No doubt the degraded quality of congressional oversight astonishes Thomas Pickering, the distinguished American diplomat who oversaw the State Department's Benghazi review board — although he tries not to say so too directly. For his demanding and difficult effort — only the most recent in a long history of public service under both Republican and Democratic administrations — Pickering has found himself under sustained attack by Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the excitable partisan who chairs the House Government Reform Committee. More »Benghazi Interview: Pickering Dissects Congressional Follies, Media Coverage and 'Cover-Up' Charges
Opinion - Joe Conason
Having served in Congress for more than three decades — and in the upper chamber since 1996 — Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden has established a reputation as one of the Senate's more serious and diligent members. Over the years on Capitol Hill, he has watched the Republican Party veer constantly further rightward, and yet he continues to believe against all evidence that bipartisan legislative cooperation is possible — even likely. ... More »The Newsmaker Memo: an Interview With Ron Wyden, the Senate's Powerful Policy Wonk
Less than four months after Barack Obama's inauguration, the right-wing propaganda machine is already promoting the only imaginable conclusion to a Democratic administration that dares to achieve a second term: impeachment. Once confined to the ranks of the birthers, the fantasy of removing President Obama from office is starting to fester in supposedly saner minds. More »Watergate Revenge: Republicans Yearning to Impeach Obama Over Benghazi 'Cover-Up'
Like all such monuments that former presidents construct to edify the public, the George W. Bush Presidential Center — opened with great ceremony in Texas last week — is mounted from its subject's point of view. More »Overdue Questions: What Might Be Missing From Bush's Presidential Library
Having directed NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies for most of the past four decades, Dr. James E. Hansen retired this month to devote himself to the scientific activism that has brought both awards and catcalls during his long and distinguished career. On April 24, he will receive the Ridenhour Courage Prize in Washington, D.C., for "bravely and urgently telling the truth about climate change." More »The Newsmaker Memo: An Interview With Pioneering Climate Scientist James Hansen
What can Americans learn from the bitter debate over the gun reform bill? More »Soft on Crime: Protecting the 'Second Amendment Rights' of Thugs and Terrorists
Amid all the suffocating claptrap celebrating Margaret Thatcher in the media, only the British themselves seem able to provide a refreshing hit of brisk reality. Over here, she is the paragon of principle known as the "Iron Lady," devoted to freedom, democracy and traditional values who bolstered the West against encroaching darkness. Over there, she is seen clearly as a class warrior, whose chief accomplishments involved busting unions and breaking the post-war social contract. More »Her Tea Party: What Margaret Thatcher Really Meant to England and the World
Anthony Lewis, the former New York Times reporter and columnist who died Monday at the age of 86, shaped the American conscience on a broad range of issues, from civil liberties and civil rights to war and diplomacy, for almost 50 years. During his long career, Lewis won numerous awards and published several important books. Unlike many men of his generation who rose to high positions in journalism, he was a charming and thoughtful man who could listen as intently as he talked. More »Without Fear or Favor: the Heresies and Vindications of Anthony Lewis, 1927 to 2013
Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, recently spoke with The National Memo about the sequester's automatic budget cuts, the danger of cuts to Social Security, the Keystone XL pipeline, immigration reform, President Obama and how to defend labor in an era of attacks on the right to organize. More »The Newsmaker Memo: an Interview With AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
Someone needs to tell Paul Ryan that his party — and the economic platform of austerity and plutocracy he crafted for it — lost a national election last year. Someone also needs to tell the Wisconsin Republican that he still chairs the House Budget Committee mainly thanks to gerrymandered redistricting. More »Ryan's Blurred Vision: What the 'New' Republican Budget Reveals (and Conceals)
The difference between a natural disaster and a disaster caused by politicians is that the latter will almost always hit the poor and the obscure most heavily, while a hurricane or a flood will at least sometimes spread the suffering more evenly. More »Eventually Sequester Will Cause Real Pain -- And Among First to Suffer Will Be Hungry Children
Indebted America is in danger of turning into destitute Greece, or so congressional Republicans and conservative commentators have been warning us for years now. For many reasons, this is an absurd comparison — but it may not always be quite so ridiculous if Washington's advocates of austerity get their way More »While Republicans Warn Against 'Greece,' That Is Exactly Where Austerity Budgeting Will Lead U.S.
Savvy Republicans know that something is deeply wrong with the GOP — frequently mocked these days by Republicans themselves as "the stupid party" — which has lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. Some have noticed as well that their congressional majority is so widely despised — its main achievement being historically low public approval ratings — as to be sustainable only by gerrymandering. ... More »Staying Stupid: Why the 'Hip' Young Republicans Can't Change Their Party (or Themselves)
No doubt President Obama was deeply stung over the weekend to hear Dick Cheney criticize his new national security team. At a Wyoming Republican Party dinner, the former vice president briskly dismissed Obama's choices as "dismal," saying that America needs "good people" rather than the "second-rate" figures selected by the president, particularly Vietnam veteran and long-time U.S. senator Chuck Hagel, nominated by the president as Secretary of Defense. More »Dismal Indeed: Why Dick Cheney Disdains The 'Second-Rate' Obama Team
When Bill Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act on Feb. 5, 1993 almost exactly 20 years ago as the first legislative act of his presidency, its establishment as law marked a progressive victory after nearly a decade of ferocious opposition by corporate lobbyists, Republican legislators, conservative media and right-wing pundits. More »After 20 Years, Success of Family and Medical Leave Act Should Humble the Far Right
Anyone truly concerned about the safety of U.S. diplomatic personnel abroad — and that should include every American — has fresh reason for fury over last September's disaster in Benghazi and its aftermath. But the target of public anger should not be Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose conduct has been exemplary ever since the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three of his brave colleagues lost their lives last September. ... More »Benghazi Hearings: Capitol Hill's Angry Little Men Keep Making Hillary Bigger
So much for the "Grand Bargain" — or at least for the not-so-grand gutting of Social Security and Medicare that the "very serious" thought-leaders of Washington political and media circles have always found so appealing. Whatever President Obama may have contemplated up until now, his second inaugural address, delivered yesterday on the steps of the Capitol, bluntly repudiated Republican arguments against the social safety net — and forcefully identified those popular programs with the most sacred American values. More »Echoes of FDR: Obama's Inspiring Address Links Freedom With Security and Dignity
A prolonged confrontation over the nation's debt ceiling — unlike the "fiscal cliff," which provoked many scary headlines — could truly be grave for both America and the world. While press coverage often mentions the possibility of lowered credit ratings for the U.S. Treasury (again), that might only be the mildest consequence if Republicans in Congress actually refuse to authorize borrowing and avoid default. More »Before Default, Let Republicans Bump Up Hard Against The Debt Ceiling
When Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina warned on national television over the weekend that Chuck Hagel "would be the most antagonistic secretary of defense toward the state of Israel in our nation's history," either his memory served him very poorly — or he was simply lying to smear his former Senate colleague. For whatever Hagel's perspective on Mideast policy may be, it would be absurd to compare him with the Secretary of Defense whose hardline hostility toward Israel became notorious during the Reagan administration. More »'Most Antagonistic' Toward Israel? That Would Be Ronald Reagan's Defense Secretary
If Chuck Hagel is nominated by President Obama to serve as Secretary of Defense, there will be at least three compelling arguments in his favor. He served with distinction in the military and would — like Secretary of State nominee John Kerry — bring a veteran's perspective to his post. He has adopted and articulated a sane perspective on the grave foreign policy blunders whose consequences still haunt the nation, including the Iraq and Vietnam wars. And as we have learned ever since his nomination was first floated, he has made all the right (and right-wing) enemies. More »Veterans Denounce Neoconservative 'Swiftboating' of Chuck Hagel
What may finally consume the House Republicans is their boundless contempt for the American public — a contempt bluntly demonstrated in their refusal to consider any reasonable compromise with President Obama to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" on Dec. 31. They know from the election results (and every poll) that the public believes taxes should be raised on the wealthy. They know that the public wants bipartisan compromise. ... More »What Americans Should Learn From the 'Republican Apocalypse'
Raising taxes on the rich alone won't close the deficit or erase the national debt, as Republicans superciliously inform us over and over again. But in their negotiations with the White House to avert the so-called fiscal cliff, congressional Republicans seem obsessed with a change in Medicare eligibility whose budgetary impact (when compared with ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy) is truly negligible — but whose human toll would be immense. More »Raising Medicare Age Won't Save Money But Will Cost Lives
If President Obama honestly wants to negotiate an agreement with Republicans before the year-end fiscal deadline, he must be deeply frustrated. And if he doesn't really want to negotiate with them, then he should be delighted, for the same reason: Their latest "offer" laid before him by House Speaker John Boehner demonstrates again their refusal to reveal their true intentions — and their inability to do simple arithmetic. More »Arithmetic For Republicans: Why Boehner's 'Offer' Just Doesn't Add Up
With the Republican right persisting in baseless persecution of Susan Rice, the U.N. Ambassador who may replace departing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, it has left President Obama little choice but to move ahead with her nomination. If he backs away from Rice, in the face of what he has called false accusations against her, that display of weakness would undermine his second term before it begins. More »In Baseless Persecution of Rice, Republican Reputations Will Sink
Hearing so much chatter about "change" in the Republican Party, the innocent voter might believe that the Republicans had learned important lessons from their stinging electoral defeat. On closer examination, however, the likelihood of real change appears nil because the party's leaders and thinkers can cite so many excuses to remain utterly the same. More »Change? Learn? Compromise? Grow? Not These Republicans
What Barack Obama tried to tell America in the hour of his remarkable victory is that the nation's future won on Election Day. Seeking to inspire and to heal, the reelected president offered an open hand to partisan opponents in the style that has always defined him. More »When Obama Won, So Did America's Future
"I'm a son of Detroit. I was born in Detroit. My dad was head of a car company. I like American cars," said Mitt Romney on Monday night when he met with President Obama to discuss foreign policy. "And I would do nothing to hurt the U.S. auto industry." More »No Denial: 'Son Of Detroit' Profited From Bailout -- and Jobs Shipped to China
When innocent citizens asked about unemployment last night at the town hall presidential debate on Long Island, would Mitt Romney again tout his plan to create 12 million jobs? Unable to Etch-a-Sketch away that often repeated claim — one that he has hired several conservative economists to endorse — the Republican candidate had little choice. It's up on his campaign website, it's there in his own well-advertised words, and it is the central appeal of his candidacy for the non-billionaire voting bloc. More »Bad Arithmetic: Top Romney Economist Admits 'Jobs Plan' Numbers Don't Compute
Unemployment is still too high, income is still too low and the recovery is still much too slow — but the United States is faring considerably better than other developed nations against the threat of a renewed recession. More »Why Is America "the Sole Bright Spot" in World Economy?
On the same day that Mitt Romney cracked his birther "joke," new evidence indicated that he and his partners at Bain Capital have used questionable methods to avoid federal taxes — including a scheme that transforms corporate stock into untaxed offshore "derivatives" and a practice that converts management fees into capital gains, which are taxed at a far lower rate. More »Foreign Affairs: How Romney's Millions Went Tax-Free Overseas
Defending himself against the perception that he has no significant foreign policy experience, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan has drawn fresh attention to one of the most controversial acts of the past decade: the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq before U.N. weapons inspections were completed. Ryan now points to his vote for war as a token of his readiness to serve in the White House, but he is on the wrong side of both history and public opinion. More »The Wrong Kind of Experience: Paul Ryan's Big Foreign Policy Credential
To take Ryan seriously, as all too many pundits and politicians insist we must, requires everyone to behave as if the plans he produced as House Budget Committee chairman represent a meaningful effort to improve the nation's fiscal future. Sooner or later, however, real analysts will scrutinize the Ryan budget using honest math instead of humbug and magic. More »Ryan's Hope: Voodoo Economics Still Isn't a Plan
Harry Reid has provoked outrage among liberals as well as conservatives, who seem to believe he has violated propriety by repeating gossip about Mitt Romney's taxes. The Senate leader says someone connected with Romney told him that the Republican candidate paid no income taxes for a period of 10 years. Offended by Reid's audacity, commentators on the right have indicted him for "McCarthyism," while others on the left have accused him of inventing the whole story. More »The Missing Evidence' in Romney's Tax Records
If Mitt Romney's purpose in traveling abroad this summer was to prove his credentials as a potential world leader, the verdict is mixed at best. Neither his tendency to utter bizarre insults nor his shallow, ideological approach to policy inspired much confidence, although he managed to garner support from Israel's right-wing prime minister and an eccentric former leader in Poland. (Our allies in the United Kingdom may never want to hear from him again.) More »Kiss My Ass': Fear and Loathing in the Romney Campaign
In the wake of yet another well-armed madman killing and maiming innocent Americans, we are again rediscovering the malign influence of the NRA (correctly described by Alan Berlow as the criminals' lobby). But the political salience of the Aurora tragedy extends beyond the usually sterile argument over gun control. More »Wounded and Pregnant, an Aurora Family Without Health Coverage
As the Obama years unfold, observers who lived through the Clinton era sometimes have the eerie feeling that they have been here before — particularly when directing their gaze toward the far right. The roiling paranoia and hatred that marred American politics when Bill and Hillary Clinton were in the White House has resurfaced in attacks on Barack and Michelle Obama, who like the Clintons have been maligned repeatedly as communist, subversive, Satanic and, above all, illegitimate. More »Must We Go Here Again? Birthers, Neo-birthers and Right-wing Sleaze
If We're Headed Toward Greece, Republicans Are Driving Us There More »If We're Headed Toward Greece, Republicans Are Driving Us There
The Fourth of July is the birthday of American exceptionalism — originally, the idea cherished by the nation's Revolutionary founders that the practice of liberty, equality and democracy in these United States would kindle hope in a world downtrodden by every form of despotism, hierarchy and oppression. More »Defining American Exceptionalism
Forever incapable of embarrassment, let alone sober reflection, Karl Rove is very well suited to his current roles as Fox News commentator and Crossroads Super PAC smear sponsor. But he achieved a moment of near-perfection last Thursday when, appearing on a Fox morning news broadcast, he spoke up about President Obama's invocation of executive privilege against a House committee subpoena of Justice Department documents. More »Fox's Brazen Star: Karl Rove Rebukes Obama on Executive Privilege Claim
This week, Republicans on Capitol Hill opened yet another front in their continuous sniping against the Obama administration, the Justice Department and Attorney General Eric Holder. Having demanded a federal investigation of intelligence leaks, they now claim to be outraged because Holder has asked two United States attorneys to conduct that probe — and one of the two happens to be a Democrat. More »Republicans Swoon Over Holder's Partisan' Leak Probers (and Forget Ken Starr)
When Mitt Romney was a college freshman, he told fellow residents of his Stanford University dormitory that he sometimes disguised himself as a police officer — a crime in many states, including Michigan and California, where he then lived. And he had the uniform on display as proof. More »Did Young Romney Impersonate a Police Officer? Another Witness Says Yes
If the Wisconsin recall is truly second in importance only to the presidential race, as many media outlets have trumpeted lately, then why have those same outlets so badly neglected one of that election's most salient aspects? More »Silent Running: The Burgeoning Wisconsin Scandal That Major Media Ignored
Cory Booker's emotional televised plea to "stop attacking private equity" may have been the single greatest service he could perform for the Romney campaign. His immediate attempt to revise his remarks on behalf of President Obama, for whom he is supposed to act as a surrogate, only highlighted his earlier insistence that the harsh campaign criticism of Bain Capital, which he specifically defended, is "nauseating." More »Why Cory Booker Got Bain Capital So Wrong
For Mitt Romney, the president's greatest vulnerability seems to be that Barack Obama is no Bill Clinton — and he is seeking to exploit that perception in his public speeches attacking the incumbent. On Tuesday, the presumptive GOP nominee drew the contrast for an audience in Iowa, harking back to a famous Clinton speech in 1996. More »Where's the Beef'? Clinton's Answer to Romney Snark
For honoring his conscience on the issue of marriage equality, President Obama earned angry rebukes from all quarters on the right, including the Uncle Toms of the Log Cabin Republicans, who said he was "a day late and a dollar short"; teenage mom Bristol Palin, who mocked him for invoking his daughters in changing "thousands of years of thinking about marriage"; and 50-year-old virgin Ann Coulter, often engaged but never wed, who called his decision "a sign of desperation." More »The Only True Way to Save Marriage From Obama
Just as aspiring judges ought to possess the quality known as "judicial temperament," a would-be president should have certain obvious attributes of mind and character. Two incidents tested Mitt Romney this week — and both times, his ambition overwhelmed his judgment. More »What the China Crisis (and His Gay Crisis) Revealed About Mitt
Nothing aggravates Republicans like seeing nasty, effective tactics upon which they have so long relied being turned against one of their candidates. So when Barack Obama's re-election campaign aired an ad celebrating the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death — and suggesting that Mitt Romney wouldn't have achieved that objective — the right exploded with outraged protests. More »Why Obama's bin Laden Ad Drives Republicans Crazy
Representative Barney Frank, who is not seeking re-election, gave a memorable exit interview this week to New York magazine suggesting that President Barack Obama "underestimated, as did Clinton, the sensitivity of people to what they see as an effort to make them share the health care with poor people." More »Barney Frank Makes a Misdiagnosis on Obamacare
With the Republican primary contest over and the general election underway, Mitt Romney faces a voting public whose disdain for him has reached levels that pollsters describe as "historic." From his embittered opponents as well as from Romney and his campaign, Americans have learned that the former Massachusetts governor simply won't uphold any political position, issue or achievement he thinks might cost him votes. He doesn't seem to understand that his inconstancy forfeits more respect than any disagreeable opinion would. More »What Mitt Romney Seems to Believe (and Why He's so Disliked)
When George W. Bush made his first public appearance in many months to discuss economic policy in New York on Tuesday, his utterances may have revealed more than he intended. "I wish they weren't called the 'Bush tax cuts,'" he said of the decade-old rate reductions that bear his name. But does he really believe, as he seemed to suggest, that Americans want to let those cuts expire from a desire to spite him? Or is there a deeper Bush somewhere within who would prefer not to be associated with fiscal profligacy and ideological overreach? More »What's in a Name? George W. Regrets Dubbing Those Bush Tax Cuts'
How the Supreme Court majority will rule on President Obama's Affordable Care Act may well have been foretold months or perhaps years ago — not so much by their questions during argument this week, as by their flagrant displays of bias outside the court, where certain justices regularly behave as dubiously as any sleazy officeholder. More »The High Court's Supremely Unethical Activists
Despite significant negative signals, the final outcome of this week's arguments over the Affordable Care Act will remain unknown until the Supreme Court issues a ruling in June. What is painfully obvious today, however, should have been clear enough long before any of the lawyers opened their mouths. The five Republican justices represent an ideological bloc as adamantly hostile to universal health care — no matter the cost in lost lives or squandered trillions — as in 1965, when Medicare passed. More »If Obamacare Goes, Will America "Let Him Die"?
If the foreign adversaries and competitors of the United States imagined a future that would fulfill their most ambitious objectives, it might begin with a government crippled by the House Republican leadership's "Ryan budget" released on Tuesday. Followed to its absurd conclusion, this document would lead America toward a withered state, approaching the point where Marxian dreams and Randian dogma converge. More »Paul Ryan's Plan for American Decline
For everyone who originally supported the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan to oust the Taliban, the question today is how what was once a righteous mission can end in anything but ruin. Blaming the Bush administration's neglect and incompetence for the critical failures of the first several years is fair enough, but it is not easy to argue, let alone prove, that the Obama administration has improved upon the mess it inherited. More »What Are We Doing in Afghanistan?
Seeking applause from a right-wing audience in Michigan, Mitt Romney vowed on Saturday: "I will cut spending, I will cap spending, and I will finally balance the budget," saying that he will end federal funding for all the usual Republican budgetary scapegoats — the Public Broadcasting System, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He has said much the same thing many times in recent months, hoping to woo the tea party extremists who keep rejecting his candidacy. More »Romney's Budget-balancing for Dummies
Rumors and whispers of a late presidential bid by Jeb Bush are difficult to consider seriously — if only because the deadlines to enter primary contests have past, the necessary money and campaign staff are not in place, and the mechanisms for a "brokered convention" do not exist. And yet some worried Republicans are evidently imagining a rescue by the former Florida governor. More »Desperate Fantasy: Can Jeb Bush Save the GOP?
What is most striking about the showdown over contraceptive freedom is not the political victory that President Obama earned by standing up for women's reproductive rights, although his Republican adversaries are certainly helping him to make the most of it. Those adversaries don't seem to realize they have fallen into a trap, whether the White House set them up intentionally or not. More »Will Catholic Bishops and the Religious Right Save Obama?
If the Conservative Political Action Conference can be expected to accomplish anything more than angry bellowing, it is to reliably embarrass every decent and sane conservative in America. Sometimes the problem is a conspiratorial extremist co-sponsor, like the John Birch Society; sometimes the problem is a certifiable kook giving the keynote address, like Glenn Beck; and sometimes the problem is just vicious bullying of gay conservatives, who have been officially expelled from the conference. More »White Nationalists Share Spotlight With GOP at CPAC
Mitt Romney's convincing victory in the Florida primary erased his earlier defeats and perhaps any serious obstacle to his nomination. The question that still troubles party leaders, however, is the damage he will sustain before returning to Tampa in September for their convention. More »The High Cost of Romney's Scorching Victory
Why the Republicans chose Mitch Daniels — the Indiana governor who once thrilled right-wing pundits as a 2012 hopeful — to deliver a rebuttal to President Obama's State of the Union address is puzzling. His uninspiring remarks surely killed the Daniels fad, revived lately as Republicans fret over the unappetizing choices available in their primaries. More »Mitch Daniels: Bombast From the Past
Mitt Romney's latest flip-flop is almost complete. Having vowed a month ago not to release his federal income tax returns, the Republican presidential front-runner conceded during Saturday night's debate that he would "probably" release his returns, and then on Tuesday afternoon finally said he will do so — in April, long after he is likely to have secured his party's nomination. ... More »Tax Day: Will Romney Make April Fools of Republicans
For Mitt Romney, Tuesday night's triumph in the New Hampshire primary offered a tempting opportunity to gloat. Such unattractive conduct is no longer surprising from the Republican front-runner, who is enduring the gradual disclosure of his personality. More »Bitter Primary Reveals the Real Romney
Politicians and their flacks lie every day, but it is unusual for someone prominent to utter a totally indefensible falsehood like the whopper that just sprang from the mouth of Eric Cantor's press secretary on national television. More »Did Reagan Raise Taxes? Let GOP Candidates Answer
The latest evidence of simmering racial resentment on the American political fringe showed up Monday in a Facebook post by a California man who urged the assassination of the president and his two daughters in obscene, racist language. Aside from the Secret Service, there was little reason for most of us to pay attention to this sick boob — except that he was identified as a local political leader of the tea party and an avid supporter of Rep. Ron Paul, the Texas Republican who now seems likely to place first in the Iowa presidential caucuses. More »The Lethal Fantasies of Dear Old Ron Paul
If these are the last weeks of Rick Perry's ridiculous presidential campaign, his desperation is turning him into a nasty clown indeed. By publicly attacking the gays and lesbians who have chosen to serve their country in uniform, the Texas governor seems to have gained ground in Iowa. But at what cost did he win a few points that still leave him well below the top tier? His pollster and consultant Tony Fabrizio has been "outed," rightly or wrongly — and worse still, the swinging closet door of the Republican Party has been flung open again. Who else will be found inside? More »The Republican Closet That Won't Stay Closed
Tasteless and questionable as it was for CNN to "co-sponsor" a Republican presidential debate with a pair of right-wing Washington think-tanks, at least the branding was accurate. There among the honored interlocutors were the authors of dismal failure and national disgrace in the Bush era, such as Paul Wolfowitz and David Addington, whose presence helpfully reminds us that to elect a Republican risks a presidency that will make the same gross moral and strategic errors, or worse. ... More »Unacceptable in Today's GOP? Realism and Compassion
Very few politicians have provided as much villainous entertainment over the years as Newt Gingrich, who now assures everyone that he has "matured" since his brief and tumultuous reign on Capitol Hill. More »New 'Mature' Newt Is Just Same Old Gingrich
At a time when nations that tax, spend, regulate and invest more consistently outstrip the United States in many measures of progress, leading Republicans speak only of smashing government and ending vital programs. In this constantly escalating rhetorical game, it became inevitable that one of them would eventually expose the emptiness of this vainglorious display. And it was unsurprising that the ultimate faker would turn to be Rick Perry. More »Mindless -- But Always Talking Loud
Americans listen when Michael Bloomberg speaks, not only because he is the mayor of New York City, but because he is a self-made billionaire and a smart guy. People think Bloomberg knows a lot about business and investment, which he surely does. But he nevertheless sounds terribly misinformed sometimes, as he did the other day — when he complained that "Occupy Wall Street" is unfairly blaming the nation's big bankers for the crash and recession, when the real culprits are Congress and the government-sponsored housing lenders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. More »Bloomberg vs. Occupy Wall Street
Lauded by the Washington press corps for his "courage" and "honesty" in confronting federal deficits and the national debt, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., wrote a budget that almost sank the Republican Party — and may still damage its prospects — because he proposed to dismantle Medicare. Yet his party still relies upon Ryan to speak on behalf of its most important constituency, now known in America and across the world as "the 1 percent." More »Speaking up for That '1 Percent'
Recent expressions of political and religious prejudice against Mormons and the Church of Latter-Day Saints have offered Mitt Romney a chance to play the bullied underdog — and to explain, as he did with clarity and dignity during the Vegas debate, the meaning of the constitutional prohibition against any religious test for public office. More »What Romney's Religion Reveals About His Politics
From the tea parties to the corporate boardrooms to the presidential debate platforms, we hear a familiar droning whine about taxes — except the angry message is no longer simply that taxes are too high. Today, conservative politicians and pundits complain instead that some people, namely those too poor to owe federal income taxes, aren't paying enough. So what if those people can scarcely sustain their families, like the millions of middle-class families doing slightly better but struggling, as well? More »The Tax Hikes That Republicans Love
The young (and not-so-young) protesters who came to Occupy Wall Street — and have stayed despite mass arrests — deserve thanks from the "99 percent" of Americans they claim to represent. More »How (and Why) to Co-opt Those Cops on Wall Street
Watching the Republican presidential candidates and their agitated tea party supporters at the CNN/Tea Party debate, an ordinary citizen might feel confused. Those people sound angry, but exactly what do they believe our government should (and shouldn't) do on behalf of its citizens? More »Preserving Life (Except the Uninsured)
Both as governor of Texas and as the leading Republican presidential candidate, Rick Perry has established himself as a harsh critic of federal programs — and, in particular, as a "state's rights" advocate who accuses Washington of gross ineptitude and waste in providing services such as health care for the poor and elderly. More »How Texas Medicaid Wasted Vast Sums, Lethally
If volunteerism is suddenly unpatriotic and even "socialist," that will come as a nasty surprise to many of the Republicans and conservatives who always have supported such efforts, notably including both presidents named Bush. And if stepping up to help our neighbors and community on 9/11 would somehow dishonor the Americans killed in those infamous attacks — as feverish critics of President Barack Obama now scream — then what do they think actually happened on that day 10 years ago? More »How To Honor the True Spirit of 9/11: First, Ignore Limbaugh
Like so many Republican officials of the tea party persuasion, Rick Perry despises the Environmental Protection Agency — a feeling he has expressed repeatedly in speeches, lawsuits, legislation and even a book titled "Fed Up!" Perhaps that is only natural for the governor of Texas, a "dirty energy" state where the protection of air, water and human health rank well below the defense of oil company profits for most politicians. More »Why Perry Hates Regulators: They're Bad for (His) Business
The global impact of the American debt crisis — and the likelihood of permanent damage to American interests — are already visible to Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., from his perch as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Indeed, he is not only seeing but hearing those effects. More »Why China is Laughing All the Way to the Bank
As America lurches toward new and unfamiliar status as a nation that defaults on its debts, commentators around the world are wondering how the democratic government that was once the most admired in the world — for many reasons — is now so "dysfunctional," to use the polite term. But the truth is that the entire U.S. government is not dysfunctional. Much of the government functions well enough or better, and even the members of the troubled U.S. Senate seem to be trying, a little late, to deal with the problem before us. More »"Dysfunctional" Too Polite to Describe Tea Party Congress
At long last, President Obama seems to have run out of patience with the truculent Republicans who have rejected all of his overtures for a budget deal — just as Moody's and other economic authorities again warned of the potentially catastrophic consequences of a debt default. More »Obama Losing Patience as Republicans Panic
Suddenly Republican leaders in Congress, after months of staring down the Democrats over a potentially disastrous debt default, began blinking so fast that they might be signaling in Morse code. Although their message is muddled and illogical — with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., saying he can accept closing tax loopholes only if such measures are "revenue neutral," thus canceling their budgetary value — the Republicans now appear to understand that they will be blamed by voters if the negotiations collapse. More »Obama's Raw Deal?
Anyone paying attention to the costs of U.S. military action in Iraq and Afghanistan must have known that the president badly underestimated those numbers on June 22, when he told the nation that we have spent "a trillion dollars" waging war over the past decade. For well over two years, we have known that the total monetary cost of those wars will eventually amount to well over $2 trillion, and might well rise higher, according to Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz and his associate Linda Bilmes. More »Four Trillion for War -- and Rising
While the well-deserved departure of Anthony Weiner draws rapt attention in our tabloid nation, the depredations of less colorful but more powerful politicians go unnoticed, so long as no genitalia are involved. More »Washington's Deeper Immorality
Grossly distasteful may be the most dignified way to describe the behavior of Rep. Anthony Weiner, but it is impossible to discuss what he has confessed to doing without words like crazy, predatory, repulsive, irresponsible and immature. If he hopes to preserve his sanity and his marriage, he might well consider abandoning politics for psychiatric care. Without professional help, he will never recover from the narcissism that has warped him and injured everyone close to him. More »The Party of Righteous Indignation
The current puppet play in Congress — where Republicans sponsored a bill to raise the nation's debt ceiling only because they wanted to vote it down — would be funny, if only they weren't risking economic disaster. Unfortunately they're not joking, as they push the country closer and closer to a potentially ruinous default. More »Playing With Default
Still spinning in the vortex of the May 24 tornado in New York's 26th Congressional District, Republican leaders insist that Democrat Kathy Hochul's upset victory on their party's turf was meaningless. They say that Republican nominee Jane Corwin lost because of her own weak campaign, or the presence of a big-spending "tea party" candidate on a third ballot line, or just about anything except the Republican scheme to slash Medicare — which became the dominant topic of debate during the special election's final weeks. More »From Wisconsin to Florida, Strong Winds of Political Remorse
For the longest time, a certain admirable, independent senator from Arizona disappeared from public life, replaced by an irresponsible, opportunistic and occasionally demagogic figure, who seemed to have been warped by his presidential ambitions and his disappointment in losing. But John McCain has now returned, just in time to refute the sinister attempt by his fellow Republicans to justify torture as the instrument of Osama bin Laden's demise. More »The Return of the Real McCain
It is always a happy moment when Americans are reminded of our country's greatness, especially when we are so often warned about its imminent decline — and the elimination of Osama bin Laden, fanatical murderer of thousands of Christians, Jews and Muslims, was certainly such a moment. More »Tough Enough
The aging of the baby boom generation has not improved its reputation. Having brought immense positive change to this country, the postwar population wave is frequently castigated as a self-seeking and even selfish cohort by members of the generations that have followed, who worry that those nearing retirement will cost too much to maintain amid dimming economic prospects. More »A Generation of Termites?
Everything we really need to know about the character of Donald Trump was revealed when the wannabe president frivolously accused Barack Obama's late grandparents of committing fraud with his birth announcement. Trump told CNN that they had placed the Aug. 13, 1961, announcement in the Honolulu Advertiser because they wanted to get "welfare" and other benefits. But this casual falsehood revealed only the tiniest hint of the truth about Trump that Americans will discover if he actually runs for the White House. More »The Trouble With Trump
Having hesitated to fully enter the fiscal fray, President Obama has at last delivered a plausible, principled response to the budgetary flim-flams of the far right. But one speech, even a very good speech, won't fulfill his obligation in this fateful argument. More »Democrats Can Win the Budget Debate
What the meteoric career of Paul Ryan demonstrates is how easily impressed we are whenever a politician purports to restore solvency by punishing the poor and the elderly (while coddling the rich). The Wisconsin Republican congressman's fiscal plan has won rave reviews from both the usual right-wing suspects and some self-styled centrists, who have praised him and his proposals as "serious," "courageous" and even "uplifting." More »Ryan's Plan Neither Serious Nor Courageous
Scarcely any news story induces sleep as swiftly and surely as congressional budget negotiations — a topic that features politicians bickering loudly over huge dollar amounts that lack meaning for most people, while their public posturing reflects little of what is actually going on in the back channels. More »Why the Reckless Republicans Win
Deciding whether to intervene in Libya, the United States and its allies confronted a terrible situation: the immediate imperative — to prevent a promised massacre by the country's dictator, versus the many long-term reasons to stay away, from the uncertainty of success to the very question of what success would mean. On balance, we could not stand by and allow Moammar Gadhafi to carry out his grotesque threat. More »Paradox and Principle in the New Mideast
While there is much stupid behavior to be found among politicians on both sides of the aisle during the embarrassing budget debate, few incidents have been more revealing than the latest Republican attempt to defund National Public Radio. The NPR budget line is miniscule and meaningless; the current "scandal" surrounding NPR is a fake and a diversion; and the repeated complaint that public radio is "liberally biased" is likewise false and fraudulent. More »What's So Scary About NPR?
Despite the dubious credentials of Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., as an opponent of terrorism, owing to his years fronting for the Irish Republican Army, his controversial hearings on the "Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community's Response" might still have proved useful. Had they included testimony from real experts, officials who are responsible for counter-terrorism and actual leaders from the Muslim community, the proceedings could have revealed fresh and important information. More »How Not to Fight Terrorism
If you are a normal, trusting consumer of American journalism, you might well have gotten the impression by now that the current attempt to break public-sector unions — with its epicenter in Wisconsin — is overwhelmingly supported by the nation's voters. More »Don't Believe the (Union-Busting) Hype
"There was once a need for unions, but they've outlived their purpose," said a nice lady interviewed on the radio in Tennessee just the other day. Annoyed by the spectacle of tens of thousands of teachers, firefighters, cops and other public employees rallying to protect their rights in Wisconsin, she was saying what more than a few Americans think about the labor movement. More »Yes, America Still Needs Unions