Random thoughts on the passing scene:
Seeing the Pope driven around in a bullet-proof vehicle reminds me of how much times have changed over the years. I can remember when President Franklin D. Roosevelt rode through Harlem in an open car.
A reader's response to my column about the mandated change from incandescent light bulbs to CFL bulbs: "It would be far better to exchange the corrupt hacks in Congress for some winos from the Bowery. Such a transition should open a new bright era for America."
Even if you think our presidential choices this election year are between disgust and disaster, anyone who has ever been through a real disaster can tell you that this difference is not small. It is big enough to go vote on election day.
One of the ways in which people are similar is in the lengths to which they will go in order to show that they are different.
Over the years, slowly but surely, we have painted ourselves into a corner on a whole range of issues, where we can no longer say or do what makes the most sense to us, but only what is considered to be politically correct.
The great Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said that a good catchword could stop people from thinking for 50 years. The big catchword this election year is "change" and it has already stopped many people's thinking in its tracks.
It would be hard to think of a more ridiculous way to make decisions than to transfer those decisions to third parties who pay no price for being wrong. Yet that is what at least half of the bright ideas of the political left amount to.
Unlike most politicians, Barack Obama does not waffle. He comes out boldly, saying mutually contradictory things.
At one time, to call someone "green" was to disparage them as inexperienced or immature. Today, to call someone green is to exalt them as one of the environmentalist saviors of the planet. But it is amazing how many people are green in both senses. Some people who think it is wrong to tell children to believe in Santa Claus nevertheless think it is all right to tell adults to believe that the government can give the whole population things that we cannot afford ourselves. Believing in Santa Claus is apparently bad for children but OK for adults.
The best explanation I have heard as to why Hillary Clinton is continuing to campaign, at a cost of millions of dollars a month, is that she wants to damage Obama enough for him to lose the general election this fall, leaving her as the obvious front-runner for the Democrats' nomination in 2012.
Even drugs which have been used safely for years in Europe or elsewhere cannot be sold in the United States without the approval of the Food and Drug Administration which can take years, while people suffer and die from a lack of that drug. Why not allow such drugs to be sold with a bright red label that says: "THIS DRUG IS NOT APPROVED BY THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION. NOR IS IT DISAPPROVED"?
The phrase "war on terror" is an unfortunate choice of words. It is the terrorists who openly declared war on us. Whatever the reasons for going into Iraq, that is where international terrorists have converged to fight their war against the United States. Pulling out of Iraq will not stop the terrorists' war on us, but only give them a huge victory as the war shifts to another front.
If Barack Obama had given a speech on bowling, it might well have been brilliant and inspiring. But instead he actually tried bowling and threw a gutter ball. The contrast between talking and doing could not have been better illustrated.
"McCarthyism" is a term used to dismiss the threat of internal subversion and espionage. But whatever the sins of Senator Joe McCarthy, the efforts of others showed that Alger Hiss was not a figment of anyone's imagination, nor was the espionage of the Rosenbergs that turned American atomic secrets over to Stalin, or the espionage networks to which Michael Straight, once editor of the New Republic, belatedly admitted being part of.
Whoever said that overnight is a lifetime in politics knew what he was talking about. Just 6 months ago, the big question was how Hillary and Giuliani would do against each other in this year's presidential elections.