Chaos. Things seemed to be spinning out of control on many fronts this week.
Starting, of course, with the Boston Marathon bombing Monday. The bombers chose a significantly festive time and place for their attack.
The marathon is held every year on Patriots Day, the Massachusetts state holiday commemorating the Battles of Lexington and Concord in April 1775. Even before the identity of the bombers became known, it seemed likely that they were enemies of America.
And their attack was a reminder that this free and open country remains a soft target. There is no way we can be entirely safe.
If the marathon bombings brought back memories of the Sept. 11 attacks, the news on Tuesday and Wednesday that letters containing the poison ricin were sent to Sen. Roger Wicker and President Obama brought back memories of the anthrax-laden letters discovered the week after 9/11.
It was a comfort to see how well bystanders and first responders reacted to the marathon bombings and how law enforcement personnel, led by the FBI, were careful to avoid premature announcements.
Comforting also were Barack Obama's appropriate remarks in Boston on Thursday and the release by the FBI, after his departure, of photos of the two suspects.
Law enforcement invited the public to supply information and identify the killers. This contrasted favorably with the way law enforcement quarantined information about the Beltway snipers in October 2002.
But in the meantime, other things spun out of control.
On Wednesday, the Senate voted down gun control proposals, with the closest vote coming on the background check provision sponsored by Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin.
In the Rose Garden, Obama spoke angrily and called the votes “pretty shameful.” But they were an inevitable response to his cynical exploitation of the grief of parents of the Newtown victims to get votes for measures that would not have prevented that or other mass killings.
Obama made much of polls showing 90 percent support for background checks. But those polls didn't measure the response to arguments against those measures.
This was a test of Organizing for America, the offspring of the Obama presidential campaign. The idea is that OFA could pressure members of Congress just as it had turned out voters for Obama last fall.
But that ignored some relevant political numbers. The Obama campaign did motivate enough voters to carry 332 electoral votes. But those votes were heavily clustered in central cities and university towns.
Obama carried only 26 states. They elect only 52 senators, well under the 60 votes he needed in the Senate on gun control. And he carried only 209 congressional districts, less than a majority of the House.
Wednesday also saw an extraordinary outburst in the Senate Finance Committee's hearings on Obamacare, as committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, told Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, “I just see a train wreck coming down.”
HHS, he noted, is way behind schedule on issuing regulations implementing the health care law. Small businessmen in Montana, he said, don't know how they can comply.
“The administration's public information campaign on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act deserves a failing grade,” he told Sebelius. “You haven't given me any data. You just give me concepts, frankly.”
Liberals grumbled that Baucus was skittish about 2014, when he is up for re-election in a state that voted 55 to 42 percent for Mitt Romney, and threatened to run ads against him.
Kansas Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo pointed out that Baucus was one of the chief authors of the law whose implementation he was now criticizing. Nonetheless, Obamacare seemed to be spinning out of control.
Similar disarray was apparent on foreign policy in hearings Thursday, as noted by the American Interest's Walter Russell Mead.
Secretary of State John Kerry testified that we are working “very, very closely” with “the moderate legitimate opposition” to the Assad regime in Syria. But Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey testified that it was getting harder to “clearly identify the right people” in the opposition than it was six months ago.
George W. Bush and his party suffered at the polls in his second term after things seemed to be spinning out of control in New Orleans and Iraq.
Things aren't that far out of control, yet. But this hasn't been a good week for Obama or for America.
Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.
© 2013 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER
Chaos. Things seemed to be spinning out of control on many fronts this week.
Education a priority? Don’t believe it
They did it – more or less.
They got a budget, they got a road plan and they got out of town on time.
Did you miss small business health-care tax credit?
A Kentucky professional who owns his own business found that he missed getting the health-care tax credit.
Compromise is not that simple
It’s tempting for a casual onlooker to wonder why the Democratic House and Republican Senate can’t make what on the surface looks like the obvious compromise on pension reform.
The Senate passed a measure based on recommendations of a task force to move new employees into a hybrid, cash-balance plan but maintain existing defined benefits for current employees and retirees.
Frankfort plays ping-pong with public pension transparency
Legislation that would make the Kentucky Retirement Systems transparent for those paying its bills has danced into the spotlight during the 2014 session of the Kentucky General Assembly.
Passage of transparency bills filed by Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Latonia, and Rep. Robert Benvenuti, R-Lexington, would make the “names, status, projected or actual benefit payments” subject to our commonwealth’s superlative Open Records Act.
The case of the ghostly neighbor
Wilbur lived in a world of fears. Everything frightened him. The full extent of his courage was to admit that he had none.
Noises in the middle of the night, his own shadow creeping up on him and, most of all, black cats scared the wits out of him.
So, picture his chagrin, one day, when he came home from vacation only to discover that a mausoleum had been erected on property adjacent to his home.
Provisional concealed-carry law passes Senate unanimously
Things are staying busy in Frankfort. Many bills are making their way onto the Senate floor from various committees. This past week several important pieces of legislation were debated and passed.
I am particularly proud of the success we had in advocating for Kentuckians’ Second Amendment rights.
I introduced Senate Bill 106 to allow anyone who has been granted an emergency protective or domestic violence order to receive a provisional CCDW permit from the Kentucky State Police in one business day. In some of these cases, victims need this type of protection as quickly as possible.
50 years makes a world of difference
I wasn’t in Frankfort on March 5, 1964, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Abernathy, and Jackie Robinson led 10,000 on a march to the state Capitol in support of a public accommodations law.
But a few months later, I stood in front of the “Music Hall,” site of the Glasgow Junior High School located on a street named Liberty, and watched black kids “walk up the hill” of College Street on the first day of integrated schools in Glasgow.
Coal has kept Kentuckians warm this winter
This winter, temperatures across the country dipped to historic lows. Here in our home state of Kentucky, the near-arctic climate caused increased power demand which resulted in an incredible strain on the electric grid and rising energy costs.
Protecting citizens’ data is a no-brainer
Target Corp. is learning the hard way: The price is steep for retailers who don’t protect customers’ sensitive financial information.
Target’s profits fell a whopping 50 percent during its fourth quarter of 2013 as the result of a massive security breach involving as many as 110 million of its customers’ credit- and debit-card accounts, which began the day before Thanksgiving and extended throughout much of the holiday shopping season.
Making plans for spring planting
My brother Keith (Keeter) probably planted peas on one of those warm days last week, and I would not be at all surprised to find out that brother Steve did likewise to try to be the first two fellows in Letcher County to actually be digging the soil in their 2014 gardens.
Keeter’s father-in-law, the late Dock Mitchell, used to get my brother to drive him a 50-mile round trip to get pea seeds and potting soil for early February planting. Dock raised mammoth melting sugar snow peas and sugar snaps around every fence on the place.
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