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Monthly Archives: June 2007

‘Sicko’ plays fast and loose with the facts

Michael Moore's new movie, "Sicko," should be called "Skipo," since it skips over so many facts en route to government medicine. An engaging and surprisingly funny Moore explores a grim topic: America's problematic health-care system. HMOs and other managed-care companies often earn billions by just saying no to the gravely ill. Moore introduces us to real men, women and children who this industry has failed.

Taking a step backwards

In 1954, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that students could not be assigned to public schools solely because of their race. This past week, a deeply divided high court ruled, 5 to 4, that this is still the case. But the social context has changed dramatically over the intervening 53 years. Back then, the racial criterion was a tool to keep black and white students apart. Now, school districts, often pursuant to court orders, assign on the basis of race to ensure that black and white students attend school together.

NRA under fire over gun-control bill

The July Fourth fireworks over the Washington Monument are nothing compared with the sounds of battle accompanying an uncommon war raging on Capitol Hill, gun-rights Web sites and radio talk shows. Under fire is the National Rifle Association's embrace in June of what some are calling the most important gun-control measure passed in the House in years.

Brownback details ‘hatred’ of Clintons

Sam Brownback says he harbored a "hatred" of Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton until he experienced a religious awakening in the mid-1990s. Brownback, a Republican presidential hopeful, details in a new book how the change in outlook led him to make a stunning apology to Hillary Clinton a few years later during a Senate prayer breakfast. "I was considering what I should say when I confronted all the anger that I held for the Clintons," the Kansas senator writes in the book, "From Power to Purpose: A Remarkable Journey of Faith and Compassion."

Another Justice Dept. official quits

An assistant attorney general at the Justice Department announced her resignation on Friday, becoming the seventh official to quit the department since the Democratic-led Congress launched an investigation in March into the firing of nine federal prosecutors. Rachel Brand, assistant attorney general for legal policy, said she would step down on July 9. No reason was given. Brand was nominated to her position on March 29, 2005, and confirmed by the Senate four months later.

Right-wing Court: Bush’s only legacy?

Facing stirrings of Republican revolt over Iraq and domestic policy disappointment, US President George W. Bush can at least point to the Supreme Court for an enduring legacy. America's ultimate constitutional arbiter has tilted rightwards under Bush -- a shift that could endure for decades even if a Democrat returns to the White House in next year's election. Analysts pointed to a slew of rulings in the court's just-ended 2006-07 term that hit many of the right buttons for Bush's Republican base including on abortion, free speech and affirmative action.

Battered Bush runs home to daddy

President George W. Bush did not tarry before going fishing on arrival at the family vacation spot in Kennebunkport, where the Atlantic held more promise than angling in the dangerous shoals of Washington. For Bush, Friday's fishing trip with his father probably did not prove to be more disappointing than wrangling with Congress, run by Democrats, or the sight of fellow Republicans ready to bolt. Late this week, the Senate buried what was to be his last great legislative initiative of his presidency: immigration reform. And some of his fellow Republicans in Congress have joined the growing chorus against the Iraq war. Bush, uncharacteristically embittered, promised to meet with Congress after the July 4 Independence Day holiday to work on the budget.

Defiant Dems challenge Bush, Cheney

Democrats took the first steps Friday in what could be a long march to court in a tug-of-war between the White House and Congress over subpoenas and executive and legislative branch powers. In a letter to White House counsel Fred Fielding, the heads of the Senate and House Judiciary committees demanded an explanation in 10 days of why the White House claimed executive privilege on subpoenaed documents and vowed to invoke "the full force of law."

Even sex has abandoned Washington

In 1983, as chief of staff for a newly-elected member of Congress, I interviewed many applicants for jobs in our office. Some were earnest, sincere-sounding youngsters who said they wanted to "do something to help America." I helped America by not hiring them. Others were shopworn Capitol Hill veterans who had never worked outside of government. Didn't hire them either. Still others were recent law school graduates looking to work for low wages to get a foot in the door. No jobs for them in our office: Too many lawyers in Washington already.

Why are we in so much trouble?

It is a funny thing, power. In certain circumstances, the very nature of "Power" precludes its use. A great example was the cold war when the USSR and USA pointed thousands of uranium tipped long distance rocks at each other. To use that power was to lose it, and perhaps to lose everything.