Now that your focus on table manners around the Thanksgiving dinner table has passed, it’s time to switch to theater manners during this season of nutcrackers and scrooges. A few weeks ago during a terrific production of “Guys and Dolls” at the North Shore Music Theatre, a large man sitting next to me used his ticket stub to floss his teeth and later used his hands to pat his tummy (did he think the orchestra’s percussion section needed help?). I said nothing because “Please floss at home and stop banging your drum” didn’t feel right,
Sen. Mary Landrieu and President Barack Obama can link arms on many pieces of the White House´s proposed budget package, including raising taxes on higher-income Americans and spending more on infrastructure. But Ms. Landrieu, along with a notable handful of Democratic colleagues, parts ways with the White House on one increasingly thorny issue: the president´s call to raise the estate tax as part of Washington´s bid to strike a deficit-cutting deal before year´s end. "This particular tax is inherently unfair," Ms. Landrieu said, adding that she would oppose any year-end
Starting before the Civil War era, America´s political dividing lines were drawn along state and regional borders. Cities and the then-extensive rural areas shared a worldview North and South of the Mason-Dixon line. While there was always tension within states, they were bound by a common politics. The city of Charleston, for example, was as rabidly anti-North as some inland plantation areas. Economic engines, ways of life, and moral philosophies changed at the 36th parallel, where the North began. Today, that divide has vanished. The new political divide is a stark division between cities and what remains of the countryside.
The ways in which the Romney-Ryan ticket beat Democrats on Medicare talking points are detailed in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. Dan Senor and Peter Wehner say the Republicans won on one major issue, Medicare, despite losing the presidential election: That was supposed to be impossible. Republicans were warned that if their nominee made even sympathetic noises about Medicare reform, it would be politically poisonous. Mitt Romney, to his great credit, ignored the warnings. He not only endorsed structural reforms for Medicare, he chose as his running mate
During a press conference in Washington yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad for "their real achievements on the ground" citing the safe streets of the West Bank, the overhaul of government institutions and helping to enhance Israel´s security. Clinton then berated Israel for announcing new settlement construction stating such activities "set back the cause of a negotiated peace." I suppose Hillary thinks Palestinian unilateral declarations of independence are just fine and dandy. Well, last I checked Palestinians were throwing stones at PA buildings
Democrats appear to have the upper hand on the politics of the fiscal cliff, which might explain their brash pronouncements and mind-blowing conceptualization of "compromise." This morning I outlined three possible contingencies for Republicans, none of which is especially attractive. But is there a fourth way? The GOP´s dilemma is a doozy. Their opponents, emboldened by the election, are pushing for counter-productive tax hikes on "the rich" -- a politically popular proposition at the moment -- while offering almost nothing meaningful in return. Meanwhile, Democrats´ allies in the media have been crafting
America is entering a period of prolonged austerity. The entitlement commitments made by past generations have been rendered untenable by demographics and health cost inflation. The problem is no one’s particular fault, but it is very, very large. Failing to get our borrowing under control would deny our children the lives we have had in this country. This readjustment has begun to change the tenor of politics, which is increasingly focused on the distribution of painful burdens. It used to be that a budget compromise between Republicans and Democrats meant that both sides got what they wanted —
For a brief moment last month--roughly a 72-hour span beginning at 11:00 p.m. on November 6 and concluding late in the evening of November 9?—?everyone in America was interested in demographics. That’s because, in addition to rewarding the just, punishing the wicked, and certifying that America was (for the moment) not racist, President Barack Obama’s victory over Mitt Romney pointed to two ineluctable demographic truths. The first was expected: that the growth of the Hispanic-American cohort is irresistible and will radically transform our country’s ethnic future. The second caught people by surprise: that the proportion of unmarried Americans
WASHINGTON — The government on Friday released more than 850 pages of once-secret documents from the Watergate political scandal, providing new insights on privileged legal conversations and prison evaluations of some burglars in the case. A federal judge had decided earlier this month to unseal some material, but other records still remain off limits. The files do not appear to provide any significant new revelations in the 40-year-old case that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon and criminal prosecutions of many of his top White House and political aides. But the files provide useful context for historians,
The small band of strikers that has effectively shut down the nation´s busiest shipping complex forced two huge cargo ships to head for other ports Thursday and kept at least three others away, hobbling an economic powerhouse in Southern California. The disruption is costing an estimated $1 billion a day at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, on which some 600,000 truckers, dockworkers, trading companies and others depend for their livelihoods. "The longer it goes, the more the impacts increase," said Paul Bingham, an economist with infrastructure consulting firm CDM Smith.
The Obama administration wants to make sure that one certain free-range chicken has an easier time crossing the road. But opponents gearing up for yet another fight with the environmental lobby see yet another proposal from this Interior Department to foul up the economy and kill jobs — forged in a closed-door agreement. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it is initiating the process to consider listing the lesser prairie-chicken as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
WASHINGTON – The median net worth of American households has dropped to a 43-year low as the lower and middle classes appear poorer and less stable than they have been since 1969. According to a recent study by New York University economics professor Edward N. Wolff, median net worth is at the decades-low figure of $57,000 (in 2010 dollars). And as the numbers in his study reflect, the situation only appears worse when all the statistics are taken as a whole. According to Wolff, between 1983 and 2010, the percentage of households with less than $10,000
Baton Rouge, La. – Gov. Bobby Jindal´s voucher program that uses tax dollars to send students to private schools was ruled unconstitutional Friday by a state judge who said it´s improperly funded through the public school financing formula. Judge Tim Kelley sided with arguments presented by teacher unions and school boards seeking to shut down the voucher program and other changes that would funnel more money away from traditional public schools. More than 4,900 students are enrolled in 117 private schools with taxpayer dollars, in one of the largest voucher programs in the nation.
The three Republican senators emerged grim-faced from a basement meeting room in the Capitol on Tuesday and took turns before a bank of televisions cameras, blasting away at the Obama administration for its handling of the deadly attack on an American outpost in Benghazi, Libya. The first two were prominent national security heavyweights, Arizona’s John McCain and Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina. Then the third senator, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, stepped forward. A freshman in her second year and ranked 99th in seniority, Ayotte said she had not been swayed by the administration’s efforts
In 2007, Keith John Sampson, a middle-aged student working his way through Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis as a janitor, was declared guilty of racial harassment. Without granting Sampson a hearing, the university administration — acting as prosecutor, judge and jury — convicted him of “openly reading [a] book related to a historically and racially abhorrent subject.” “Openly.” “Related to.” Good grief. The book, “Notre Dame vs. the Klan,” celebrated the 1924 defeat of the Ku Klux Klan in a fight with Notre Dame students. But some of Sampson’s co-workers disliked the book’s cover, which featured
HATFIELD, Pa. — President Obama traveled to this Philadelphia suburb Friday to deliver the same sharp message he gave directly to House Speaker John A. Boehner earlier in the week: Get on board with the White House’s tax proposal, or get out of the way. The relationship between the two most powerful men in Washington, who together will effectively decide the fate of negotiations over the feared “fiscal cliff,” has broken down badly since the heady days 17 months ago when they shared a golf course. Obama’s 14-minute speech at a toy manufacturing company here amounted to a verbal poke
The Rice Report...The big question: Who would Secretary of State Hillary Clinton like to get her job? It ain’t embattled U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who is dealing with the way she handled the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, that led to the killing of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Sneed is told if Hillary had to choose between Rice and U.S. Sen. John Kerry, who is head of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, she would prefer Kerry. “Hillary is not close to Rice, who is tough — but is not the friendliest person,” said a top White House source.
JERUSALEM — Israel is moving forward with development of Jewish settlements in a contentious area east of Jerusalem, defying the United States by advancing a project that has long been condemned by Washington as effectively dooming any prospect of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A day after the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to upgrade the status of the Palestinians, a senior Israeli official said the government would pursue “preliminary zoning and planning preparations” for a development that would separate the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem from Jerusalem.
Noah Bernamoff was eating a smoked meat sandwich as he talked latkes at the Mile End Deli in Brooklyn. More specifically, he argued for the pancake’s status as the iconic food of Hanukkah. Sure, there are doughnuts if you’re from Israel, and maybe fried chicken in Italy. But in general, Ashkenazi Jews, whose ancestors settled in middle or northern Europe, gravitate toward the potato. “For Hanukkah, that’s what people do,” said Mr. Bernamoff, who owns Mile End and its satellite sandwich shop in Manhattan with his wife, Rae. “It’s a given.” His mother made them every year, slathered with homemade
San Francisco — The second in a series of storms slammed Northern California on Friday as heavy rain and strong winds knocked out power, tied up traffic and caused flooding along some stretches. The weather also may be behind the death of a Pacific Gas & Electric worker in West Sacramento who was killed after his truck crashed into a traffic signal pole during the stormy weather. Flights were delayed at San Francisco’s airport, and in the city’s affluent Pacific Heights neighborhood, traffic was blocked for hours after a large tree crashed down, smashing a car and obstructing a busy street.
Bountiful — The Davis County wind storm cleanup was completed Friday and thanks to volunteers and neighbors helping neighbors, the cost came in way below the estimate. After the Dec. 1 wind storm tore through Davis County and caused more than $100 million in damages. At the time, the cleanup of debris alone was expected to cost about $2 million. But the final price tag was just $300,000. County leaders say that quick, almost overwhelming response is what helped the cleanup effort come in so far under budget. "They all realized that the happiest day you have is the day you spend
A neighborhood of miniaturized homes, that look like what some Americans build in their backyards as dollhouses, is propping up in northeast Washington, D.C. The 150 to 200 square feet living spaces in a transformed vacant lot behind a line of row houses, sell for between $20,000 to $50,000 a piece and are part of a national backlash to the conspicuous consumption of the McMansion era. The concept of the tiny residences came from Tumbleweed Tiny House Co., based in Santa Rosa, Calif., that launched in 2000.
Egyptian slavery is as old as the pyramids and though it was banned in the 1870s under British pressure, it has never entirely gone away. The first independent Muslim ruler of Egypt relied on black slaves and at his death is said to have left 24,000 (white) Mamaluks and 45,000 Nubian military slaves. In north Africa the source of black slaves from Nubia and Sudan were too convenient to ignore. At the time of the Fatimid defeat, in the twelfth century, black troops formed the majority of the army. By the fifteenth century black military slaves were being favored with the use in battle of firearms
Storm-ravaged New Yorkers say President Obama’s promise to cut red tape and get them aid in the aftermath of Sandy has proven to be hot air. Angry citizens vented at FEMA officials at a town hall meeting held by the disaster relief agency Thursday, with tempers boiling over. Some 1,000 people, many left homeless by the Oct. 29 storm, attended the meeting at Staten Island’s New Dorp High School. They were initially scheduled to submit written questions that would be picked and answered at random, but the session turned into an angry shouting match where residents booed FEMA officials
Cambridge, Mass. - ´We have now an American political party and a European one. Not all Americans who vote for the European party want to become Europeans. But it doesn´t matter because that´s what they´re voting for. They´re voting for dependency, for lack of ambition, and for insolvency." Few have thought as hard, or as much, about how democracies can preserve individual liberty and national virtue as the eminent political scientist Harvey Mansfield. When it comes to assessing the state of the American experiment in self-government today, his diagnosis is grim, and he has never
It was no accident that Mahmoud Abbas chose November 29 to seek a United Nations General Assembly vote recognizing Palestine as a state, albeit as a non-member "observer" state at the U.N. November 29 is the 65th anniversary of the General Assembly´s Resolution 181, which partitioned British-Mandated Palestine into Jewish and Palestinian states. The Jews accepted the Resolution; Arabs unanimously rejected it. It passed by a vote of 33-13 with 10 abstentions. Had the Arab world voted for the plan, a Palestinian state would be as old as Israel is today, and within larger borders than the