Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D.