The Week: Most Recent from Paul Brandus recent posts.en-usMon, 04 Aug 2014 11:16:00 -0400http://theweek.com Recent from Paul Brandus from THE WEEKMon, 04 Aug 2014 11:16:00 -0400Obama's real legacy: the Supreme Court?<img src="" /></P><p>Ask most folks the one thing President Obama has done that will leave a stamp long after he has left office, and they'll say ObamaCare. But with the possibility of both a Republican president and Republican Congress in power as early as 2017, that's far from guaranteed.</p><p>By far the best way for any president's influence to endure for years &mdash; perhaps decades &mdash; is through his appointments to the Supreme Court. Ronald Reagan left the White House a quarter-century ago, but his philosophical views live on through his appointee Antonin Scalia. Three conservative appointees of the Bushes ...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/paul-brandus" ><span class="byline">Paul Brandus</span></a>Mon, 04 Aug 2014 11:16:00 -0400Yes, Republicans can impeach President Obama<img src="" /></P><p>When Congress heads off on its upcoming five-week recess, some Republicans, at town halls with constituents, will bring up the "I" word: impeachment. Barack Obama, they'll say, needs to be removed from office. The reasons, in their view, are many: Benghazi. The IRS. An inability to control the Mexican border, to name but three. The constitutional standard for removal from office &mdash; in Article II, Section 4 &mdash; is "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors," and to the far right, Obama more than qualifies.</p><p>Talking tough about impeachment is what constituents in gerrymandered...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/paul-brandus" ><span class="byline">Paul Brandus</span></a>Tue, 29 Jul 2014 06:09:00 -0400How much can Obama squeeze Putin?<img src="" /></P><p>Last week was the biggest news week of the year. Israel invaded Gaza. A passenger jet was shot down, almost certainly by Vladimir Putin's shadow army in Eastern Ukraine. And thanks to a Friday night news dump, the event with probably the greatest long-term impact on us largely escaped attention. That would be the kicking of the can down the road on nuclear talks between Iran, the U.S., and five other world powers.</p><p>All of these events are connected in a dangerous and potentially destabilizing way. Twenty-four hours after the Malaysia Airlines jet with at least one American passenger was downed...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/paul-brandus" ><span class="byline">Paul Brandus</span></a>Mon, 21 Jul 2014 06:09:00 -0400Obama's flailing and foolish attacks on the media<img src="" /></P><p>The White House is trying to have its cake and eat it, too.</p><p>In Minnesota on Thursday and Friday, the administration staged photo ops of President Obama at a hamburger joint, an ice cream parlor, and a grocery store. Then, in two speeches on the economy and at a fundraiser, he complained that what we in the White House press corps should have been covering was the serious stuff he had to say on jobs, the economy, and other substantive issues (which we did, of course).</p><p>Just because you're the leader of the free world doesn't mean you get to have it both ways.</p><p>Here's what's really happening here...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/paul-brandus" ><span class="byline">Paul Brandus</span></a>Mon, 30 Jun 2014 06:05:00 -0400Why Cantor's upset is bad news for Obama<img src="" /></P><p>Asked his reaction last night to the stunning primary defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, an Obama administration official offered this: "Who?" That's how quickly the White House has forgotten Cantor, a thorn in the president's side from day one. Don't let the door hit you on... well, you know the rest.</p><p>As the president famously reminded Cantor, "elections have consequences," a lesson the Virginia Republican surely knows this morning more than any other. But aside from his humiliating defeat &mdash; no sitting House majority leader has lost since 1899 &mdash; there is a silver lining...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/paul-brandus" ><span class="byline">Paul Brandus</span></a>Wed, 11 Jun 2014 08:45:00 -0400Is it too late for Obama to rescue his legacy?<img src="" /></P><p>Barack Obama will be remembered as a historic, transformational president. But he probably will not be remembered a half century from now as one of the great presidents.</p><p>That's something he's clearly still hoping to change &mdash; even though it's getting awfully late for him to move the needle.</p><p>Take, for instance, Obama's response to the disgraceful mess at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The actual problem, which Obama and his team should be ashamed of, isn't going to be fixed anytime soon. But now that VA Secretary Eric Shinseki is out, the waiting list scandal at VA medical facilities...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/paul-brandus" ><span class="byline">Paul Brandus</span></a>Tue, 03 Jun 2014 06:05:00 -0400How America is failing its veterans<img src="" /></P><p>HUNGRY USMC VETERAN PLEASE HELP, the cardboard sign read. Sitting next to it was a scruffy man, maybe in his early 30s, in tattered jeans and scuffed work boots. His hair looked oily, he needed a shave. I fished a crumpled $1 out of my pocket and put in his cup. Our eyes met for a second and he said, "Thank you." I felt a flash of guilt. What good is a buck going to do?</p><p>This encounter, at a Metro station in the shadow of the White House, and steps from the entrance to the Department of Veterans Affairs itself, is hardly rare. Perhaps you've had one yourself. There are an estimated 58,000 homeless...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/paul-brandus" ><span class="byline">Paul Brandus</span></a>Mon, 26 May 2014 09:30:00 -0400More proof that everyone hates Washington -- and why it won't matter in November<img src="" /></P><p>If the past is any indication &mdash; and it usually is &mdash; Republicans should tread carefully with their latest Benghazi investigation. Unless they actually find a truly smoking gun &mdash; and so far countless probes have failed to do so &mdash; 20 years' worth of data suggests the GOP will wind up shooting itself in the foot.</p><p>The data comes from Gallup. The polling firm looked at the popularity of both major parties going back to the early 1990s, and drew a clear connection between GOP escapades designed to fire up its base and the party's sinking reputation with the American people as...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/paul-brandus" ><span class="byline">Paul Brandus</span></a>Tue, 20 May 2014 06:07:00 -0400Forget Russia. America has a raft of more pressing problems.<img src="" /></P><p>Vladimir Putin once called the collapse of the Soviet Union the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century. He clearly wants to put the Soviet Union back together, in some form, and stick it to America whenever and wherever he can. We must do whatever it takes to stop him. (I worked in Russia for many years, am a student of the Cold War era and know how this guy thinks &mdash; I met him many years before his rise to international fame.)</p><p>But is Russia really America's No. 1 geopolitical foe, a claim Mitt Romney made in 2012, and which countless conservatives have recently latched onto...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/paul-brandus" ><span class="byline">Paul Brandus</span></a>Thu, 27 Mar 2014 09:00:00 -0400Why U.S. presidents are powerless to stop the Russians<img src="" /></P><p>Why is Vladimir Putin tossing away his $50 billion Olympic effort to polish Russia's international image by intervening militarily in Ukraine?</p><p>It helps to understand the mindset of this balding former KGB colonel who clawed his way up under Boris Yeltsin to become president 14 years ago. (I actually crossed paths with him when he was an unknown aide to the corrupt mayor of St. Petersburg in the early 1990s).</p><p>This is a guy who has called the collapse of the Soviet Union "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the (20th) century." Like many Russians, Putin is deeply suspicious of what's called...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/paul-brandus" ><span class="byline">Paul Brandus</span></a>Sat, 01 Mar 2014 15:15:00 -0500Debunking 5 Keystone pipeline myths<img src="" /></P><p>On Friday, the State Department announced that it had no environmental objections to the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that would bring Canadian oil to Gulf Coast refineries. Predictably, that news is being cheered by the "drill, baby, drill" crowd, which sees the announcement as vindicating its pro-drilling position, and attacked by the greenies, who think Obama's talk of fighting climate change is a farce.</p><p>As usual, there's more to it than simplistic bumper-sticker opinions. Here are some of the biggest myths about Keystone:</p><p><strong>1. Keystone will define Obama's legacy on climate change. </strong>The...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/paul-brandus" ><span class="byline">Paul Brandus</span></a>Mon, 03 Feb 2014 09:50:00 -05005 things to be encouraged about in 2014<img src="" /></P><p>On New Year's Day, I wrote about five issues that we should all be worried about this year. But there are many things to be encouraged about as well. Here are five of them:</p><p><strong>1. Energy independence is on the horizon</strong><br />The United States exports gasoline by the boatload (literally) to the Middle East and the rest of the world. We now sell more than 3 million barrels a day of that and other refined energy products like diesel and jet fuel to foreigners &mdash; a figure that has tripled in recent years. Thanks to higher mileage standards for cars, along with other factors, we simply don't need as much...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/paul-brandus" ><span class="byline">Paul Brandus</span></a>Fri, 03 Jan 2014 06:06:00 -05005 things you should worry about in 2014<img src="" /></P><p><strong>1. The retirement crisis.</strong> Talk about a ticking time bomb: Some 38 million working-age households have next to nothing saved for their so-called "golden years": just $3,000, says the National Institute on Retirement Security. It used to be that retirement &mdash; a goal of every working American &mdash; was sort of like a three-legged stool: One leg was a pension, one was Social Security, and the third was your own savings. But pensions are vanishing, and Social Security is likely to be trimmed in the future. If there are 38 million households who haven't done anything about the third leg &mdash...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/paul-brandus" ><span class="byline">Paul Brandus</span></a>Wed, 01 Jan 2014 08:45:00 -0500The 1st annual Tricky Dick Awards<img src="" /></P><p>Incompetence, sloppiness, greed, and outright dishonesty. As usual, 2013 saw more than its share of disappointing behavior by prominent public figures. And thanks to them, our trust in once-respected institutions like Congress and the media took yet another hit.</p><p>Who's responsible for this terrible, trust-shattering year? Well, without further ado, here are my, uh, winners, in alphabetical order, of the 2013 "Tricky Dick" Awards, named for our 37th president, Richard "I am not a crook" Nixon:</p><p><strong>John Boehner. </strong>The House speaker says he has a "zero tolerance" policy for ethics violations among members...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/paul-brandus" ><span class="byline">Paul Brandus</span></a>Mon, 30 Dec 2013 08:02:00 -0500Sandy Hook a year later: Our hopeless gun debate<img src="" /></P><p>This is where things stand. Twenty sets of parents and six other families in Newtown, Conn., on Saturday will mark the first anniversary of the unspeakable. For them, nothing has changed in the past year. Four seasons have come, four seasons have gone. The tears still flow, and grief that only a parent robbed of life's most precious gift &mdash; a child &mdash; can know has not diminished, and never will.</p><p>This is also where things stand: It has been, by most measures, a very good year for supporters of gun rights, and a year of dashed hopes and disillusionment for those who favor greater restrictions...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/paul-brandus" ><span class="byline">Paul Brandus</span></a>Fri, 13 Dec 2013 11:45:00 -0500Why Republicans shouldn't get too excited over Obama's stumbles<img src="" /></P><p>One story line of the 2014 campaign (and no doubt the presidential race in 2016 itself) will go like this: ObamaCare, Republicans will shout, has been a disaster thus far and underscores the broader argument that big government programs &mdash; Democratic programs &mdash; can't solve complex social problems in 21st-century America. For this reason, they say, everyone should vote Republican.</p><p>Democrats will counter: Government can indeed solve big, complex problems, and the long-term success of Franklin Roosevelt's Social Security and Lyndon Johnson's Medicare proves it. And what of ObamaCare, then...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/paul-brandus" ><span class="byline">Paul Brandus</span></a>Mon, 09 Dec 2013 13:15:00 -0500