Is this a great country or what?

It is time once more to ask the eternal question: Is this a great country or what? Yes, it’s a great country, and in this great country the pursuit of happiness takes many forms and sometimes it all comes together in one great starburst amid the rocket’s red glare.

‘No lights at the end of the tunnel’ in Iraq

The top general in Iraq has called for troop withdrawals to be frozen for at least 45 days after July, warning military gains remained fragile and accusing Iran of seeking to stoke violence.

General David Petraeus recommended to lawmakers that once the last of the 30,000 extra troops pumped into Iraq last year are withdrawn in July “we undertake a 45-day period of consolidation and evaluation.”

Dressed in his uniform with medals adorning his chest, the four-star general warned that while security has improved, “we haven’t turned any corners, we haven’t seen any lights at the end of the tunnel.

The high cost of news

The Newseum, Washington’s newest museum, opens Friday, April 11, in a symbolic Pennsylvania Avenue spot about midway between the White House and the U.S. Capitol.

Adorned on the outside with an enormous marble tablet bearing the text of the First Amendment, the $450 million, seven-level edifice’s intent is to spread the gospel of the importance of a free press to democracy.

CBS may outsource its news to CNN

The Columbia Broadcasting System, once the home of legendary newsmen like Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite but now the network of fluff like Katic Couric, is considering outsourcing much of its news gathering to Cable News Network.

The news has already demoralized members of the once-heralded CBS news division grumbling and polishing up their resumes.

The answer wasn’t blowing in the wind

I was thinking about the power of the wind a few days ago, as I relaxed in the cockpit of my humble sailing craft, which was tied up at a dock in the municipal marina in Corpus Christi, Texas.

State Dept. extends contract with mercenaries

Incredibly, the State Department has extended its contract with tainted mercenary firm Blackwater USA for another year in spite of the massacre of Iraqi civilians by operatives.

Misery is a growth industry

While Congress is mulling how best to deal with the housing crisis, it might want to consider a not-altogether-reassuring outgrowth of that crisis.

According to The New York Times, because of the great number of foreclosures, “a small army of law firms and default-servicing companies, who represent mortgage lenders, have been raking in mounting profits.”

You are who you do business with

Turn your clock back 70 years. Imagine that Wall Street banks and brokerages sold Nuremberg-compliant bonds and stock funds in 1938. American Nazi sympathizers bought financial instruments certified by Berlin-based advisors as free of “Jewish profits” from, say, Salomon Brothers and Bloomingdale’s.

Is true love worth the hassle?

Every once in a while I scan the advice columns for a little view into humanity. It’s interesting to see what folks are struggling with and especially interesting to see how advice columnists respond.

More than every once in a while I come across something that seems to encapsulate where our crazy culture is in its thinking about relationships.