What does the country really need? That is the question of the hour in this the summer of our discontent.
Thomas R. Marshall, vice president of the United States under President Woodrow Wilson from 1913-21, once made the mistake of answering this question.
Apparently a likable man, he was a progressive governor of Indiana in his time, and he had a sense of humor, which always brings the chance of trouble.
Unfortunately, it was his fate to be remembered for one impish remark: "What this country really needs is a good five-cent cigar."
Erik Prince, the fanatical right-wing founder of mercenary contractor Blackwater Worldwide, murdered at least one informant who cooperated with federal investigators probing the company's illegal operations in Iraq and may have killed more, two former employees say.
The two former employees, one an ex-Marine, say Prince was guilty of many crimes while he ran the massive "security" company that murdered civilians in Iraq and lost its contract with the State Department because of that incident and other abuses.
Prince has resigned from the company,which now operates under a new name, Xe. Xe recently obtained contracts to guard American ships from piracy.
One of the more obnoxious tactics of the left, especially the student left, during the 1960s and '70s was to disrupt the meetings of those with whom they disagreed -- on the war, race, feminism, whatever -- until finally the targeted speaker gave up and left.
You would have hoped we had learned our lesson, but apparently not.
With funding and staff support from advocacy groups opposed to health-care reform in particular and the Obama administration in particular, organized groups have been showing up at congressional town-hall meetings held mostly by Democrats in favor of health-care reform.
Former president Bill Clinton arrived in North Korea on Tuesday on a surprise mission to free two jailed US journalists, in what was the highest-profile visit by an American to Pyongyang for nearly a decade.
"Our interest is the successful completion of this issue and to confirm the safe return of the two journalists," a US official travelling separately with the ex-president's wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, told reporters.
The official added Clinton's visit to Pyongyang would likely be short but refused to give more details. South Korea's Munhwa Ilbo newspaper said he was expected to return to Washington on Wednesday.
The National Safety Council advocates a total ban on all cell-phone use while driving. Further, a study by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis estimated that 6 percent of vehicle crashes, causing 2,600 deaths and 12,000 serious injuries a year, are attributable to cell-phone use.
As a daily commuter, I often find myself, through no fault of my own, placed in life-threatening situations resulting from some cell-telephone user's inattention to the task at hand. Since my safety, and that of my fellow travelers, depends upon other drivers' concentration and consideration, it is clearly time for appropriate legislative action to end this very real and, unfortunately, increasingly common menace.
Why would anybody be surprised -- and some in Congress apparently are -- that the government's "Cash for Clunkers" program is wildly successful?
True, the American people can sometimes be a trifle dense about economic matters -- we want a whole lot of government services, but we don't want to pay any money for them. But Cash for Clunkers in any case doesn't make a great deal of sense economically. The American public does, however, have a ready grasp of the concept of free money.
He's become a publicity nightmare for CNN, embarrassed his boss and hosted a show that seemed to contradict the network's "no bias" brand. And on top of all that, his ratings are slipping.
How does Lou Dobbs keep his job?
It's not a simple answer. CNN insists it is standing behind Dobbs, despite calls for his head from critics of his reporting on "birthers" — those who believe President Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States despite convincing evidence to the contrary. The "birthers" believe Obama was born in Kenya, and thus not eligible to be president.
Dobbs' work has been so unpopular that even Ann Coulter has criticized him.
This was one government stimulus plan that yielded quick results. Maybe too quick.
Far more drivers signed up for the "cash for clunkers" program than anyone thought, overwhelming showrooms, blowing through the initial $1 billion set aside by Congress and leaving dealers panicked over when or if the government would make good on the hefty rebates.
Confusion reigned, even as dollars flowed into dealerships starved for business for months.
Attention car buyers: There's still time to get in on the "cash for clunkers" rebate rush.
The House hastened to refuel the program on Friday, voting to pour in $2 billion to prop up the trade-in deals that have all but overwhelmed suddenly booming car dealers and exhausted the $1 billion the government had set aside. The Senate has yet to act, but the White House said weekend deals would count, no matter what.
President Barack Obama's much-ballyhooed "beer summit" came and went at the White House Thursday where the two sides of what has become a bitter racial debate met, talked, drank beer, agreed to disagree and promised to meet and talk again.
Nobody apologized and nobody changed their position. It was, for most practical purposes, a non-event that lasted 40 minutes and probably won't do much to stem the simmering racism that still runs through the fabric of America.