Health care: So much hyperbole, so few facts

Here in Hate City, where the Potomac flows silently past an ever-babbling riverbank, the healthcare reform debate has degenerated into partisan sound-bite salvos. So far, all that is certain is that money is scarce and truth is scarcer.

Elephants and donkeys and blue-dogs are chasing each other’s tales. And the news media’s idea of balanced coverage is balancing each shovelful of distortion from the Right with a shovelful of distortion from the Left.

Another close shave for our rights

Then-Vice President Dick Cheney promised that the Bush administration’s war on terrorism would be fought on "the dark side." We are still finding out how dark that was.

On Oct. 23, 2001, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, the source of so much bad advice during those years, produced a memo arguing that the president could ignore the Constitution, the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act barring the military from being used for law enforcement, and precedent going back to the Civil War to deploy the military against U.S. citizens on American soil.

The silly debate over Obama’s citizenship

A vocal group of conspiracy theorists known as "birthers" are riling the White House with their persistent claim that Barack Obama is not an American citizen and therefore ineligible to be president.

The claim that the United States’ first African-American president was born in Kenya, not Hawaii, first emerged during his presidential campaign, but it has garnered more media attention in the summer "silly season," a traditionally slow news period when many Americans are on vacation.

The never-ending debate over race

It was astounding the other day to hear a national television pundit state unequivocally that Americans seldom talk about race, that there is no national dialogue on the subject. Has he been living on another planet or in a locked room with no contact with the outside world?

The road to socialized medicine

"America, America, God shed His grace on thee."

Many demoralized souls felt over recent months that this famous appeal in "America the Beautiful" had been falling on deaf ears.

But we’ve had a miracle. The socialized medicine freight train, chugging down the track with seeming insurmountable inevitability, has been, for the moment, derailed.

And, miraculously, the derailment has occurred because of values as well as economics.

Palin goes out swinging

At times, it seemed like a flashback to the 2008 presidential campaign.

Sarah Palin stepped down as Alaska governor on Sunday with a fiery speech reminiscent of her days as running mate to Republican John McCain — when she frequently revved up crowds while attacking Democrats and the news media.

As recession lingers, small business falters

As the effects of the economic collapse began pouring down Main Street, the government last year was left holding a record $2.1 billion in write-offs of small business loans it had guaranteed. Officials expect the number of defaults to rise as the nation continues to climb out of the recession.

Records obtained under the federal Freedom of Information Act show the public is paying to offset bank losses on small business loans across the country, from a convenience story in the tiny Canadian border town of Houlton, Maine, to a graphic arts design company on the island of Hawaii, more than 5,000 miles away.

Obama tries damage control

President Barack Obama concedes his words — that a white police officer "acted stupidly" when he arrested a black university scholar in his own home — were ill-chosen. But, while he invited both men to visit him at the White House, Obama stopped short of publicly apologizing for his remark.

Is Hillary pushing her own agenda?

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton set off tremors in the Middle East this week when she said a nuclear Iran could be contained by a U.S. "defense umbrella" — an offhand remark that appears to have emerged from obscure Washington policy debates and her own presidential campaign rhetoric.

Clinton’s comments raised eyebrows because they seemed to go beyond the Obama administration’s current thinking on Iran, which has been strictly focused on preventing the country from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Swine flu could hit 40 percent in U.S.

In a disturbing new projection, health officials say up to 40 percent of Americans could get swine flu this year and next and several hundred thousand could die without a successful vaccine campaign and other measures.

The estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are roughly twice the number of those who catch flu in a normal season and add greater weight to hurried efforts to get a new vaccine ready for the fall flu season.