President Barack Obama marked the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina on Saturday by pledging to make sure that turf wars and red tape don't slow the pace of the continuing recovery.
He also said he would visit New Orleans by years' end.
In his weekly radio and Internet address, the president noted that the Bush administration's response to the killer storm raised questions among people in the U.S. about whether the government "could fulfill its responsibility to respond in a crisis."
He said he wanted to ensure "that the legacy of a terrible storm is a country that is safer and more prepared for the challenges that may come."
President Richard Nixon considered Ted Kennedy such a threat that he tried to catch Kennedy cheating on his wife, even ordering aides to recruit Secret Service agents to spill secrets on the senator's behavior.
"Do you have anybody in the Secret Service that you can get to?" Nixon asked his aide John Ehrlichman in a stark series of Oval Office conversations about Kennedy before the 1972 election. "Yeah, yeah," Ehrlichman replied.
"Plant one," Nixon said. "Plant two guys on him. This could be very useful."
A priority task confronting President Obama when he returns from vacation is stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan, which Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has described as "serious and deteriorating."
Militarily, the Taliban, operating from safe havens in Pakistan, have stepped up their attacks on NATO-led forces and their rocketing and bombing of cities and villages. Sometimes the Taliban's violence seems mindless, like the bombing that leveled a whole block in Kandahar, killing more than 40. Neither the location nor the victims had any military significance.
At a recent town hall meeting, widely shown on cable TV, a nearly hysterical, sobbing woman was saying that her insurance company had denied home health care for her bedridden husband.
The congressman listened to her, promised that his staff would look into the matter and went on to say that the trouble with America today is government.
Americans in such situations have to turn to each other for help, he said, warning there is too much dependence on government.
Leaving aside the obvious fact that the congressman-who-hates-government is part of government -- and gets his paycheck from taxpayers, how many neighbors have the proper nursing skills and the time to help with rigorous daily care for someone who is not a relative?
The raging national debate over ObamaCare revolves largely around spending. Should Washington plunge itself $1.1 trillion deeper into medicine? While this conversation dominates the headlines, Americans also should consider how tax cuts could improve the delivery and payment of health care.
Republicans, for instance, have proposed tax credits to help Americans purchase health insurance that they would own, control, and carry with them throughout their lives, rather than rely on employers to provide such coverage. Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn, M.D.'s Patients Choice Act would make insurance more affordable via tax credits worth up to $2,300 for individuals and $5,700 for families.
By naming a special prosecutor to investigate prisoner abuse cases, including interrogation techniques during the Bush administration, Attorney General Eric Holder has assured the nation of a prolonged and contentious debate over how to fight a faceless enemy with potential serious damage to the CIA.
Turns out you can fear a government takeover of health care even if the government already took over your health care.
How else to explain the reservations of seniors like 85-year-old Dee Jollie, one of the millions of people covered by Medicare, the government health insurance program for Americans 65 and older, yet still have deep concerns about President Barack Obama's proposed health care overhaul?
"I think it'll be government control," Jollie said this week while waiting for her congressman to hold a health care town hall meeting at her upscale retirement home.
A year after the Bush administration abandoned its harshest interrogation methods, CIA operatives used severe sleep deprivation tactics against a terror detainee in late 2007, keeping him awake for six straight days with permission from government lawyers.
Interrogators kept the unidentified detainee awake by chaining him to the walls and floor of a cell, according to government officials and memos issued with an internal CIA report. The Obama administration released the internal report this week.
During the 1990s, most of us thought we were living in a period of unprecedented peace and prosperity. We even spent the "peace dividend" -- cutting resources for intelligence and the military. The Cold War was over. We had no enemies worth worrying about. That was the accepted narrative of that giddy era.
The fact that Americans were being attacked with regularity by Islamist terrorists -- for example in New York City in 1993, at Khobar Towers in 1996, at two of our embassies in Africa in 1998, off the coast of Yemen in 2000 -- did not lead most politicians to conclude there was a crisis that needed to be addressed. As a result, the catastrophic attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, came as a shock and a surprise.
This column is about the health-care debate, but first we must take a little diversionary walk -- because the weather is still fine and a nice walk is a healthy activity -- down to our lawyer's office.
As it happens, the lawyer occupies a special place of disrepute in the chronicle of unloved professions. Why, lawyers enjoy even less social standing than other public scoundrels such as journalists.
Of course, lawyers have always been an unloved lot. More than four centuries ago, William Shakespeare gave a rebellious character named Dick the Butcher the famous line: "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."