When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton jets to Paris this week for a meeting of the Contact Group on Libya (e.g., France, Britain), no doubt there’ll be plenty of self-congratulations over the end of Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s 42-year dictatorship.
The most pressing question within the international community and in Washington is about the immediate to medium-term future of the country. Will the Transitional National Council swiftly install its bureaucracies in Tripoli and across the country? Will Qaddafi’s supporters accept the new rule or will they become the new rebels? And most importantly, are the current rebels united in their vision for a new Libya?
The topic of the day, both in Washington, DC and in the states, is how to cut the deficits. One of the best ways to proceed, which has so far received scant attention, is for the federal government and most states to change the peculiar way they tax liquor, wine, and beer. With the exception of those 18 states that sell alcohol themselves, all the other states and the federal government impose a specific fee on each bottle or barrel of alcohol—rather than collect a percentage of the take. As a result, as the price of booze rises, as that of most products does over time, the amount the government collects stays the same. Moreover, the effect of the tax on deterring alcohol abuse is diluted.
Why did Andres Brevik go on a mass murder spree in Oslo? The motivation may forever remain unknown. However, in the wake of the carnage that left over 70 dead, the summer of 2011 will forever be indelibly burned in the memory of every Norwegian as the Summer of Hate. America had a summer like that in 1966 when the nation was similarly stunned by mass murder, shootings, and violence - the Summer of Hate in America.
A man died this week. He was 47 years old. He was not famous. TMZ never wrote about him. He was never invited to the White House to meet the President. He spent most of his time in a small office stocked with pastry and fruit juices when he wasn’t running back and forth to a school gym or coordinating lunchtime activities. But, there was something charmingly unique about him. I knew that from the first time I saw his shining eyes and warm smile. His name was John Sawaya and he was my friend.
The Bama just wrapped up a three day “listening tour” in the heartland. At the conclusion of his “One Nation, Under the Bus” Tour, he seemed pretty satisfied that he had heard the wishes of the people.
Thirty-four years ago today, Elvis Presley died of a drug overdose at his Graceland estate. The man who brought rock n’ roll to mainstream America and revolutionized music as a result remains a cultural icon. Thousands of people still make pilgrimages to Memphis, and he earns more money dead than he did while alive.
When the Iraq war started to go badly, President Bush got pounded in the press. He got attacked for not changing strategy fast enough and for keeping leaders too long who were held responsible for the mission going south so dramatically.
A representative of Standard & Poor’s said on television that the normal period for a nation to repair its damaged credit rating was 9 to 18 years. That is probably what America faces as it tries to recover from the first credit downgrade in its entire history, which occurred last week.
Asked why he robbed more than 100 banks, the legendary Willie Sutton supposedly replied: “Go where the money is . . . and go there often.” In the wake of the debt-ceiling deal, the worry now is that Congress and President Obama are going to treat the US defense budget the way Sutton treated banks.
Since she became the Chairwoman of the Democrat National Committee, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz has given Joe Biden a run for his money in the gaffe department. She has jumped the shark several times in the past few weeks, including claiming that the Republicans want to go back “to Jim Crow” and pounded the GOP for believing that illegal immigration “should in fact be a crime.” DWS, not to be confused with DSK, is the court jester in a party full of clowns.
Since the end of World War II, American medicine has been acclaimed throughout the world for mass vaccination programs in the quest to eradicate deadly infectious diseases. In the 1950s, Dr. Jonas Salk became an international hero with his discovery of the polio vaccine, when polio was a global scourge. Dr. Baruch Blumberg, who died recently, won the 1976 Nobel Prize for discovering the hepatitis B virus and developing the vaccine that prevented hepatitis and liver cancer caused by the virus. He is a revered figure in China, Taiwan and other parts of Asia where hepatitis B is endemic because the vaccine he developed saved millions of lives. Salk, Blumberg and other vaccine pioneers are true 20th century heroes of American medicine.