Lest there be any confusion, this columnist is a red-blooded American male.
I say so because of the initial response I received from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week when I asked her about the bumpy start for President Obama and his administration, from his tax-dodging Cabinet choices to a pork-laden economic bailout package she herself had a hand in crafting.
"Thank you, ma'am," she replied to my question.
"Thank you, ma'am," Mrs. Pelosi repeated.
She then leaned her body into mine, as if to snuggle. I kid you not.
Not to worry.
The speaker explained that she is currently reading a book about previous hurdles Americans have had to leap and "Thank you, ma'am" was an expression Franklin D. Roosevelt had once used when referring to the numerous bumps in the road to recovery from the Great Depression.
Once upon a time, she educated, men who rode in horse-drawn carriages and early automobiles would say "Thank you, ma'am" to their lady fellow passengers whenever a rough patch of road caused them to be thrown together for a fleeting, if not thrilling moment.
Outgoing CIA Director Michael V. Hayden says he plans to keep busy in the coming months and years, giving speeches on national security and perhaps writing a book or two.
Widely credited for restoring morale at the CIA and stepping up the agency's counterterrorism measures, Mr. Hayden took time Thursday morning to present he Director's Award to several dozen senior agency officers at the Langley headquarters.
Remarked the retired Air Force general, who has endured several challenging assignments in his lengthy military and intelligence career: "I have never left a job feeling as good as I do now, given all that we have accomplished together in the last two and a half years."
Firearm sales across the country increased again in January, continuing an upswing that began after the November election of President Obama.
"Since the election, sales of firearms — in particular handguns and semiautomatic hunting and target rifles — are fast outpacing inventory," says Steve Sanetti, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, suggesting "Americans are clearly concerned about their ability to be able to purchase these products in an uncertain future."
The FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which serves as a strong indicator of actual gun sales, shows background checks on firearms sales jumped 29 percent in January compared to January 2008. This follows a 24 percent rise in December and 42 percent jump in November, when a record 1,529,635 background checks were performed.
FBI background checks are required for all individuals purchasing firearms from federally licensed retailers.
New Interior Secretary Ken Salazar "is going Hollywood on us" by caving in to actor Robert Redford's demands that oil and gas leases in Utah be canceled.
"The only winners in this decision are the Hollywood elites who use our western states for a personal playground, burn a lot of energy to keep their private jets aloft and their mansions warm, and don't notice if energy costs go up," charged Niger Innis of the civil rights group CORE, which organized a protest in Salt Lake City against the actor "and his extremist environmental friends."
"When people are reeling from a bad economy, how can Ken Salazar justify listening to Hollywood elites, like Robert Redford, instead of struggling consumers and low-income families who count on Salazar and the Interior Department to ensure that they will have access to the American energy they need?"
First Amendment authority Nat Hentoff, who left the Village Voice in December after a remarkable 50 years as a columnist, has become a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.
"The core of libertarianism is a defense of free speech," observed Ed Crane, Cato's president and CEO. "No American in recent history has done more in defense of free speech and the First Amendment than the great civil libertarian, Nat Hentoff."
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