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The economy is improving, but not everyone is sharing in the better times

Amid other good news about the U.S. economy — a declining unemployment rate, lower child poverty — the Federal Reserve has just reported that the net worth of U.S. households rose $1.4 trillion, to $81.5 trillion, during the second quarter of 2014. This means that families’ assets, such as homes and stocks, have risen roughly $23 trillion in value since the depths of the “Great Recession” in 2009. Credit the market on Wall Street and recovering real estate prices, both partly attributable to the Fed’s easy-money policies.

Immigration stutter-steps

President Barack Obama’s zigs and zags in pursuit of immigration reform are a long-unfolding narrative now assuming epic dimensions. In the latest installment, Obama has postponed the unilateral reforms he promised to have unveiled by now. He did so not for any high-minded purpose but rather to avoid dealing mortal blows to the re-election of a handful of Democratic senators who begged the president to hold off.

Obama needs Congress to approve this war

WASHINGTON — The United States last declared war many wars ago, on June 5, 1942, when, to clarify legal ambiguities during a world conflagration, it declared war on Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. Today’s issue is not whether to declare war but only whether the president should even seek congressional authorization for the protracted use of force against the Islamic State.

Finally combating Ebola

With people dying in the streets of the Liberian capital, President Barack Obama has at last ramped up the U.S. response to the worst outbreak ever of the Ebola virus in West Africa. The fresh surge of support announced Tuesday represents a welcome change of course. No one knows if the package outlined by Obama at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be sufficient, but at least the United States has started to act like the world’s indispensable nation.

Short on firepower

In launching two previous wars in Iraq, the United States assembled formidable coalitions of dozens of countries. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria and Oman were among the Arab states that deployed substantial ground forces during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Though derided by some as a “unilateral” U.S. action, the 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq was supported by troops from 39 countries, nine of which deployed more than 1,000 soldiers.

Can Congress be responsible?

WASHINGTON — There was a moment in the last quarter-century when the Congress of the United States made the nation proud. It did so across all its usual lines of division: Republican and Democratic, conservative and liberal, hawk and dove.

Dove Obama makes a reluctant hawk

As he offered to the nation his prescription for the most recent Middle East crisis, President Barack Obama reminded me of Michael Corleone in “The Godfather: Part III.” “Just when I thought I was out,” sighed the young mob boss about his efforts to leave the family business, “they pull me back in.”

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The new politics of foreign policy

WASHINGTON — Over the last decade, Americans’ views on foreign policy have swung sharply from support for intervention to a profound mistrust of any military engagement overseas. Over the same period, political debates on foreign affairs have been bitter and polarized, defined by the question of whether the invasion of Iraq was a proper use of the nation’s power or a catastrophic mistake.

Alala program isn’t really something to crow about

Once again the environmental scientist types are bragging of their successes in rearing captive alala and feeding them with hand-held puppets allegedly so the chicks “imprint” themselves to what looks like their natural mother. But, do these artificial crows and their human counterparts speak “alala”? According to these scientists, once these captive-bred alala “imprint” to their captive surroundings, they will ultimately be released to the wild. It is no secret that anyone can get straight A’s in the classroom but out in the real world, alala-la-la … good luck. I predict the reintroduction of alala into the wild will be another “F” for the Fish and Wildlife Service at the wasted expense of our tax dollars. Keep in mind; they will not let up brainwashing you because their paycheck depends on it.

The global complacency on Ebola must end

The Ebola epidemic now sweeping West Africa is a public health catastrophe, yet the world’s response has been to treat it like a faraway monsoon or volcano, perhaps frightening but not something that much can be done about. This complacency is wrong-headed and dangerous. The catastrophe is worsening by the day because of the actions and inactions of people, those on the ground and those far away.

Extremism in defense of re-election

WASHINGTON — Since Barry Goldwater, accepting the Republicans’ 1964 presidential nomination, said “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice,” Democrats have been decrying Republican “extremism.” Actually, although there is abundant foolishness and unseemliness in American politics, real extremism — measures or movements that menace the Constitution’s architecture of ordered liberty — is rare. This week, however, extremism stained the Senate.

When moderates fight back

WASHINGTON — The missing component in the machinery of American politics has been moderate-to-liberal Republicanism, and the gears of government are grinding very loudly. You wonder if Kansas and Alaska have come up with a solution to this problem.