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Brief comments on items in the news...

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Brief comments on items in the news...

-- Ah, yes: The October surprise that -- in the run-up to November 2 -- would turn the elections left. Would it be the certifiable death of Osama bin Laden? How about negotiations with the Taliban? What about an Israeli-Palestinian agreement -- on something? None of the above. Nancy Pelosi has promised a vote in the post-election lame-duck session on a $250 bonus for all 58 million recipients of Social Security.

-- During the summer the people at Wikileaks released 77,000 classified documents relating to the war in Afghanistan -- compromising the lives of Americans and their allies. Now they are about to post 400,000 stolen classified documents relating to the war in Iraq -- compromising the lives of Americans and their allies there. The Wikileakers are malign, possibly mad, and certainly out of control. What they are doing is unconscionable.

-- Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, commenting in September on Vietnam, said America wanted compromise. Hanoi wanted victory. And America lost. So what are the prospects for America in its war of the hour when -- according to Bob Woodward's new "Obama's Wars" -- President Obama's mantra in discussions a year ago regarding what to do in Afghanistan was, I want an exit strategy?

-- How conservative -- how adamantly anti-leftist and anti-Democrat -- are members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars? This much. No sooner did the VFW's political arm endorse Democratic incumbents -- including Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid -- than VFW Commander-in-Chief Richard Eubank fired all the committee's directors and moved to shut the committee down. Masses of outraged veterans, it seems, viewed the committee's endorsements as beyond nonsense.

-- Michelle Rhee, the stellar superintendent of D.C.'s schools, has resigned. Her political patron, Mayor Adrian Fenty, lost his re-election bid to an opponent who said Ms. Rhee was too tough on the city's unionized teachers, demanding they meet standards too high. Or something. Expect to hear more from Michelle Rhee -- perhaps as a public instruction overseer in an administration where the pols take seriously their mandate to give children a solid academic foundation.

-- Remember when Barack Obama's wife Michelle condemned the U.S. as "just downright mean"? It seems Obama has a half-aunt from Kenya, Zeituni Onyango, who nourishes a similarly high level of arrogant entitlement and a similarly low level of appreciation. In the U.S. illegally since 2000 living on public assistance in public housing and having defied two deportation orders, Aunt Zeituni now has been granted political asylum because of Kenyan violence. Her ungrateful reaction to her demonstrably unmean treatment, during a Boston TV interview: "If I come as an immigrant, you have the obligation to make me a citizen."

-- Speaking of entitlement, here are two stunning stats: (1) 45 percent of American households pay no federal income tax -- up from 39 percent just five years ago. At the same time (2) 44 percent of all Americans live in a household boasting at least one person receiving some sort of federal cash benefit (or entitlement) -- the highest such percentage in the nation's history. We're fast on the path to becoming Entitlement Nation.

-- So Obama and his Democrats want to let the Bush tax cuts expire and to impose new taxes on ever-fewer taxpayers. Why? Planned federal spending of $45 trillion over the next decade -- an increase of 83 percent. That spending will add $13 trillion to the national debt, raising the total to $23 trillion by 2020 -- up from $7.5 trillion in 2008 (remember W's excessive spending?). Thus the leftist view that higher federal taxes are needed because Americans can't afford to keep so much of their own money.

-- James Jones has resigned as President Obama's national security adviser. His replacement: Tom Donilon -- a political hack who won his national security spurs in 1980 as floor manager for Jimmy Carter at the Democratic National Convention. Since then Donilon has done politics for Bill Clinton and Joe Biden. For six years beginning in 1999, he was a lobbyist for Fannie Mae. His brother is a counselor to Biden; his wife is Jill Biden's chief-of-staff. Oh, and Jones? In an earlier incarnation he was a Marine general -- and 32nd commandant of the Corps. From Jones to Donilon? Go figure.

-- With the continuing failure of efforts to overturn the Second Amendment to the U.S. constitution, state after state has changed its laws allowing individuals to carry concealed guns outside their houses for personal protection. Now only Wisconsin and Illinois make it illegal to carry a concealed pistol (in 1987, precisely 24 states prohibited concealed carry). And 37 states make it comparatively easy to obtain a concealed carry permit -- a major shift from just 10 states in 1987. These numbers suggest (1) personal safety -- or at least the sense of it -- is up, and (2) the marriage of Americans and guns is in for the long haul.

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